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Freedom march in the City

By Joan Rampersad Saturday, August 2 2014

click on pic to zoom in
FEELING GOOD: Caught up in the moment, this woman dances through the streets of Port-of-Spain during yesterday's Emancipation Day celebrations....
FEELING GOOD: Caught up in the moment, this woman dances through the streets of Port-of-Spain during yesterday's Emancipation Day celebrations....

While a group of six persons was engaged in the burning of incense, a libation and the beating of drums on the Brian Lara Promenade, Port-of-Spain, obliquely opposite, outside the Treasury Building on Independence Square North, yesterday morning, a re-enactment of the events leading up to the proclamation of Emancipation from chattel slavery, was taking place on the very spot as it was done 176 years ago.

Unfortunately only a small crowd was on hand to see Idakeda, a cultural and theatrical group founded by Pearl Eintou Springer, perform the re-enactment which was scheduled to begin at 6 am.

Hazel Simonnette, an executive officer of the Emancipation Support Committee (ESC) spoke with Newsday about the significance of the re-enactment. She said, “It is a recording of the entire process of how Emancipation came about, adding that it is looking at the struggles that the slaves had to endure in order to achieve their goal. It didn’t just happen overnight, but because of the struggle and the determination of the slaves it did indeed happen. “At the time there was a movement throughout the Caribbean and then it migrated into the whole Western world when the slaves were beginning to revolt and demand their freedom because they began to understand the power in numbers.

“So that is what they rallied and organised, and then the revolt came.” After the play, there was a delay for nearly two hours as ESC officials awaited the arrival of Prime Minister Kamla Persad- Bissessar. By this time quite a large number of people had gathered at the site, set to take part in the Freedom Procession.

With no sign of the PM, the proceedings began with head of the ESC Kafra Kambon reading from placards. One of them read “They Tiefing We”, Kambon said, “Yes they trying to tief our heads.” He also reminded the crowd that so many people who have been oppressed in the world have gotten reparation but so many others are yet to be compensated.

He lauded regional heads for making an effort to settle this matter. As Minister of National Diversity and Social Integration Rodger Samuel was introduced as the next speaker, one spectator asked, “So where the PM and the AG?” Samuel ignored the comment. He spoke of his own ancestry linking it to the emancipators. He said, “It is important to understand that Emancipation came as a great cost to our ancestors. It gave us the power to do what is right. It is now time for us to take it to the next level.” He declared, “We of African descent must rise up and take our rightful place. Our ancestors live in us therefore never let us let them down.”

After a prayer by Anglican Bishop Claude Berkeley, dignitaries were then asked to lead off the March of Freedom.

Those dignitaries included Ministers Samuel and Justice Minister Emmanuel George, former Minister of Culture Joan Yuille Williams, TT High Commissioner to South Africa Nyahuma Obika, Al Washington (US Bilateral Business Development), Kambon and Ekino Moyo of the ESC. Among those participating in the parade were the Caroni Police Youth Club, Milat trainees, members of the Civilian Conservation Corps, the United Nuwaupian Nation, the Original Egyptian Masonic Order, De Core, Servol, Daniel Family Reunion, Network Rhythm Rapso Band, Ella Andall Music Truck, Moko Jumbies, Reparation float, and bringing up the rear a Sir Charles’ Music Truck playing “Stay Up Zimbabwe”.

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