The head of the Commission for Pan African Affairs (CPAA) is hopeful that in the coming years, more Barbadians will be enlightened to the significance of Emancipation Day to local culture.
Deryck Murray was speaking at the end of the 2017 Emancipation Day Freedom Walk and inaugural Bongani Festival. Bongani is Zulu for grateful.
The director noted that over the past three years, it was customary for members of the Pan African Movement and other like non-governmental organizations to have their libation ceremony on the morning of August 1, and Government would have their official National Walk and Ceremony down to the entrance of Bridgetown Market in the evening.
“This year, we decided to fully support the NGOs because they didn’t only have a ceremony at the Emancipation statue [Bussa], they also wanted to have a Freedom Walk and an Emancipation Village, which we felt was a good idea. So Government, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, through the Commission for Pan African Affairs, funded a major part of the activities [yesterday] as a signal that Government continued to support the NGOs,” Murray said.
“They were very aware that this is a new thrust and a new energy that they want to put into their programme, and they expect that it will grow over time. So they didn’t expect – although they hoped for – a massive turnout….Hopefully the festival that they are promoting will grow over time.”
The event was held in parallel with other government initiatives, namely the Freedom Corridor Tour that started at the Bussa statue, and took in some of the other National Heroes of Barbados, including Sir Frank Walcott, Clement Payne and Sir Grantley Adams, and the Emancipation Day lecture that was held later in the night.
Scores of Barbadians turned out from as early as 6:30 a.m., braving the heavy, early morning showers, in order to take up a good position at the base of the monument.
During the near three-and-a-half-hour ceremony of libation, there were chants, praises and a “drumology” in tribute to Bussa, Nanny Gregg and Clement Payne, among others, from organizations like the Spiritual Baptists, the Ethiopian African Orthodox Church, the Israel Lovell Foundation, the Rastafarian community and others associated with the Pan African Coalition of Organizations (PACO).
This was followed by the walk which snaked its way from the statue, along the Haggatt Hall stretch of the ABC Highway, turned left onto Barker’s Road, then proceeded through the Tichbourne community. From there, it proceeded into The Ivy, passing through the housing development before heading onto Blenheim Pasture, the site of the Emancipation Village.
Murray told journalists he was hopeful the new initiative would attract increased numbers over time.
“We view it as a collaboration which we expect to grow, and we expect to get people to take a greater interest and add depth and breadth to the Emancipation Day activities. One day, we hope that we will reach the level of the numbers we see at Soca Royale and Kadooment.
“Ideally, what should happen, is that Kadooment should really be – if the mindset was correct – a day for our full mental and physical emancipation. But that requires that the artistes, the promoters, cultural practitioners, the [bandleaders] and so on, take some time and infuse everything we are doing from the calypsoes to the music to the costumes, with themes surrounding our freedom and our liberations,” he added, suggesting that “we have forgotten the great cost that we paid and that we continue to pay to purchase our freedom, so we take it for granted.”