Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Dr. Keith Rowley has called for an “overall understanding of the African condition” urging nationals to go beyond the celebrations of Emancipation Day to reflect on the various issues confronting the twin island republic.
“Go beyond the celebrations to reflect on the wave of violence in our communities; think of the African family, ask yourself whether we are good listeners to our children; for example, are we telling them that success comes from discipline, effort, patience, thrift, temperance, and inner peace; that sharing is caring, and that there are opportunities in crises and lessons in adversity?
“Are we encouraging them to be independently minded, ambitious, respectful, and entrepreneurial with a mindset of “getting ahead”, rather than “getting by” and “getting along”? As parents, are we involved in their schoolwork and recreation, every evening, their school activities, and making our voices heard in the education system and on all matters of patriotism?”
Rowley urged the nation to “never forget” its history and “seek to heal, remembering that only the strong forgive, never the weak.
“Most important, as Africans, we have to go forward, remembering that this is a multi-cultural land, with a narrative of inclusiveness and equality for all, with national watchwords of Discipline, Production and Tolerance.”
He said Emancipation Day is being observed at a most difficult time in the world’s natural history. “Worldwide we are experiencing some unusually destructive weather patterns; wildfires, with thousands of acres uncontrollably alight in California and other states in North America, across the Atlantic in Spain, Greece, and Portugal, with unprecedented heat waves throughout Europe, droughts in Australia, contrasting with severe flooding in various other parts of the world — the effects of which should be viewed, by all citizens, not in the short term, but in a long-term planetary scale.
“I draw this to the attention of the national community and the wider Caribbean, both as a reminder and a call to be further alert, in the same way, that calls are being made for national attention to be paid to a new wave of irrational violence across this country, and for further examination of our security systems, our judiciary, our education system and family life – all of which impact significantly upon the African community experience today.”
He said recently, he suggested that violence be considered a national public health emergency, and that he has already put in place a team of policymakers, whom, he expects, during their deliberations and, more so, in their conclusions and recommendations, will excite community discussions, among all groups across the country, from the bottom up.
Rowley said on new-world plantations, they suffered whippings until their skin fell off, fieldwork as everyday beasts of burden, denials of food and water, the rape of their women and separation of their children; overall, their treatment was worse than livestock.
“Then there were the psycho-social efforts on their minds to destroy their culture, their bonds, and their religion, which sought to strip away every aspect of their African spirit.
“Today as we remember one of the darkest events in humanity, we acknowledge the strength of a people to defeat what can only be described as grave evil to become an invaluable pillar of courage as well as enrichment to our global community.
In her message to mark the occasion, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar said this day is not only a special one for “our brothers and sisters of African heritage, as it serves as a reminder of the proud achievements and lasting legacy those of African descent continue to make in our nation post-emancipation.
“Today we honor, thank and celebrate the courage of a people to rise from the greatest injustice and crime of humanity to become cornerstones of our society,” she said, adding that the party she leads “will always seek to honor the legacy of those Africans who fought for liberation by continuing to help make Trinidad and Tobago a place where opportunity, progress and social mobility are open to all, not a chosen few”.