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A sprinkle of Wakanda can go a long way

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Collector’s item: all five PLP premiers, from left, Paula Cox, Alex Scott, David Burt, Dame Jennifer Smith and Ewart Brown at the Wakanda Royalty Gala

The Progressive Labour Party held a Wakanda Royalty Gala on Saturday. Interestingly, although not surprisingly, from the moment this event was announced two months ago, it was branded in a negative light.

Comments such as: “Wakanda is not a real place.” “The PLP is just a bunch of elitists who do not care about the working man.” “No one is gonna show up.” “Bermudians won’t wear African clothes.” “The taxpayer is funding this party.”

It is unfortunate when people create untrue statements to berate something simply because they don’t agree with it or don’t fully understand what you are doing.

Such was the interest in the event that more than 800 tickets were bought inside a month, with hundreds turned away because the event was sold out.

Between the speeches and the entertainment, the show went on without a hitch from 6pm until 11pm — five hours of unity, mini-reunions and reflection of the many struggles for Bermudians to achieve political and social self-determination.

On Sunday morning, many people were able to view online thousands of photographs showing hundreds of people enjoying themselves. Not just having fun but adorned in multiple variations of African-themed fabric and attire.

A few facts about the event:

• The room was full of working-class people of all ages

• Money that was raised was given to five charities. Ten thousand dollars in total

• Small black businesses owned by women were able to make money by supplying fabric and sewing/altering dresses

• Black hairdressers made money by doing different African-inspired hairstyles

• Bermudian entertainers such as the Violin Sisters, Laritta Adderley and the Wall Street Band had the floor for the night

• Two strong Bermudian women — Dame Jennifer Smith and Patrice Frith-Hayward gave powerful motivational speeches

• Not one taxpayer dollar was spent on this event

Perhaps, most importantly, this is probably the biggest event in recent history that black Bermudians have fully embraced while proudly wearing African garments, make-up, hairdos and accessories.

So let us move beyond Wakanda for a minute; after all, Wakanda is a mythical place that exists only in comic books and on movie screens.

This party had a mission for this event that did the following in real-world time:

• Create business for small black entities

• Get people out of a colonial mindset for dress

• Raise money for charity

• Bring more than 800 working-class Bermudians together

As a party and, as importantly, as a government, we have a lifelong mantra and a mandate from the electorate to deliver on progressing our people culturally, economically, politically and socially.

However, the reality is that no government can force people to do what needs to be done individually and collectively.

One can put policies in place to help start small businesses, but unless people consistently support those entities, they will fail.

One can put more African history in the school curriculum and/or cultural events, but unless the people have a hunger to learn more about their culture, they will remain in a colonised mindset.

My overt point is this: we as Bermudians can clearly see what the Wakanda event did on a very small scale, and look to how we can do these things on a larger scale on a daily basis.

Instead of planning trips to Europe or Asia, take yourself and your family to see African countries. Instead of buying clothes online, purchase some fabric and give a local seamstress or tailor some work.

Most importantly, instead of waiting until the next big event, invite people over for a potluck supper.

As a closing note, the co-creator of the Marvel universe, which gave life to Wakanda, was Stan Lee, who was a fierce advocate for social and political equality.

Somewhat ironically, Mr Lee passed away on Monday, less than 48 hours after our Wakanda event.

As a tribute to his vision, I will leave you with his words written in 1968:

“Sooner or later, if man is ever to be worthy of his destiny, we must fill out hearts with tolerance. For then, and only then, will we be truly worthy of the concept that man was created in the image of God — a God who calls us all His children.”

Wakanda for ever.

Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him at WhatsApp on 599-0901 or e-mail at cfamous@plp.bm

Stan Lee, co-creator of Black Panther and Wakanda, was a fierce advocate for social equality