Use Bicentenary Observance to Confront Slavery – Holness


Opposition Spokesman on Education, Andrew Holness, has urged Jamaicans to use the observance of the bicentenary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade as an opportunity to confront their history and move forward.
He was responding to a presentation made by Minister of Tourism, Entertainment and Culture, Aloun Assamba on the matter in Gordon House yesterday (March 27).
Mr. Holness pointed out that while Africans were not the only people to have suffered atrocities, dehumanization, and exploitation because of slavery, “we have benefited the least from attempts at atonement. Partly this is our fault.the abiding sentiment among some of our people is to forget slavery and the slave trade, and view it as an event that happened in the distant past, with little consequence for us today”.
He stressed that, many had not confronted slavery and thought of Jamaican history only in the context of independence, which came in 1962. Therefore, he noted, the commemoration of the bicentenary offered an opportunity to “finally confront, grapple with our past, make the connections to the present, and view our trajectory to the future”.
Mr. Holness said that even while some Jamaicans tried to forget the past, “we secretly retain some of the inferiorities, which are part of the slave trade. The rebalancing is not only of the past, but that rebalancing must take place for the present”.
He remarked also, that from the resistance of slavery, “we have become defiant, yet a resilient people, but now that we are a free people and at the same time a defiant people, we have matured into a culture of rejecting law and order. Our society at this time needs to rebalance”.
Another legacy of slavery, Mr. Holness highlighted, was an infrugal approach to wealth, with a proclivity to spend, rather than to save and accumulate. These tendencies, he said, had resulted in Jamaica having one of the lowest saving rates in the western world.
The family structure had also been thrown off balance he said, with men not allowed in the past to fulfill their role as fathers. “As a result, the family structure has developed in a way that is not supportive of proper social and economical development. We must rebalance that,” he emphasized.
For these reasons, the Member of Parliament for West Central St. Andrew said it was of symbolic importance that the Parliament of a free Jamaica, officially commemorate the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade.

JIS Social