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.
Prime Minister Dr the Hon Keith Rowley unveiled a permanent monument which celebrates the triumph over enslavement today (Saturday 1st August, 2020) during Emancipation Day celebrations in Port of Spain.
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.
It’s the 186th anniversary of the abolishment of slavery in the Caribbean. The Slavery Abolition Act was passed in 1833 and went into effect on August 1, 1834. But, the British empire extended slavery through Apprenticeship. That only ended in 1838.
This year’s emancipation day comes amid a new push towards the elimination of police violence and racial equality amid ongoing police brutality in the United States, sparking mobilizations around the world.