Today marked a historic moment in the life and tenancy of the African Union – A.U.
This morning participants , special guests and observers participated in the launch and opening ceremony of the Sixth Ordinary Session of the Standing Committee of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council of the African Union.
This is the first time that a meeting of an Organ of the African Union is being convened outside of the African Continent.
One must give kudos to all who have made this possible including Khafra Kambon, David Commissiong , Emancipation Support Committee and all other workers, committees and organizations that collaborated or worked independently to ensure this success.
The Opening Ceremony was held at Hilton Trinidad & Tobago Conference Centre.
Chairing the Opening Ceremony was Dr. Jimmi Adisa , Director of the African Citizens and Diaspora Directorate of the African Union , who was very efficient in performing his role and function.
The event opened with a brief address of opening by Dr. Adisa , who explained that Khafra Kambon was unavoidably absent.
This was followed by opening remarks from David Commissiong of Barbados standing in /on behalf of Khafra , who then stated the reason of Khafra’s absence and who noted the significance of this historic meeting being held in this U.N declared International Year for people of African Descent. In his brief and concise opening remarks David noted his high expectations he has of the A.U, Diaspora Summit/Dialogue to be held in South Africa in 2012 , in which he hopes that existing and negotiated relations will be cemented at the highest level of governments.
David Commissiongs address was followed by that of Ms. Assetou Koute – Deputy Presiding Officer ( South ) of ECOSOCC – who presented in French. Ms. Assetou noted the Atlantic Ocean is a medium of connection between Island and Continent and suggested that this historic meeting had as one of it’s objectives the contextual placing of the Diaspora Region into it’s rightful place and role in forging genuine African democracy and election of governments by free and fair elections.
This was followed by another brief address by Professor Dipo Kolawole ,who again noted that this meeting is an act of integrating and coordinating the efforts of Africans at home and abroad in the efforts at global Emancipation of the African person ,economy and places of abode / domicile .
This was followed by the Keynote Address by Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs – Surujrattan Rambachan.
The Honourable Minister welcomed participants and visitors to the shores of Trinidad & Tobago and alluded to the contributions of Trinidad & Tobago persons in the consolidation and development of the Pan African concept and Movement. He noted names like Malcolm Nurse a.k.a. – George Padmore , Henrty Sylvester Williams aand C.L.R. James.
He went on to note that the ECOSOCC represents ” a key instrument … to improve the quality of people’s lives and raise their standard of living . ”
He noted that the Caribbeaan region have been very active and present at ECOSOCC meetings and noted in paricular the role of the representative of Grenada and the Grenadines.
He hoped that such a meeting as this would help foster people to people relations and would be a medium that canoffer solutions to our common challenges.
He hoped that this forum would help those in the Diaspora re – discover the cultures of their homelands of historical origin and that family values would be promoted as a consequence of this re – discovery.
The Minister then noted that the Caribbean Diaspora offered a source of skills expertise and resources that can be made available to other areas of the Caribbean Diaspora and the African continent.
Honourable Minister Rambachan also noted the current moment where both the focus on International Year for People of African Descent and the one hundreth and sixty – sixth year of Indian Arrival to the shores of Trinidad & Tobago is now taking place.
Minister Rambachan also noted that the current moment in our country’s history sees Trinidad & Tobago in collaborative efforts with Nigeria, South Africa, and Ghana among others . There are ongoing efforts to make available the experience and expertise of our Nation to these African territories and Nations as the country seeks ways to make real South /South cooperation.
The Minister wished the Meeting success in it’s deliberations and hoped that new opportunities for building stronger political ,social ,economic and cultural relations between Africa and the Caribbean Diaspora to the mutual benefit of the both regions will be one outcome.