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Was emancipation in 1834 for real?

Cup Match (Photograph by Akil Simmnons)

Dear Sir,

I am putting forth a challenge to the genuine legitimacy of the Emancipation Act of 1834, its true intent and what appears to have been a lack of genuine interest on behalf of the lawmakers in the House of Commons in London for their lack of care for the wellbeing of the so-called newly freed slaves.

Mr Editor, I would like for you to know that I am not speaking on behalf of anyone else but myself. These are my own observations and thoughts.

From the very tender age of about 3, I could remember the day that my grandmother presented me with the red and blue colours of Somerset Cricket Club, and told me not to ever let her catch me wearing any other colours, and never to take them off if I knew what was good for me.

Of course, I was shocked and tried to figure out what the heck I must have done wrong. It was only after learning that her brother Harold “Dish” Talbot, my great-uncle, was at one time president of the Somerset Cricket Club for a number of years that things became clearer. It was then that I found myself being baptised into the world of Cup Match. It was from that point on that I made it my business to investigate just what this Cup Match thing was all about.

Along the road of my investigations into this matter, I kept running into some people telling me that it had made no sense whatsoever going back into the past digging up old bones because I might not like what I may find. I was also told I need not worry about the past because now we are free and that those days were over a long, long time ago before we were born and that it no longer concerned us.

Well, Mr Editor, those hollow sentiments, which were intended to discharge me, stoked my fires even more to the point that it became important enough for me to go and pull the covers right off this thing they called emancipation, and to investigate and analyse what the truth was behind the fluff and pageantry of our annual Cup Match celebrations. Since which, I have gone down to the government archives where I obtained a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation that was sent out to the colonies of the British Empire, supposedly granting freedom to the slaves.

Mr Editor, I’m not a legal scholar and I don’t pretend to be, but I do have a good sense of being able to read between the lines. Over the past 15 years or so, since I have had the above document in hand, all I have been able to gather from it was nothing but a whole lot of hot air.

Mr Editor, I really don’t believe that they meant what they were saying in many parts of that document. One of the things that jumped out at me was that the British Government and the Crown did not compensate the slaves for the 218 years that they worked for no pay. Also it does not escape me that these people were unlawfully kidnapped and held against their will having not committed any crimes. To add insult to injury, the slave masters were compensated, according to the British Government and the Crown, for the deprivation of their rights of the services of their slaves.

Could you imagine, after benefiting from the profits of slavery for 218 years, now the Crown is going to further enrich the slave masters and not the slave — how laughable. To further understand this so-called ascension to freedom, Mr Editor, the British Government abdicated their responsibility to the freed slaves by not seeing to it that those same freedoms that were granted were not violated. No, sir, they took up and left it up to the local government, which was stacked with the oligarchy of slave masters to administer the said proclamation to suit their own best wishes. Thus we have witnessed for the past 180-plus years the outcome of their negative reaction.

As I have said in the beginning, emancipation of 1834, was it for real?

Bermuda is still a colony to a colonial master. You, no doubt Mr Editor, have heard many people mention over the years that we belong to Britain. The last time I was told that a group of people belonged to someone, they were slaves.

To me, Mr Editor, I don’t believe that the Emancipation Act of 1834 was honestly all about genuine true freedom. As far as I see it, we are all still unofficially political slaves to a colonial master.

Until the day we secure our citizenship and birthright to Bermuda, we cannot truly as a people join the rest of the free world and celebrate the acquisition of a true and genuine emancipation. Let’s not wait around for cows to start flying.