Nassau, Bahamas – The Bahamas – Bahamians were reminded not to take freedom for granted but rather remember the legacy upon which the country was built following the abolition of slavery almost two hundred years ago.
Dame Marguerite Pindling, Deputy to the Governor-General gave the charge in her address at the Emancipation Day Ecumenical Service on the Fox Hill Parade on Monday, August 6, 2012.
She underscored the importance of commemorating Emancipation Day in the Fox Hill community, which local historians call the last bastion in the country for celebrating the emancipation of slavery.
“It can arguably be said that the Fox Hill community, perhaps more than any other in The Bahamas, has nurtured, commemorated and celebrated the freedoms and aspirations of an emancipated people more than any other community within the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.”
Dame Marguerite said it is because of celebrations such as Fox Hill festival, that the true meaning of struggle, of fortitude, perseverance and community will be passed on to future generations, thereby ensuring its legacy.
“Fox Hill boasts a rich historical and cultural heritage that is second to none, and one that should always serve as a reminder of a people’s struggle, of their transcendence and triumph over a bondage that sought to imprison their minds, bodies and very souls,” she said.
Celebrations such as these, she added, should remind all not to take those freedoms enjoyed for granted
“We must not allow ourselves, nor our generations to forget the years of struggle, the years of pain and suffering not the blood, sweat and tears that went into making freedoms the norm as opposed to the exception.”
She noted that there are six universally accepted major forms of freedom – religion, freedom of movement, self-defense, political, economic, freedom of expression and personal freedom.
However, the Scripture according to the Apostle Paul says that freedom is “a license to do whatever he wanted to do, foregoing all of the moral tenets established buy the Lord, God, Himself,” she quoted.
In this vein, she admonished Bahamians to use special moments such as the celebration of Emancipation Day whether in Fox Hill, Gambier, Adelaide, Grant’s Town or Bain town as an opportunity to remember those expectations.
“”Let us take opportunities such as these to remember to practice the charity, the tolerance, the mercy and the grace that is associated with the freedoms that have been so hard-won for us as a people and live in the kind of freedom that is scripturally expected of us,” Dame Marguerite said.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration the Hon. Fred Mitchell who was present at the celebration also spoke of this freedom, which the country now enjoys, since the abolition of slavery.
He recognised some notable dates such as the 1942 Burma Road Riot, the formation of the Progressive Liberal Party in 1953, women gaining the right to vote in 1961 and voting for the first time in 1962, Majority Rule Day on January 10, 1967, and Independence on July 10, 1973, which he said were not possible were it not for Emancipation Day.
He said that the Government has pledged it resources to improve the infrastructure in the Fox Hill community so the youth can reap the benefits of such a legacy.
Mr. Mitchell thanked the Fox Hill Committee headed by Maurice Tynes, for their continued work in bringing about an awareness of the importance of the historic community.
Reverend Carrington Pinder, pastor St Mark Native Baptist Church, delivered the sermon. The Emancipation Day kicked off with a Junkanoo parade at 12:30 a.m. Other activities are planned up to Tuesday, August 14, 2012.