Emancipation Day Message – CARICOM Chairman




On August 1, 2020, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) commemorates the l86th  anniversary of the abolition of the enslavement of Africans in the CARICOM member-countries which were colonized by Britain. In 1833, in the British Parliament, an Act for the Abolition of Slavery in the British Empire’ proclaimed Emancipation Day to be August 1, 1834. A so-called “apprenticeship” period followed; and on August 1, 1838, the enslaved Africans were, finally, legally freed.

Today, all but two of the fourteen member-countries of CARICOM commemorate and celebrate Emancipation Day on August 1st, annually. So, too, the Associate member-countries. The other two member-countries of CARICOM, Haiti and Suriname, had slavery abolished in 1801 and 1863 respectively. The overwhelming majority of the population of CARICOM member-countries are of African descent. Joyously, people of all ethnicities in CARICOM join in commemorating and celebrating Emancipation Day; all rightfully claim this historic day as their own.

This year, Emancipation Day takes on a greater international significance for the
following reasons:

  1. The Black Lives Matter (BLM.) Movement has gone global in a massive way consequent upon the popular resistance in the United States of America to racism, racial inequality, racial injustice and oppression and the uplifting fight for liberty, justice, and equality in every material respect.
  1. The world is half-way through the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015 — 2024), which was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in a Resolution (68/237), adopted on December 23, 2013; and focused on the theme ‘People of African Descent: Recognition, Justice, and Development.”
  1. The gathering pace of the international movement for “Reparations for Native Genocide and the Enslavement of Africans” in the Caribbean, Africa, Latin America, Europe and North America, to provide appropriate recompense for the legacy of under-development consequent upon native genocide and enslavement of Africans perpetrated by several states in Europe and in North America.
  1. The joinder of the struggle for reparations with the quest for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015, and designed as a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all” by 2030.
  1. The current pandemic of COVID-19 which has adversely affected, disproportionately, poor communities and countries, especially those already ravaged by developmental inequities and distortions, traced substantially to the legacy of under-development to native genocide and the enslavement of Africans.


I urge all in CARICOM to focus on reparations for the enslavement of Africans on Emancipation Day, 2020. In our region, and elsewhere, we need to have a more thorough-going public education programme on the meaning and significance of reparatory justice for the Caribbean. Further, our governments must ramp up the political, diplomatic, and international legal struggle for reparations. All hands are required on deck as a matter of urgency!

CARICOM has established a Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on Reparatory Justice headed by the Prime Minister of Barbados. (I am also on this Prime Ministerial Sub- Committee). CARICOM has set up, too, a CARICOM Reparations Commission, chaired by Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies. The Commission has advanced a 10-point CARlCOM Reparations Agenda which has been adopted by the CARICOM Heads of Government Conference. In each country, a National Reparations Commission has been established with broad-based representation.

Solid groundwork has been done thus far, but we must not lose any momentum or be side-tracked. The circumstances are now propitious for escalating a coordinated push for reparatory justice. And CARICOM must engage the African Union fully on this.

Recently, several CARICOM member-states have been strengthening their links with Africa in profound ways; so, too, CARICOM and the African Union. Much more is required to be done, and urgently, too. At the United Nations Security Council, a new institutional linkage of much consequence has been forged known as the A3 Plus One (the African 3: Niger, South Africa, and Tunisia, Plus St. Vincent and the Grenadines); this represents a collaboration between the regions of continental Africa and a representative country (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) of the sixth region of the African Union, namely the African diaspora.

A high quality of abundant research has been done and published, on Reparations for Native Genocide and the Enslavement of Africans. More is still required to be done, but there is more than enough for us to proceed upon in our many-sided struggle. So, let us highlight reparatory justice on Emancipation Day, 2020, even as the individual countries in CARICOM engage in commemorative and celebratory activities of a cultural, social, political, and religious nature.


