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  • Our forefathers through persistent struggle secured our basic right to freedom
  • Our duty is to be eternally vigilant in guarding our freedom
  • We must never allow our society to be enslaved by foreign cultures and ideals

My fellow Jamaicans:

The 1st August 1838 is a significant day in Jamaica’s history. We commemorate the day as representing victory after centuries of struggle for freedom by our forefathers. This day marks our full freedom as a people, the end of the wicked and dehumanizing system of slavery, and the start of another long struggle to build a society and eventually a nation. It also shows that regardless of the difficult and protracted nature of the struggle, with persistence and commitment we will succeed.

Our forefathers through persistent struggle secured our basic right to freedom. The right to use our effort and industry as we see it fit, to enjoy the fruits of our labour and seek our own happiness and fulfilment without a master and his whip at our backs. These are the rights that we, their successors and inheritors, must cherish and protect at all times.

Today, we sometimes take this freedom for granted and forget the importance of the struggle. Our duty is to be eternally vigilant in guarding our freedom.

Sir William Alexander Bustamante, National Hero and one of our nation’s founders, said in 1947: “We must not allow the sufferings and pains of Gordon and Bogle to go in vain”.  In other words, treasure the legacies of our freedom fighters, our Sam Sharpes, our Paul Bogles, our Marcus Mosiah Garveys, our Norman Manleys, our Nannys of the Maroons!

Indeed, ensuring that the flames of freedom will keep burning in our hearts, minds and actions is acknowledging the personal relationship that each of us have with our nation’s founding figures;  the very personal debt that each of us owe these brave souls, whose efforts have allowed us the privileges to call this great country free and our own.

We have another duty to our forefathers, we must never allow our society to be enslaved by foreign cultures and ideals. The new slavery threat shackles the mind, and traps us in behaviours and desires that subjugates us to corruption and immorality, even self hate. Let us guard against this, let us reinforce the values for which our ancestors stood.  This duty is as much a personal obligation as it is for our government to ensure that our freedoms and values are secured by respecting all Jamaicans and treating them with dignity and equality.

As we celebrate Emancipation Day, bear in mind that freedom was not free, freedom is not a destination, freedom is a journey.  The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

My fellow Jamaicans, I look forward to working with you for the continued emancipation of our people, so that the flames of freedom in our blessed nation shall never die.

Thank you and God bless you all.