Emancipation Day must be the priority of the Barbados Government, says social activist Onkphra Wells.
And according to him, unless the Emancipation season is taken up as a national agenda then it will remain subservient to the Crop Over season.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY after a media briefing held at the Clement Payne Centre to discuss the plans for this Friday’s Emancipation Day celebrations, Wells called on the Government to take the lead role in getting all Barbadians to support the movement.
“What they will have to do is to give Emancipation Day status and that can only come about through having a planned programme through the television, the media, schools – everything has to be coordinated to have this celebration,” he said.
“The Government is the leader in certain sectors and therefore they rally the other people around them. We have limited resources and we are doing the best that we can but regardless of the limited resources the dignity of Africa will never be surrendered,” added Wells, the chair of the Pan African Coalition of Organization (PACO).
However, he contended that as long as Emancipation Day is celebrated within the Crop Over season and “the majority of people still do not see themselves as having a responsibility to their ancestry and the sacrifices made”, then Crop Over will always be dominant.
“And it will remain a sad, sad contradiction because in order to have Crop Over one still has to be free,” he added.
Wells acknowledged, however, that economics plays a major role in the decision to prioritize the Crop Over season.
“People are making a lot of money around Crop Over so no one is saying anything because the economy needs an injection of finances; but there needs to be balance . . . Anytime you forget your roots, you are going to forget your humanity. The best of clothes, the best of jump-ups don’t matter unless you have a foundation to take care of one another.”
Wells added that while there may be excuses that the administration has limited resources, just as they were able to make a thrust in schools during Black History Month celebrations, Government could also utilize the Barbados Government Information Services and the National Cultural Foundation to do the same for the season of Emancipation.
As is customary, Emancipation Day celebrations will start with a march at 6 am from the J T C Ramsay roundabout, better known as the Bussa roundabout. However, the final route has not been determined.
Entertainment will be provided at the end of the march by DJ Simmons, Sonia Williams, Kaleb Batson, Rhesa Garnes, Charles Legend Odle, Ras IkoLion Souls and Nuwaupian Voice.