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Monday, March 26, 2007

On the Celebration of the Abolition of the Slave Trade...

Now, I'm not against anybody for wanting to celebrate and commemorate the abolition of slavery or the granting of universal adult suffrage or any such thing.  Mayhap though we need to stop looking back in the way that we do in order to move forward.

While, yes, as Clive Harvey said in the service at Trinity Cathedral yesterday, people of colour are still considered to be commodities by many in the world today, perhaps we are our own worst enemies in that regard by holding so fast to the memory of historical victimisation.

I don't see the Germans or the British, for example, celebrating the fall of the Roman Empire and their resultant freedom.  Nor do I see the Americans making much much ado about their Puritanical roots and the journey over from Olde England.  I do see though grand American celebration at Thanksgiving of their first year of survival in the "New World".

Perhaps it is the attitude of gratitude making us choose to celebrate things given to us which feeds our culture of entitlement.  Other than for a few freedom fighters of colour, the abolition of the slave trade was something given, not something that the people as a whole won for themselves.  It was not the case, as in Haiti and to a lesser extent in Jamaica I think, that the people rose up and threw off the things that shackled them.

Perhaps instead of celebrating the "gift" of freedom, we should all reclaim Arrival Day as ours, and not accord it an East Indian thing only.  After all, the achievement is not the gift of freedom, but survival and growth having arrived no matter how we got here.

Perhaps we should do as the Jamaicans do and celebrate our heroes too.  Certainly, we can find the names of some brave Trinbagonian slave who was instrumental in or at least contributory to the freedom movement.

I'm just saying that even as we look back, maybe we can look back differently, if only to make sure that we don't continue to make victims of ourselves.  But that we look back with the firmly held assertion that an evil thing as Western-styled slavery will never happen to us or anyone again.

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