Renaming Of Somers Day To Mary Prince Day

January 31, 2020 | 85 Comments

[Updated with PDF] “It is fitting that the second day of Cup Match be renamed after our National Hero, Mary Prince,” Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sports Lovitta Foggo said, as she spoke in Parliament about legislation being tabled — the renaming of Somers Day to Mary Prince Day.

Speaking in the House of Assembly today [Jan 31], Minister Foggo said, “I am pleased to rise today to speak to a piece of symbolically important legislation being tabled today: the renaming of Somers Day to Mary Prince Day.”

Plaque commemorating Ms Prince at the School Lands Lane property:

Mary Prince Plaque Bermuda Feb 7 2018 34534

“As you will be aware, Cup Match is currently comprised of two consecutive holidays: Emancipation Day as the first day of Cup Match, and Somers Day as the second day of Cup Match. Cup Match is unarguably one of the most important holidays in the Bermudian calendar.

“National days are an important part of our cultural identity: what we celebrate and how we celebrate speaks directly to who we are as a people. Bermuda’s Emancipation Day, as established by the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, commemorates the day that people of African descent in this country were recognized as citizens rather than as property; no longer forcibly working for others, or legally sold as an object, rather than accorded basic rights as a human being, though it is recognised that the struggle still continues.

“For these reasons, Mr. Speaker, it is fitting that the second day of Cup Match be renamed after our National Hero, Mary Prince, who is recognized on the world stage for the crucial role she played in the abolishment of slavery throughout the British Empire, by telling the painful story of her life.

“The origins of Cup Match lay squarely in an observance of Emancipation, and by returning Cup Match to the observation of Emancipation and the abolition movement, that it was always meant to be, we show both a respect and understanding for that pivotal moment in our history as Bermudians.”

In announcing her as a Bermuda National Hero back in 2012, the Government noted that she was first black woman to publish a book about the brutality of slavery, with Ms Prince’s book ‘The History of Mary Prince’ — published in 1831 — considered to be extremely significant because it was “instrumental in helping to dismantle slavery in Bermuda and the Caribbean.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to a piece of symbolically important legislation being tabled today: the renaming of Somers Day to Mary Prince Day.

Mr. Speaker, as you will be aware, Cup Match is currently comprised of two consecutive holidays: Emancipation Day as the first day of Cup Match, and Somers Day as the second day of Cup Match. Cup Match is unarguably one of the most important holidays in the Bermudian calendar. Although the annual Cup Match Classic cricket match between Somerset and my beloved St. George’s is the highlight of the holiday, it is also a time when Bermudians celebrate in a number of ways: camping, picnics, time spent at the beach and on the water, parties, relaxation, and family time.

However, Mr. Speaker, this holiday also has a rich history steeped in the efforts of Bermuda’s black lodges – the Friendly Societies – to help build and lift our community during the post-Emancipation era; and the game of cricket between lodges that came to symbolize this important moment in the Bermudian story. It is why the Cup Match holiday has been formally paired with Emancipation Day, as a way of observing this essential point in our history.

Mr. Speaker, national days are an important part of our cultural identity: what we celebrate and how we celebrate speaks directly to who we are as a people. Bermuda’s Emancipation Day, as established by the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, commemorates the day that people of African descent in this country were recognized as citizens rather than as property; no longer forcibly working for others, or legally sold as an object, rather than accorded basic rights as a human being, though it is recognised that the struggle still continues. For these reasons, Mr. Speaker, it is fitting that the second day of Cup Match be renamed after our National Hero, Mary Prince, who is recognized on the world stage for the crucial role she played in the abolishment of slavery throughout the British Empire, by telling the painful story of her life.

Mr. Speaker, I recognize that there are some who will not be in favour of this change. It is an unfortunate reality that because of our country’s history of racial discord that some Bermudians do not always see the history that celebrates the accomplishments and contributions of black Bermudians as belonging to them also.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is important to note that the history of Sir George Somers and the founding of Bermuda does not belong to white Bermudians alone – it is the history of all Bermudians. Likewise, the history of Emancipation and more importantly abolition does not belong to black Bermudians alone, it too is the history of all Bermudians.