I end with an apt poem by Ellsworth “Shake” Keane of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (1927-1997), entitled “Private Prayer (for Walter Rodney)”, and written in April 1973, on the occasion of the publication of Walter’s How Europe Under-developed Africa:

“To understand
How the whole thing run
I have to ask my parents
And even my daughter and son

“To understand the form
Of compromise I am
I must in my own voice ask
How the whole thing run

“To ask
Why I don’t dream
In the same language, I live in
I must rise up
Among syllables of my parents
In the land which I am
And form
A whole daughter a whole son
Out of the compromise
Which I am

“To understand history
I have to come home”

Please remember, too, on Emancipation Day, 2020, that June 13, 2020, was the 40th anniversary of Walter Rodney’s assassination. No one has yet been brought to court for the killing of Walter. The next government of Guyana must address this matter fully; it is a gaping wound in our collective consciousness which must be healed.

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  1. No you didn't
    August 6, 2020

    Admin, happy to know that you are woke, high level. When I didn’t see the post promptly I kept thinking that I was about to be reprimanded on the site for certain key words or non-mainsteam views, so I redacted and repost. I will still try to keep it real and within your guidelines. These stories have to be told until our people achieve common understanding on Kush, to undo damage that has been done to the continent and it’s peoples’ knowledge of their land. That’s why we appreciate you DNO.

    ADMIN: We don’t necessarily consider ourselves woke we just try to report the facts hoping to encourage healthy dialogue, but thank you. We appreciate you (and all our readers) as well.

  2. Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
    August 4, 2020

    Ralph we need to fact check your thesis: I see inconsistencies; your words cannot be trusted, some of that which you wrote are suspect as if you pulled the majority off thin air.

    Talking emancipation is a myth to the majority of people in the Caribbean!

    Slavery still exists on all of the islands in the Caribbean; in that political and economic slavery exists especially in a places as St. Vincent, Haiti, and worst of all Dominica.

    You are one of the most recognizable slave owner, and slave master!

    One of the slaves you own is Roosevelt Skerrit, you have a leash around his neck and walk him like an unintelligent poodle he is!

    After his experience with your deceptive advise you gave to him which he followed resulting in sinking Dominica further into backwardness, and poverty of our people; you look into his face and laugh; he laughs with you not knowing the joke is on him your slave.
    Take your message of partial lies and shove it!

  3. jaded
    August 2, 2020

    I am not sure why we celebrate our emancipation. Our ancestors were kidnapped by criminals who forced them to work with no compensation. Eventually, the criminals decided that it was time to release them. Why should we celebrate that? It is not like we won anything.

  4. L C Matthew
    July 31, 2020

    In war conquering ground is the easy part. Defending and maintenance is where the real fight is. Slavery not over and as soon as you let your guard down and the men and women on duty fall asleep at their post you loose all what you sacrifice to obtain. Can you imagine giving reparation money to the thief we have running Dominica? Can you imagine today a country that enslave its citizens and dont believe in human rights is allowed to have a card Blanche in Dominica and call us children of slaves lazy. An ideology perpetrated by our leaders. Today with have enslavement by our own and the fight and rebellion must continue. The same greed selfishness, arrogance hate that caused blacks to sell blacks is alive and well in the Caribbean especially Dominica. The fight to maintain freedom must never end.

  5. Original
    July 31, 2020

    Emancipation Day, a day of slave reformation, a date that has taught us that slavery is still very much alive with the prostitution of our heritage and culture for monetary gain of a selected few. the question must be posed, where do we as a society draw the line? these leaders who have outlived their usefulness but do everything in their power to remain in power, are but slave masters themselves. the revolution continues…!

  6. Dr Clayton Shillingford
    July 31, 2020

    A necessary and important subject for discussion and the urgency to aggressively pursue reparations for the gross evil of slavery.

    • EIFILE
      August 1, 2020

      Reparation. I was of the opinion that when you bought something and paid for it, it belongs to you. A ship anchor in the harbour, you build a tunnel 3 miles long to a village. The captain of the ship said to the man in charge of the village ,he needs 20 good strong and healthy men between the ages of 20 40 to work for him but the men do not know. The man in charge of the village walk the men through that tunnel to the ship. The men board the ship and the ship captain pay a fee and sail away. The man then inherited the title as chief. This is how the African became chief. As you may noticed, I am still confused about the whole set up and need an explanation

