As a people our ancestor’s trials through slavery shaped our metality to make us who we are. Therefore why be deemed a second rate African when you can be a first rate Afro-Caribbean?
In our ancestral Africa there is age old history of fractional division through tribal feuding, different languages, religions and superstitions, and the effect of European colonialism across the continent only added to divisive tribalism – perhaps by design. However, by contrast, in the Caribbean, the consequence of British colonialism was that as a region Afro-Caribbeans emerged as one tribe, overwhelmingly of one faith in Christianity as a non-violent and tolerant religion.
Further, it is a direct by-product of British colonial rule that Afro-Caribbeans share a fundamental unity in their racial origin and universally communicate in the English language. These features of the Caribbean region give its people the foundation to be a homogeneous and unified ethnic race.
If we look for the silver lining in slavery it is therefore easy to find – out of slavery emerged one Caribbean people. This is not to say Afro-Caribbeans should be grateful for the evils meted out on our fore-parents during slavery or be indifferent to its negative after-effects which can be recognized in our societies to this present day, but today’s Afro-Caribbean people are like the mythical bird Phoenix who arose from flames to be reborn out of ashes.
The contemporary emphasis should be that we are not Africans – we are Afro-Caribbeans. It is time we come of age – to recognise our own proud identity. It is now due time that we abandon the ‘back to Africa’ type slogans, for we are not going backwards to anywhere. And, indeed did anyone bother to ask the Africans whether they want us back en masse?
Descendants of British settlers to the early United States are now full blooded “Americans”. Descendants of old British settlers to New Zealand are now proud New Zealanders. Similar statements can be made for the likes of the Canadians and Australian. Commonly, they all originate as descendants of former British colonies. Today these states are each matured in their political development, with the confidence to emphatically assert their own international identities.
There is a lesson for people of Afro-Caribbean origin; the lesson is that it is not possible to steer a forward path if we are constantly looking backwards. Africa was our past – the Caribbean is our future, and Caribbean unity must be a fundamental strength for all the people of our region.
History teaches that in 1066 the whole of England was conquered by King William of Normandy. It was the said that ‘William the Conqueror’ introduced the principle of ‘common law’ in England. Prior to this England was comprised of several regional Kingdoms, each with their own rules of law. As such, a person travelling through old England could never be certain of the present state of the law, which might differ from place to place. The effect was that across old England there could be extreme and different treatments for an identical offence.
The all conquering King William rid the country of legal uncertainty by imposing his own version of the law across the full breadth of England. History records that King William’s absolute victory and the introduction of his ‘common law’ was the foundation of today’s English legal system.
The united England went on to become one of the world’s greatest imperialist powers, the United Kingdom of Great Britain, and today the common law principle underpins many of the legal systems of the world.
We might ponder what binds others together when we may seem such disparate a group. Consider the question and you will find the answer to be that others have a unifying identity, which we in the Caribbean have yet to recognize and celebrate.
It is now time that we begin to celebrate ourselves as Caribbeans. The significance of an international ‘Caribbean Day’ will serve to forge a powerful identity for our people on the international stage. From the advantage of this position will come the confidence to uplift the relationship between all people of Caribbean origin, in recognition of our strength as one global community.
Caribbean Day is a step in the right direction to bring unity of people in order to establish a more bonded ethnic group world wide.
‘International CARIBBEAN DAY’ – the case has been made…now it is for you dear reader to pass the message on…
CARICOM – what says You?!
Hamilton Daley – People for the Establishment of Caribbean Day
Hamilton Daley is a practising Attorney-at-Law in Jamaica [tel. (876) 967 0224], Solicitor Advocate in England and Managing Director of T.R.A.D.E. Ltd. Entrepreneurial Diasporians Jamaica calls you to duty. TRADE exists to facilitate trading bridges between Jamaica and the rest of the world.