The National Reparations Committee (NRC) says it’s pleased to have joined the Cultural Development Foundation (CDF), Ministry of Creative Industries, Monsignor Patrick Anthony Folk Research Center (FRC), Holy Trinity Anglican Church, National Youth Council (NYC), National Students Council (NSC), Iyanola Council for Advancement of Rastafari (ICAR), Caribbean Rastafari Organization (CRO), Ubuntu Rastafari Cultural Center (plus others) in planning and executing Emancipation Month 2022.
The first of three year-long observances announced by Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre on August 1 to be held in 2022, 2023 and 2024, it started July 31 in Dennery with the launch of a monument to Petronille, a woman freedom fighter who paid with her life for resisting slavery on the Fond d’Or Estate.
The activities on Emancipation Day 2022 started with an unprecedented drumming parade along the Vigie Highway culminating on the Castries Waterfront with an hour’s-long rally addressed by the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister, as well as the MP for Central Castries, with cultural and other presentations by groups and entities.
Emancipation Day activities included a National Address by the Prime Minister, as well as a Freedom Concert in Soufriere, an artists’ exhibition in Vieux Fort, a history workshop in Laborie, a lecture in Gros Islet and several online discussions and events on NTN and other local broadcasting entities.
The activities continued in mid-month with a Market Day in honour of Marcus Garvey hosted in Constitution Park in Castries on August 17, the 101st anniversary of his visit to St. Lucia in 1921. On August 24, the NRC and CDF also jointly hosted a televised online broadcast on NTN in observance of August 23 as the UN-designated Day for Remembering the Transatlantic Slave Trade and its Abolition.
On August 30, the curtains started coming down on Emancipation Month, with the traditional La Rose Festival celebrated in Castries at Constitution Park, attended from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. by enthusiastic Saint Lucians from all over and across the island.
The final act for August was on the final day of the month, August 31, when another hybrid international broadcast was hosted by NTN, sponsored by the NRC and the CDF, to observe the International Day for People of African Descent.
The August 31 broadcast featured CARICOM’s Representative on the UN’s Permanent Forum for People of African Descent Dr June Soomer and Dr Arikana Chihombori-Quao, President of the African Diaspora Development Institute (ADDI).
The NRC and fellow stakeholder entities are all pleased at the level of positive response to the Emancipation Month of activities, which is expected to continue until September 15, including observance of September 7 as the 2nd anniversary of the first CARICOM-African Union (AU) Summit last year.
The September 7 anniversary was not observed locally, but Saint Lucia and other CARICOM member-states have agreed to observe the date with activities between anniversaries.
Between September 3 and 5, CARICOM was represented at a special UN-sponsored Latin American and Caribbean observance of the International Day for People of African Descent hosted in Cartagena, Colombia, by Dr Soomer in her capacity as CARICOM’s Representative on the UN’s Permanent Forum.
Dr Soomer, a former Secretary General of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), is also a former Saint Lucia Ambassador to CARICOM and the OECS and a founding member of the NRC.
Meanwhile, the CDF and the Stakeholders’ Committee has started preparing for its review ahead of the formal closure of the month, while already identifying strengths and weaknesses to be considered while planning for Emancipation Months 2023 and 2024.