Emancipation Day

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Emancipation Day

***** Location: Trinidad and Tobago
***** Season: Rainy Season (summer equivalent)
***** Category: Observance


In 1833 Thomas Buxton presented The Emancipation Bill in Parliament.
The Act was passed and came into effect on 1 August 1834. On that day,thousands of slaves in the British West Indies became free men and women.

August 1st is a public holiday in Trinidad and Tobago; in 1985 the government of Trinidad and Tobago declared Emancipation Day a national holiday, to commemorate the abolition of slavery.

Days leading up to August 1st there are historical lectures, films, drama and afrocentric exhibitions of arts and crafts.

Gillena Cox


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Posted By: History

On August 1, 1985, Trinidad and Tobago became the first country in the world to declare a national holiday to commemorate the abolition of slavery.

Obviously, we celebrate the abolition of slavery in the British Empire in 1834. However, individual colonies in British North America (which later became the United States of America) abolished slavery, beginning with Rhode Island in 1774. The first national abolition was declared in the French Revolution of 1789, and maintained afterward only in the independent Republic of Haiti.

Slavery was abolished permanently in the French Empire in 1848, in the Spanish Empire in 1880, and in Brazil in 1888. (Brazil is central, since it received more than one-third of all Africans imported in the slave trade).

Also, while we do not often think beyond the European-Atlantic slave trade, the Middle Eastern trade in African slaves also was significant. Opposition to slavery in Africa and Asia was not as strong as it was in the Caribbean, Europe and the United States.

Saudi Arabia and Angola abolished slavery officially only in the 1960s. Although legal slavery by then had probably ceased to exist, some Berber peoples continued to own slaves until at least 1975, and in areas of Africa and Asia, authentic slavery still exists surreptitiously.

Emancipation's worldwide significance is undoubtedly vital. However, in Trinidad (as opposed to Trinidad and Tobago), we should recognise that our historical experience does not neatly fit the wider one. As Dr Eric Williams, first Prime Minister of Trinidad, noted, Trinidad in 1833, was not a plantation society; it was a society of small estates operated by a few slaves. The average slave owner had seven slaves in Trinidad, as compared to 24 in Tobago.

According to Dr Williams, Trinidad had a mere 17,439 slaves at Emancipation, as opposed to Jamaica, which had 254,310, slaves, or British Guiana, which had 69,579. In addition, in Trinidad there were three domestic slaves for every 10 field slaves, as compared with a ratio of under two to 10 in Jamaica and one to 10 in British Guiana. Moreover, the British annexation of Trinidad came at a time when English opposition to slavery was winning popular approval. As a result, Trinidad was administered as a Model Colony, in respect of legislation governing the treatment of slaves.

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 Emancipation Day, Guyana
Season: Dry Season, August 1

Things found on the way


rainy Emancipation day
sunny smiles of
women in parade

Emancipation day Haiga

gillena cox, 2007

Related words

***** Independence Day - worldwide

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul, T.C. (born August 17, 1932, in Chaguanas, Trinidad and Tobago),

better known as V. S. Naipaul,

is a Trinidadian-born British writer of Indo-Trinidadian ethnicity and Hindu ancestry from Gorakhpur in Eastern Uttar Pradesh, India. Naipaul lives now in Wiltshire, England.

Naipaul was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2001 and knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1990. Sir Vidia is the son, older brother, uncle, and cousin of published authors Seepersad Naipaul, Shiva Naipaul, Neil Bissoondath, and Vahni Capildeo, respectively. His current wife is Nadira Naipaul, a former journalist.

Naipaul is married to Nadira Naipaul.

She was born Nadira Khannum Alvi in Pakistan and was raised in Kenya. She worked as a journalist for Pakistani newspaper, The Nation for ten years before meeting Naipaul. They married in 1996, two months after the death of Naipaul's first wife, Patricia Hale.