October is Heritage Month for the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) and in 2017 there were a number of activities to observe these including the JNHT Lecture Series. The lecture series is a set of lectures with the same topic delivered to the public at various locations across Jamaica. This has been a feature of Heritage Month Celebrations for over a decade.

This year the JNHT selected the topic Pan Africanism- Garvey’s Perspective which was to be delivered by Steven Golding, president of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). The topic was selected owing to the resurgence of interest in Garvey and ideas of race resulting from the recent controversy of the Garvey bust at the University of the West Indies, Mona,  as well as the rise of the Black Lives Matter Campaign in the United States of America. It was felt that the exploration of issues of race and Africa through the eyes and philosophy of Jamaica’s first National Hero would be ideal. This would introduce his ideas to a new section of this generation. Additionally, these ideas would be judged and assessed to determine their relevance in today’s world.

The Rt. Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey is regarded as one of the foremost Pan-Africanists. Pan-Africianism is an ideology which advocates for the united and collective progress of people of African decent living in Africa and in the African Diaspora. Marcus Garvey’s life and work was a total manifestation of this. Marcus Garvey dedicated his life for the advancement of the Black race and his main political ideas included pride and confidence in the race, economic and political self reliance, unity of the Black race, and the redemption of Africa by its children. The UNIA, an organisation founded by Garvey, remains committed to the achievement of these goals. Though Garvey never lived to see his ideals manifested in the way he desired, his ideas and plans still form a positive blue print for Blacks to follow, even in the twenty-first century.

Steven Golding delivered the lectures on November 9 at the Institute of Jamaica in Kingston, on November 10 at the Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College in St James and Northern Caribbean University on November 12. During the lectures he pointed out the meaning of Pan- Africansim and the circumstances of slavery and its racial nature and how this gave Africans a sense of collective identity hitherto not known or necessary. In addition, European and American imperialism and oppression brought an element of common consciousness among Africans and their descendants outside of Africa. These common experiences of oppression based on race significantly contributed to the Pan Aricanist philosophy that urged Blacks to be united in their effort for their collective advancement.  Among the many points Golding made was that the History of Africans was not to be defined in relation to slavery but that the African race had a long and proud history before the advent of slavery. Africa, he pointed out had a glorious past and like Garvey he believed Africa and its children had a glorious future to work towards.

      Golding (with back turned) responding to a question at the Northern Caribbean University after delivering Heritage Month Lecture

Golding used the opportunity to delve in many facts about African History which he identified as being of importance to the understanding of the Black race and identity. His words were eagerly received by the primarily student audiences in attendance and from all indications his words sparked much interest of those in attendance in the life and works of Garvey.

The JNHT will be hosting other activities geared towards educating the public in the near future. Look out for them.

                                     Steven Golding with students at Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College after delivering lecture on Marcus Garvey

Submitted by:
Duane Harris
Public Education Officer,
Jamaica National Heritage Trust