Ghana celebrates 55 years of Independence today. Later this year Trinidad and Tobago will celebrate 50 years of Independence. Countries like Ghana led the way for other colonies. But I want to remember two Trinidadians who were involved in the celebration of this day March 6, 1957.
The first is George Padmore, who was born in 1901 in Trinidad, the grandson of a slave, the son of a school teacher. He was a writer and activist and close friends with CLR James. He was also the Personal Representative of Ghana’s first President Kwame Nkrumah.
The second is Lord Kitchener, calypsonian extraordinaire who sang about Ghana’s independence.
Trinidad has given the world some of the most significant Pan Africanists of the 20th Century. From Henry Sylvestre Williams to CLR James to George Padmore and Kwame Ture. I wonder where that legacy has gone. I wonder too why the connections are not as strong as they used to be.
It’s not like Declarations of Independence have made the problems magically disappear. If anything the economic shackles are still there and Western multi-nationals continue to call the shots when it comes to what we do with our natural resources, whether it is oil or cocoa or culture.
And it’s not just about politicians signing bi-lateral agreements. The disappointing legacy for the Caribbean and I imagine also for Africa is that our leaders have become agents of colonialism, selling us out piece by shiny piece to the highest bidders. The majority of the citizens do not benefit from these deals and all that we are left with is the social and environmental complications.
We need to have more communication between our artists and intellectuals and activists. We need solidarity because in a lot of ways our struggles are the same and it makes no sense for us to be labouring in our small corners without sharing ideas for solutions.
So that days like today are truly days for us to celebrate. The victory of all peoples against the tyranny of oppression and the terror of self-doubt.