Mr. Speaker, we have a moral responsibility to lead change on this outlook; and one of the ways we can do that, Mr. Speaker, is by ensuring that the history of the different segments of our community, regardless of race and ethnicity, is appropriately respected and honoured as our collective history.

Mr. Speaker, the origins of Cup Match lay squarely in an observance of Emancipation, and by returning Cup Match to the observation of Emancipation and the abolition movement, that it was always meant to be, we show both a respect and understanding for that pivotal moment in our history as Bermudians. Our complete history must be told.

In this year that we will now celebrate our 400th Anniversary of Parliament this helps to serve as a reminder and crucial reason why we must recognize the efforts of all who have contributed to the growth of our society, making it more democratic. Mary Prince Day is just one way of reaching this aim.

Thank you Mr. Speaker.

The full Public Holidays Amendment Act 2020 follows below [PDF here]:

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Comments (85)

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  1. che says:

    They have little else to show except for racial gestures like this.

    • sandgrownan says:

      Sadly, it is all they have – symbolic gestures. Lavitta Foggo’s warning prior to the election in 2007: “A UBP vote is a vote back to the plantation.”

    • CherriJ says:

      Racial? How about honoring history. Cup match is about racial history. It had nothing to do with Somers. He shouldn’t have been attached to the date. This is how you correct and honor the truth.

      • Andrew says:

        I find it curious that the Minister in one breath acknowledges history as a shared history for all Bermudians yet goes on to change a holiday that should build a spirit of inclusion to singular optics. All right minded people respect all history, the good, bad and inconvenient….Is history a single optic now, being presented with a singular intent…to divide?..As a multicultural community FIRST settled after Somers founding…is that history not important or relevant to populist thinking when acknowledged as a shared history? Seems to me as if it is entirely being done to stir further division rather than embrace the diversity of our island and build inclusion…Nothing more!!!…Frankly her words are patently hypocritical!!!

      • Circada says:

        25th July was the day they landed in Bermuda after wrecking… Hence Somers Day on that date.

    • Black Panther says:

      Che,

      People like you really like to wield the following phrase. So I am sure you will not mind me using it in relation to your insultingly racist comment: Get Over It!

  2. sandgrownan says:

    Look! We’re doing something! We’re being busy! We’re not sure what to do about the economy but we’ll symbolically rename holidays….meh.

    Lavitta “a vote for the OBA, is a vote to go back to the plantation” Foggo.

    What a complete waste of space.

  3. Ringmaster says:

    The PLP should also replace the cricket match with something local. Cricket is tied to the Colonial era.

  4. Lingtail says:

    I feel that it could be renamed ‘Appreciation day’, as a Bermudian we should appreciate the country that we live in, how it was founded and the people that live here. Cupmatch is a community event and brings the island together no matter where everyone came from, Caribbean, Europe, US, Canada, Africa . We are Bermudian, and I am proud of what my country has become. Yes the world was a different place back then and I respect the people that went through the struggles to become more. But we have a new world , a world of love and caring and this should reflect within our island on the day we all celebrate together as Appreciation Day.
    Mary Prince should be honored on national hero’s day and rename national hero’s day Mary Prince

    • Appreciate that Africans and their descendants worked for 400 years without getting compensated, and were harshly and Barbaricly treated while their oppressors built generational wealth and social status which is evident today.
      And STILL fighting to have an equal playing field.
      Now America have to work on changing Columbus Day.

  5. Seascape says:

    So Somers is not important?

  6. Gina says:

    Somers was a colonialist slaver. The only reason Cricket is the sport played, is because it was the 100 year revolt and work stoppage to celebrate the end of slavery. It has its roots in the holiday. Despite its colonial roots.

  7. Boston Whaler Owner says:

    Dinosaurs are still alive in Somer’s Isles

  8. Truthhertz says:

    Can you please reference your source which backs up your claim? I have studied local history all my life and can’t find anywhere where it shows Somers to be a ‘colonial slaver’ as you have claimed.

