Kamla marks Emancipation Day, vows UNC will invest in arts
Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has pledged to invest in the arts and eradicate human trafficking in her Emancipation Day message.
Celebrated annually on August 1, this year marks the 186th anniversary of the emancipation of enslaved Africans in Trinidad and Tobago.
In a press release issued on Friday, the head of the United National Congress (UNC) spoke of the strength and perseverance of Africans who faced the most horrific forms of cruelty known to man.
She said: “The pain of a people ripped from their homeland, shipped like cargo across thousands of miles of sea, sold as chattel, suffering further indignity, oppression, and abuse under slave-owners - these are experiences that none of us alive today can fathom. Slavery remains one of the most heinous crimes against humanity which African people endured, and the trauma of that dark period has been passed through generations.”
However, only recently, the Opposition leader came under fire for saying the Government’s sustained closure of the borders, effectively locking citizens out of the country, was worse than slavery and indentureship.
Meanwhile, Persad-Bissessar said Emancipation day is a time to reflect on what the ancestors of Afro-Trinidadians endured and to celebrate the hard-won freedoms which were granted in 1834.
She said: “The courage, resilience and sheer will to survive, to hold on to their hopes and dreams of an end to the brutality of their reality are inspiring. We recognize the tremendous sacrifices made in the name of freedom, and, in so doing, honour the memory of those who stood at the forefront of the battle for liberty, many of them giving their lives for the freedom we enjoy today.”
Recognizing the tremendous sacrifices made in the name of freedom, the Opposition leader noted that descendants of Afro-Trinidadians have gone on to accomplish great things rising to all the top levels of politics, business, medicine, the military, science, sport and the arts.
With this in mind, she pledged to invest in the cultural sector once she wins the August 10 general election.
She stated: “Trinidad and Tobago’s vibrant cultural industry owes a great deal to how we overcame the challenges we faced as a people. A new UNC Government intends to aggressively promote all aspects of our creative industries and the marketing of our rich culture within our specific Creative Industries Sector.”
The UNC leader also went on to condemn modern day human trafficking and promised to eradicate it.
She said: “Today as we reflect on the atrocities on the past, we recognize that the last shameful bastion of the enslavement of human beings still exists today in the form of human trafficking. That this practice occurs in our country is an affront to the memory of our African ancestors and all who value our shared humanity. We speak with one, united voice and speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. The elimination of human trafficking has always been a priority for the UNC and would continue to be a primary focus for my administration.”
Persad-Bissessar ended by calling on citizens to not be divided by politics, but to respect each other despite opposing views.
“As we commemorate Emancipation Day 2020, I renew my appeal for all of us to join hands in solidarity, and unity of purpose, to protect the freedom we inherited and defend it for the generations still to come.”