Understanding the value of Emancipation

The following article, addressing the value of Emancipation celebrations, appeared in Trinidad and Tobago’s Newsday, Wednesday, August 1 2012.

 Khafra Kambon, chairman of the Emancipation Support Committee.

As the Emancipation Support Committee (ESC) marks its 20th anniversary this year, chairman Khafra Kambon takes a look at self-awareness and self-liberation:

“The Emancipation Committee is a force or development in all aspects and areas of human development,” says Khafra Kambon, the chairman of the Emancipation Support Committee. The ESC focus is on Trinidadians of African descent, with the objective of re-opening their minds to the concept of what it means to be liberated.

Throughout its existence this committee has made positive impact on the nation’s people inevitably causing individuals to be freed from their ‘shackled’ minds, economical status and social inabilities.

??It is said by many that the issues of slavery have not been effectively addressed in society, thereby causing residual lingering effects of great trauma on persons.

For the past 20 years, the ESC has journeyed in raising the awareness and importance of one’s individuality.

??The ESC has recognised there are reinforced negative connotations such as “black, ugly” and “black and ugly,” that have caused severe barriers in the positive development of the African people.

For that reason, many Africans take these terms for granted, accepting it as a norm and live comfortably with it.

Eradicating the stigma and this belief is just another important function that the committee has untiringly performed throughout the years.

“Through this process, when negative elements are shown on television, printed in the newspaper, aired on radio or depicted in advertisements, individuals are able to open their eyes and filter out negative messages, still maintaining their self-importance and sanity,” said Kambon.

“Emancipation helps to open our eyes to see these things and understand them for what they are whether unconscious or conscious. It creates the strongest positive images of ‘African-ness’ in the society.”

In terms of economics, the ESC showcases numerous and diverse work individuals perform from within the community. On one level, the ESC provide a platform for sale at the annual Emancipation Village which is open to the public five days until the public holiday at the end of July. It also serves as an opportunity for exposure.

In addition, a special entrepreneur workshop focusing on financial management and business is provided. ??This rich source of business know-how is given by professionals in different fields. Through this venture, entrepreneurs have been able to spur a lot of businesses.

??The celebration of African awareness, Emancipation Day on August 1, culminates in annual parade through the streets of Port-of-Spain. ??The procession brings a togetherness and pride (not only with people of African descent) but also allows persons to enjoy themselves with abandon and encourages social connections.

“It gives people a different feeling of themselves, they understand who they are and they project themselves and their heritage proudly, through their garments, movement and their expressions,” Kambon said. ??Throughout the years the committee has continuously made a positive impact on the lives of everyone, thus desensitising the stereotype of the African culture.

For the original article: Understanding the Value of Emancipation

Author: Ken Archer

I am an ethnomusicologist, who obtained my doctoral degree at the Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. My areas of interests include the musical, ritual, and celebratory traditions of the circum-Caribbean and the African Diaspora. I worked as a lecturer at the Columbus and Marion Campuses of the Ohio State University, where I taught classes in World Music, Rock and Roll/American Popular Music, Western Art Music, and directed the OSU Steel Pan ensemble.