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Honouring an African leader
By Deborah John, trinidadexpress.com
A poster advertising the Black Star Line Steamship Corp. Sometime in early 1919, Garvey projected the idea of an all black steamship company that would link the coloured peoples of the world in commercial and industrial intercourse. “Now is the time,” he said, “for the Negro to invest in the Black Star Line so that in the near future he may exert the same influence upon the world as the white man does today.”
Soon, The Negro Factories Co-operation was formed. This co-operative included a chain of groceries, restaurants, steam laundries, small-scale industries and publishing houses and under Garvey’s dynamic leadership. The UNIA also founded the Black Star Shipping Line and later, the Black Cross Navigation Co. To further propagate the philosophy of Pan African nationalism, Garvey and the UNIA founded the weekly newspaper, Negro World, which was distributed in America, England, Canada, Africa, the entire Caribbean and almost every corner of the world where Africans lived at that period in time.
Tony Martin writes: “The UNIA was an international movement of massive proportions. At its height in the 1920s it contained over 1,200 branches in over 40 countries. Its membership spread to almost every nook and cranny of the world where African people lived in appreciable numbers.
“In many areas where there were no organised units of the association, individuals could still be found in spirit and who subscribed to Garvey’s principles.”
It wasn’t long before his enemies saw the UNIA as a threat and began to wage a campaign of terror against the UNIA and the progressive works of Marcus Garvey.
This campaign not only arose from the governments of England and the United States, but also from communists and certain African intellectuals, such as WEB Dubois, CLR James, A Phillip Randolph and George Padmore (who would later change his philosophy to Pan Africanism after being rejected by the Communist party).
The UNIA and Garvey’s philosophy has often been misinterpreted by many, as being the “Back to African Movement”, as being a racist organisation and under the leadership of a racist leader.
Garvey had never advocated total repatriation for all Africans in the Diaspora to Africa. Garvey and the UNIA advocated that Africans in the Diaspora with high technological skills should make their contributions to the development of the Motherland, Africa.
He sent doctors, lawyers, engineers, technicians and other professionals to Liberia as part of the UNIA’s contribution to the industrialisation, liberation and unification of Africa and African people.
Before his untimely death on June 10, 1940, in England, Garvey left statements with us that were to be beneficial to all African people, if put into practice at all times. He said:
“The greatest weapon used against African people is disorganisation” and “Africa for the Africans, those at home and those abroad. We have a beautiful history and we shall create another in the future that will astonish the world.”
Garvey inspired generations of great Africans, past and present, including: Patrice Lumumba, Kwame Nkrumah, Malcolm X, Elijah Muhammed, Kwame Ture (Stokley Carmichael), Yosef Ben Jochannan and Hoki Madhubuti.
This weekend, various Rastafarian groups and popular entertainment personalities will honour the memory of the Honourable Marcus Garvey on the anniversary of (what would have been) his 115 birthday.
—Additional reporting Nigel Telesford Printer friendly version
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