ST JOHN’S, Antigua – This week many people across Antigua & Barbuda are celebrating Carnival in colour through revelry, pageantry, soca music and calypso. Yet, so many participate in the festivities without acknowledging that the festival had its origins in the realisation of a dream.
Today, August 1 marks the 178th year of Antigua & Barbuda’s full emancipation from slavery and the Antigua & Barbuda Reparation Support Commission will be commemorating this day, as it has done for the last seven or eight years.
Speaking to OBSERVER Media, head of the commission Dobrene O’Marde, said the group would be celebrating Emancipation Day by gathering at the historic sugar estate Betty’s Hope, to host what has become known as the “Watch Night Gathering.”
According to O’Marde, observing this day is not only about the abolition of slavery in Antigua & Barbuda, but also about the birth of the Caribbean as one.
“August 1we like to think of in many ways, as perhaps the birth of the Caribbean as a nation for the first time on August 1, 1834. It is important because we all did the same thing at the same time.
“And we would like to think that we are also not only celebrating and commemorating the abolition of the enslavement of African people, but we are also celebrating what we consider the birth of the Caribbean,” O’Marde noted.
The gathering started last night July 31 and went on until after midnight marking the exact hour the slaves were freed in many Caribbean islands.
A number of persons participated in the programme set out by the Commission to mark the special date. Barbuda Senator McKenzie Frank was slated to address the gathering on emancipation in Barbuda.
The night’s programme featured the Panache steel band, poets, the Nyabinghi drummers and other cultural items that embody the African-Antiguan heritage.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)