Emancipation 2017 In Review – Onward to the next 25
Onward to the next 25
Aya, the symbol of endurance and resilience, was the most appropriate adinkra for this year’s observance of Emancipation. Internationally, it placed significance on the struggles of our African brothers and sisters in the United States. At home, in Trinidad and Tobago, Aya represented the endurance and resilience of the Emancipation Support Committee as it marked its 25th anniversary this year.
As the elders led by ESC chairman Khafra Kambon continue the promotion of African pride, there was indeed an attempt this year to encourage the next generation in heightened awareness of legacy and identity. The launch of the Kwame Ture Memorial Lecture Series was one example of such. Michael “Quess” Moore, co-founder of the Take ‘Em Down NOLA movement in the US, and Cleo Lake, founding member of the Countering Colston campaign in England, addressed the Dismantling the Colonial Legacy: Reflections from a New Front Line.
Decades after Ture and other Pan African liberalists have transitioned, Moore and Lake represent the next generation of freedom fighters by battling the system through education. Take ‘Em Down Nola petitions governing agencies to remove monuments that represent slavery, racism and confederacy. The Countering Colson campaign was determined to remove the name of a slave owner from Bristol’s institutions. Each successful in their own ventures, Moore and Lake have also united to support the Cross Rhodes Freedom Project.
Our own Shabaka Kambon is one of the lead architects of the Cross Rhodes project which seeks to educate citizens on TT history and rebrand spaces with local heroes. Purposely named after Cecil Rhodes, the primary designer of South Africa’s apartheid movement, the campaign uses his name as a metaphor to invite Trinbagonians to view themselves as a people at a crossroads. The first three main targets of the campaign are the removal of monuments and the renaming of spaces celebrating Christopher Columbus, the re-contextualising of the Lopinot Estate to reflect its true history and the renaming of Milner Hall on the St Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies.
While Cross Rhodes continues its campaign to realign the African identity in the Trinidad landscape, our fashion show Qurux Africa 3 highlighted the beauty of the Continent through inspired clothing designed by Trinidad designers as well as selected pieces from Ghana and Ethiopia. The fashion show never ceases to impress and next year, we hope to host more designers.
Our week-long celebration at the Lidj Yasu Omowale Emancipation Village placed the spotlight on the beauty of the African spirit. We paid tribute to Singing Sandra, not only for her powerful voice of reason in the Calypso arena, but as a mother to her community, helping those in dire need. We also honoured Miss Universe 1977, Janelle Penny Commissiong who celebrated her 40th anniversary as the first black queen to have won the title.
Our other tributes were to the following:
- Eintou Pearl Springer, who received the Henry Sylvester Williams Award of Excellence for her decades of outstanding contribution to the cultural reawakening and restoration of African people in Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean through literature, drama and activism.
- Carlos Hee Houng, for his outstanding contribution to the industrialization of Trinidad and Tobago as an architect in the development of the Pt Lisas Industrial Estate
- Ralph Henry, for his outstanding contribution to Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean in the field of economics as a planner, researcher, educator and mentor
We also presented the Spirit of Emancipation Award of Excellence to:
- Rawle Gibbons – playwright
- Carlyle Wilson
- Francesca Wilson
- Marjorie Anderson
- St Margaret’s Youth Steel Orchestra – who made their mark at Carnegie Hall, New York in 2015
In our eyes, these people contributed to the commemoration of Emancipation and for that we are grateful. We believe without their support and the support of others, witnessing 25 years in the effort would not have been possible. The Emancipation Support Committee continues to move forward in its journey of rediscovery and understanding of the African spirit. Although some of us would not be here for the next 25 years, we believe the movement is in the good hands of the next generation who work with us and support our endeavours.
We would also like to take this opportunity to say a heartfelt “Thank You!” to the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts and line Minister Dr. Nyan Gadsby-Dolly for supporting our efforts. We look forward to continued collaboration with the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago through the Ministries of Trade and Industry and Public Administration and Communications and other sponsors such as the National Lotteries Control Board, Bmobile and the Unit Trust Corporation.
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