BRIDGETOWN, Barbados— Mia Mottley, the Prime Minister of Barbados, is known for her bold calls to the international community, and on Tuesday she delivered a keynote address challenging her fellow Caribbean countries.
In a speech kicking off the three-day Caribbean Travel Marketplace, Mottley challenged delegates of the annual Caribbean travel forum to be “shapers” of their own destiny rather than “takers of circumstances shaped by others.”
She quoted the words of Marcus Garvey, popularized by Bob Marley: “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery that sees you being a taker, not a shaper.”
While her speech centered tourism as a key driver in creating generational wealth, Mottley’s message is applicable well beyond it.
She used tourism as an example of how some people have escaped poverty, created wealth, and uplifted communities, adding that the importance of this sector or any other is people coming together to determine their destiny and not waiting on anyone else to take action.
“If you don’t summon the courage to claim your destiny, then you will continue to be victims of a globally uncertain world,” Mottley said.
The Bajan leader has been practicing what she preaches. Mottley played a vital role in strengthening trade and diplomatic ties between the Caribbean and Africa, making Barbados home to the first Africa-Caribbean Trade and Investment Forum in 2022.
That same year, Mottley was a key player in establishing a joint Caribbean Community (CARICOM) diplomatic mission in Nairobi, Kenya. The first-ever CARICOM-Africa Summit was also held in 2021.
In recent years, Mottley has also emerged as an advocate for a global emphasis on reparatory justice, with Africa playing an active role. She has also urged world leaders to pay attention to how small-island developing countries of the Caribbean and their tourism-dependent economies have been impacted by external shocks such as the recent COVID-19 pandemic and the broader ongoing issue of climate change.
When asked how her message applies to the African Diaspora, Mottley told ESSENCE: “Think of Ubuntu,” she said. “The beauty of this African concept, which means ‘I am because we are,’ is that it acknowledges that it is in working together that makes a difference, the power of the collective,” she added during the opening of the marketplace at Ilaro Court, the prime minister’s official residence.
In closing, the respected global leader said her hope is that the speech is “sufficient inspiration for motivation to action.”