President Christine Kangaloo said we as a nation must acknowledge and reflect on one of the darkest and most shameful chapters of human history and also celebrate the resilience and courage of those who fought relentlessly to bring it to a close.
In her Emancipation Day message to the nation, Kangaloo recalled that 400 years ago, African men, women and children were forcibly taken from their homeland, crammed into ships and transported like cattle across the Atlantic Ocean to the New World.
When they arrived there, families were often split up, with each member being sold to the highest bidder, and all into a life of unspeakable misery.
Kangaloo said, “One of the slave masters’ first goals was to break their slaves’ spirit. It was a goal they would never achieve.”
For centuries, she continued, the slaves endured their suffering, persevered through their adversity and resisted their captivity through various means.”
She said others such as Sam Sharpe, Daaga and Bussa were amongst the early freedom fighters who incited revolts to gain freedom for the enslaved Africans.
Kangaloo said while their bodies were broken, the spirits of African slaves were not.
“It is in the names of freedom fighters such as these that we celebrate Emancipation Day today.We are immensely thankful for the example of courage and resilience of our African forebears.”
She said this same human and spiritual strength are needed to day to overcome modern day versions of the slave trade.
“When today we face the unspeakable horrors of child abuse and human trafficking; when today we confront the misery and the torment of the sexual exploitation of vulnerable children; when today we face all of the horrors of the modern world, let us remember that there once was a time so dark and a world so full of greed and hate that all also seemed lost then, too.”
Kangaloo said, “Just as the courage and resilience of our African forebears allowed us to survive this world’s darkest moments, let us too, draw from the wells of courage and resilience that reside deep within all of us, and triumph over our own struggles and adversities, just as they did.”
She added that TT has been graced by the visit of Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, during its emancipation celebrations.
“Let us use the opportunity of His Majesty’s visit to reconnect, deeply and meaningfully, with the courage and resilience of our African forebears and of all who have persevered in the fight for freedom.”
The Asantehene paid courtesy calls on Kangaloo and the Prime Minister on Monday.