ONE of the highlights of this year's Emancipation celebrations, which have been mainly online, is the August 1 unveiling of a monument commemorating the end of enslavement in TT and in the English-speaking Caribbean, at the Treasury Building, Independence Square, Port of Spain, where the original declaration took place.
In a media release, executive chair of the Emancipation Support Committee of TT Zakiya Uzoma-Wadada said, “The Treasury Building is the site of the Governor House, from where the governor read the proclamation on August 1, 1834. Enslaved Africans resisted the notion that they should continue under apprenticeship, which was simply slavery by another name, for an additional six years. We have sought to have this site marked as a heritage site, representing the triumph over enslavement for many years.”
The release cited Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley's commitment at last year's Emancipation Day celebrations to make this a reality. During his speech, he told the audience: “…next year, God willing, when we meet in this place one of the acts we will do is commemorate and look at the plaque on this building that marks the spot of our proclamation of Emancipation,” the ESCTT said in the release.
Unlike other Emancipation celebrations there will be no colourful procession through the streets of Port-of-Spain. Because of covid19 pandemic and subsequent restrictions, the ESCTT has been hosting a series of online events leading up to Emancipation Day, with the support of UWI Open Campus. The unveiling of the plaque will also be viewed online.
While there will be no procession, people who traditionally participate on the day are encouraged to share their personal observances with the ESCTT via its Facebook page, the committee said.
“We are encouraging drummers to do a drum call, that’s how we usually begin the day. This time we are asking drummers to do so from home and share their performances with us via any of the social media platforms, we will share them widely,” said Uzoma-Wadada.
As participants are accustomed to dressing in their regal African wear on the day, they are also being invited to post their best outfit online. At 3 pm there will be an online live concert featuring some of TT’s best calypsonians and at 7 pm, there will be a ceremonial lighting of the flambeau online.
Other Emancipation celebration activities include a July 31 youth concert at 8 pm in tribute to Zion Starr, a local reggae artiste who died last year in a car accident.
To complete the Emancipation celebration, there will be jazz and pan on August 2, which will feature performances by Vaughnette Bigford, Desperadoes Steel Orchestra, the Defence Force Steel Orchestra and Dane Gulston. This show will also be streamed on ESCTT and UWIOC’s Facebook pages.
The ESCTT is advising everyone to join the celebration from home, stay safe and enjoy the spirit of emancipation,