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Avellon Williams 

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO- On August 1, 1834, the Slaves were freed from their chains in the Caribbean. This is one of the most significant days in Trinidad and Tobago history, people from all walks of life come together to celebrate freedom, reflect on our past, and look forward to a brighter future.  

A message from His Excellency Mr. Abubakar DanlamiIbrahim, High Commissioner for the Federal Republic of Nigeria to Trinidad and Tobago.

/Image, AEM/

On this historic commemoration of the Emancipation Day, I wish to congratulate the government and people of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Africa, and Africans across the globe and particularly the African fathers of Trinidad and Tobago such as Dr. Eric Williams, Kwame Ture, Ulric Cross—to mention a few. Africans have shown their resilience, unity and contributed to making T&T great.

The theme for this year’s Emancipation Day; “Commemorating 30 years of Transformation and Resilience,” couldn’t have come at a better time than now. The years of supposed freedom from slavery, Africa and Africans still wallowed in poverty, deprivation, and degradation. There was no compensation for their hard work and they had no voice in the scheme of things, but through it all, the resilient African spirit stood out and continued to persist.

Office of the Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley unveiling of Emancipation monument /Image, OPM/

As we continue to celebrate Emancipation Day, we should continue to remember that during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, which took over a span of 400 years, over twelve million enslaved Africans were taken to Europe and other places.

Those who made it became the property of others and made to work for decades including their children and their children’s children. They were subjected to horrible conditions by their masters.

The resilient African men and women, on April 16, 1862, got their freedom by the declaration of President Abraham Lincoln, which ended the long years of hard, bitter, and traumatisingstruggle for people of African descent.

The emancipation event is a reminder that our forefathers survived slavery and colonialism, and now, our generation is still facing the issue of human trafficking and cultural extinction. As the world has become closer, and our society becomes more homogenous, it is important that people of African descent should never forget their roots and history. Our history and culture are what shapeour lives.

The resilience of African women /Image, SC/

Since getting independence in 1960, Nigeria played a significant role in the decolonisation and freedom of Africa and Africans. Nigeria was deeply involved in the liberation struggle of South African countries, rendering support to the various liberation movements.

The support was so crucial that Nigeria was called a frontline state. The yearning for Africa to be liberated from colonialism influenced the Nigerian Foreign Policy and earned us the “big brother” title. Also, part of its key foreign policy objective was to ensure the freedom of every black man and woman on the surface of the earth.

It is disheartening, therefore, to see that despite the abolition of slavery, there are Africans, who are still victims of slavery in the modern world. Evidence has shown that due to economic hardship, young men and women are being deceived, with promises of jobs and a better life abroad, only to be subjected to inhumane conditions, especially in some Middle-East countries.

Such acts shouldn’t be tolerated anywhere in the world. We all must continue to push for and strive to achieve a better world for the Africans.

Slavery still exists in the modern world /Image, CNN/

The establishment of diplomatic relations between Nigeria and T&T in 1963 and other Caribbean countries was to reconnect and breach the gap with our lost brethren and bring them once again closer home. In this regard, the High Commission is proud to say, relations between Nigeria and T&T have been deepened through its support of the Emancipation Day celebrations.

The High Commission’s Library has also given young men and women of this country the opportunity to read African literatureand study African arts.

Recently, there is a plan by the T&T Film Company, seeking to collaborate with Nollywood, which is the third biggest movie industry in the world and second to Bollywood in terms of movie production. This collaboration, when finalised would avail people of African origin the opportunity to watch more movies of traditional African settings and would further breach the gap between Africa and the Caribbean.

On the other hand, Nigerian artists have carved a notch themselves in the music world, such as Burna boy, Wizkid, and Davido to mention a few. The entertainment industry is one of the best ways to get the attention of the young men and women in the Caribbean to understand their roots.

Nigerian artists, Burna boy, Davido, Wizkid /Image, IF/

As we observe the 30th anniversary of the Emancipation Support Committee of T&T, the 184th anniversary of the emancipation of the enslaved Africans in the British colonies, and the 8th year of the United Nations International Day for People of African descent, let us not forget that our ancestors experienced get injustices, they fought and overcame so that we should have a better deal. We must build on this and break away from the syndrome of dependency.

Let me remind us all that on the auspicious occasion that Africans can dare to dream and achieve their goals in life. We had great African men and women, who have made an impact and conquered the world during their own time, from activists to inventors, scientists, musicians, astronomers, and so on. There is no aspect of human life that the black man has not contributed to. I, therefore, urge my African brethren that with determination and hard work, there is nothing we cannot achieve.

Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Dr. Keith Rowley visits Ghana /Image, LTTN/

For a just world, I wish to support activities and other African leaders that champion reparation for African and African descents, for suffering mental and physical oppression and abuse, just as Germany compensated the victims of the Holocaust. This would definitely not heal the scars of oppression but would help descendants of the oppressed to have a better life in our current world of systemic deprivation.

May I conclude by appreciating the Emancipation Support Committee of T&T for the beautiful and educative events lined up to crown Emancipation Day, which is indeed a huge success?

On behalf of the government and people of Nigeria, I wish you all a happy Emancipation Day.

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Avellon Williams

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