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PM notably absent again as Emancipation Day march fills city streets

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Published: 
Saturday, August 2, 2014
Members of the Civilian Conservation Corp chant Bob Marley's 'Redemption Song' along Independence Square, Port-of-Spain, during yesterday's annual Emancipation Day parade. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ

As the strains of Ella Andall’s “Bring down de power” resonated through the streets of Port-of-Spain, hundreds of people took part in yesterday’s Emancipation Day celebrations, hosted by the Emancipation Support Committee.

Decked in colourful African wear, young and old, gathered outside the Treasury Building and on the Brian Lara Promenade—the site where thousands of slaves assembled after storming into Port-of-Spain to protest their new “apprentice status.” 

The site is also where the emancipation proclamation was read, announcing the start of the end of slavery.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who did not attend last year’s celebrations, was also notably absent this year.

Minister of National Diversity and Social Integration Rodger Samuel who delivered the feature address urged that the true meaning of emancipation be honoured.

Samuel called on people to adopt the meaning of emancipation into their daily lives and not just view it as an ordinary day.

“We celebrate not just Emancipation Day, not just as a holiday but we celebrate emancipation as a way of life and I always say it is important for us to understand that emancipation came at a great cost to our ancestors and it is something that each and every one of us of ancestry must cherish with passion.

“We must take ownership from here on leave a legacy for the next generation of people of African descent to take to the next level,” Samuel said.

He said emancipation did not signal a right for people to do what they wanted should empower people to do what was right including a right to live freely and a right to be free.

Saying that the rest of the world could learn a lesson from T&T’s rich culture, Samuel added that education was a key aspect in changing lives.

“We must embark upon a stringent way forward education wise. We have to go behind and look at as psyche of the average person not just our youths.

“We are a different kind of people. I always say that we fete in the coup or go and lime where there is a hurricane watch. We would do things that are different and because we are so trivial and jovial about things we sometimes take things for granted,” Samuel said.

He also called on the private sector to invest more in emancipation celebrations so as to move it forward.

Also speaking was Kafra Kambon, chairman of the committee, who said yesterday’s theme was “reparation.”

“So many people who are being oppressed in this world in ways that do not amount to what the Africans suffered. They have been paid reparation and yet you have some of our people asking why should we be paid reparation even though the worst crime against humanity was committed against African people,” Kambon said.

He said such crimes were also committed against indigenous people.

After the formal launch, the masses made their way through the city’s streets of to the Lidj Yasu Omowale Village at the Queen’s Park Savannah, with Moko Jumbies, African drummers and chanting Orisha groups leading the way.