      • No you didn't
        August 4, 2020

        We learned blacks selling Blacks which came from the same missionaries sent to educate us, and ‘educate’ they did. It’s called blame the victim, every rapist does that old trick. Hitler blamed the Jews for their demise.
        When Europeans went to Kush to kidnap people and enslave them they went with bibles, huge ships complete with military men, armies actively fighting in ‘the 30 year war’ bloody tribal war in europe, armed with the latest weaponry and military formations adcanced and escalated during same 30 year war (simple research). When they arrived in Kush, before they divided it up and named it Africa, it was always a BLOOD BATH. They made the tunnels then wrote about it. Africans didn’t bring them others, don’t drink that cool aid, it never happened. Complete invasions. It was a series of blood baths one after another. They did the atrocities, then wrote their accounts, we shouldn’t expect them to ‘teach’ us differently. I’m not surprised that’s how you know it.

      • No you didn't
        August 5, 2020

        @eFile …The blacks selling Blacks thing NEVER HAPPENED. It came from the same missionaries sent to educate us, and ‘educate’ they did. It’s called blame the victim, every rapist does that old trick. Hitler blamed the Jews for their demise. When Europeans went to Kush to kidnap people and enslave them they went with bibles, huge ships complete with military men, armies actively fighting in ‘the 30 year war’ BRUTAL tribal war in europe, armed with the latest weaponry and military formations adcanced and escalated during same 30 year war (simple research). When they arrived in Kush, before they divided it up and named it Africa, it was always a BL**D BATH. They never sat around waiting for an African to bring them another, don’t drink that cool aid, it never happened. Complete invasions. It was a series of bl**d baths one after another. They did the atrocities, then wrote their accounts, we shouldn’t expect them to ‘teach’ us differently. Not surprised that’s how you know it.

        ADMIN: You don’t have to agree with his conclusions but it is a fact that slavery existed in Africa (albeit in much different forms) prior to the transatlantic slave trade.

        There are many accounts of Africans being involved in supplying slaves to the Europeans.

        If you distrust what you may consider European sources then consider reading this book by an independent (self funded, self researched) black academic and author: The Destruction of Black Civilization by Chancellor Williams

        • No you didn't
          August 6, 2020

          Thanks for the feedback Admin. Info comes to us from HEAVY purveyors of misinformation emphasising this aspect, but Mr. Williams/others had good intentions. I had to repost not knowing you were researching the info, great. Europe had greater experience with enslaving theirs almost to extinction without this emphasis. I started reading Chancellor’s book then went to some of his sources many of whom tell the Euro side of those sinister events, so I passed it on to a friend. Dr. John Henrik Clark, Anthony Browder, Dr. Von Bucannon among others actually tell the African perspective from archaeological digging to present day with less reliance on the euro edge of story tellers clearly with continuation of conquest of the continent in mind. I appreciate your info, however we’re up against a FORMIDABLE foe with great interest there, who have muddied the waters to intentionally discredit Africans and keep the land. It’s not easy digging thru the rubble, trust me. Thanks again.

          ADMIN: Thank you for taking the feedback and adding to the discussion you already seem to be versed in various sources.

          Williams also depended heavily on African oral traditions(often proven accurate, but still controversial to this day), he took 16 years to complete his research travelling within Africa to amass material for the book which was initially meant to be just a first volume of a series.

          Being independent his research was somewhat at odds with his contemporaries (both white and black) and is therefore likely to be ignored by the various mainstream narratives.

          However, his book could be considered outdated by today’s standards and was recommended here for those who need a branching-off point.

  7. Telling It Like It Is
    July 31, 2020

    Wow!!! Wonders never cease to amaze. A Portugese descendant delivering Emancipation Day address on behalf Caricom. History reminds us that the Portugese were major proponents of the Diasporan slave trade and treated their captors brutally.

    Are we to say thank you, sing songs of freedom, hoist a champagne toast or lift up a fervent prayer? I choose a thanksgiving prayer to the Most High who sustained our ancestors in spite of that horrible and wretched experience.

    A former caucasian co-worker wickedly but truthfully reminded me “Lincoln may have freed the slaves but he never threw away the keys”.
    I truly believe that real emancipation day will be the day The Most High comes to gather His people.

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