Ignorance on Emancipation Day
Posted By: Ayinde
Date: 1, August 03, at 9:24 a.m.
From slave to Trini
IF, 170 years after the abolition of slavery, Afro-Trinis want to make something significant about "emancipation" it must be more than a momentary connection with the past, a fleeting indulgence in traditional African fashion and a transient rumination on the horrors of the Slave Trade. Not that we have anything against this backward look or this ritual journey into roots, but this newspaper would like to believe that, after so many generations, TT citizens of African descent have become "Trini to the bone," that their navel strings are now deeply and inextricably buried in the soil of this country, and that "Mother Africa" can hold nothing more than a sentimental interest for them.
If it is to be meaningful in our present age then, the observance of "emancipation" must connect with another kind of freedom, and that can only be the freedom which our country as a whole enjoys, the freedom of a democratic society, the freedom which all our citizens enjoy to pursue their own goals and aspirations. This "emancipation" presents a different kind of challenge; instead of casting off shackles or breaking the bonds of enforced labour, it is one of grasping opportunities, of joining in the nation's march of progress. In a real sense, it is being inspired by what Afro-Trinis have already achieved and building upon the foundations that they have laid. There is no need for us to go into detail to demonstrate the enormous contribution which Afro-Trinis have made to the political, social, economic and cultural advancement of our country; they have led the movement for change; they have manned the civil establishment, they have been prominent in the professions, outstanding in the field of sport and have produced cultural, artistic and musical forms that have given our country a special status in the world. It may be considered remarkable that while the Slave Trade and long years of enforced labour and deprivation on the sugar plantations had effectively robbed their ancestors of their native African culture, Afro-Trinis were able to create cultural forms, the steelband, Carnival, Calypso, that are distinctly made-in-Trinidad yet have gained popularity throughout the world.
This, in an essential sense, is what Afro-Trinis have managed to do with their "emancipation." They have helped to build a country and to shape a nation, they have helped to form its own cultural identity, its own social and political institutions. In this modern context what relevance could the "emancipation" of 1833 now have? Instead, they must respond to the inexorable imperatives of history which, over 170 years, has virtually reshaped them into a "different people," citizens of a country far removed from their ancestral home. What must they do with the emancipation they now have, which, in fact, they have helped to create for themselves? Clearly they must continue to build on their and their country's achievements. Comprising almost half of TT's population, Afro-Trinis must be concerned about the future of Trinidad and Tobago and the vital part they must play, alongside the rest of the society, in helping to shape it. In spite of the progress TT has made, our country still struggles with a number of weaknesses and daunting problems. The removal of these weaknesses and the solution to these problems do not lie with any particular sector of our population but require the honesty, understanding, cooperation, desire and determination of all our people. In this context, Afro-Trinis, together with all other factions, must use the "emancipation" we now have to promote the development of our beloved country. In other words, we must strive to make the right choices, to be part of the solution not the problem. Happy and thoughtful Emancipation Day to all our readers.
Trinidad and Tobago News Message Board is maintained by Administrator with TrinidadandTobagoNews 5.12.
NOTE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 this material is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.