Minister of Community Development and Culture, Steve Blackett, chatting with filmmaker Shola Lynch (left) at the launch of the 2009 Season of Emancipation at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination. Looking on is Permanent Secretary, Shirley Farnum.

After 175 years since the abolition of slavery and 42 years of Independence, Barbadians must remain vigilant if they are to maintain the gains made by their forefathers and national heroes.

This is the view of Minister of Community Development and Culture, Steve Blackett, who also noted that Barbadians must return to the values and standards of the past if they were to progress as a nation.

Speaking at the launch of the 2009 Season of Emancipation at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination recently, he acknowledged the work of all the national heroes who toiled in their own way to provide that “elusive freedom” for the masses.

However, Minister Blackett opined that their efforts would be for naught if negative values including disrespect, neglect, lack of family values and the degradation of local culture continue to find their way into the Barbadian way of life.

“Black is too often seen as ugly or undesirable…We ridicule such indigenous institutions as the Barbados Landship and its Tuk Band music. Our sense of social responsibility, our respect for self and for our elders, have been exchanged for individualism and wanton consumerism…We have lost pride in our heritage…we have, in effect, lost our identity,” Mr. Blackett observed.

Citing the mantra of the late Bob Marley, “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds”, the Minister said Barbadians must look to themselves for salvation and validation in these challenging times. “We must never underestimate the power of the individual, nor that of a small nation to make a significant difference.”

Mr. Blackett also acknowledged that celebrating emancipation on one day was not enough, hence, the introduction of the season and he has committed his Ministry to raising the awareness of all Barbadians of the importance of the event.

Several activities have been planned for this year’s launch of the Season of Emancipation. On Thursday, April 23, a National Heroes Lecture by the Principal of Queen’s College, Dr. David Browne, will take place in the West Wing of Parliament, starting at 8:00 p.m.

He will speak on the topic “A Tribute to the Right Excellent Dr. Charles Duncan O’Neal”.

A Service of Thanksgiving will also be held on Sunday, April 26, at the St. Lucy Parish Church at 8:30 a.m., while a tree planting ceremony at Nestfield, St. Lucy, the birthplace of Dr. O’Neal, will take place following the service.

Notable dates during the season include: National Heroes Day on April 28; the Crop-Over Celebration from May 02 to August 15; the Day of National Significance on July 26; Emancipation Day on August 01; Marcus Garvey Day on August 17; and UNESCO International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition on August 23.

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