Caribbean InTransit, the Lab Community & ZIFF in Zanzibar

CIT_Lab Community _Zanzi Postcard

‘At the heart of every freedom movement you will find artistic expression…’

Almost 110 years ago a Trinidadian joined forces with an Antiguan to establish the African Association. Trinidadian barrister Henry Sylvester Williams wanted to draw representatives of “African race from all the parts of the world.” and established the African Association (AA) to “encourage a feeling of unity [and] facilitate friendly intercourse among Africans,” and “promote and protect the interests of all subjects claiming African descent, wholly or in part, in British Colonies and other place, especially in Africa.” Rev. H. Mason Joseph of Antigua served as chairman.

Now Three Caribbean women are collaborating to continue this legacy by support in youth empowerment in the African diaspora. Bishop Anstey High School alumni Marielle Barrow and Tonni Ann Brodber, alongside Letitia Nicholas of Antigua are part of the team that will be leading 2 workshops at the 18th annual Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF).

ZIFF is a local festival with international reach and influence. In addition to screening films from the African diaspora, ZIFF hosts exhibitions, workshops, and cultural tours that take participants to the heart of the community, complementing films for an integrated experience. The lead workshop this year is Youth Empowerment and Leadership in the African Diaspora led by Barrow, Brodber and Nicolas and their organisations Caribbean InTransit and the LAB Community.

Marielle Barrow is the Founder of Caribbean InTransit, a network of scholars, artists, entrepreneurs, and policy makers that produce educational creative content and entrepreneurship workshops. Brodber and Nicholas are founding members of the LAB Community a group of artists, development practitioners and scholars whose objective is to support indigenous and practical community lead development.

When asked why Zanzibar Nicholas said ‘Zanzibar is small in size but powerful in influence. Zanzibar was once the seat of the Omani Empire and one of the worlds most prosperous slave ports. Since this year marks the beginning of the decade of the African Descendant we felt it fitting to confront the circle that began with African peoples and cultures leaving the continent and spreading throughout the world.’

‘We in the African diaspora are united not only by a shared history of oppression but a shared legacy of survival’ said Brodber. ‘ We often look to others to continue the legacy of Padmore CLR James and the many other women and men who contribute to the Pan-African Movement and the liberation movement in general, but why not us? A few pilgrims from the Caribbean Sea.’

The workshop will include youth 13 -25 who will be encouraged to interrogate the principles of Pan-Africanism, to enhance their leadership skills and awareness about Africa and the diaspora. The workshop will also promote dialogue between adults and youth and actively engage young people in envisioning development for their communities that mainstreams youth issues and positions youth as critical to decision-making and leadership processes.

Art will play a critical role in the workshop. An artist herself Barrow shared that ‘At the heart of every freedom movement you will find artistic expression. If you think of development as collective freedom, then art would have to play a central role in keeping us grounded while allowing us to imagine the reality we want for ourselves.’

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