    • Goggle
      Sir George was part of an expedition led bu Sir Amyas Preston that plundered Caracus & Santa Ana de Coro in 1595.
      Which was common in those days that privateers abused their role as Navagation Police.

      • Truthhertz says:

        Interesting story about the battle between the english and spanish. But still could find no reference about Somers being a colonial slaver. Got anymore suggestions?

  9. optomerty says:

    i propose re name the house the idiot palace cause none of them are wort a bucket of hog wash and when they the govt get out have a party not a holiday

    • I know when it comes to Black or African affairs, some like to dismiss or degrade its importance and use phrases that undermind our intelligence (even though we invented most of the things we enjoy today).
      Get over it haters, times are changing.

  10. John Dover says:

    Gina,
    Somers was not a ‘colonial slaver’.
    Are you familiar about Black people in Tudor England when Somers was alive for most of his life?
    I have high respect for Mary Prince as far as we understand her life.
    Please don’t support anything that ‘air brushes’ out Somers because of what he did not do.
    Anyway what date do you suggest we move Somers Day to or are you happy to remove him from Bermudian history altogether?
    Surely this is not a racist thing?

    • George Somers was a Privateer which in todays world we would call a Private Contractor or Mercenary, who navigated around the world to see what they can discover and plunder for the Crown.
      Like he and Sir Amyas Preston did at Caracus & Santa Ana de Corvo in 1595.
      We know its embarrassing of de past ills that some heroes were involved in, but de TRUTH has to be revealed.
      I have not read any material with George Somers being directly involved in slave trading, but as a privateer in those days, their job was to capture ships that where shipping goods without written authorization.
      So de only difference between a pirate and a privateer is a authorized written document.
      The movie Amistad is a perfect example.

      • sandgrownan says:

        So what? Honestly, so what? No one cares. It’s interesting history, and we all understand the why’s and wherefores, and if it makes you feel warm inside to go around renaming everything, then so be it. Meh. It really isn’t important.

        The reality is, however, that the PLP have presided over 20 years of economic malaise, they are incompetent. Capital is leaving, there is no new revenue, the population is declining, stores are closing, the real estate market is in free fall, cost of living is going up, taxes are increasing. Our do nothing Premier and his deer in the headlights finance Minister are failures. No ideas, no clue, no plan.

        Renaming holidays is a useful distraction for the faithful.

        • Well we know de narrative that Black People are not good with economlcs unless you are Bob Richards, well he did say that if he was in position with de Morgans Point deal he would do it all over again and gave our Airport away for 30 years at $30 Million a year that we will have to pay if we are short.
          So those who have the wealth will not do business with a Black Party because of whatever reason or withhold their spending to make them look bad and when de white party? gets in they spend like drunkard sailors and say de economy is booming and banks relax their policies.
          I get it, but this dicusion is about righting de wrongs that Blacks had against us and claiming our due diligence that we deserve.
          PS.
          Being in a less economic position is something that we endured since day one some of us are just not wise enough to know we shouldnt live beyond our means. And I guess cost of living and stores only close when PLP are in.
          I get it.

          • Anbu says:

            Going by statistics of the last 20 years…….. yes oj. Businesses close when your party is in charge. Lol.

      • Question says:

        And now you rewrite history to suit your twisted political purposes. You’re a moron.

    • The TRUTH will set you free

  11. skinny says:

    The Settlers that all came with Sir George Somers had enslaved people at their homes in Bermuda! In history you have to remember the enslaved people were considered as Cargo on the ships! If he would have lived, quite possibly he would have had enslaved people because that was the system set up at that time and mostly all white people had enslaved people.

    Emancipation/Cupmatch is a Holiday to honor the Freedom of the Enslaved People! Therefore it is fitting to have Mary Prince honored on the 2nd day of Cupmatch! Read her book “The History of Mary Prince, A West Indian Slave” and then you will understand things a lot Better people!

    Emancipation did not come from the Bermuda Government it came from Britain, and at that time the Bermuda Government still wanted Black People to be enslaved on the Island, and with this change to Emancipation, led into Segregation!

