The Premier Honourable Charles Washington Misick delivered the keynote Summit 2021 on the theme: ‘Bridging the Gap Between Africa and the Caribbean: Kinship and Challenges’ on Saturday, 3rd July 2021.
The first recorded African slaves were brought to the Turks and Caicos Islands by the Bermudans to work in the salt ponds around 1660. A second group of slaves is believed to have arrived in the Islands when American Loyalists fled the United States of America after the War of Independence, setting up plantations on the Caicos Islands.
The third group of Africans arrived by accident after a shipwreck in TCI waters in 1841.
The Trouvadore was a brigantine vessel sailing under Spanish papers from Santiago, Cuba when it was wrecked depositing the human cargo on the shores of the TCI, a British Colony that had emancipated slaves in 1834 –seven years prior.
The Premier, during his remarks, shared the historic links between Africa and the Turks and Caicos Islands and the shared social, economic and environmental challenges faced by both the TCI and countries across the African continent.
“Each Caribbean country has its own story of the historical links to Africa through the slave trade dating back as early as the mid-16th century; they each have variants of original traditions, customs and lifestyles,” Premier Misick said.
He added: “We share a complex cocktail of challenges that continue to limit the rate of our development and economic progression. Some of these challenges include the neoliberal economic model that inhibits the development and growth of our people, the failures of globalisation, need for investment in critical infrastructure and building resilience to climate change. Africans and Afro-Caribbean people are resilient, be we are also innovative and proud.”
Premier Misick further added that there is much we can learn from each other’s experiences.
“Bridging the gap by friendship agreements, increasing government to government partnerships through diplomatic missions between Africa and the Caribbean, twinning of Chambers of Commerce to encourage trade and knowledge transfers, cultural and student exchange, especially between clusters of the diaspora and Africa who can trace their roots to regions of the continent.
“The African diaspora in the Caribbean must also change our victim’s mentality for one that is more assertive, self-confident and innovative. Despite size, small countries like the Turks and Caicos Islands should use their comparative and competitive advantage – natural and cultivated for strong influence in the world,” he further noted.
The Premier during the panel discussion highlighted the importance of creating avenues and opportunities to connect the small islands developing states (SIDS) in Caribbean with larger countries throughout the world and other global brands.
He argued that the aim is to aid the region’s enhancement of education, through partnerships with leading higher education institutions around the world and increased direct travel into the region.
The Summit also signified the launch of a new branch of the foundation, HACSA-Caribbean, which will focus on strengthening relations between Africa and the Caribbean, bringing more awareness to the shared issues and goals across associated countries in both regions.
The HACSA Foundation is a non-governmental, nonpartisan, non-profit, civil society organisation and charity headquartered in Ghana, with a mission to bring together the African diaspora and Africa enthusiasts, to promote and preserve African heritage and culture for socio-economic development, progress and security.
The Foundation aims to help bring an end to systemic racism around the world through advocacy, education, collaboration and innovation.