In the midst of our celebrations of Jamaica’s Golden Jubilee, we take time to highlight the significance of this the 178th anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery. We recall the end of that systemic oppression which vainly sought to rob our ancestors of their humanity. We cannot forget the struggles of those who fought for freedom, for which many paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Our commemoration of Emancipation calls very sharply to mind the fact that despite the Abolition of Slavery in the former British Empire in 1834 and later in other countries and territories, there are still pockets of slavery in various places. Women and girls are being kidnapped or hoodwinked into slavery in the sex trade. Illegal migrant workers in certain countries suffer abuse which is tantamount to enslavement. Prisoners in some countries are bound to a servitude which debases them and ignores their fundamental human rights.
The celebration of Emancipation is our call to cherish the freedoms which we enjoy and to stand for the freedom of all who are oppressed. It is also a call to examine our own principles, lifestyles and thought processes, to see whether there is need to liberate ourselves from mental slavery, from negative habits and addictions and from selfish, blind ambition.
Let us mark this Anniversary in a spirit which:
· honours service to our fellowmen,
· extends a helping hand to the weak and the needy and
· upholds justice, peace and love.
Let our freedom be exercised with responsibility, acknowledging the rights of others!
Let our freedom ring in the belief in ourselves and in Jamaica which will see us achieve the brighter, better country that we envision.
May God bless Jamaica, Land we Love!