Basseterre, St. Kitts – Emancipation Day in St. Kitts and Nevis is celebrated on the first Monday in August annually to commemorate the end of the Atlantic Slave Trade.
This year, the Rotary Club of Liamuiga recalled the journey to Emancipation Day, August 1, 1834, with a presentation by Ms Laverne Brookes, Dean of the Division of the Arts, Sciences and General Studies and History and Caribbean Studies lecturer at the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College (CFBC).
Ms Brookes’ interactive and informative discussion chronicled the over two-hundred-year history of a movement that started in 1636, and eventually led to a struggle for existence from the earlier inhabitants, through indentureship, and the hardships and survival of Africans, who were forced to travel beyond their own civilizations to toil on tobacco and later sugar plantations across the islands.
Describing what was more than just a journey, the educator spoke of how Christianity was used as a tool to influence and control, to achieve enormous wealth and social standing, and how chattel slavery imprisoned more than just humanity.
“The European settlers used the ‘curse of Hamm’, twisting this Bible story to justice enslaving dark-skinned people – African,” highlighted Dean Brookes. “But by the early 1800s, they then used Christianity to now say slavery was immoral and against the word of God.”
She also made mention of the local and regional heroes, like Robert Bradshaw, Bustamante, and Eric Williams, who fought long and hard for freedom, democracy, an end to colonization, and for the efforts their contributions made to pave the way for independence.
In closing, Dean Brookes left Rotarians with food for thought with the questions, “Did we get emancipation? Were we given emancipation? Are we truly emancipated?”