Emancipation Day holds great hope for our people


Emancipation Day holds great hope for our people

Thursday, August 01, 2019

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Today, as the country begins its annual period of reflection on our history and move towards self-government, it is important that we recall the brave and determined struggle of our ancestors to rid Jamaicans of slavery — a most abominable crime that is arguably man's greatest inhumanity to man.

We hold firm to the view that this period of recall and celebration will not be worth its place on the calendar if all Jamaicans do not mark the dates and significance of the celebrations in their hearts and lives.

We believe that only by knowing and exploring our history can we truly understand who we are as a people, in order that we are better able to move forward. Otherwise, we risk making the same mistakes of our past or forgetting the valuable lessons we ought to have learnt from those errors.

In this matter of the transatlantic slave trade and slavery in the Americas, all people of African ancestry should seek to emulate the example of others, most of all the Jews, who have never allowed the world to forget the absolute atrocity that was the holocaust.

In the Jamaican context, we should all take inspiration from the consistency of struggle and resistance, both active and passive, of those who refused to accept that slavery and brutality were justly their lot.

That consistent, continuous refusal to submit to oppression and injustice, even at the risk of loss of life, ultimately led to the overturning of slavery in the 1830s.

Therefore, we must continue to hold up as standards to our young people and children in all fora the examples of freedom fighters such as Tacky, national heroes Sam Sharpe, Nanny of the Maroons and Paul Bogle and the thousands who supported them.

Their example must be used to help inspire the organisation of communities as we work at combating the vicious criminals who terrorise and enslave anew, and as we painstakingly build an economy and society on just and equitable terms.

Against that background, we propose that our collective mission should be a productive use of the freedoms won by our ancestors.

No one can successfully challenge the fact that we have made great progress as a nation. We have adhered to the ideals of democracy, respected individuals' freedom to speak, and, in large measure, we have established institutions to protect our citizens.

However, a strict examination of ourselves will lead us to the conclusion that we have much more work to be done, as too many Jamaicans are still starved of basic services, and the wheels of justice still turn too slowly.

However, we see in Emancipation Day great hope for our people, because the observance of the day signifies a realisation that our achievements will not come without hard work and sacrifice.

That was the experience of our ancestors, and we cannot give scant regard to their sacrifice to create a country, and indeed a world, where hate and separation are replaced by international bonds of fairness and peace. Where nationality is sheer identity, and the mind is not shackled by race or creed.

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