Minister: Emancipation Commemoration Events

July 19, 2019 | 21 Comments

A number of events are taking place this month to recognise the 185th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in Bermuda, Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sports Lovitta Foggo said, adding that the events “will strengthen our understanding of who we are, where we come from, and the strength of the shoulders that we all stand upon.”

2019_Emanicipation Celebration Bermuda July 19 2019

Speaking in the House of Assembly today [July 19], the Minister said, “This year’s commemorations focus on the legacy of Mary Prince, who is not only a Bermuda national hero; but who was also an internationally recognised abolitionist whose narrative provided a clarion call for the emancipation of all those held captive under the inhumane practises of chattel slavery throughout the British empire.

“The Department of Community and Cultural Affairs has partnered with Titan Express to offer a historical bus tour providing highlights of Mary Prince’s autobiography, visiting three of the sites that she mentions in her book. This tour is running throughout the month of July, and as it stands those tours are already sold out, so we have put on four more tours for the month of August.

“The Department of Community and Cultural Affairs as well as the individuals who comprise the emancipation advisory committee are to be commended for these excellent offerings. It is my hope that these events will strengthen our understanding of who we are, where we come from, and the strength of the shoulders that we all stand upon.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to advise my colleagues in this honourable House of events taking place this month to recognise the 185th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in Bermuda.

Mr. Speaker, the history of Bermudians of African descent did not begin with slavery and did not end with slavery. Thus, the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs’ Emancipation Committee has over the years centred its programme offerings on educating our people not only about the important history of resistance to slavery such as the conspiracy of 1761, the trial of Sally Bassett, and the poisoning conspiracies of the late 1720s; but also on our history before slavery, including research by Boston University professors Drs Thornton and Heywood indicating the Angolan roots of the original African-Bermudian population; as well as the post-emanicpation contributions of black Bermudians, including the role of our friendly societies, the significance of black entrepreneurship, and the five-year “trail of our people” programme that charted the contributions of unsung champions who supported the black community through the post-abolition and segregation eras.

There is a long and rich heritage that we pull from, and these are the stories that Bermudians need to know and claim as a way of bolstering a sense of national pride, identity and purpose.

Mr. Speaker, this year’s commemorations focus on the legacy of Mary Prince, who is not only a Bermuda national hero; but who was also an internationally recognised abolitionist whose narrative provided a clarion call for the emancipation of all those held captive under the inhumane practises of chattel slavery throughout the British empire. Her slave narrative “the History of Mary Prince” does not document a benign life as a slave in Bermuda and I am providing today all members of this honourable House with a copy of her book as it is essential reading. I would like to take this opportunity to read a few paragraphs of her experiences.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs has partnered with Titan Express to offer a historical bus tour providing highlights of Mary Prince’s autobiography, visiting three of the sites that she mentions in her book. This tour is running throughout the month of July, and as it stands those tours are already sold out, so we have put on four more tours for the month of August. We congratulate Rashida Godwin and her team at Titan Express for developing this kind of offering; given the level of public interest and value to cultural tourism, we thank Titan for considering the extension of the tours into August and hopefully throughout the year.

Mr. Speaker, part of the history of black Bermudians has been about recognising our connection to those throughout the African diaspora; this connection has perhaps been most clear to our historians and artists. The Dr. Kenneth E. Robinson/Cyril Outerbridge Packwood memorial lecture, honouring two of our most insightful historians, has now entered its 14th year and last night featured a talk on the African-American poet Langston Hughes. The talk, offered by Stanford University professor emeritus Dr. Arnold Rampersad, will be followed by a second lecture by Dr. Rampersad entitled “writing our lives”, focusing on the importance of autobiography, memoir and biography – Mary Prince’s narrative being a key example.

Mr. Speaker, the events relating to the Emancipation Committee are important; but what might sometimes be overlooked is the vital research that the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs funds so that we might know more about the depth and breadth of our history. In 2017-18, the department funded a research project by Dr. Margot Maddison-Macfadyen on the latter days of Mary Prince; since, as vital as Prince’s story is to our national narrative, we had little information about what happened to our hero following the publication of her book.

Mr. Speaker, these findings, which have already been shared with a number of schools during education month in February, will now be made known to the public in a lecture by Dr. Maddison-Macfadyen on July 25th at the Earl Cameron theatre. This talk will conclude with a dance performance entitled “a woman named prince”, choreographed by Conchita Ming, performed by Arielle lee Ming and the anointed wings of fire.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs as well as the individuals who comprise the emancipation advisory committee are to be commended for these excellent offerings. It is my hope that these events will strengthen our understanding of who we are, where we come from, and the strength of the shoulders that we all stand upon.