    • Question says:

      So… if he hadn’t died, one day he may have had slaves? This is the point you’re trying to make?
      FFS.

    • Toodle-oo says:

      “and mostly all white people had enslaved people.”

      You’d really like to believe that , wouldn’t you ?

      • Politricks says:

        I can’t believe I just read that either. People should really study history and stop listening to propaganda.

    • Some people STILL would have slavery, especially if you have to cook, clean someones house, babysit children and grocery shop while making peanuts.

  12. puzzled says:

    Look at the bright side.

    We will still be able to sing everyday ‘Happy Burt Day to You’.
    Happy Burt Day.

  13. Emigrant Belonger says:

    And in the meantime, how many fewer jobs will there be this time next year. Educated “Belongers” – born ones, status ones, LTR ones, ones that have no rights but do belong, black ones, white ones, mixed ones, Asian ones – are leaving in droves to places where even if they earn less, they live better. Latest destination, Portugal – check it out… What will soon be left as the majority is an aging, uneducated population of idiots listening to the rabble rousers in Alaska hall, most of whom have never met a payroll in their life. I do think there is a small clique in AH though that are orchestrating this in order to make a huge asset/land grab and set up their own little feudal fiefdom. Guys, when you consider Mary Prince and her exceptional good and worthy life and legacy, ask yourselves, where are we now?

    • Don't Shoot The Messenger says:

      Fiefdom or Thiefdom? One can never be too sure. Just Sayin

    • “Uneducated idiots” is a subliminal RACIST dog whistle.
      Such hostility when Black People make a stand.
      Reminds me when O.J.Simpson got off and some white people were highly upset, but Black People have been murdered at de hands of white people since they came over and little to none convictions.
      SMFH

      • Question says:

        No, the hostility comes when you flat out tell lies to justify your racial hatred.
        GFYS.

      • Anbu says:

        U being called an uneducated idiot had nothing to do with your skin color oj. U are in fact just and uneducated idiot. U prove it daily.

  14. Congratulations,Bermudians. Our suffering is not in van. What an achievement. What an accomplishment!!
    Thank you, current government ,for your recognition of Mary!!!

    • Mary Prince is her name, I know it hurts but to be disrespectful because of your disappointment is PATHETIC.
      Get over it,we endured our Heroes and our achievments being overlooked for centuries, now we are claiming what is due.

  15. Community First says:

    Excellent decision.

    Mary Prince deserves a stand alone holiday with a focus on telling and retelling her story, the stories of slavery and that of Bermuda’s role in supporting slavery – for our residents and visitors.

    Slavery is a human blight that has generated trauma for generations.

  16. Don't Shoot The Messenger says:

    If Mary Prince was alive today, I have no doubts whatsoever that she would support Same Sex Marriage.

    • Not part of her Culture
      Sorry Charlie

      • Checked My Privilege says:

        I wouldn’t be so sure. And in any case, we are talking about today – of course she would favor marriage for all regardless of how they identify. OJ, it’s time you checked your own privilege, and not others’.

      • saud says:

        “Not part of her Culture”

        You’re trying to say that homosexuality is not part of black culture, and you’re wrong. Why should anyone listen to anything you have to say when you spew such stupid garbage?

      • John says:

        Hi Onion Juice,

        What are all these references to ‘de’ etc. Are these expressions of what you believe is black culture or trying to dumb down black people? How do you define yourself and why?
        By the way, why always your refence to ‘Black’ and ‘White’. This Is too simplistic.
        We are all mixed race not black nor white but black and white.
        It is cultural differences nor racist differences that difference and define us!
        Any way what is your real beef and motives about this debate about removing Somers Day and replacing it with Mary Prince Day.?
        You clearly care a lot about it based on the numbers of comments and responses you have made on this subject alone!

      • Anbu says:

        Um not sure where u live mate. But uh u might wanna go outside once in a while. Gay is deff in your culture. Nothing wrong with that either.

  17. Somers family called…they want their ❤️ back.

  18. Me says:

    Everyone will always call it cup match holiday no one will call it Mary prince day

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