Kamla calms Emancipation rivalry
By SEAN DOUGLAS Wednesday, August 3 2011
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SMASHING STACY: Stacy Roopnarine, Minister in the Ministry of Works was well bedecked yesterday when she turned up at an Emancipation Luncheon hosted ...
PRIME Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday calmed rivalries between two groups each trying to take credit for establishing Emancipation Day as a national holiday, as she hosted an Emancipation Dinner at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s.
Representing an absent NJAC leader, Makandal Daaga, party official Ayiegore Ome complained that NJAC has not been recognised for its role in helping establish Emancipation Day, which is instead attributed to the Emancipation Support Committee (ESC).
Ome said, “We are very concerned that the Prime Minister gave full credit to the Emancipation Support Committee for internationalising Emancipation Day. We (NJAC) are concerned to set the record straight.”
Ome said that in 1974, at the time of the Sixth Pan African Conference, Daaga had said Emancipation Day must be celebrated through the whole Caribbean. Ome recalled NJAC visiting the US, Canada and Ghana with this message.
NJAC’s Nyahuma Obika, now TT High Commissioner to Nigeria, had lived in Ghana for nine months getting the Ghanaians to observe Emancipation Day.
Ome said he had written a book in 1989, republished in 1991, on the story of Emancipation.
“I’d like to present the Prime Minister with my book to set the historical record straight.” At that, he presented his book to a smiling Persad-Bissessar.
When Persad-Bissessar spoke, she began by congratulating the designer of her African outfit, Irma Simonette, who has been making and selling African clothes for 39 years.
Soothing the ESC/NJAC rivalry, she thanked the ESC’s Khafra Kambon for taking her through Emancipation Village on Monday and said she acknowledged NJAC’s contribution to the internationalisation of Emancipation Day. She repeated her promise of an Emancipation Centre.
Earlier, Kambon thanked Persad-Bissessar for her intervention in helping Emancipation Day celebrations after what he called a “rocky start”, in apparent reference to initial problems in getting funding and a venue.
He said Emancipation Day had been a very wonderful celebration, with very good weather and a great attendance, with everyone having a wonderful time.
The dinner was attended by Emancipation activists, Government Ministers, diplomats and officials of the parties of the People’s Partnership Government.
Guests dined on traditional African foods such as jollof rice, akara and foo foo, and were entertained by the Free Town Collective, the La Chapelle Dance Company and calypsonian Brother Valentino.