President’s state visit to Jamaica will keep Pan Africanism fire burning
By Dennis Waweru | August 15th 2019
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s state visit to Jamaica comes at a significant time in the history of Africa and Africans across the world.
Jamaica is commemorating the 400th anniversary of the first arrival of slaves in the Americas, something that changed the history of our continent and the world forever.
It is precisely at this moment that unity among Africans is particularly powerful, and Mr Kenyatta has stepped up as a leader in this capacity.
In the early 20th Century, Jamaican political activist and notable Pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey said: “There is no force like success, and that is why the individual makes all effort to surround himself throughout life with the evidence of it; as of the individual, so should it be of the nation”.
In other words, strength and power come from the success both of the individual and the individuals that collectively make up a nation.
Garvey is known for advocating the unity of Africans and people of African descent across the world.
In seeking an end to the era of European colonialism, Garvey sought to bring about the political unification of Africa by being the leader of a single unified state.
Africa is split by borders that are unlikely to change any time soon, and the African diaspora spreads to all corners of the globe. However, Garvey’s contribution to Pan-Africanism is still important today.
The strength of the African Union is evidenced by the recent launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area, which will work towards turning Africa into a unified trading bloc.
We cannot expect to become prosperous if we are fragmented, while other continents come together to put their own interests first.
Uhuru’s visit to Jamaica, and his meeting with Prime Minister Andrew Holness, has shown that his commitment to the African people is as strong as ever. During their talks, the two leaders vowed to deepen trade ties as well as interpersonal connections between Kenyan and Jamaican citizens.
The President and Holness signed MoUs, which addressed technical co-operation in tourism, sports, culture, heritage, and political consultations.
Another key issue that they discussed involves transportation. Uhuru expressed his interest to initiate direct flight routes from Nairobi to Kingston and the rest of the Carribean, linking Africans in the diaspora to East Africa.
This will boost economic interaction and tourism for both Kenya and Jamaica, developing a strong basis for trade and economic growth.
Since Kenya already serves as a logistics and the financial hub for East Africa, it will host the African Caribbean Pacific summit at the end of 2019 which will be attended by Holness, among others.
More than an opportunity to mingle with other state leaders, hosting such meetings demonstrates Uhuru’s commitment to south-south co-operation.
While our relations with global north countries, especially Europe and the US, remain of utmost importance, it is the bilateral agreements with fellow global south countries that will do the most to uplift Africa and keep the Pan-African movement strong.
The bond between Jamaica and Kenya is old and unbreakable. In the 1960s, Garvey’s teachings strongly influenced those in Kenya fighting to cast off the yoke of British rule.
The late Jamaican lawyer Dudley Thompson was charged with treason by the British colonial government when he defended our founding father Jomo Kenyatta.
Nowadays, our priorities have changed but there is still much to bond over. Jamaican runners frequently set records for short-distance sprinting, while we have most of the records for distance running.
For this reason, Uhuru committed to foster sports development between our two nations.
These kinds of foundations can be utilised for general strengthening of economic ties.
While Kenya rapidly progresses towards economic prosperity via the Big Four agenda, it is our responsibility not to leave behind fellow African nations, or other global south countries with big African diaspora communities, especially in the Caribbean.
Uhuru has positioned us as a leading nation and turned Kenya into an attractive investment option.
Our success should also build up the success of the nations closest to us, geographically and historically.
In taking upon himself the responsibility of leading Kenya, Uhuru has not forgotten our dispersed brothers and sisters and the spirit of Pan-Africanism.
Mr Waweru is KenIvest Authority board chairman
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