Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bahamas Ambassador pushes closer ties with African Americans

Submitted by BIS
Monday, 17 May 2010 18:40

WASHINGTON, DC -- The idea that closer ties between The Bahamas and the African American community would benefit both communities was the theme sounded by Bahamas Ambassador to the United States His Excellency Cornelius A Smith as he addressed the 7th Pan African Prayer Breakfast, which took place in the Washington DC Metro area on Saturday under the theme “From Antiquity To Global Unity.”

Hosted by the Richard Allen Community Development Corporation and the Greater Mount Nebo African Methodist Episcopal Church, the prayer breakfast and subsequent festival were designed to “build bridges of understanding and forge diverse relationships”.

Ambassador Smith co-chaired the event, along with Benin’s Ambassador Cyrille Oguin. He referred to the fact that The Bahamas is America’s closest offshore neighbour, and said he believed “the benefits of exploiting that closeness, the potential for strengthened and newly forged relationships, cannot help but profit us all.”

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “you yourselves know of the tens of thousands of African Americans who, because of this common heritage we share, would love nothing more than to find a way to contribute to the development of the pan-African Diaspora. Well, we – the diplomatic corps here representing our countries and that very Diaspora – are here, now, and we say “Come, let us reason together!”

In addition to discussing opportunities for trade and investment in The Bahamas, Ambassador Smith touted tourism, and made particular mention of the “Religious Tourism” initiative and the convention facilities in The Bahamas.

“It is a well known fact that Stella got her groove back on the Caribbean island of Jamaica,” he said, “but I invite you to take a “closer walk” on the peaceful beaches of The Bahamas. As you plan your next retreat, or convention, or executive board meeting, or conference, investigate the benefits of holding those events in The Bahamas.”

The Ambassador said, “It is clear that we have a common opportunity now to cement the ties between us. We can and must develop a deeper and more robust trade and investment relationship. In this way, we strengthen not only the cultural bonds between ourselves, but we also strengthen the economic bonds which will help to eradicate the poverty and hopelessness that face so many of the children of Africa.”

Members of the clergy, the diplomatic corps and elected officials, as well as leaders from civil society attended the event. As part of a so-called “Pan African Covenant for Global Unity,” the clergy pledged, among other things, to extend invitations to the participating ambassadors to speak at their congregations about their nations’ goals, dreams and people.

The diplomats in turn pledged to accept those invitations, and to assist in the planning of tours that the clergy intend to take of Africa and the Caribbean.

The group also pledged as an ensemble to create a Youth Ambassadors program, and establish an Advisory Council for continued progress and movement of the collaboration between the clergy and the diplomatic corps.

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