THE PEP COLUMN – Lamming,  Gonsalves to speak


As big as Pic-O-De-Crop, Bridgetown Market and Kadooment are, there is an even “bigger” event taking place in Barbados over this extended holiday weekend. We refer to the opening ceremony of the Assembly Of Caribbean People, which will be staged at 7:30 p.m on Tuesday August 2 at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies.The centrepiece of this historic ceremony will consist of addresses by two of the Caribbean’s most profound and important thinkers: the great George Lamming and Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines. And if ever there was a time that the people of the Caribbean needed to hear words of analysis, direction and inspiration from the wise man of the region, that time is now!All across Barbados and the rest of the region there is a palpable sense that the Caribbean is drifting aimlessly and dangerously. There is a deeply rooted suspicion that the political leadership of the Caribbean have given up on the regional integration project and are now merely going through the motions. It is against this background therefore that the addresses to the region by Messrs Lamming and Gonsalves take on a dimension of extraordinary importance.It has already been confirmed that a very representative Caribbean audience will be in place at Cave Hill Campus to hear the much anticipated words of these two Caribbean philosophers and visionaries. There will be delegations from Suriname, St Lucia, Martinique, Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba, Guyana, Anguilla, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Venezuela, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica and of course, Barbados.Messrs Lamming and Gonsalves will therefore set the tone and suggest a direction for the four intense days of discussion and decision-making that will get under way when the working sessions of the Assembly Of Caribbean People commence on the morning after the opening ceremony.The Peoples Empowerment Party of Barbados has committed itself to this Assembly Of Caribbean People simply because we understand the vital necessity of building a pan-Caribbean “people’s movement”. No longer can the Caribbean people afford the luxury of sitting back and leaving matters of regional integration and development to the whims and fancies of the official political leadership.Indeed, the theme of the assembly says it all – Caribbean People, Seize The Time!In the English-speaking Caribbean, for example, the political leadership agreed to a visionary Treaty Of Chaguaramas way back in 1973, but have consistently prevaricated and postured over its concrete implementation. And they have been able to get away with this shameful performance because there was never a serious pan-Caribbean “people’s movement” breathing down their necks and demanding accountability. Hopefully, the core of such a solid and committed pan-Caribbean“People’s movement” will emerge out of this Assembly in Barbados!And so, we now look forward with much anticipation to Lamming and Gonsalves, and a supporting cast comprised of David Abdullah and Bobby Clarke, along with such artistes as Anthony Gabby Carter, Amanda Cumberbatch and Gene Carson, kicking off five days of glorious Caribbean theorising, visioning, bonding and institution building.
•The PEP Column represents the views of the People’s Empowerment Party.


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