Op-Ed: Nelson Mandela and the Caribbean

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - June 26, 2013

By David P Rowe
Op-Ed Contributor

As the world prays for his health today, it is worth bearing in mind that Nelson Mandela is a significant political and philosophical exemplar for the Caribbean.

Most Caribbean islands are racially black with large poor underclasses of people who in many ways do not participate in the economic lives of their countries.

When they look at Mandela, they see a man who was able to dismantle the colonial system of racial oppression called Apartheid. Mandela’s personal sacrifice after being incarcerated for 27 years in various prisons is a symbol for all Caribbean leadership.

Mandela said that “like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.”

The Caribbean people who have been fighting against man-made poverty are inspired by the profundity of Mandela’s philosophy.

Every Caribbean nation has recognized Mandela for his contribution to world peace. In fact, his last visit out of South Africa was to Trinidad where, seeking support for the 2010 World Cup, he was made to feel the hero that he really is.

The 2004 visit came 13 years after Mandela’s visit to Jamaica, one which stoked passions and emotions.

During the 1970s and 1980s, many Caribbean leaders including Michael Manley and Forbes Burnham were extremely critical of the Apartheid regime in South Africa, which prevented whites and blacks from working together, living together and socializing. Mandela was recognized in the Caribbean as destroying this horrid system.

Africans and Caribbean people mostly share the same racial pedigree.Most people people in the Caribbean arrived because their forebears were slaves taken from Africa to achieve the economic goals of European plantocrats. Many of these Africans died in the Middle Passage, the primitive journey of 4-6 weeks across the Atlantic, or arrived in the Caribbean with nothing. Caribbean people have always felt an affinity for their African cousins particularly where the issue of European economic exploitation arises.

It’s no surprise that in recent years a number of Caribbean countries, including Jamaica and Haiti, have sought to re-engage Africa and deepen ties with the continent.

Mandela’s plight, struggle, serene disposition and equanimity towards all people have forged a lasting liink between all Caribbean and African people and their mutual hope for a better future.

Norman Manley, Alexander Bustamante, Grantley Adams and Mandela’s other Caribbean contemporaries, eschewed violence in their struggles for self-determination: indeed, reconciliation and mediation rather than bloodshed was his reasoned approach to nation-building which took root decades before in the Commonwealth Caribbean.

Much of the current crop of Caribbean leaders seems mediocre when compared with Mandela. How many of our current politicians would go to jail on principle for anything?

As we hope for his health to improve, Mandela’s meaning to the Caribbean should not be forgotten.

David P Rowe is an attorney in Jamaica and Florida and an adjunct law professor at the University of Miami School of Law in Coral Gables, Fla.
Note: the opinions expressed in Caribbean Journal Op-Eds are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Caribbean Journal.

Popular Posts the sexiest beaches including this resort at atlantis

The Sexiest Beaches in the Caribbean to Visit Right Now 

One is a beach with a nightclub-style pool right next door. Another is filled with beach bars — and even has its own au natural corner. Then there’s a beach that’s practically a nonstop party.  There are so many things that […]


The Best Caribbean Islands to Visit This Summer, From Antigua to St Croix

verandah antigua

We’ve been saying it for years, and we’ll keep saying it: in some ways, the Caribbean is even better in the summer months. The water is warm. It’s a bit less crowded, a little bit quieter. At night, the trade […]


The Winners of the 2024 Caribbean Green Awards 

caribbean green

With almost 20,000 votes, the winners of the Caribbean Green Awards 2024 Presented by E-Finity have been crowned.  From state-of-the-art marine conservation projects to hotels that are redefining sustainability, the Green movement has never been stronger in the Caribbean.  “This […]


Related Posts beach bungalow on the sand with reflection of water

Curacao’s Newest All-Inclusive Resort Reinvents the Beach Bungalow

Hyatt’s Dreams brand first debuted on the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao back in 2019, a transformation of what had been the Hilton Curacao. In many ways, Dreams’ debut helped change the game for the island, helping to kick off […]


WestJet Is Coming Back to Bonaire for a Second Season

blue water next to chairs and a balcony

The newest gateway for Canadian travelers to the Dutch Caribbean is coming back again for a second season this upcoming winter, Caribbean Journal has learned.  WestJet, which kicked off its first-ever flights between Toronto and Bonaire last year, has announced […]


How The Sands at Grace Bay Resort Defines the Turks and Caicos Vacation 

palapas on grace bay beach in turks and caicos

You’re right on Grace Bay Beach, one of the best in the world. Your room is spacious and comfortable, with every amenity you need and the ingredients for any vacation you choose. This is the essence of the Turks and […]


SUBSCRIBE!

Sign up for Caribbean Journal's free newsletter for a daily dose of beaches, hotels, rum and the best Caribbean travel information on the net.


No. Thank You