PHILIPSBURG--Africa Caribbean Heritage Alliance (ACHA), in cooperation with national volunteer initiative SXM Doet, the National Commission of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and Philipsburg Jubilee Library launched the Africa Resource Center at the Library.
ACHA was founded in April 2014 by Okama Ekpe Brook, who has worked for the United Nations in different parts of the world and is now in St. Maarten, and is geared towards reconnecting Africa and the Caribbean through the areas of heritage, culture, economics, education, travel and transport. Brook, originally Nigerian, fell in love with St. Maarten and the Caribbean.
The launching of the Africa Resource Center is part of ACHA’s efforts to continue on its mission of assessing the feasibility of positively reconnecting the continents.
Governor Eugene Holiday cut the ribbon to officially open Africa Resource Center. He commended SXM Doet organisers with the inclusion of this project in its island-wide volunteers programme and applauded the partnership between ACHA, the National UNESCO Commission and the Library to make this “relevant” heritage project possible.
He expressed the hope that through centralised collection and availability of information the centre would contribute to a greater knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the Africa-St. Maarten Heritage.
Brook noted that Africa is the second largest continent in the world after Asia with a population of almost one billion spread across 54 countries. She said that that Africans and the Caribbean people share much ancestral history and cultural heritage that provide a fertile ground for partnerships.
“Africans and people of African descent are strategically spread across the entire globe. The resource centre is a unifying point of convergence; a place and space where people can go to relax, to conduct research, to access certain resources or to watch a movie, listen to music or just to read a book that creates more awareness about the potential of Africa as it relates to the opportunities with the Caribbean.”
Other persons addressing the gathering included Library Director Monique Alberts and Secretary General of the National Commission for UNESCO Marcellia Henry. Alberts spoke on the rich history of Africa and highlighted the array of literature available at the library to contribute to the development of the Africa Resource Center.
Henry, for instance, mentioned the United Nations Decade for People of African Descent, noting that this declaration provides the opportunity for the UN, UNESCO, member states, civil society and other organisations to implement programmes and organise activities that focus and promote African ancestry’s recognition, justice and development.
“In proclaiming this decade, United Nations and the international community recognise that people of African origin represent a group of people whose human rights must be promoted and protected,” Henry said.
In her closing remarks, Brook thanked SXM Doet, Be The Change Foundation, Oranje Fund and Prince Bernhard Foundation for making this event possible.
The programme further included poetry, speeches, and a book presentation.
On the occasion of its first anniversary, ACHA is organising an art and essay competition for high schools titled: “The Role of Africans in St. Martin: Reconnecting the Caribbean with Africa.” The winning entries of high school students are scheduled to be announced on April 9. The deadline for the contest has been extended until Thursday, April 2.