Many years ago, NJAC had asked that this country should celebrate Emancipation Day at Home (and in our communities). This is without prejudice to the Emancipation Day activities organised by the Emancipation Support Committee and others whose public events are now clearly constrained by the COVID-19 pandemic. The reason being that Africans should have a day set aside for themselves.
The late calypsonians Superior (Andrew Marcano) sang “We want a day.” The late Chief Servant Makandal Daaga said we should dedicate Emancipation Day to ourselves and “Light a Candle, Say a Prayer, Play a Drum.”
With Emancipation Day just a few weeks away, I want to remind the African community to put aside the time to celebrate Emancipation Day at Home appropriately, before, after or on the day itself.
The real point is that Africans need to have certain observances, including using oral history (or written history), whereby the spirit and endurance of Africans is recognised. Our children should hear and know what it means to be an African. Africans need to have a time to reflect on their health and their social well-being.
Last year I had prepared a ritual which had as cardinal features giving thanks to the creator and ancestors as well as Aid to the less fortunate.
This year I have designed an Emancipation Day greeting card to spread the message about the festivity.
Africans should use Emancipation Day as a family commemoration so they can become more knowledgeable about their several African achievements. Remember, Africans are now half way through the UN declared International Decade of Persons of African Descent (2014- 2025). It is also the era of a resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement.
There are many narratives within each African family about successes in education, business, science and technology, church, mechanical and other skills, cooking, house craft, agriculture, politics and social work. But Africans don’t recall them often enough.
For example, African teachers had founded a number of colleges before there were secondary schools other than QRC, CIC, the convents and the Naparima High Schools.
We should use Emancipation Day at Home to pay attention to our health, COVID-19 notwithstanding. Africans are plagued, (like the rest of the country) with an epidemic of non-communicable diseases, especially diabetes and hypertension which we have to deal with more resolutely than we are doing now.
African males also have a serious problem with prostate cancer.
All African families in the Caribbean should have some understanding of what the presence of sickle cell trait and sickle cell disease may mean and therefore should take whatever action is necessary to mitigate complications.
The prime minister’s recently appointed Recovery Committee is doomed to failure unless citizens in the affected areas are allowed to implement whatever recommendations are proposed.
Emancipation Day at Home 2020 must become yet another stepping stone toward an African Renaissance which includes Reparations that the community deserves since the European assaults on African civilisation during, the slave trade, colonisation and imperialism.
Africans must seek the responsibility to honour themselves at their homes.
The SINUHE Centre