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Joint Communique Between Barbados and the Republic of Liberia on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations

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Joy Prime Interview with Ambassador Lorenzo Llewellyn Witherspoon

Statement by Ambassador Lorenzo Llewellyn Witherspoon

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — February 12, 2024

Statement by Ambassador Lorenzo Llewellyn Witherspoon

Dear Colleagues, Pilgrims and Friends,

I am excited to inform you that at 11:30 pm SAST on February 12, 2024, registration for the Sankofa Pilgrimage to Barbados matched the number of our ancestors, 346, who left Barbados for Liberia on April 6, 1865 under a deal brokered by then-President Daniel B. Warner and the Governor General of Barbados to help build Africa's first independent Republic.

The achievement of this milestone is testimonial to the calling from their graves by our ancestors that we return, with our kith and kin, to the land where they and their ancestors were taken in bondage hundreds of years ago. It is also a recognition and validation of your respective efforts over the past two years to enable this event, not only for us, but especially for our African-Barbadian relatives whose forebears never left the island, as well as our children and theirs. But, significantly, I would be immensely remiss if I failed to remind us that the Pilgrimage is the brainchild of none other than Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, who encouraged, indeed, challenged me to embark upon a feat that was over 155 years overdue, and bring, as she put it, "her people home"!

Similarly, then-Ambassador Chad Blackman who was serving as Ambassador of Barbados provided unequalled support before, during and after my research, and enabled my 2021 meeting at Ilaro Court with Prime Minister Mottley. Senator John King, then-Minister of Culture in the Office of the Prime Minister, has been and remains an Advocate par excellence since I first met him in the meeting with the Prime Minister. Not so strangely, the surnames of both these influencers and enablers are etched on the Brig Cora manifest. Could this be providential?

Special thanks go to my daughter, Loyce, who instilled in me the need to undertake a thorough research of our family's Bajan ancestry, my uncle, Kenneth Best, whose foundational research and his book, ALBERT PORTE - A LIFETIME TRYING TO SAVE LIBERIA, provided the baseline material for my eventual 2021 Paper, PORTES FIND A NEW HOME IN LIBERIA, and my young brother, Rodney Sieh, who joined me in multiple investigative visits to Barbados and has made substantial financial and in-kind contributions to the project.

Just since beginning this alert, I now notice that registration has exceeded the 350 mark. I thank God, our ancestors and you that we are on the cusp of doing what, no doubt, they had dreamed, but never achieved – bringing us “home” to Barbados. In turn, I look forward to bringing our Bajan relatives home to Liberia, especially Crozierville, where it all began! Thank you!