BROADCAST BY THE MOST HON. PORTIA SIMPSON MILLER TO MARK BICENTENARY OF THE ABOLITION OF THE TRANSATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE


MY FELLOW JAMAICANS!”HISTORY IS THE LANDMARK BY WHICH WE ARE DIRECTED INTO THE TRUE COURSE OF LIFE.” SO SAID MARCUS MOSIAH GARVEY.TODAY WE REMEMBER OUR HISTORY.
JAMAICA IS PROUD TO JOIN WITH PEOPLES OF THE AFRICAN DIASPORA TO MARK THE STRUGGLE FOR THE ABOLITION OF THE TRANSATLANTIC TRADE IN AFRICANS AND THE PASSING OF THE BRITISH ABOLITION ACT, 200 YEARS AGO.
OUR OBSERVANCE OF THIS SPECIAL DAY IS ONE HIGHLIGHT OF A YEAR OF ACTIVITIES BEING CO-ORDINATED BY OUR NATIONAL BICENTENARY COMMITTEE.
SOME MAY ASK, WHY IS THE 200TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE END OF THE SLADE TRADE IN AFRICANS IMPORTANT TO US?
THE ANSWER BEGINS WITH THE FACT THAT JAMAICA, WAS ONE OF THE ORIGINAL AND IMPORTANT SITES OF SLAVERY.
OVER ONE MILLION OF OUR AFRICAN ANCESTORS WERE TORN FROM THEIR HOMELAND AND TAKEN THROUGH THE NOTORIOUS MIDDLE PASSAGE TO OUR SHORES.
THEIR WORK, THEIR BLOOD, THEIR SWEAT AND THEIR TEARS HELPED TO BUILD THE PLANTATION ECONOMY AND ENRICH THE COLONIAL POWER.
OUT OF THEIR PAIN WAS BORN THE CORE OF THE JAMAICAN IDENTITY. THE ACT OF 1807 TO ABOLISH THE SLAVE TRADE WAS A SIGNIFICANT TURNING POINT.
THE LARGE AFRICAN POPULATION TOOK ON A JAMAICAN IDENTITY, GENERATING ENERGY AND PASSION FOR THE MOVEMENT THAT WOULD LEAD TO EMANCIPATION, FULL FREEDOM AND THE LIBERATION OF ALL JAMAICA FROM THE SLAVE SYSTEM. TODAY, WE REMEMBER THE STRUGGLES AND THE SACRIFICES OF OUR ANCESTORS.
WE REMEMBER THE PRICE THEY PAID FOR THEIR OWN SURVIVAL AND FOR OUR PRIVILEGE TO BE HERE, AS FREE, INDEPENDENT JAMAICANS.
THE HORRORS OF SLAVERY HAVE LEFT THEIR MARK ON OUR SOCIETY, BUT TODAY, WE CAN STAND CONFIDENT IN OUR ABILITY TO OVERCOME, BECAUSE OUR ANCESTORS HAVE LEFT US A GREAT LEGACY OF STRENGTH, WISDOM, COURAGE, CREATIVITY AND RESILIENCE. WE ARE THE INHERITORS OF THEIR TRIUMPH OVER ADVERSITY.
TO HONOUR THOSE WHO HAVE BLAZED THE FREEDOM TRAIL, WE CAN BUILD MONUMENTS AND WRITE ABOUT THEM IN OUR HISTORY BOOKS.
YET, THERE IS ONLY ONE REAL AND LASTING WAY TO DO JUSTICE TO THE MEMORY OF THOSE WHO PAVED THE WAY FOR OUR FREEDOM.
AND THAT IS TO LIVE THEIR LEGACY IN OUR THOUGHTS, WORDS, AND ACTION. EVERY TIME WE FAIL TO HONOUR THE FREEDOMS WE ENJOY TODAY, WE RE-OPEN THE WOUNDS OF THE PAST.
EVERY TIME SOMEONE “TALKS DOWN” THIS COUNTRY, BE-LITTLE OUR ABILITIES, EFFORTS AND ACHIEVEMENTS, THEY ARE RE-OPENING THE OLD WOUNDS OF SLAVERY WHICH ATTEMPTED TO ROB OUR ANCESTORS OF THEIR HISTORY AND IDENTITY.
EVERY TIME SOMEONE COMMITS A RAPE OR ANY ACT OF SEXUAL ABUSE, THE OLD WOUND OF RAPE, AS A TOOL OF OPPRESSION AND DEGREDATION USED DURING SLAVERY, IS RE-OPENED.
SLAVES HAD NO RIGHTS OVER THEIR OWN BODIES.
EVERY TIME SOMEONE TAKES A LIFE, THE OLD WOUND OF TOTAL DISREGARD FOR THE LIVES OF OUR ANCESTORS DURING SLAVERY, IS RE-OPENED.
WITH EVERY ACT OF VIOLENCE, THE OLD WOUND OF UNSPEAKABLE BRUTALITY DURING SLAVERY IS RE-OPENED.
