Oct 13, 2010 News
African Holocaust (Maafa) Day observed…
By Rabindra Rooplall and Abena Rockcliffe
As Afro-Guyanese paid homage to their ancestors who were lost in the Middle Passage; hundreds came out to the Seawall Bandstand yesterday where the message was clear as they chanted “Tu ta Shinda – We will win.”
As part of the 17th observance of African Holocaust, there was energetic drumming accompanied by songs of resistance and spirituals as the African Cultural & Development Association (ACDA) held its annual African Maafa Day at the Kingston seawalls.
For the past 19 years, October 12 has been set aside to remember the thousands of Africans who were captured as slaves but died in the Middle Passage to the New World. Some dubbed it a holocaust at sea that should not be forgotten and referred to the board of horror as a new form of horror taken on by some dubbed as “divisive oppressors” who “use persons with house slave mentality to do their biddings” .
The group at the seawalls invoked the spirits of those who fought against slavery — people like Accabre, African Janet, and Harriet Tubman. “From this day onwards we will live with a sense of purpose, we will seek education, encourage it and support it with all we have.”
Among those who paid homage were PNCR members Basil Williams, Richard Van West Charles and Mayor of Georgetown Hamilton Green.
The procession was led in a spiritual manner down to the shores of the Kingston seawall where they paid respect to their ancestors with prayers, libations, and floral tributes.
According to Eric Phillips, an executive director for ACDA, he hopes the commemoration would educate the gathering and society at large of the lives of the African Maafa.
He explained that the Maafa signifies the largest economic genocide of a people, and according to the United Nations, the greatest crime against Africa’s humanity.
Phillips said that Columbus arrived in these parts on October 12, 1492, and decimated first the natives as a precursor to slavery.
The Executive Director said the global stench of racial discrimination was born and nurtured during the infamous period which Europeans created hell on earth. “They called Africa the dark continent because they stole its light.”
It was disclosed that the theme for Maafa was “stop the stealing of African lands” since there are examples of this in society.
Adding that next year has been declared the “Year of people of African descent by the United Nations”, Phillips said ACDA has been calling on all right-thinking persons to say no to the pernicious winner-take-all system that denies all Guyanese an equal share, since “we are supposed to have a motto that says ‘one people, one nation, one destiny’, that means we are equal. And a winner-takes-all system is the opposite of that. ”
According to Lennox King, of St. Peter’s African Methodist Episcopal Church, the leaders of the country have to do what is necessary to protect the people they have sworn to lead, “they must understand that they are our servants and are there to look after our interest.”
He said on many occasions it is found that the interest of the leaders and the interest of the people are not the same, and “we have to be our brother’s keeper.”
General Secretary of GTUC, Norris Witter emphasized that if persons have no knowledge of their origin, culture or histories then such individuals are incapable of defining themselves.
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