Front Page
August 3, 2010
‘We must be compensated for centuries of exploitation’

As attendance at Emancipation Day rallies decreases each year, Mike Browne, Minister of National Mobilization, is challenging Vincentians not to forget the significance of August 1 – the day enslaved people were emancipated in most English speaking Caribbean states.{{more}}

The poor turn out at Sunday afternoon’s Emancipation Rally at Heritage Square triggered Browne’s timely reminder.

He said Vincentians should put at the forefront their identities as a people of African decent, economic decolonization, and the issue of reparation.

Browne, a former trade unionist, said Vincentians should never lose sight of the fact that they are people shaped by their history and by their heritage.

“We must continue to reinvigorate our identities. We must continue to make sure that we reaffirm it and recommit ourselves to it at all levels,” he said.

On the issue of economic decolonization, he challenged the gathering to continue to re-educate themselves on the issue. He said economic decolonization of Africa, St.Vincent and the Grenadines and the rest of the Caribbean remains a challenge as to how this will be done.

Regarding the controversial issue of reparation, Browne said: “It is a valid and authentic issue that must be kept on the agenda of all people, Black people, African people, wherever they are and in St.Vincent and the Grenadines .

“We must as a people be compensated for centuries of exploitation which have built up powerful countries,” said Browne, noting that those countries have an obligation to return some of the resources to St.Vincent and the Grenadines and Africa.

He used the opportunity to laud the African Heritage Foundation of St.Vincent and the Grenadines and the Rastafari Movement for their efforts in keeping the Emancipation spirit alive.

Despite the small turnout, those in attendance spent the afternoon dancing to the sweet music of steel pan by Sion Hill Euphonium and the beat of drums by Nzhimbu’s Naked Roots. A documentary called “Galla: God’s Gonna Trouble the Water”, depicting the lives of the Galla people of South Carolina was also shown.

Meanwhile, member of the Rastafari community, Ideisha Jackson, encouraged parents to bring their children to events such as emancipation rallies.

“We need to start bringing up our children knowing exactly where they are from, knowing their African heritage, knowing their ancestry,” said Jackson, noting that just over 170 years ago, the privilege of celebrating freely would have been denied to Negroes.

“We’d probably just be returning from the fields with a pair of licking over our backs. So we need to acknowledge this fact and know that it is indeed a privilege for us to be standing here as citizens of St.Vincent and the Grenadines: free, free, free, from slavery,” said Jackson.

She said the Vincentian society should move forward without ever forgetting its history.

Jackson also challenged the audience to bring their family members or a friend to next year’s rally.

Director of Culture, Anthony Theobalds, making brief remarks, called on the audience to dance and celebrate in a mood reminiscent to the first emancipation day.

“This afternoon is not a show. It is going to call upon you to share a spirit to feel that emancipation,” said Theobalds.

He also called on the predominantly Black Vincentian society to teach their children of their heritage. (HN)