Emancipation; it can mean different things to different people, but the underlying common principle is inextricably linked to freedom. As we here in Trinidad and Tobago embark on commemorating Emancipation Day, it would indeed be useful to engage in meaningful reflection on where the descendants of African slaves have come from, where we are today and where we hope to be in the future.
To think about what our ancestors went through during the period of slavery is very sobering. Slaves were not considered to be people, slaves were classified as property, wholly owned by their masters. We can only imagine the inhumanity and degradation suffered by human beings at the hands of fellow human beings. Moreover, even though emancipation occurred in 1834, the scars of slavery are still very evident on the landscape of the world.
Here in Trinidad and Tobago the descendants of African slaves along with those of other varied races who came and settled here, set out to build a nation. We have indeed come a long way from the days of being considered the property of other men, however, on this the commemoration of emancipation, we must ask ourselves; are we doing our best? Are we building strong family units? Are we playing a part in the development of our communities and nation? Are we doing better than the generations who came before us and most importantly, are we making certain that we set the stage so that our children and grandchildren who follow us will exceed our accomplishments?
As we work side by side with our brothers and sisters of different racial backgrounds, to carve out the best life possible for ourselves and our families, we must also be mindful that opportunities to so do must be accessible to all. No one group should be made to feel discriminated against or marginalised in any way, shape or form. Critical to ensuring this however, is the provision of good governance. It is only through good governance that we can all have access to available opportunities with a view to achieving our full potential as individuals and as a nation.
And so as I encourage you to reflect on emancipation and its meaning and significance, I also take this opportunity on behalf of my family and the People's National Movement to wish the nation a safe and happy Emancipation Day 2015.
Dr Keith Rowley