By Makeida Antonio
A man known for both cultural and political contributions to Antigua and Barbuda has once again called on the Ministry of Education to consider implementing a history curriculum which boosts knowledge of the country’s African heritage in schools.
United Progressive Party (UPP) candidate for St John’s City West Alister Thomas told Observer – in the wake of Rastafarian leader King Frank-I’s passing last week – that the society should not wait until national icons have died to celebrate their life’s work.
Thomas said this practice creates an environment where Black Caribbean people have a lack of knowledge of themselves as descendants of African nations.
“We have failed ourselves as a Caribbean people, primarily in our education system. We have failed in our education of consciousness. We do not carry an appreciation of ourselves.
“Many people have gone through school and never been taught about African history and Africa being the cradle of civilisation,” Thomas said in an interview.
Additionally, Thomas blamed the backbiting nature of politics in the region on why freedom fighters have been largely demonised in the public eye while they are alive.
“I think what we can learn from this whole experience is that … this divisive politics that we have in the Caribbean, that we have inherited and nurtured, it prevents us from appreciating and celebrating the lives of Caribbean people,” he argued.
The Ali and Associates CEO, who had shared moments with King Frank-I on radio regarding sports, culture and politics, believes that failure to celebrate Black people in predominantly Black countries is a clear remnant of colonisation from the British.
“I think there is nothing singularly more contributable to us not celebrating the living more than the Caribbean politics that we have inherited from the British.
“What we need to do is rise above that system as citizens and some of us attempt to do that, to celebrate people when they are alive and not when they are dead,” Thomas reiterated.
The UPP candidate suggested that the history curriculum be reviewed to uphold African history and literature while moving away from Eurocentric ideologies.
“In my view, one of the things that would contribute to the celebration of our lives is celebrating ourselves in our curriculum but we do not do that. We need to revisit our curriculum so something like Black and African history should be a compulsory subject,” Thomas added.
Veteran Antiguan media personality and Ambassador Franklyn “King Frank-I” Francis died on December 6. Tributes have since flooded in from those testifying to his momentous legacy. Observer has reached out to King Frank-I’s family who have said they are not yet ready to speak. fron