MARIGOT–Friday’s 168th anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery was commemorated at the Agrément roundabout in a ceremony of song and dance under the watchful eyes of Lady Liberty, and an audience of elected officials and invited guests.
This year’s ceremony marked the last time it will be held on May 27, as it moves to May 28 next year, the true date of the proclamation of abolition in St. Martin, according to research by historian Daniella Jeffry.
The Territorial Council unanimously voted to change it to the new date on November 5, 2015, however, a ministerial decree is being awaited for confirmation of the new date and for it to be a public holiday.
As usual, the themes of slavery and freedom were expressed in song, dance and spoken word. Children of Aline Hanson Elementary School sang two songs, including the St. Martin Song, to guitar accompaniment to open the ceremony.
A Liberation Dance was performed by Deyon Bovell’s Rhythm and Groove dance group and Frantz Capré sang his cover version of Nina Simone’s hit “Feeling Good.”
Children of Grain’ Dor dance group performed “La Liberté a travers la Danse” and members of the Junior Territorial Council read out affirmations on the theme of slavery.
Percussionist Hélié Coquillas accompanied all the segments as he does every year.
Addresses were given by President Aline Hanson, Senator Guillaume Arnell and the Préfecture’s Chef de Cabinet, representing Préfète Anne Laubies.
Each of the abovementioned laid a wreath at the foot of the Lady Liberty statue.
President Hanson in her address cited a quote Marcus Garvey. ”A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.
“This day is an opportunity not only to remember the sacrifices made by our ancestors, but also the opportunity to remind our population of our history,” she said. “That is why I chose to read several extracts from Daniella Jeffry’s book “Saint-Martin destabilization of the French Caribbean” that teaches us our history from 1629 until 2007.
“Therefore, in line with Marcus Garvey’s famous quote, I encourage all of you, who do not have this knowledge of our past, to learn our history, origin and culture. I wish to thank you all for coming out to commemorate an important part of our history, and I especially want to thank Daniella Jeffry for all this important work she’s accomplished in our general interest.”
Senator Arnell said in his address: “Today we have new forms of slavery prompting the question how free are we really. This is why we must remain vigilant, while we remember the past and continue the battle against all types of humiliation and discrimination.
Our generation has a responsibility to continue to commemorate, to explain, to keep the torch burning, so the generations to come will better understand their roots, while we join hands and refuse to be judged simply by the colour of their skin.”
Source: Daily Herald
Slavery abolition commemorated in song, dance, and spoken word