August 6, 2020

Reparations In Focus As Caribbean Celebrates Emancipation Day

(BBC) – Chair of the Caribbean Community (Caricom), Ralph Gonsalves, called on leaders of member states to focus on reparations.

The Caribbean is celebrating the 186th anniversary of the emancipation of enslaved Africans in the region.

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The slavery abolition act was passed in 1833 and came into effect on August 1, 1834 but Africans weren’t truly free as the British Empire implemented a system of apprenticeship which extended slavery. It was only in 1838 that the system allowed enslaved people to purchase their freedom.

151 years later, in 1985, Trinidad and Tobago became the first country in the world to declare Emancipation Day a national holiday.

A 19-foot monument was unveiled in Trinidad and Tobago to commemorate the nation’s African ancestors who trumped over enslavement.

The sculpture titled “Arise” was commissioned by the emancipation support committee, with the attendance of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley and Culture Minister Dr. Nyaan Gadsby-Dolly.

Meanwhile, in his Emancipation Day message, Chair of the Caribbean Community (Caricom), Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, called on leaders of member states to focus on reparations.

Gonsalves said Caricom must fully engage the African Union to escalate a coordinated push to achieve reparatory justice and called for a more thorough public education program on the significance of the historic feat.

The regional leader used this opportunity to recall the murder of Guyanese historian and political activist Walter Rodney who was assassinated on June 13, 1980 and urged the new government of Guyana to address the matter fully.