Poets, as most Trinidadians know, are people who write words that rhyme or, if they’re really good poets, don’t.
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Emancipation—forwarding generations triumphantly
“Old pirates, yes, they rob I/Sold I to the merchant ships,/Minutes after they took I/ From the bottomless pit. But my ’and was made strong/By the ’and of the Almighty. We forward in this generation triumphantly. Won’t you help to sing/These songs of freedom? ’Cause all I ever have, Redemption songs,/Redemption songs. Emancipate yourself from mental slavery,/None but ourself can free our minds./Have no fear for atomic energy,/’Cause none of them can stop the time.
How long shall they kill our prophets,/While we stand aside and look?/Some say it’s just a part of it,/We’ve got to fulfil de book. Won’t you help to sing these songs of freedom?/Cause all I ever have,/Redemption songs…”
Emancipation Day is a time to rejoice in the knowledge that we can make choices. Being empowered to choose from options is the essence of freedom. Of course, there are many among us who do not have the ability to access prevailing opportunities because of illiteracy, dire poverty, among other constraints. They are free to dream of escaping from their unenviable states and to sing redemption songs, but pursuing and fulfilling their dreams is a long and torturous road.
They—the pirates—sold ancestors to merchant ships, but the ancestors were made strong by a higher power and eventually triumphed. The triumph was not due solely to release from physical bondage. It was a triumph of mental and spiritual strength over adversity. Still, while the chains no longer cut through flesh to the bone, the legendary Bob Marley said in song that full emancipation would happen when we release the chains that bound our minds.
These generations must move forward without fear of the forces that could pull them backward. They can’t “stand aside and look.” The forces are as destructive as “atomic energy” that obliterates memories of prophets who struggled and died so we could be free.