Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Randall Mitchell hopes the Emancipation Support Committee of TT (ESCTT) can, one day, have its own home.
This is among the future plans for the committee who celebrated the opening of the Lidj Yasu Omowale Emancipation Village on Friday at the Queen’s Park Savannah. The village made its physical return two years after covid19 restrictions forced it close.
Mitchell, the committee’s executive director Zakiya Uzoma-Wadada and its director of regional and Pan-African affairs Khafra Kambon were among those who formerly opened the village on July 29.
In media interviews after touring the village, Mitchell said, “I would like to see the Emancipation support Committee (ESCTT) get a space of their own, a permanent Yoruba Village, a permanent place where they can do lectures and show the world what we have contributed as a nation, our precious sons, our ancestors, to tell the story of TT’s journey in the African Diaspora.”
Asked if the ministry will assist the committee in getting its permanent home, Mitchell said it was working towards it and Uzoma-Wadada said yes.
Mitchell also said it was good to be back at the village after two years. Emancipation celebrations were held virtually for two years because of the covid19 pandemic.
In his remarks, Kambon called on civil society to continue Emancipation celebrations and observances long after those who started would have passed on.
He said the celebrations were started by civil society and not Governments.
Speaking to the role played by Emancipation Day pioneers like Elma Francois, Lancelot Lane, Makandal Daaga and John Cupid, he said TT needed to ask itself why Governments have not paid the day the kind of emphasis it deserves.
“In fact, it has become what it is today, not because of Government but because of civil society becoming conscious of the African experience, becoming conscious of who we are.
“Realising the history that we praise, is the history that took us away from our roots, the history that degraded us as human beings and that is what makes Emancipation one of the most significant events in the history of mankind.”
Kambon said civil society – no matter the Government or its views – must ensure Emancipation Day remains one of TT’s primary celebrations.
He said in a recently printed school book, TT’s celebration days were listed but Emancipation Day was not among them.
“It is a shame. And we as African people have to stop allowing those who are responsible for those things to continue. We have to make ourselves heard and seen not just as Africans but as Africans who know who we are, who know our history and who knows what we deserve in this society because of what we have contributed to it.
“Our children are going astray today, in larger numbers than anybody else, for the simple reason that when they go to school, the education does not motivate them. It leaves out the things that are important to them, things that would build their psyche, their sense of who they are and give them that pride.”
Kambon said Emancipation Day was what this was all about, giving people that sense of awareness.
He added that he felt great pride that the ESCTT played such an instrumental role in the revival of it.
Uzoma-Wadada, in her remarks, thanked the ESCTT team and many others involved in the committee’s observance of the day.