Caribbean Nationalism vs African Nationalism?
Examining the Rift between Black Caribbean’s and Africans
Garvey’s call for all black people to “look to Africa” has been answered with an insolent “for what?” Proud of their culture, Afro- Caribbean peoples’ perceived superiority over other cultures has been incredibly divisive. Even among themselves Caribbean islanders create boundaries and hierarchies between the popular countries and so called “small islands.” Though these implausible partitions are numerable, they pale in comparison to the well-known battle between Africa and Caribbeans. The belief that “Caribbean people were infinitely superior to the African, who lived in mud huts and didn’t know how to comb their hair” (BBC, 2006) has been ingrained in society through music, comedy and popular culture. Consequently the Pan-African “endeavor to return to traditional African concepts of culture, society and values” (Department of Social Affairs of the African Union, 2013) is seen as a downgrade and unappealing.
Attempts to bridge the divide has not been for lack of opportunity. Some would point to Kwame Nkrumah’s historic invitation for the diaspora to return to the motherland as evidence that African politicians have been willing to welcome their displaced descendants, even if by preferring to obtain residences in the United States and UK (despite great bureaucracy) these opportunities were largely shunned. On the other hand, can we honestly argue Africans typically extend an open invitation to Caribbean people. As recent as 2006, leading UK politicians of African descent had commented that Caribbean people are “African no longer,” (BBC, 2006) and that the general willingness of Black Africans to disassociate themselves from any stereotypical behaviour of Caribbean people is strong. It is clear unification between the cultures have been damaged by stereotypes, and demonstrate the enduring success of colonial divide and rule tactics.
However great strides have been made to bridge the gap between cultures, or that we all know a child who is half African-half Caribbean, or attended a cross-cultural wedding, the macro-social development of our community is contingent on the strength of our intercultural bonds. Contingent on Pan Africanism engineering such cultural integration in a hope of realising the key tenet to it’s name, unity.
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