History and Experiences of African Ancestors Important to All Jamaicans – Assamba


Minister of Tourism, Entertainment and Culture, Hon. Aloun Ndombet Assamba, has said that the history and experiences of African ancestors should not only be of concern to people of African descent, as Jamaica is a multicultural place.
“Our country has always experienced a level of inter-ethnic inter-dependence and continues to do so. We need to move to a situation where we destabilize ethnic cultural exclusivity, we must learn to honour each other’s ancestors, participate in each other’s heritage days and move towards a future of unity, solidarity and reconciliation of hierarchical differences,” she asserted.
Mrs. Assamba was speaking in the House of Representatives yesterday (March 27) on Jamaica’s observance of the Bicentenary of the Parliamentary Abolition of the Transatlantic Trade in Enslaved Africans.
She added that the year 2007 provided the occasion for Jamaica and the wider Caribbean to reflect on and explore openly its historical relationship to the transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans and slavery. “It also provides an opportunity for us to appropriately memorialize our freedom fighters, who suffered and fought to secure an end to the transatlantic trade in Africans and ultimately the slave system,” she stated.
Referring to Sunday’s (March 25) historic gathering at the Kingston waterfront to celebrate the ancestral funeral rites of forbearers of African origin, Mrs. Assamba said the purpose of the ceremony was to “redress a wrong that was done centuries ago that is, to bury our family in the way that we should have done centuries ago and honour them for what they endured in the cause of Caribbean freedom.”
She noted further that the waterfront was the site of the largest number of arrivals of enslaved Africans, as well as a thriving slave market.
“There was joy amidst the solemnity of the occasion, as this was truly a national event, with a seamless inclusiveness, cutting across religion, socio-economic means, political affiliation, personal agendas and gender,” the Minister told colleague members.
She pointed out that while the slave trade did not end with the March 1807 Act of the British Parliament, and the slave system in fact remained until 1834, Jamaicans needed to celebrate the fact that by this legislation, millions more were saved from the dehumanizing middle passage and slavery in the Caribbean.
She noted further that although abolition had traditionally been presented as a benevolent act by Britain, “thousands of Africans and Creoles in Jamaica participated in the long anti-slavery struggle”.
The House recently began debate on a motion brought by Member of Parliament for Central Clarendon, Mike Henry, which calls for Parliament to develop a common position on the impact of slavery and the matter of reparation for the countries of the displaced descendants of slavery. Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller is expected to make her contribution to this debate shortly.

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