On Wednesday August 1, countries across the Caribbean (many of them former colonies of Europe) and some in Africa will mark Emancipation Day as an observation of the abolition of slavery.
When Emancipation Proclamation of 1833 was put into place, the practice of transporting human chattel across the Middle Passage from Africa to the west had lasted well over 400 years.
And by the time the proclamation took hold a year later, on August 1, 1834, the Trans Atlantic slave trade had transformed the world as it was during the period that spanned the 16th century to the 19th century.
European empires of the Portuguese, Spanish, French, British and Dutch all grew to become global economic powers with the massive wealth acquired from their involvement in the trade of Africans, who were needed to work the cotton and sugarcane fields of the colonies.
During that 400-year period, an estimated 50 million Africans with their legs chained together lying in the hull of slave ships in an arduous journey from continental Africa to the Caribbean, the Americas and North America.
Those who were fortunate enough to survive the journey became chattel slaves, which meant that they could have been bought and sold or inherited, not unlike furniture or livestock.
More than that, these Africans were stripped of their humanity and of all connection to their past and their heritage, including identity and culture. The men were subjected to regular beatings and other forms of physical abuse as a reminder of their status of servitude, while women were summarily raped and abused.
The legacy of that sustained form of abuse continue to have an impact on the relationship between the descendants of slaves and descendants of slave masters in societies across the Caribbean, Latin America, The United States and Canada.
A more pronounced impact of the Slave Trade is the massive economic gap that emerged between the slave trading nations of Europe together with their beneficiaries in North America and the exploited nations of Africa and the Caribbean.
Two Caribbean-born historians, Dr. Eric Williams of Trinidad and Tobago and Dr. Walter Rodney of Guyana, have both skillfully documented the economic benefits of the Triangular Trade, contending that it also contributed to the growth of populations and the development of technology in Europe, while Africa remained “stagnant” and “undeveloped.”
Dr. Williams was able to prove that capital from the slave trade directly funded the industrial revolution, which lifted Europe out of its economic doldrums.
A theory that was taken further by Dr. Rodney who was able to show that before the slave trade, Europe and Africa, both regions of the world, were developing at an almost equal pace, driven by the technology of the Iron Age, but Europe was able to pull ahead using its advantage in ship- building and its fleets of ocean liners.
Emancipation Day 2018 comes at a time when the legacy of slavery is still very pronounced as the technological gap between the two continents continues to widen significantly with Europe and its North American partners enjoying the benefits that those advances brought to their economies.
But although Africa and the Caribbean still lag with many of their economies being stifled by the same prejudices and racism that fuelled the slave trade, the continent and its Diaspora continue to show the same buoyancy and resilience that have kept them as the bread baskets of the world for centuries.
About Emancipation: Our Remembrance Day
Ladies and gentlemen, based on authentic and credible research documented by renowned historians, the British Empire anticipated and feared defeat and was given few alternatives but to abolish the Atlantic Slave Trade on March 25, 1807.
Many years later, the Emancipation Proclamation Act of July 1833, more commonly known as Emancipation Day, came into effect on August 1, 1834. However, today I find it more culturally appropriate to refer to this historic event as Pan-African Revolution Solidarity Day.
Four hundred years of revolution, insurrection, revolt, riots and resistance that took place in the Caribbean and North and South America resulted in victory and liberation for our ancestors who fought tenaciously to achieve our God-given right of freedom.
We must acknowledge this period and its climax as our Remembrance Day, paying tribute and demonstrating gratitude, respect and admiration to the hundred million Black men, women and children who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.
We must now dedicate our time and energy wholeheartedly to re-educate, reconstruct and establish autonomous and sovereign nations, communities and institutions that are self-sufficient and self-reliant. And we must always remember to avoid conformity…
Today, let us not forget that our solidarity is our strength and credibility, and our power to create change.
by Julian McIntosh