Trinidad and Tobago to celebrate African Emancipation Day on August 1

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley sits with The Asantehene, His Royal Majesty Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, during the Emancipation Day procession at the Treasury Building, Port of Spain on August first, 2023. FILE PHOTO/ COURTESY OPM –

THE PRIME MINISTER announced, come August 1, the holiday known as Emancipation Day will be renamed African Emancipation day.

Dr Rowley made the announcement of the name change at a post-Cabinet press briefing on Thursday, at the Diplomatic Centre in Port of Spain.

Rowley said he noticed several individuals on an international level attempting to “add appendages” to the reasoning behind emancipation.

“We in TT, who led on this matter, will have none of it. We make it quite clear that emancipation in TT is a result of the emancipation of slaves,” he said. “There is no comparison between slavery and any other form of human indignation. We, as descendants of slaves, have a duty to preserve our history, our legacy and make our claim without apologies to anyone.”

In 1833, Thomas Buxton presented the Emancipation Bill in Parliament. The act was passed and came into effect on August 1, 1834. It was not made a holiday until some 150 years later, on August 1 1985, when the Government declared the day a national holiday.

Reached for comment, director of the Caribbean Freedom Project, Shabaka Kambon said both the Caribbean Freedom Project and the Emancipation Support Committee would have to review the decision and understand the rationale behind the decision to change the name of the holiday. He noted, with disappointment, that the Emancipation Support Committee was not consulted before the decision was made in Cabinet.

“I think that speaks to something of an unhealthy culture in terms of how we move things forward as a society,” Kambon said. “The major stakeholders in a particular area, the authorities don’t feel it is important to discuss something so significant with them to have them in caucus and make a decision.”

Rowley going to Ghana, Mumbai

Despite grumblings from the Opposition over his many trips abroad, Rowley announced that he will be going to Ghana to further relations with the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II on May 8. He was invited to Ghana as a guest of honour on the Asantehene’s 25th anniversary of his ascent to the throne.

Rowley said the visit would be part of the TT Government’s continuing efforts to build stronger relationships with Ghana.

“These things might mean nothing to some people, but it would mean a lot to people who know that it means something to the people of TT.”

The visit follows a trade mission led by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Paula Gopee-Scoon and supported by several private entities connected to the Manufacturers Association of TT (MATT).

Rowley said 156 business meetings between TT private companies and Ghanaian companies, as well as meetings between the Ministry of Trade of TT and its Ghanaian counterparts.

Coming out of these meetings, Rowley said several business arrangements have already been established, with one company sourcing raw materials for inputs for a company in Barataria, another company getting approvals for interactions in Ghana and other parts of West Africa and two major companies, Ansa Mc Al and Bermudez, completing distribution arrangements between the two countries.

He added that Ghana and TT had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) and had a standing negotiating committee and a services agreement on the way to treat with connectivity issues between the two countries.

TT and Ghana are also working on the execution of a bi-lateral investment treaty which will enable a predictable environment between companies in both countries.

After his Ghana visit, Rowley will go on invitation to Mumbai, India where he will meet with officials of Reliance Industries, one of the biggest businesses in India. He said the Government was in talks with the company to build a regional cricket academy in TT.

“The government has already provided the land and we are at the stage of designing the physical structure,” Rowley said.