Weeks: let schools have say on Somers Day
Schoolchildren should have a say on whether Somers Day should be renamed to honour Cup Match's emancipation roots, a Progressive Labour Party backbencher said yesterday.
Michael Weeks, a former Minister of Social Development and Sport, was speaking after calls came for a separation of Somers Day from the two-day Cup Match holiday.
The second day of Cup Match commemorates the arrival of Sir George Somers and the crew of the Sea Venture on July 28, 1609 that started the permanent English settlement of the island.
Emancipation Day gained official recognition on Cup Match's first day by Parliament in 1999.
Mr Weeks said he had “no issue with putting Somers Day somewhere else — another holiday if needs be or an independent day to recognise his part in our history”.
He added: “The opportunity can't be missed to involve our children in the renaming of the day.”
Mr Weeks suggested a partnership between his former ministry, now run by Lovitta Foggo, and the Department of Education to sign up school pupils to find a new title for the second day of Cup Match.
He said he had raised the issue as minister in the House of Assembly in July last year just before the House took its summer break.
Mr Weeks said then there was “some question as to the validity of Somers Day being celebrated the day after Emancipation Day”.
He told MPs: “We as a community have to take a look at whether or not there is an appetite to change the name to something more befitting emancipation — Mary Prince Day has been floated around.”
Ms Prince was a Bermudian-born former slave whose account of slavery, published in Britain in 1831, helped fuel the drive for abolition of the trade in human beings in the British Empire.
Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda this month called for Sir George to be dropped in favour of Prince, in keeping with Cup Match's origins.
The holiday originated as an annual celebration of the end of slavery in the British Empire on August 1, 1834.
Mr Weeks told The Royal Gazette that more than 1,000 pupils had taken part in an essay competition last year on “what Bermuda Day means to me”.
He said: “We got a wide range of perspectives.
“That is why we shouldn't drop the ball on having the same for our children to rename Somers Day.
“Who knows? Some child might come up with a place to put Somers Day.”
Cup Match, which was not made official until 1947, falls on the Thursday and Friday before the first Monday in August.
Mr Weeks said that because July 28 fell so close to Cup Match, other dates could be picked for Somers Day — such as the date when the Sea Venture, which was originally part of a fleet headed for English colonies in North America, set sail from Britain.
He added: “Right now, an essay competition should be for renaming the second day of Cup Match. We could have another on the placing of Somers Day.”
He said he planned to raise the issue with PLP colleagues.
Mr Weeks added: “We may be able to make the change this year.”