Internacionales

Prime Minister’s Emancipation Day Message 2022

To­day, Eman­ci­pa­tion Day is a good day.  Go be­yond the cel­e­bra­tions to re­flect on the wave of vi­o­lence in our com­mu­ni­ties; think of the African fam­i­ly, ask your­self whether we are good lis­ten­ers to our chil­dren; for ex­am­ple, are we telling them that suc­cess comes from dis­ci­pline, ef­fort, pa­tience, thrift, tem­per­ance and in­ner peace; that shar­ing is car­ing, and that there are op­por­tu­ni­ties in crises and lessons in ad­ver­si­ty?

Are we en­cour­ag­ing them to be in­de­pen­dent­ly-mind­ed, am­bi­tious, re­spect­ful, and en­tre­pre­neur­ial with a mind­set of “get­ting ahead”, rather than “get­ting by” and “get­ting along”? As par­ents, are we in­volved in their school-work and recre­ation, every evening, their school-ac­tiv­i­ties, and mak­ing our voic­es heard in the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem and on all mat­ters of pa­tri­o­tism?

Nev­er for­get your his­to­ry. Seek to heal, re­mem­ber­ing that on­ly the strong for­give, nev­er the weak. Most im­por­tant­ly, as Africans, we have to go for­ward, re­mem­ber­ing that this is a mul­ti-cul­tur­al land, with a nar­ra­tive of in­clu­sive­ness and equal­i­ty for all, with na­tion­al watch­words of Dis­ci­pline, Pro­duc­tion and Tol­er­ance

The fol­low­ing is the of­fi­cial Mes­sage is­sued by Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley MP, on the oc­ca­sion of Eman­ci­pa­tion Day 2022…

 

Greet­ings broth­ers and sis­ters.

I ex­tend warmest sen­ti­ments on Eman­ci­pa­tion Day 2022, to the African com­mu­ni­ty on be­half of the Gov­ern­ment and peo­ple of the Re­pub­lic of Trinidad and To­ba­go, my fam­i­ly, and my­self as Prime Min­is­ter.

Cit­i­zens, to­day as we scan the globe, we will re­alise that this oc­ca­sion meets us at a most dif­fi­cult time in the world’s nat­ur­al his­to­ry. World­wide we are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing some un­usu­al­ly de­struc­tive weath­er pat­terns; wild­fires, with thou­sands of acres un­con­trol­lably alight in Cal­i­for­nia and oth­er states in North Amer­i­ca, across the At­lantic in Spain, Greece and Por­tu­gal, with un­prece­dent­ed heat­waves through­out Eu­rope, droughts in Aus­tralia, con­trast­ing with se­vere flood­ing in var­i­ous oth­er parts of the world — the ef­fects of which should be viewed, by all cit­i­zens, not in the short term, but in a long-term plan­e­tary scale.

I draw this to the at­ten­tion of the na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty and the wider Caribbean, both as a re­minder and a call to be fur­ther alert, in the same way, that calls are be­ing made for na­tion­al at­ten­tion to be paid to a new wave of ir­ra­tional vi­o­lence across this coun­try, and for fur­ther ex­am­i­na­tion of our Se­cu­ri­ty sys­tems, our Ju­di­cia­ry, our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem and fam­i­ly life – all of which im­pact sig­nif­i­cant­ly up­on the African com­mu­ni­ty ex­pe­ri­ence to­day.

Re­cent­ly, I sug­gest­ed that vi­o­lence be con­sid­ered a na­tion­al pub­lic health emer­gency, and I have put in place a team of pol­i­cy-mak­ers, whom, I ex­pect dur­ing their de­lib­er­a­tions and, more so, in their con­clu­sions and rec­om­men­da­tions, will ex­cite com­mu­ni­ty dis­cus­sions, among all groups across the coun­try, from the bot­tom up. This wave of vi­o­lence should not be seen as cen­tred on­ly among the African com­mu­ni­ty, be­cause the ir­ra­tional­i­ty, as re­port­ed, ap­pears to be the re­flex­es and im­pul­sive­ness of var­i­ous pock­ets across the so­ci­ety.

