The following is the PJ Patterson Institute for African Caribbean Advocacy's message marking African Liberation Day observed on May 25, 2023.
The PJ Patterson Institute for African Caribbean Advocacy is delighted to join in a proud and glorious salute as we celebrate Africa Liberation Day on May 25th. For the past 60 years, it has been the day on which Africans globally celebrate their heritage and struggles over colonialism and reflect on how to navigate beyond our current realities to obtain full freedom and justice for persons of African descent no matter where we live.
The theme for this year "Imperialism and Neo-Colonialism must Be Destroyed! Africans Stand Ready for the Revolution" is both highly relevant and timely.
It reveals that Africans are ready and determined to go beyond the acceptable rhetoric and prism of western hegemonic superpowers.
The time has come for a new paradigm, where unity, cooperation and the ideologies of Pan-Africanism must be reinvigorated and reimagined. Our experiences of exploitation — human, economic and political — when combined with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, ICT-driven, demands this decisive shift. The new age driven by technological advances and information proliferation, far more than any other epoch in history, presents tremendous opportunities for unity and cooperation for African nations — continental and diasporic.
The theory of African chiefs, royals and traders benefiting equally from the greatest crime against African people, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, has done much to divide and fester a wall of suspicion among Africans globally. In March this year, academic leaders and African royals from the continent met for the first time at The University of the West Indies Regional Headquarters to dispel the myths and tell the truths about who are the real perpetrators and only beneficiaries of that pernicious abomination.
It is pertinent in the realisation of a Global Africa, respected among the human family, that we remove that which divides us and substitute instead the principles that unite us in our continued campaign for liberation and prosperity.
This is important in our quest for reparatory justice for the unparalleled crimes of Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and European colonialism.
In the struggle to overcome imperialism and neo-colonialism, it is fundamental to recognise the importance of a global call for reparation not only from Caricom nations under the Caricom Reparations Commission, but also from African nations through the African Union which suffered the severe loss of several productive generations.
This year marks 30 years since the first Pan-African Conference on reparations in Abuja — organised by the Organization of African Unity — declared that "the damage sustained by African peoples is not a 'thing of the past' but is painfully manifest in the damaged lives of contemporary Africans from Harlem to Harare, in the damaged economies of the black world from Guinea to Guyana, from Somalia to Suriname."
It is nearly two years ago that the first Caricom /Africa Summit of Heads of State and Governments was convened. It is now time to fulfil the commitments given to support the establishment of Caricom/Africa public-private partnerships and to mobilise our resources in critical programmes such as renewable energy, digital technology and the creative industries. We cannot afford to flounder and must move instead resolutely forward to implementation.
Our scholars and institutions with the expertise and commitment stand ready to help. We need to demonstrate fixity of purpose. A second summit is now due to impel momentum and chart the way forward.
With the irreversible and inevitable passage of time, we are witnessing the departure of one generation and the emergence of another, with its own concerns and well defined aspirations. More than 60 per cent of Africa's youth population is under the age of 25, and by 2030 Africa's youth population will account for 42 per cent of the global youth population. Estimates indicate that by 2040 Africa, with a workforce of 1.1 billion persons, will be the largest and youngest in the entire world.
African and Caribbean youth have the inescapable responsibility of being the leaders of tomorrow. Therefore, young people must be at the table of discussion, decision-making and implementation on all fronts in any thrust for greater unity, cooperation and integration. This calls for a mass mobilisation of the youth from the national and international levels. This is essential action that must be intentionally pursued, as it will not happen by chance or benign neglect.
This makes the call even more essential for our youth to be involved in every step of the pursuit of liberation and the overthrow of neo-colonialism.
The formidable challenges which exist, oblige us to open wider the doors of opportunity to mobilise our global African youth population and Caribbean youth in the perennial campaign, unlike any other time in history. The new horizons in technology revolution have opened new channels for communication, trade, and the command of our own space by ourselves.
This makes the opportunities for travel and tourism and greater educational transfer more easily accessible.
On this African Liberation Day, the Institute for Africa Caribbean Advocacy renews its pledge to serve as an agency which promotes the rich diversity, values, skills and knowledge which emanate from the land where human civilisation began.
The need for Africa, the Caribbean and the Diaspora to work in unison and to speak with one voice is now an imperative. For, "we seek sustainable development through equity in the development and use of human, natural, financial and physical resources. We desire inter-generational fairness, managing judiciously the relationship between the present and the future".
Our energies must never wane until we win the full and final victory at long last.
Let us answer the call: "Imperialism and Neo-colonialism must be destroyed!
Together, we all must stand ready and resolute for the revolution.
— PJ Patterson is statesman in residence at the PJ Patterson Institute for African Caribbean Advocacy. Patterson served as Jamaica's sixth prime minister from 1992 to 2006, making him the longest-serving prime minister in Jamaica's history.