LESSONS must be learnt from slavery, including its deliberate destruction of the institution of the family, urged President Paula-Mae Weekes in her Emancipation Day message 2018.
“Throughout the period of slavery, war was waged on the institution of the family. Mothers were separated from their children and sold without ceremony and men were regularly rotated around plantations to prevent the forming of familial bonds.
“It was understood then, as it is now, that the family is the cornerstone to society and a stable home critical to the development of the individual.”
She urged all to treat each other with compassion. “Going forward, let us also devote sufficient attention to building meaningful relationships in our families and our neighbourhoods. This was not a right that was afforded to our ancestors.”
She was proud Emancipation as a public holiday was first celebrated by TT, a nation said to be forged from the love of liberty.
Weekes hailed historical figures who had struggled for freedom, including Daaga (TT), Bussa (Barbados) and Nanny (Jamaica), in the face of brutal floggings, sexual abuse and unrewarded labour. Their efforts had greatly helped to dismantle slave systems across the Caribbean.
“Their efforts remind us of the endless possibilities for change under the most challenging of conditions.”
Relating that when the slave trade was ended in 1807, many abolitionists thought slavery would next automatically end, she said this did not happen, but opposition to abolition grew.
“History has thus demonstrated that we must continue to fight for what we believe in, and never settle for less,” Weekes said. “Our vision of a safe and prosperous TT can become a reality if we are all willing to work together through breakthroughs as well as difficult times. Let us not lose heart or grow weary as we continue our journey to secure a brighter future for our nation.”
She hoped every citizen would value the experiences and efforts of those who went before us. “We have inherited the freedom for which they fought so hard. It is therefore our duty to be good and faithful stewards of their sacrifices.
“May the entire national community reflect on these things and have a wonderful and safe Emancipation Day.”