Many are ask­ing how did we get to this point, and what ac­counts for the rage among us, which, in a mo­ment, turns to death­ly vi­o­lence. Some ob­servers have sug­gest­ed that the new wave is a con­se­quence of the COVID-19 ex­pe­ri­ence, a re­lease of pent-up en­er­gy.  If so, this adds to the mul­ti-gen­er­a­tional trau­ma that the African com­mu­ni­ty ex­pe­ri­enced.

There has to be an ac­knowl­edge­ment that we are a peo­ple, who have been made to suf­fer for cen­turies, be­cause of the colour of our skin, and whom some con­sid­ered fit­ted, by an act of God, for on­ly bondage. Our an­ces­tors have been legal­ly de­fined as three-fifths of a per­son, sup­port­ed by laws that stat­ed that it was le­gal to kill a slave “who raised a hand against a Chris­t­ian”.

On new-world plan­ta­tions, they suf­fered whip­pings un­til their skin fell off, field­work as every­day beasts of bur­den, de­nials of food and wa­ter, the rape of their women and sep­a­ra­tion of their chil­dren; over­all, their treat­ment was worse than live­stock. Then there were the psy­cho-so­cial ef­forts on their minds to de­stroy their cul­ture, their bonds, and their re­li­gion, which sought to strip away every as­pect of their African spir­it.

Over the cen­turies, the in­tense psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­tress and trau­ma – the worst ex­pe­ri­ence in mod­ern his­to­ry – have left deep wounds.  What we see in the down-side of the African com­mu­ni­ties to­day are ex­pres­sions of that lega­cy, with feel­ings of de­tach­ment and es­trange­ment, and mis­guid­ed youths, alien­at­ed with lit­tle sense of a fu­ture, ir­ri­ta­ble, and quick in out­bursts of anger.

What is re­quired is an over­all un­der­stand­ing of the African con­di­tion. There have to be con­scious re­minders that Africans are great peo­ple, who gave world civil­i­sa­tion some of its great­est king­doms and em­pires when Eu­rope was still in its Dark Ages.  Mil­lions died lat­er in slav­ery, and that lega­cy con­tin­ues in var­i­ous forms – but there has to be a pe­ri­od of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and heal­ing.  We al­so have to un­der­stand some cur­rent so­cial trends, e. g. mod­ern con­sumer so­ci­ety pro­motes the im­me­di­ate grat­i­fi­ca­tion; push­ing peo­ple to want every­thing now, cre­at­ing a Hobbe­sian state of “each against all”, plus the oth­er dy­nam­ic of 21st-cen­tu­ry tech­nol­o­gy, with the com­ing of ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence, biotech­nol­o­gy and ro­bot­ics etc.

As Africans, as cit­i­zens, we need to ask ques­tions of our­selves.

To­day, Eman­ci­pa­tion Day is a good day.  Go be­yond the cel­e­bra­tions to re­flect on the wave of vi­o­lence in our com­mu­ni­ties; think of the African fam­i­ly, ask your­self whether we are good lis­ten­ers to our chil­dren; for ex­am­ple, are we telling them that suc­cess comes from dis­ci­pline, ef­fort, pa­tience, thrift, tem­per­ance and in­ner peace; that shar­ing is car­ing, and that there are op­por­tu­ni­ties in crises and lessons in ad­ver­si­ty?

Are we en­cour­ag­ing them to be in­de­pen­dent­ly-mind­ed, am­bi­tious, re­spect­ful, and en­tre­pre­neur­ial with a mind­set of “get­ting ahead”, rather than “get­ting by” and “get­ting along”? As par­ents, are we in­volved in their school-work and recre­ation, every evening, their school-ac­tiv­i­ties, and mak­ing our voic­es heard in the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem and on all mat­ters of pa­tri­o­tism?

Nev­er for­get your his­to­ry. Seek to heal, re­mem­ber­ing that on­ly the strong for­give, nev­er the weak. Most im­por­tant­ly, as Africans, we have to go for­ward, re­mem­ber­ing that this is a mul­ti-cul­tur­al land, with a nar­ra­tive of in­clu­sive­ness and equal­i­ty for all, with na­tion­al watch­words of Dis­ci­pline, Pro­duc­tion and Tol­er­ance.

Hap­py Eman­ci­pa­tion Day.