PM praises Africa: Covid19 pandemic showed Caricom’s ‘real friends’

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Prime Minister Dr Rowley and President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo at the commissioning ceremony for the Prempeh I International Airport in Kumasi on May 10. – Courtesy OPM

THE Prime Minister has praised Africa for assisting Caricom during the covid19 pandemic, which helped provide hope during a time when that seemed to be “mission impossible.”

He added the pandemic revealed Caricom’s “real friends” as some other traditional business partners opted to horde resources for themselves.

Dr Rowley was speaking at the silver jubilee celebration of His Royal Majesty Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, The Asantehene in Kumasi, Ghana.

He was invited as the guest of honour.

Rowley said he brought best wishes of the people of TT and that he was “truly honoured for invite.”

He said it was his third visit to Ghana as Prime Minister and he remains “struck by the bonds of friendship (and) the bonds of brotherhood that bring me back to this beautiful country.” He said this was a manifestation of the fraternity and friendship between the two countries.

It was this, Rowley said, that inspired him to invite the people of Ghana to TT’s 2023 Emancipation Day celebrations.

“Coming from a long line of Asante kings, your (Osei Tutu II) esteemed presence in TT was a reflection of the bridge that connects our land to our great ancestral kingdom and traditions, which reminds us of who we are and where we have come from.”

That bridge, he said, also connects both countries to work towards the “rich possibility of a shared future full of promised and potential.”

Quoting Osei Tutu II, Rowley said he reminded TT it has “no choice but to join hands together, work together, think together, plan together and pull ourselves together to life our countries out of the distress of the moment into the prosperity that is our destiny.”

Rowley said after his last visit to Ghana in 2020, when he returned to TT, there was the issue of the covid19 pandemic.

“That hurt us all.

“When there was much uncertainty of how we would cope and manage the devastation of the pandemic on our economies and societies in Caricom, countries in the international community, many, including our traditional, partners spared no expense to horde all of the very resources that we needed to help ourselves survive…

“They didn’t horde it for us but, rather, for themselves for the benefit of their own populations at the expense of the people of the developing world.”

He added, “That pandemic showed us – if we didn’t know before – who our real friends are and who our family is.”

He praised Ghana, South Africa and Kenya for their assistance during the height of the pandemic.

In 2021, Africa Medical Supplies Platform provided several covid19 vaccines (Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca) to TT and other Caricom countries.

“So you have some insight into my resolute confidence that through our sense of kinship, we can indeed take up any challenge.

“We will honour our past achievements and we shall craft our course to a prosperous future together.”

He said Osei Tutu II has worked for peace and stability for the Asante people, the people of Ghana and the people of Africa.

“You have been an agent for the development of your people through your work to attract investment and resources for the provision of social services and infrastructure for education, healthcare, water and sanitation.”

He added that Osei Tutu II “refined the role and image” of modern African monarchy while emphasising “the great value of traditional norms.”

Rowley also said both governments are “working on” arranging direct flights to and from the two countries.