SLAVES WERE NOT CONSIDERED HUMAN BEINGS. THEY WERE LISTED AS POSSESSIONS.
EVERY TIME ONE PERSON TAKES ADVANTAGE OF ANOTHER, THE OLD WOUND OF EXPLOITATION AND DENIAL OF BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS IS RE-OPENED.
IN PRACTICE, SLAVES HAD NO RIGHTS.
EVERY TIME A STUDENT CHOOSES NOT MAKE GOOD USE OF THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE EDUCATED, THE OLD WOUND OF DENIAL OF EDUCATION OF OUR SLAVE ANCESTORS, IS RE-OPENED.
SLAVES WERE NOT ALLOWED TO GO TO SCHOOL.
EVERY TIME WE MISS AN OPPORTUNITY TO COME TOGETHER IN UNITY AND LOVE AND CHOOSE WAR INSTEAD OF PEACE, WE RE-OPEN THE WOUND OF SEPARATION FROM FAMILY AND COMMUNITY THAT EXISTED DURING SLAVERY.
SLAVES DID NOT ENJOY THE RIGHT TO FAMILY LIFE AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT.
LET THESE THOUGHTS BURN IN OUR MEMORIES, SO THAT WE WILL BE MOVED TO TRULY HONOUR THE FREEDOMS FOR WHICH OUR ANCESTORS FOUGHT.
WITH ALL THAT WAS MISSING, AND WITH ALL THAT THEY ENDURED, THEY MANAGED TO SURVIVE, ACHIEVE, AND TO PASS ON THE DETERMINATION TO BE FREE.THEY MADE THE SACRIFICES.
WHAT RIGHT HAVE WE TO SQUANDER THE GAINS?
TODAY, WE HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO TREAT EACH OTHER WITH RESPECT. WE HAVE RIGHTS, AS CITIZENS, GUARANTEED BY LAW.
AS JAMAICANS, NO ONE CAN SNATCH US FROM OUR HOMELAND AND FORCE US TO WORK ON ANY PLANTATION.
WE CAN OWN PROPERTY. WE HAVE FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT.
WE CAN CHOOSE OUR POLITICAL REPRESENTATIVES. WE CAN MEET. THERE ARE OPPORTUNITIES TO BE EDUCATED. WE CAN DISCUSS OUR DIFFERENCES AND ARRIVE AT COMMON SOLUTIONS.
NO ONE CAN STOP ANY OF US, LEGALLY, FROM ENJOYING THE BENEFITS OF FAMILY LIFE AND COMMUNITY LIFE.
WE HAVE MORE OPTIONS THAN OUR ANCESTORS.
THE WAY TO HONOUR OUR NATION’S JOURNEY FROM 1807 IS TO CHERISH EVERY FREEDOM THAT HAS BEEN WON AND TO LIVE THE LEGACY OF OUR ANCESTORS.
FELLOW JAMAICANS! TWO HUNDRED YEARS HAVE GONE SINCE THE ABOLITION OF THE SLAVE TRADE.
THE OLD SLAVE TRADERS AND SLAVE MASTERS HAVE GONE. NOW, IT IS UP TO US.
LET US THEREFORE HONOUR THE LIVES, STRUGGLES AND ACHIEVEMENTS OF OUR ANCESTORS AND BY SO DOING, TRULY APPRECIATE THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS DAY.
ONE OF THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAYS TO ENSLAVE A PEOPLE IS TO TAKE AWAY THEIR HISTORY, ERASE THE MEMORY OF THEIR JOURNEY. A NATION NEEDS ITS HISTORY, BUT HISTORY IS USELESS UNLESS IT IS BEING USED.
AS WE REMEMBER THE STRUGGLES OF THE PAST AND THE ABOLITION OF THE TRANS-ATLANTIC TRADE IN AFRICANS, LET US CHOOSE TO USE OUR HISTORY TO EMPOWER OURSELVES.
LET US RECAPTURE THE UNQUENCHABLE, UNSINKABLE, UNSTOPPABLE SPIRIT OF OUR FOREBEARS.
I END AS I BEGAN WITH MORE OF THE THINKING OF MARCUS MOSIAH GARVEY TO CONTINUE TO INSPIRE AND ENCOURAGE US:
“THERE IS NO BETTER GIFT THAT WE CAN GIVE IN HONOUR OF THE MEMORY OF THE LOVE OF OUR ANCESTORS FOR US, AND IN GRATITUDE OF THE SUFFERINGS THEY ENDURED THAT WE MIGHT BE FREE;
NO GRANDER GIFT CAN WE BEAR TO THE SACRED MEMORY OF THE GENERATION PAST THAN A UNITIED PEOPLE, AND PEACEFUL AND PROSPEROUS JAMAICA – A MONUMENT FOR ALL ETERNITY, FOR ALL TIMES.”GOD BLESS YOU ALL

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