Bermuda’s Former Premier explains initiative on African Diaspora Heritage Trails

brown_and_Obama “It is time to ignite the fire and we must not stop now,” says the Honorable Dr. Ewart F. Brown, former Premier of Bermuda, who also served as the country’s Minister of Tourism and Transportation. The leader of this Renaissance movement to reawaken awareness of African heritage worldwide, Dr. Brown has continued to surge his plans forward through the African Diaspora Heritage Trail (ADHT) initiative, a program that was put in place by the Bermudian Government over ten years ago.  Goals of the ADHT initiative include educating communities, promoting visitation, enhancing the economic viability of African Diaspora countries, and conserving the essence of Africa traditions, culture and history.

Dr. Brown explained that there is more to our African heritage than dress, fashion, changing names and hairstyles. “Being an African is more than those things, it is a method of thinking, it is an outlook and above all it is a sense of history,” asserts the charismatic leader, who first became the Minister of Tourism and Transportation in 2004. Premier Brown believes that these dual roles along with being the country’s leader have helped in spreading the word about ADHT, Bermuda, its tourism products and all the attractive features the country has to offer.  “I have always tried to strike the right balance in any project I engage in,” he says.

When Dr. Brown was in office, the Bermuda Government made a number of proposals, including issuing the Vision Statement: Taking Bermuda to the next level.” I am relentless, not easily intimidated and I truly believed in what I did for the benefit of the people of Bermuda. So that is what drives me,” he adds. In addition to promoting tourism and ADHT, the former premier’s vision plans included taking Bermuda to the next level include indigent medical care, traffic congestion, environmental concerns over development and waste disposal, race relations, and independence for Bermuda.

Dr. Brown, an internationally acclaimed physician who spent many years practicing medicine in the US before returning to Bermuda, has sponsored five annual ADHT with the coordinator Dr. Gaynelle Henderson of Henderson Travel and Tours. These conferences have continuously brought together stellar panels of noted educators, historians, culture experts, high ranking government and tourism officials and even some celebrities. The original idea of the late, then minister of tourism David Allen, the ADHT conferences have been gaining momentum ever since the mantle was taken up by Dr. Brown.

brown_kids1In addition to the being at the forefront of ADHT and other tourism initiatives, Dr. Brown is a community-minded leader who has also served as Medical Director of Bermuda HealthCare Services, with endeavors to provide Bermuda with efficient and cost-effective health care. He was elected by the ruling Progressive Labour Party Government to be the leader of the Party and the leader of the country, and was sworn in as the Party's third Premier in 2006. In all of his roles from one end of Bermuda to the other, he has proven to be a strong leader and counselor for the people of his country. He even has friends across the party lines, and is adamant about supporting young people in furthering their education.

Dr. Brown has emerged as a world leader of what is coming together as an African Diaspora Heritage Renaissance. “I am pleased that this global initiative has grown over the past years to include the supporting African and Caribbean Nations adopting ADHT in their respective countries,” he says.  “Our primary objective is to ensure that the ADHT cross border initiative continues to develop internationally, and that the ADHT initiative becomes financially viable through introduction of membership and corporate sponsorship programs. However, we are confronted with the limited internal resources to complete this significant task.”

He goes on to say that the concept of the African Diaspora Heritage and history has been recognized globally for several decades. “Our challenge is the cultural tourism concept of the African Diaspora Heritage Trail. This (concept) is new to the global marketplace and has therefore been our mission to educate and promote its numerous benefits such as economic prosperity within the local communities and enhancement of cultural tourism including supporting industries to potential host countries.”

This past year Premier Brown led a Bermudian delegation to Tanzania for the 5th International African Diaspora Heritage Trail Conference. He said that this was important because for the first time this pivotal conference will be held in Africa, going back to its roots. “We called it ‘An African Homecoming’. The conference proved to be extremely successful with the development of several new ADHT heritage sites in Tanzania including Zanzibar thus linking Africa to Bermuda through cultural tourism.  Tanzania is the first African Nation to embrace this project as a result of this conference.”

brown_and_wifePremier Brown, who has been honored for grassroots service to medicine and for his genuine humanitarian efforts in the community, says that the ADHT Bermuda Foundation has now generated interests from the Northern, Southern, and Western regions of Africa as wells as the United States, Canada, Europe and the Caribbean to become a part of the African Diaspora Heritage Trail global tourism initiative.  Relentless in his leadership efforts, Brown is the recipient of many awards and honors including the Physicians Recognition Award in 1977 from the American Medical Association, the Dubois Academic Institute's Community Leadership Award in 1982; the Pacesetter Award from the NAACP in 1984 and the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Marcus Garvey School in Los Angeles in 1999. He serves and sits on the board of many medical, educational and civic organizations.

Born in Bermuda, Dr. Brown attended primary and secondary schools in Bermuda before moving to live with an aunt in Jamaica, where he excelled in sports, particularly cricket and track and field. In 1966 he represented Bermuda at the Commonwealth Games in Kingston, Jamaica where he ran the 400 meters and 1600 meter relay. His sporting achievements led him to attend college in the United States, where he obtained a medical degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C., and a master’s in public health from University of California. After running a medical clinic in the United States for many years, Dr. Brown returned to Bermuda and began his political life in 1993 at the urging of then-PLP organization. He then decided to make his home country the focal point of his expertise and leadership endeavors. Premier Brown's political career and work as a public servant has spanned three decades.

It is his leadership that has garnered Bermuda’s recognition as the world leader and founder of the ADHT initiative by which persons of African descent can build global networks to educate, preserve and promote their significant contributions made to the economic viability and rich cultural heritage of their respective Diaspora country.  “It is the objective of the ADHT Bermuda Foundation to link the numerous organizations and countries with similar objectives under one umbrella where the resources are combined to achieve our primary goals relating to the promotion and preservation of our Diaspora history, “declares Premier Brown.

Premier Brown is married to Wanda Henton Brown, and has four sons: Maurice, Ewart III, and Donovan.  In his downtime, he relaxes with his family, enjoys travelling, exercising and golf.

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Photo Credits: Top: Dr. Brown and President Obama, RoyalGazette.com
Right: Dr. Brown with Kids, plp.bm
Left: Dr. Brown and wife, Bermudasun.org
Bottom: ADT Travel Journalists, Kristina Pope, writer, and Matthieu Chatelain, photographer, with the Premier and his wife