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Prime Minister the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller said there will be a year-long series of activities in 2007 to highlight the contribution of our African ancestors in ending the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Mrs. Simpson Miller said the abolition of the slave trade marked the start of a new Jamaican identity and that the celebrations were a fitting tribute to our forebears.
She was speaking on Tuesday (Jan. 2) at a cultural rally to officially launch bicentenary celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the Trans-Atlantic Trade in Enslaved Africans at Emancipation Park in Kingston.
The Prime Minister said the cultural rally marked the beginning of an entire year of remembrance and reflection on the spirit of our ancestors whose fight for freedom provided Jamaicans with the opportunity to live our own lives. She said the fact that the rally was held on Haiti’s Ancestors’ Day, was a fitting tribute to the magnificent role played by Haitians in the struggle against the slave trade.
“It is important that we never forget the unquenchable spirit of those who survived and bequeathed to us our African ancestry,” the Prime Minister said.
Other activities planned for the year include a Black History Month lecture in February, a cultural expose by the Accompong Maroons and a film festival on black liberation, slavery and Garveyism.
Mrs. Simpson Miller said that while some persons were of the view that we should forget the past and not recall the painful memories of slavery, we should promise to make good use of the sacrifices, strength and triumphs of our forebears and use this to build a free, prosperous and peaceful country.
“We must honour the heroes and embrace the legacy that they have left us,” Mrs. Simpson Miller added.
Jamaica played a leading role in putting forward a resolution to the United Nations General Assembly that 2007 be recognized internationally as the Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Trans-Atlantic Trade in Enslaved Africans. The resolution received widespread support including from the United Kingdom and the United States. A local bicentenary committee was launched in Jamaica in 2004 with a mandate to educate the nation about the abolition process from a Caribbean point of view.
Renowned African writer Professor Chinua Achebe, author of the book ‘Things Fall Apart’, was the guest speaker at the cultural rally. The rally also featured presentations by individuals, and cultural groups such as the Ivine Order of Nyabinghi, Colonel Sterling of the Moore Town Maroons and the African Heritage Development Association of St. Thomas. His worship the Mayor of Kingston Councillor Desmond McKenzie and Tourism Minister the Hon. Aloun Assamba were among those who brought greetings.