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Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Professor Nigel Harris, has said that the Caribbean Diaspora could be a significant advocate for the interest and development of the region.
Professor Harris who was delivering the 10th Norman Manley Memorial Lecture at the Royal Geographical Society in London recently, noted that, “Caribbean migrants are gaining in political strength and are achieving some powerful successes. These individuals represent a magnificent opportunity for peoples of the Caribbean Diaspora to advocate for the interest of not only the people within the Diaspora, but to advocate for the interest of the Caribbean as a whole.”
“Persons of Caribbean origin have contributed significantly to developments in their host countries and to the development of their countries of origin as well,” he added.
Professor Harris, who spoke on the theme: ‘Mobilising a university to forge a global Caribbean community’, said that the UWI has contributed to the development of the region and has created linkages between the Caribbean and the rest of the world, in forging a global community.
Noting that efforts at regional integration have intensified over the last few years, he cited the signing of the agreement for the Caribbean Single Market at the Mona campus of the UWI in January.
“We, at the university, were especially proud to be selected for this historic occasion, not only because many of our academics contributed to the whole process, but because we were also the place where seven of the Prime Ministers, two Chief Ministers, four Governor-Generals of the Caribbean Community, received their undergraduate education,” he stated.He noted that UWI has honed a sense of regionalism and camaraderie among Caribbean leaders, who were now pursuing even closer integration.
“In the same manner that the West Indian student society in London in the 1950s fostered a keen sense of regionalism among those who gave birth to the early efforts of regional integration, the campuses of the University of the West Indies in later years, honed a similar sense of regionalism and camaraderie among our current leaders, who have been pursuing even closer forms of regional integration among member states of CARICOM.”
Meanwhile, the Professor described Norman Manley as a “great Caribbean statesman, National Hero of Jamaica and one of the principle architects of the West Indian Federation that was in everyway, the forerunner of today’s Caribbean community, an institution representing the enduring desire of the peoples of the Caribbean for closer integration amongst themselves”.
The 10th Norman Manley Lecture was sponsored and organised by the UWI Alumni Association United Kingdom in collaboration with the Jamaican High Commission.