President: Emancipation Celebrates Resilience

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PRESIDENT Christine Kangaloo says the celebration of Emancipation in Trinidad and Tobago is always meaningful. In her Emancipation Day message for 2023, she said the Africans who came to the New World showed resilience.

Below is her full message:


On Emancipation Day, the anniversary of the formal abolition of slavery on 1 August 1834, we do two things. We acknowledge and reflect on one of the darkest and most shameful chapters of human history. And we celebrate the resilience and courage of those who fought relentlessly to bring it to a close.

For over four hundred years, African men, women, and children were forcibly taken from their homeland, crammed into ships and transported like cattle across the Middle Passage. In cases where families had been seized, they were often split up upon arrival in the New World, with each member being sold to the highest bidder, and all into a life of unspeakable misery.

One of the slave masters’ first goals was to break their slaves’ spirit. It was a goal they would never achieve. For centuries, the slaves endured their suffering, persevered through their adversity and resisted their captivity through various means.

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Some worked slowly or sabotaged plantation tools and equipment, while others ran away or incited revolt. The names Sam Sharpe, Daaga, Bussa and Tacky loom large in our region’s memory as among the early freedom fighters who were determined to attain the goal of freedom and whose bodies were broken but whose spirits never were. 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. Surviving slavery called upon them to summon their last ounce of human and spiritual strength.

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.

And, 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.

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Emancipation celebrations in Trinidad and Tobago are always deep and meaningful. This year, our country is graced by the attendance of the Asantehene, the King of the Asante peoples, from whom many in the Caribbean draw their lineage. 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.

I wish the entire national community a happy and reflective Emancipation Day.


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