Minister of Tourism, Culture, and the Arts Randall Mitchell and Prof Sir Hilary Beckles, chairman of the Caribbean Reparations Commission, are part of the line-up of speakers who will participate in the virtual launch of the 2021 Pan African Festival TT commemorating Emancipation and the observation of African Liberation Day.
A media release said the event will be broadcast on the Emancipation Support Committee of TT (ESCTT) Facebook Page, website, and YouTube Channel on May 25 from 5.30 pm.
Zakiya Uzoma-Wadada, executive chair of ESCTT, said, “In light of the challenging situation in TT, we thought it best to use our experience gained from presenting virtual events last year – to host the Launch of the festival virtually once again.
“We expect that the Pan African Festival will still be a thought-provoking moment and provide the national community and diaspora, with an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of those who have gone before us as we confront the threats posed by the pandemic .
The theme of this year’s festival is Advancing Pan African Solidarity Towards a Balanced World.
The ESCTT’s statement on the theme explains, “Power relationships internationally are reflected in the bullying of non-white countries by wealthy and militarily powerful white countries, without UN approval and even without the sanction of the Security Council. Even as the world faces this devastating pandemic there are cries of ‘vaccine apartheid.’
It said pan-Africanism was "one of the ideological and action-inspiring responses to the unbalanced state of the world, which emerged over the last 500 years.
Moreover, it said, "It is in the DNA of our nation. TT has achieved international recognition in the Pan-African movement disproportionate to the size of its population and its landmass, with good reason."
The first Pan African Conference was organised by Henry Sylvestre Williams of TT in 1900. Others became leaders of the movement, George Padmore and CLR James among them. TTs first prime minister, Dr Eric Williams, "was recognised within the movement for his scholarship, in particular his ground-breaking book Capitalism and Slavery.
Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael), who popularised the term Black Power internationally, was another leader of the movement in the US.
"In TT Mzumbo Lazare, amassed signatures during the late 1890s in efforts to pressure the local legislature to recognise August 1 as Emancipation Day.”
Khafra Kambon, ESCTT’s director of Regional and Pan African Affairs, said, “When we chose our emancipation theme for the year 2021, it was deliberately done to put a focus on those issues.
“In TT our own African identity crisis is a major contributor to the minimal use of the opportunities provided by the decade. Ignoring this will lead to continuing and deepening imbalances nationally in a world where, despite our advances in many fields the pendulum is swinging against us and will continue to do so.”
Also speaking at the launch will be Kyeretwie Osei, programme officer of the Economic Social and Cultural Committee of the African Union, who will deliver an African Liberation Day solidarity message. Kambon will make presentations on this year’s theme and Uzoma-Wadada will provide details of this year’s virtual festival.
There will be pre-recorded performances of drums dance, pan, poetry, and song the release said.