It was the pressures of an early Cup Match deadline that led me to a premature conclusion that the milestone 110th event would enter the books as one of the best on record.
That was an easy conclusion to reach, having ben raised to understand that a job well planned is HALF done at the beginning.
Things shaped up that way more than a week ago at Somerset Cricket Club thanks to the insightful planning of its president, Alfred Maybury, backed up by enthusiastic bands of partners, including St.Georges CC president Neil Paynter and his committed East Enders.
The pre-Cup Match spirit seemed to have been whipped up to an all time high by the movers and shakers at the Clubs with their inputs, and to a more significant extent by Governments Ministry and Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, who have been collaborating since the two-day holiday was enacted a decade ago.
It focuses on the relevance of Cup Match and the Emancipation of Slavery that took place in 1834 and Cup Match. And even more profoundly, an event that took place 27 years earlier. That was Abolition of the Slave Trade that took place 178 years ago, August 1.
We also know there are some in our community, and we only have to take note of some of the ignorant, asinine modern-day bloggers who get hyper the moment slavery is mentioned. Some go so far as to say were whining! But how could one logically deal with Emancipation without also dealing with slavery? And in this specific instance, it is chattel slavery were citing.
Chattel slavery was the captivity of the defenceless African, and his transportation through the middle passage by the millions. Hundreds of thousands were lost at sea en route. Survivors brought to the Americas were put on the auction block, men, women and children shackled, branded, put to work in the fields and wherever else. Massive profits were derived by countries and communities that regarded this type of slavery as the pillar of their economies.
It must not be forgotten that slavery per se is as old as the hills. It was well known in the Roman and Greek empires. But there was no racial basis for that traffic. So when the Christians of Western Europe began to turn their attention to the trade in men in the 15th and 16th centuries, they were not introducing a new practice.
They did however introduce some new techniques such as brutality, torture, branding with red hot irons, whippings and hangings.
The English, Spanish and Dutch, in developing the New World preyed on poor whites to do their donkey work. We only have to make a short visit to the recently opened Prisoners in Paradise exhibit at the Maritime Museum in the Bermuda Dockyard for the stark proof of that. At first those poor whites were regarded as servants - indentured servants. Later the empire builders raided the prisons in England and elsewhere for outcasts to dump on the New World to clear the forests and cultivate the fields and to build their dockyards, as in Bermuda.
Somehow those servants and convicts gradually gained respectability in the New World; became Mayors and Aldermen and members of our Colonial Parliament; or they ran away, or otherwise showed their heels to the masters.
The empire builders came to realize that white servants were unsatisfactory. They found it was costly tracking down their runaway servants and that caused fluctuations in the labour markets and on the plantations.
The Europeans began asking themselves, why should they be concerned with white servants when black people, Negroes, as they became known, presented so few of the difficulties they were encountering with their white brothers.
Because of their colour, and that factor was most relevant, black people could be apprehended more easily if they dared to run away. Also they discovered Negroes could be purchased cheaper; and with the inexhaustible supply of blacks, Negro slavery became a fixed institution and their worries about labour were minimised.
Meanwhile the Europeans, bullish about capitalising on the commercial revolution taking place in the Americas. So they began scouring the coast of Africa for black gold. And that became a source of great wealth for those engaged in the trafficking of human souls.
Now the distinctions should be obvious between the original slavery we mentioned earlier as being as old as the hills, and the slave trade that went on from the 1600s and continued for the next three centuries. And what is most interesting is the fact that the Christian church profited from this traffic. They considered Africans as pagans, and salved their consciences on the grounds that they were converting slaves to Christianity.
But - and this is most important - by the early 1800s sufficient numbers of white people of good conscience and goodwill were so outraged by the barbarity of the slave trade and all that it encompassed, that they started a move to abolish slavery. The Abolitionist Movement became sufficiently powerful enough as to influence the British Parliament to pass an Act in 1807 Abolishing Slavery.
However, it took another 27 years for the actual Emancipation of the Slaves. That occurred on August 1, 1834. And the foregoing brings us directly to Cup Match.
It should be easy to comprehend the joy and excitement of the slaves in Bermuda and their offspring, when Freedom Day came. The rejoicing was unbounded, even though the slaves or former slaves had no material possessions, only the clothes on their backs and their indomitable spirits to sustain them. They had no churches, schools, no infrastructure, but they built one, through the friendly unions, or friendly societies they formed in each community enabling them to care for one another, especially the sick and most importantly, to help bury their dead.
It was those same friendly unions or societies now called Lodges, that spearheaded on August 1 each year after 1834 the celebration of Freedom Day. First there were church services, then parades, picnics, sports and other events that grew indefinably, phenomenally, all packing a soul force, that culminated in 1902 into what is now Cup Match.
The major pre-Cup Match Emancipation celebration drew hundreds to Sandys Secondary Middle School Amphitheatre on Tuesday evening for a well conceived, masterly executed service honouring heroes and organizations for their sacrifices and singular contributions in making Bermuda the country that it is today.
My Royal Gazette colleague Owain Johnston-Barnes on Page 2, of the Gazettes Wednesday, August 3 issue gave a comprehensive report on the 18 people and five organisations that were honoured in song, dance and dialogue.
I have to confess that I was honoured and humbled seeing in that report an up close photograph of myself standing in for the founders of Sandys Secondary School in 1927; as the schools longest serving trustee; and also sharing the spotlight with my first cousin Colin Wilfred Pearman as grandsons of William Morris Pearman.
William Morris Pearman (1861-1922) was a master carpenter and builder by trade. In 1895 he founded the Pearman Funeral Home, which to this day is run by Colin and family. Also he was a trailblazer in the Friendly Society movement and in Freemasonry. He also worked with the Rev Charles Vinton Monk in the struggles of arising from hundreds of Jamaican workers being exploited during the Walker Works modernisation of the Royal Naval Dockyard in 1902.
I must say in passing, the history of that period formed the basis for my book Freedom Fighters: From Monk to Mazumbo.