The following is the full Emancipation Day Message from the United Progressive Party
A happy and reflective Emancipation Day to all Barbadians!
Barbados is ready for the creation of a revolutionary democracy in the same way that the internet has revolutionised social and economic transactions. We need a new culture and a new mindset and there is no better time to start this quiet revolution than Emancipation Day.
Many Barbadians have not come to terms with Barbados’ history and it continues to be a major barrier to the advancement of social and economic relations. There is a deep lack of trust.
There are still individuals who wonder why we need to bring up the past, without recognising that this is how all civilisations remain strong. And on Emancipation Day there are still Barbadians [who] feel a sense of awkwardness in its acknowledgement and its celebration.
Likewise the discussion of reparations for people transported from the African Continent from the 17th to the 19th Century to provide the free labour is still limited to a few. Free labour was the biggest economic catalyst for many of the modern G7 economies still visible in the magnificent edifices scattered across Europe and North America. And even though the discussion is limited the matter of reparations is a real one.
Upon emancipation those countries, those families and those individuals which lost their enslaved labour were compensated. The descendants of enslaved labour and the countries which they dominate like Barbados lost the opportunity to build their own wealth and their own countries and it seems logical that they should be similarly compensated.
Perhaps then we need to reflect upon the fact that before we can accede to the oft quoted Bob Marley call to “emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds” we must first reflect upon his admonition to understand “who you are and where you stand in the struggle”.
Emancipation Day gives us an annual opportunity to do so.
Emancipation Day signifies the end of the capture, enslavement and displacement of skilled civilians from African countries and communities. We the descendants of Africans have a sacred duty to remember the suffering of those who came before and upon whose shoulders we stand. On this day we must renew our commitment to the restoration of the greatness of our people.
In 2018 Barbados continues the battle with the debilitating overregulation being imposed upon it by its old nemeses in Europe and North America. The level of regulation which G7 Institutions seek to impose upon small states like Barbados continues to be disproportionate and effectively discriminatory.
Even Barbados’ tax system is being currently vetted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). This is not being done at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) an institution of which Barbados is a member but by an OECD club – a club of which we cannot be a member. The OECD has essentially agreed upon a tax system which suits its members and is now seeking to impose it upon small states like Barbados. The struggle continues!
The natural connection which Barbados has with the African continent has still not been vigorously pursued by Government. Perhaps the awkwardness pervades policy. During the early 19th Century Marcus Garvey engaged in a successful resettlement of peoples of African descent to the continent. Whether Barbadians wish to pursue resettlement is a matter for the individual.
Barbados’ trade and foreign policy is however a national concern. While the continent is being pursued vigorously by North Americans, Europeans and Chinese, Barbados’ trade and foreign policy remains weak in this regard. This must change for the benefit of our country and our people.
Above all on this day we must commit to ensuring our future generations will be totally free of the mental, social and spiritual shackles which continue to bind us. On this day each of us should embark on a plan to empower our community, family and our nation.
As the sun kisses and the warm breeze wafts across our skin we must remember to commit to the creation of a civilisation of equality and fairness. Emancipation Day offers a pivotal point to reflect yearly on how far we have come, but also on how far we still must go in order to accomplish our goal. Let the revolution begin! (PR)