Earl said: “Well, you see, mi have two bredda, one inna Toronto, the other dey a London, and mi dey a Miami. One of my brother married to a St.Kittian, di oda one married to a Bajan and fi mi wife is from Trinidad. All di brothers dem have children, and everyone gets along with each oda…and cos of di internet, all di cousins chat like any real good friends”
But consider this… in Earl’s global community of Caribbean relationships there is no common community day which crosses international borders to identify that we are one people – one community, wherever we may be.
In the English-speaking Caribbean we share a degree of common representational politics in the guise of the region’s international institution CARICOM. We have a Caribbean Court of Justice and a regional University, with its campuses situated across three countries. The framework for a Caribbean Single Market Economy is in place and the region is now introducing the CARICOM passport.
And, during the Cricket World Cup tournament the region will rally behind its united international sporting icons the West Indies Cricket team.
As a Region there are more things which commonly unite us as a people than could possibly distinguish us as being different and apart, but yet strangely enough in this regional community we have not yet recognised a common community day.
The vision of an international ‘Caribbean Day’ is linked to the concept of celebrating the significance of a ‘birthday’ on the 1st August. As many will be aware, several countries of the English-speaking Caribbean, including Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago already celebrate Emancipation Day on the 1st August. Thus the significance of this date already enjoys broad recognition within the Caribbean. The question I pose is whether the significance of the 1st August should be used as the centrifuge to detonate a positive force of global unity amongst Caribbean people; like an annual blossom – lasting just for a day – Caribbean Day!
The ancestry of the majority of people of this Caribbean region begin with a history of their foreparents being taken from the west coast of Africa during the horrific years of the slave trade. The ultimate effect of the slave trade was to transplant Africans to dominantly populate a new region of the world. The slave ship was the moulding fire from which a new breed of people emerged now referred to as Afro-Caribbeans.
Where the slave ships disembarked their live cargo along their route of trading ports, invariably along the way and over time family members and relations were separated at different New World ports. On reflection this factor in our history serves most poignantly to demonstrate that at their core the Afro-Caribbean people of this region are truly indistinguishable as one great community.
Today’s Caribbean community is comprised of many races, and together fundamentally we have assimilated into a multicultural life style institutionally tolerant of all races, colours and creeds of people. It was an observation Martin Luther King commended after one of his visits to Jamaica.
The case I make is that the independent Caribbean is now at a stage in its political development where it should assert an international identity. We should move away from the thinking which perceives the Caribbean Community as being founded on mere victims and castaways from Africa. We need to celebrate ourselves wholly as Caribbeans, and I suggest that we should globally conjoin on an annual basis to celebrate who we are.
Unfortunately the hard truth is that as a Region we cannot look to the African continent for examples of what the Caribbean should be. On the other hand, like Great Britain was the colonial power to the now world leader USA, the Caribbean must create its own independent identity free from Africa, whilst still continuing to recognise our ‘special relationship’ with that continent.
A worldwide ‘Caribbean Day’ is a unifying concept that would engage people of Caribbean origin across the world whilst providing a global example of the international strength of racial harmony.
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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.