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Emancipation and Exodus

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A Scriptural Model

From the freedom movement led by Moses, to the uprising campaigns under the Maccabees, the Hebrew-Christian Scriptures are full of violent ‘emancipation’ events.

We note, though, that the violent defeat of the Pharaoh at the reedy seaside (Exodus 12) and the massacre of the firstborn in Egypt (Exodus 14) were not the work of the enslaved Habiru underclass, but were attributed to Yahweh/the LORD GOD. In fact, the entire emancipation was seen as the handwork of Yahweh.{{more}} Should we discern in the emancipation from British colonial slavery also, the handwork of God?

In the hot lamentation under American slavery, the message that came through from Exodus to Black American chattel was:

‘LET MY PEOPLE GO’.

Those four words claim an emancipation that puts a distance between the freed people and the empire that had held them in bondage. The People are to leave the empire, done with Pharaoh, King, or Governor. There is a big political difference between “Set the People Free” and “Let My People Go.”

Enslaved people in the Caribbean were set free from the ‘owners,’ who had them as property, but they were still under the dominion of the British Empire. They were still without productive land and political power. ‘Emancipated inside the Empire,’ is plenty different from ‘Emancipated and outside the Empire’, the Exodus Model.

The people who had been under political and slave bondage and were now on their own, outside the empire, had to renew or reshape their own mentality and ideas and community disciplines. In the Exodus paradigm, the people had high quality leadership. (Moses is seen as educated and caring, committed to the Yahweh project and the people’s unity and spirituality. He took advice, but was not without emotional moments.)

The new community of freed people had to frame and adopt their constitution that would discipline their personal and social lifestyle, and their spiritual identity. At the start of their liberation, they brought their different family stories under the liberation and federation banner and recognized themselves as special to God and pledged to be unhurtful to each other. A bond with Yahweh became the foundation of their social and spiritual revolution. Commandments, and later rituals, were not always too different from other peoples,’ but they became a strengthening force among them. This freed people took to the road of immediate, separate identity.

Emancipation, Independence, Integration

After our emancipation, we strolled somewhat to independence 130 years later, still within British doctrine. In the way we look at an integrated Caribbean, Europe still calls the shots, as we surrender to its EPA – Economic Partnership Agreement – a pact that tends to push our regional integration movement towards the sidelines. Over the years too, we have had leaders of some quality, from the working class movement, subdued by colonial regulation, and from the more educated sectors, often schooled in British type academies. It is clear that our Emancipation model is open to question and a different movement of freed people must rise again.

One mental and social principle that we need to anchor deep in our soul as a freed people, is the Frantz Fanon realization. In general and moral terms, Europe has reached a dead end as far as human leadership and liberation is concerned. In our world, the message to Europe is: LET MY PEOPLE GO. Without Europe blocking the horizon, is the USA, or is CHINA … the one to follow, or do we have to clear our heads and recognize ourselves as called to humble duty. A duty to learn unity, build identity, discern our spiritual anchor, and fashion a discipline of personal and social vocation in today’s cosmos. Emancipation is not a resting place, it is a starting point. Starting with Caribbean Emancipation, avoiding the Exodus errors, committing ourselves to the Yahweh project, a new creation is waiting.

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