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Commemorating Emancipation

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Tue, Aug 14, 2012

Editor: The question is: is there a way to make the celebration of Emancipation Day more meaningful?

We could do skits; we could run through folkloric traditions; we could re-enact the reading of the Proclamation.{{more}}

In Searchlight of Tuesday August 7, Renwick Rose laments there was nothing earth-shattering about the commemoration. There never is, is there? The reason is that he – and others – had no specific expectation. And that is precisely what we need: we need to plan what is to happen; to look forward to it; and afterwards to remember it.

We need to make the commemoration an artistic production that challenges our artists, while engaging us and making us, the ordinary people, feel spiritually enhanced.

Proposal

The suggestion is to make it a feast of artistic creativity, one dedicated to the theme of our emancipation. Our artists must connect us to this event from the past and make it come alive. Here is work for our playwrights, poets, graphic artists, videographers, choreographers, and others. We need a group, similar to the one that runs Carnival, to lead the effort and take responsibility, and their busiest annual chore will be to raise money for awards. They also need to devise a mechanism that allows the people – not a committee – to determine who deserve the accolades.

The suggestion is not merely to mark the occasion. Its more serious purpose is to allow artists to emerge, and through competition, to raise the standard of their art. Emancipation should rival Carnival in the way it spurs creativity in our people. Carnival is a fun time; Emancipation should be serious, awakening in us a sense of history and creating spiritual upliftment.

Commentary

One of the weakest characteristics of our ex-slave societies is expressed as a denial of history, a preference to forget. Take a leaf from the Jews, who do not let the world forget the holocaust of the 1940s; and who, every year, re-live the feast of the Passover and what it represents – emergence from bondage in Egypt. They have been doing this for over 2,000 years. The objective for them is to make sure that those events do not happen to them again. Remembering and preparing – not forgetting, not denial – define a truer path to achieve this.

Cedric B Harold

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