Our Readers' Opinions
August 27, 2004
Reply to Diogenes letter on emancipation and Rastas

The writer of Emacipation and Rastas seems quite disturbed by Rastafarians and Afro-Caribbeans for promoting emancipation and the interests of Africa.
Any objective observer of life in the Caribbean cannot fail to conclude that Rastas have contributed tremendously to our Caribbean civilization. They have made a difference in the way Caribbean people view themselves. {{more}} Rastas have helped to change an oppressive language we inherited from the slave drivers and the colonialist to a language of liberation that is more relevant to the challenges we face as a people.
They have also set the pace in regard to healthy diets. It is widely known that for many decades now, Rastas have been placing high value on eating foods that are life giving. Today, our society is now coming around to understanding these health issues. Rastas have also blazed the trail regarding the idea and practice of economic self-reliance. In our current society, poverty could be reduced if more people practice self-reliance with support from national policies shaped with this concept of self-reliance in mind. Many of the fashions and aesthetics we see and enjoy today were made popular by Rastas. Examples include the wearing of hair in locks, and the red, green, black and gold colours.
Unimpressed with the great heritage of Ethiopia and its contribution to world civilization, Diogenes is not a friend of Ras Tafari (Haile Selessie 1). But Haile Selessie 1 was never the enemy of African people and he will never be. His contributions were great also. His role in uniting the world regardless to race is outstanding. He played a good role in the formation of the League of the Nations, which was the forerunner organization to the United Nations.
While in Africa I did not see any “open season for diseases from Ebola to AIDS”. Africans have a high sense of their situation and are acting to protect and develop their communities.
Throughout the continent, Africans are resisting the negative forces that have been seeking to strangle their continent. Where in the world are people not doing cleaning jobs; not only Africans do this. Citizens of SVG and other Caribbean countries do cleaning jobs in North America and Europe. And many of them do not want to return to SVG or any Caribbean country.
It is unfair for the writer to use the United Nations’ reports to support his claims against Africa. The United Nations has always taken the time to highlight the causes of the crisis gripping Africa. The annual Trade and Development Report, and the Least Developed Countries Report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) have always highlighted the constraints facing Africa. For instance, the Trade and Development Report 2000, states that, “Neither the domestic nor the external conditions are yet right for an African growth revival. In many countries, political conflicts and the weather left economic policy makers with few options. The vagaries of global commodity markets took their toll. Weak prices for beverages and a sharp downturn in cocoa and coffee prices were particularly damaging, and oil importing countries have been badly hit by hikes in prices.”
Will any serious person underestimate the systematic destruction to African civilization caused by the racists and colonialists? For more information on this please read Walter Rodney’s book titled “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa”, and also “The Black Man’s Burden” by Basil Davidson.
The people who have promoted the African dimensions of our identity are not saying that something is wrong with the Vincentian/Caribbean identity. As a matter of fact those same people have always been in the forefronts of defending the best interests of SVG. To support his arguments, Diogenes quoted Calypsonian Black Stalin. But Black Stalin is among the Caribbean cultural artistes who have consistently defended his African identity. The same song Diogenes quoted from also highlighted the effectiveness of the Rastafari movement in forging Caribbean unity. In addition, Black Stalin has emphasized his African identity in many of his songs.
Furthermore, social sciences have always maintained the essentiality of identity in the life of society. Sociology, psychology, anthropology, etc. have proven that unless a society has a genuine identity, based on its history, legacies and culture, that same society will be stagnant and filled with social ills.
We cannot speak of a Vincen- tian/Caribbean identity and fail to include the African dimensions. Vincentian and Caribbean identities are profoundly African but not many people have recognized this because of the hundreds of years of brainwashing or psychological warfare. At what point in our history did black people in the Caribbean stop being African? Where and when did it happen?
Indeed, there is much work to be done to be free from mental slavery.
Maxwell Haywood