Thank you.

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  1. I wish you people will grow some and change the name of de day from Somers Day to Mary Prince Day.
    With all this commemoration and activity going on I applaud, but if her name is not inducted in place of Somers Day, then to me this is just a futile exercise.
    And I am waiting for someone to justify how Somers Day can be named in connection with Emancipation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    F@#$ing PATHETIC.

    • Question says:

      You’re pathetic. Somers discovered and settled Bermuda. Why wouldn’t we commemorate his achievements and his significance in our history?

      • His achievments have nothung to do with Africans being Emancipated, anything if all he probably was part of de Slave Trade Convoy.

        • bluenose says:

          Do you know if he was or not? Why not check before making a ‘probably’ comment.

    • BB says:

      We should call it “Colonial, I love the Queen and all the colonial titles she bestows on me, Burch” day.

    • Anbu says:

      Stfu u muppet. The man settled us. Dont be jealous cause he dont look like you. Thats all u bleddy well fo. Its somers day. Like 25-11. Deal with it and stop being so petty. Loser. Go ve productive or something instead of being the pee el pees retarded parrot.

  2. Vida Smith says:

    You know like I know who named it Somers Day, PATHETIC,is not the word,
    they need to start changing the name of these parishes as well.

    • Toodle-oo says:

      And who would you like to re-name the parishes after ? The people who had them ‘stolen’ from them ? lol

      • I have no problem with the parishes named after de Earls, thats a part of Colonial Exploration History, even if lands were ALREADY inhabited by Indigenous Peoples (eg Victoria Falls).
        Naming an Emancipation Day after Somers (an Admiral who discovered and Colonized land for de Crown just like de rest of de Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch Legal Pirates), is like naming a Holocust Commemoration after a German!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
        But I get it,for African associated concerns we are socially conditioned to accept de insensitive treatment toward our concerns, like we were demoralized like cattle and stock for 400 years.
        So I get it, but times have changed and we are righting the evils of the past.

        • Question says:

          More re-writing of history. Ignorant crap.

        • BB says:

          “discovered and Colonized land”

          How do you colonize uninhabited land?

        • Anbu says:

          U were never a slave. Stop lying. Prob cant even trace your heritage to even find slave ancestors. U love spouting off about it tho. Again, do something useful with your time. We already know how thick headed you are. You prove it daily. Ps. If it wasnt for the “colonizers” you wouldnt have it as good as u do. Stuff it

          • STFU says:

            And you were never a slave!!! STFU!!!

          • PBanks says:

            “If it wasnt for the “colonizers” you wouldnt have it as good as u do” – that’s uncalled for. Suggesting that a black person in this part of the world should feel grateful that their ancestors were enslaved is the height of arrogance and condescension.

        • bluenose says:

          You know there was no-one here when he colonized Bermuda, right? The comparisons you make are, at best, disingenuous. And if you are going to reference The Holocaust, at least have the decency to spell it correctly.

  3. Martini anyone says:

    And the English who conjured up the game of cricket and introduced it to Bermuda, I say cancel cup match!

    • BB says:

      …and all those ‘anti colonialists’ in the government should reject and refuse those colonial titles bestowed upon them by the colonialists.

      but, they’re hypocrites and their followers are stupid.

    • No, I know you are trying to sarcastic, I’ve eccepted that African descendants have been Colonized through our Names, Religion and dress code, but to name an Emancipation Day after a Colonial Legal Pirate is an insult to those who were victims of that Colonial System.
      And to prove how F@#&ed up that system is, Europeans stole de land from Native Americans, then stole Africans from their Homeland because Native Americans succumed to diseases by de Europeans and nearly wiped them out, and worked de Africans for 400 years with no pay while Europeans built up their Empire.
      Now fast forward a European descendant Leader of the Free World (who is also a Racist @$$#0£€) calls these same countries that his ancestors plundered and raped de lands and people “$#!+ #0£€ countries and tells people of colour to go back to their countries.
      And his wife is an Immigrant, but white privilage has de notion that we own everything and everybody else is subservant.
      A sick and warped mentality, but then again it’s supported by this SYSTEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Double S says:

        You lot tell people all the time to go back to where they come from (even if they are Bermudian, but don’t look like what you lot consider to be a ‘real Bermudian’).

        You hate foreigners, gays and people that don’t look like or think like you.

        And yet you have the nerve to b*tch about Trump.

        You lot are Bermuda’s Trumps!

      • question says:

        So you’re going to stop playing cricket then, since it’s historically English?

        • Anbu says:

          No. Oj picks and chooses cause they have zero clue who they even are. Needs to be “told” how to do even the most basic task.

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