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Reject the ‘we never were ‘creed


by Oscar Allen

Another empty Emancipation Day is coming this weekend for an empty people. We proudly celebrate our ignorance and alienation as house slaves who truly believe that emancipation has nothing to do with us; we were never whipped African slaves, nor Callinago carcasses; we have never suffered starvation and cruel labour to enrich royalty; we never were persecuted for our right to worship God. {{more}}

We have never lived under “black is ugly, white is holy” we have never suffered from yaws, marasmus, syphilis and other disasters of white colonial rule; things were always alright with us, we were always content. That is our creed that is our faith. We never were.

At first, our creed above may sound insulting and offensive, but when you read it a second time, it loses some of its sting, it makes sense, it sounds true. If you read the creed a third time, but this time, you change round or take out the negatives – take out “never”, change “nothing” and “nor”. This is what it will become.

Emancipation has everything to do with us, we were whipped African slaves and Callinago carcasses…Right away, and even after we reflect on them, these statements are just empty. They are not part of our social memory, nor building blocks of our national spirit, not our creed. Our creed is the never creed. We never were. It is as one of my former comrades wrote: I was educated in (by) ignorance…

And so, what we will have this weekend will be an empty emancipation festival, overtaken by an exciting electioneering party time, accompanied by the usual weekend and month end activities of worship, wine and wave! We behave as we believe, like a “never were” people, a victim of mental terrorism and less of spiritual matter.

Let us take a glance at one of the emancipation movements reconstructed in Hebrew scripture. A young slave girl along a Nile riverbank pool watches over her infant brother hidden in a crude baby boat in the pool. She just happens to pass by and speak up when the Pharaoh’s ladies come to bathe and find her baby brother in the river. The slave girl’s name is Miriam, her brother becomes Moses, an educated African freedom fighter. Many years and many struggles later, the woman now, Miriam after her people’s emancipation, formed a woman’s band and dance procession and sang a “praise of thanks” gospel road march up until today, 3 300 years later, the Hebrew people keep up a festival to remember their emancipation. Their spirituality is connected with their history.

What social memory and history do we bring to this weekend festival of emancipation? What victories do we lift up as part of our triumph over slavery? What African reconnections and redemptions are we planning as part of our continuing emancipation? What new road marches of redemption are we singing? Where do Yah weh who liberated the Hebrews, from Egypt and Jesus Christ who to Egypt ran for refuge fit into African and our Caribbean Emancipation movement? How come we with at least 30 years of black mental emancipation, still have our soul on ice, our minds an open sesame for aliens to inhabit?

Let us be done with the empty emancipations of a never were people. Let us be. Last year and for many years, there was one emancipation watchnight festival in Diamond Village. This year Kingstown will also Vigil and Remember. This year, you too can join. Reject the ‘we never were’ creed. We are, we were, we will be.