Fri | Nov 27, 2020

The meaning of Emancipation

Published:Thursday | August 3, 2017 | 12:00 AM


It is my firm belief that, in Jamaica, slavery has been the backbone from which the people of this country - by having survived it - have been strengthened and empowered to distinguish themselves in all walks of life, both at home and abroad.

If truth be told, over the millennia, most people in this world have emerged from abject poverty and enslavement of one sort or another.

As evidenced elsewhere, Jamaica has known many aspects of both black and white slavery: the attempted enslavement of the aboriginal Taino inhabitants, who chose to take their own lives rather than be vassals for the Spanish; the 2,000-odd Irish children who Cromwell, in 1655, caused to be wrested from their families and transported to Jamaica to forget their religion and populate the island; English miscreants, 'heretics' and persons having fought for lost causes, who were transported in bondage to Jamaica, to multiply and take their chances of survival: the innocent Africans, who were sold by their own people into Jamaican forced servitude; and, after Emancipation.

There are maligned women who are still the chattels of their men: there continue to be abused children who are the enslaved of those who defile them.

Jamaica has great cause to celebrate and uphold Emancipation. The past should never be forgotten by new generations.

From 1580, Jamaica has been a sanctuary for the Jews. It is significant to note that the same governor of Jamaica who, in Spanish Town on August 1, 1834, read the proclamation for the abolition of slavery, also saw the first Jew elected to the Jamaican House of Assembly. This was the Marquess of Sligo, the "friend and protector of the slaves of Jamaica", who was later known as 'The Emancipator of the Slaves'.

We need to reflect upon and respond to the true, positive meaning of Emancipation while faithfully guarding and perpetuating the melded memory of our proud and unique evolved culture and traditions.


Kingston 8