By Lincoln DePradine
The Coronavirus pandemic presents an opportunity for people of African descent to break the “stranglehold’’ of the United States and Europe and move forward in unity, according to Jamaica-born surgeon and medical professor Dr Julius W. Garvey.
“The pandemic has weakened Europe, weakened the United States,’’ said Garvey, keynote speaker at an online event titled, “Look for us in the Whirlwind’’.
The Black Speculative Arts Movement (BSAM), organizer of Monday’s event, described it as a “virtual global gathering and reasoning between Afrofuturists and Pan-Afrikanists’’.
BSAM, first produced by two friends at the Schomburg Center for the Study of Black Culture in New York City, has spread to Canada and other countries.
Queen Kukoyi, director for Toronto’s youth arm chapter of BSAM, said the group’s programming is diverse, encompassing such things as film, technology and agriculture.
Monday’s “virtual global gathering and reasoning’’ was a commemoration of Dr Garvey’s father, the late Afrocentric activist, human rights leader and entrepreneur, Marcus Mosiah Garvey.
The event, BSAM said, was not just to “celebrate the life’’ of Marcus Garvey, who died in 1940 at age 52 and is buried in Jamaica, but it also was to recognize “the legacy he planted that speaks to a prophetic Afrofuturistic vision of unifying and self-empowering African people’’.
Marcus Garvey campaigned for an end to European colonial rule across Africa and emphasized unity between Africans living on the continent and those in the Diaspora.
He was founding president-general of the Universal Negro Improvement Association that included branches in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, Central America and West Africa.
Marcus Garvey was talking about “African humanity’’ and “reconstructing African civilization’’, his son said in his address .
It was seen as “an ideology and a way to come together as Africans, independent of the White power structure, which was really racist and exploitative and demeaning of African people as human beings,’’ he added.
The concept, Dr Garvey explained, “was to unify Africans’’, who were fighting against such atrocities as lynching, discrimination, racism and police brutality.
“This was a hundred years ago. At some point in time, you have to ask yourself what has happened in between,’’ said Garvey the 86-year-old McGill University graduate, who has worked and lived in the United States.
He began his medical career in 1961 by interning at The Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal.
The Covid-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 787,000 people worldwide, is testing the systems of every country, Garvey said.
“Some of them are weakened or broken and those that are strong will survive. I think China will come out of it stronger,’’ Garvey predicted.
“If you look at it, you’ll see that Africans tend to move forward when there are times of crisis with the European powers that have incarcerated them.’’
At the moment, said Garvey, “there’s a general weakening of the stranglehold that has kept us back for the last 500 years. So, this is another period for us to move forward. It’s a period for us to move forward by uniting.
” It’s a period for us to move by embracing the younger generation, so that you understand what we’ve been through, you understand the history. You learn from what we’ve done, you learn from the mistakes, and then you take it and you move forward’’.
Other speakers at the “virtual global gathering and reasoning’’ included Toronto-based educator Dr Clem Curacha Marshall and Louis March, founder of the Zero Gun Violence Movement.