My fellow Jamaicans! Today I greet you in the spirit of freedom even as we face some very serious challenges. As we struggle with the hardships that COVID 19 and economic challenges bring, let us remember that the conditions our ancestors faced were much worse.

Yet, they confronted the slave masters and triumphed,

With sheer will and determination they won the freedoms and rights we celebrate today.

So, as we celebrate the 182nd anniversary of the end of the blight on humanity – slavery, let us reflect on the freedom we enjoy. Let us never forget that the preservation and expansion of our freedom, remains our most prized possession.

Our first National Hero, the Rt Excellent Marcus Garvey warned us, that freedom from bondage is just the first step.  We must continue the journey to “emancipate ourselves from mental slavery” and to break those chains of economic and social inequality that persist. For too many, those chains of inequality still limit their opportunity to achieve a better life.

Since Emancipation, Education has been the most important vehicle of progress and personal upliftment. That is why so many of our parents and grandparents sacrificed to give their children an education and a chance to succeed in life.

We believe that if Jamaica is to achieve success and if our people are to realize their full potential as human beings, we need a first-rate education system. Such a system would:

  • prepare our children to achieve global standards
  • drive the growth that we seek as a country and
  • enable all our people to earn higher incomes, pursue more fulfilling occupations and achieve their dreams and aspirations.

Full freedom also requires emancipation from the shackles of economic hardships. For over a century after Emancipation, former slaves were kept tied to the estates as labourers, earning starvation wages. The search for land, freedom and a better life was what led to the Morant Bay Rebellion.

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