On this Africa Day, we at the PJ Patterson Institute for Africa Caribbean Advocacy celebrate the significance of this day and of Africa as the true motherland for many in the Caribbean and the broader African Diaspora. We celebrate our dedication to building a brighter future through education and collaboration with African nations.

Our Shared African-Caribbean Connections
As Caribbean people, we owe much to Africa for our culture and sense of belonging. Acknowledging the undeniable historical ties between the Caribbean and Africa, where both regions were profoundly shaped by the transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans—a tragic chapter in human history that forcibly displaced millions of Africans to the Caribbean—is essential. Despite the brutality of this experience, it is crucial to recognise the resilience and strength of those who survived and the enduring cultural legacies they carried with them.

Across the Caribbean and Africa, there exists a wealth of traditional knowledge passed down through oral traditions, storytelling, music, and art. This folk information encompasses a vast array of subjects, from medicinal practices and agricultural techniques to spiritual beliefs and historical narratives.

The interconnectedness between the Caribbean and Africa offers a powerful platform for collaboration and knowledge exchange. By recognising and embracing our shared heritage, we can harness the wealth of traditional knowledge and cultural practices that have sustained our communities for generations. As we continue to learn from the past, we recognise that education is a tool for empowerment and a pathway to healing and transformation. Indeed, it is fitting that this year’s theme for Africa Day is ‘Educate an African Fit for the 21st Century: Building resilient education systems for increased access to inclusive, lifelong, quality, and relevant learning in Africa.’

Central to this vision is the need to build resilient education systems that ensure increased access and equity for all learners. We must remove barriers to education, whether they be economic, cultural, or systemic, and ensure that every child has the opportunity to learn and grow to his or her full potential.

But access alone is not enough. We must also prioritise the quality and relevance of education, ensuring that it equips learners with the skills they need to succeed in the modern world. This means embracing innovative teaching methods, incorporating technology into the classroom, and fostering critical thinking, creativity, problem-solving skills, and knowledge of Africa.

Moreover, education must be lifelong and inclusive, extending beyond the classroom and reaching learners of all ages and backgrounds. Whether through formal schooling, vocational training, or community-based initiatives, we must create opportunities for continuous learning and skill development throughout people’s lives.

As we strive to educate African and Caribbean people fit for the 21st century, we must also confront the legacies of colonialism and oppression that continue to shape our education systems. This means decolonising curricula, promoting indigenous knowledge systems, and celebrating the diversity of African cultures and languages. We must work together, across borders and boundaries, to share best practices, resources, and expertise. By harnessing the collective wisdom and ingenuity of African peoples, we can build a brighter future for generations to come.

Today, we honour the resilience of African peoples and reaffirm our dedication to creating inclusive, lifelong, quality, and relevant learning opportunities for all people in the Caribbean, Africa, and the wider African diaspora. One of the most significant opportunities lies in the retention and revitalisation of folk information. By incorporating this folk information into formal education systems, we can create more inclusive and culturally relevant curricula that resonate with students’ lived experiences. This not only enriches the learning process but also fosters a sense of pride and belonging among learners, strengthening their connection to their heritage and identity.

On this Africa Day, let us envision a future where Africa and people of African descent claim their rightful place at the forefront of the international stage. It is a vision of a world where diversity is celebrated, prejudices are dismantled, and equity reigns supreme.

As we commemorate this day, let us aspire to forge a new world order built on principles of fairness, respect, and sovereignty for all nations, regardless of their size or military power. With its rich tapestry of cultures, histories, and contributions, Africa has long been overlooked and underestimated. But now, the time has come for Africa to rise, lead, and shape the future through education, building a future where education serves as a catalyst for empowerment, equity, and social justice across the Caribbean, Africa, and the wider African diaspora.

Tremendous opportunities for growth and transformation exist to address the educational challenges facing the Caribbean, Africa, and the wider African diaspora. It is crucial to recognise the profound connections that bind our regions together, not only through shared history but also through cultural heritage and the retention of valuable folk information.

Furthermore, embracing the cultural connections between the Caribbean and Africa can facilitate greater academic and economic opportunities for individuals and communities. Collaborative initiatives in areas such as research, technology, and entrepreneurship can help bridge the gap between these regions, fostering innovation and sustainable development. As a collective, we can forge a path towards a brighter and more prosperous future.