Emancipation Day Message From The Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, ON, MP, Prime Minister Of Jamaica


Emancipation Day is cause for celebration not only for Jamaicans but for freedom-loving people everywhere.

We commemorate this day because it marked the end of an evil system of enslavement that robbed our ancestors of their fundamental right to dignity and respect as human beings.

This is a time when we highlight the bold determination and the sometimes open defiance of those who went before us as they fought for the most basic rights that we enjoy today.

Some of them paid the ultimate price for the freedoms that served to set the stage for the creation of our Jamaican nation.

As we celebrate the ending of slavery, the question is, what is the significance of Emancipation from slavery for us today?

Emancipation should not be seen merely as a trophy that we take out every year to polish, admire and remind us of the vision and bravery of our ancestors.

It is not a time to pat ourselves on the back and then return to complacency and a sense of powerlessness to tackle the current challenges.

The celebration of emancipation would be empty if we are not inspired to catch that spirit of determination to be free of limitations, which was in Sam Sharpe’s belly as he led the Emancipation Rebellion.

Emancipation Day would be just another holiday unless we recognize it as an important step in an on-going journey to higher levels of freedom.

Each new stage in the journey begins with a vision – a vision of forward movement and a deep hunger for freedom from whatever it is that holds back our progress and development.

Emancipation Day 2006 calls us to reject the old, toxic thinking and embrace new forward-looking concepts that will put our nation firmly on the path of transformation.

As we entertain the vision of a Jamaica that works for every one of its citizens, we need to emancipate ourselves from the old idea that any individual human being, or group, is inferior to another; the old idea that women are lesser beings; the old idea that any one of us, whether called “leader” or plain citizen, can escape our share of responsibility for the results we achieve as a country.

Today, we are being called upon to emancipate ourselves from the mental, spiritual and emotional shackles that allow this nation to tolerate the abuse of our children; violence as a way of life; corruption not only in the public domain, but wherever it is found; and the erosion of our fine community traditions that once served us well.

History will not be forgiving if we fail to truly emancipate ourselves, and create the loving, peaceful, prosperous and liberated Jamaica that our ancestors struggled to bequeath to us.

On this Emancipation Day, let us take heart from the struggles and accomplishments of our forebears and those who continue to surpass expectations and bring pride to our nation. In them, we can find renewed strength and inspiration to tackle the great work that remains to be done.

May God bless you all as you take this time to reflect on the past and, in the spirit of Sam Sharpe, Nanny of the Maroons, Cudjoe, Tackey, George William Gordon and all other freedom-fighters, strengthen your resolve to pursue the path to a brighter future.