The Season of Emancipation should be used as an opportunity to reflect upon where Barbados has come from and where it is going.

This was highlighted by Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, as he addressed a press briefing for the Season???s launch this morning, at the Ministry???s Sky Mall, Haggatt Hall, St. Michael headquarters.

Outlining this year???s Emancipation activities, which will run from April to August, Mr. Lashley said: ???The significance of April 14 is critical for us. It marks the anniversary of the uprising led by the legendary enslaved African, the Right Excellent Bussa, who is now a National Hero of Barbados; and this year is the 198th anniversary of that infamous rebellion???We always ensure that Barbadians??? attention is riveted to this season???[and] all the dates that have been critical to the emergence of new Barbados.???

??????We have quite a lot to be proud of in this small nation of ours, where we continue to uphold all of the tenets of a constitution that guarantees, in a very enshrined way,??? Minister Lashley continued, adding that ??????I believe that when we come to celebrate and acknowledge the Season of Emancipation, we ought to remember that we have some very cherished freedoms in Barbados???that ought to be zealously guarded.???

Stressing that the Crop Over season was indeed a part of Emancipation celebrations, the Culture Minister remarked that Crop Over, while being a time of merriment, should also be a reminder of the experience and journey of our fore parents and ???a sober moment of remembrance for Barbadians???.

Minister Lashley gave the assurance that the Ministry of Culture would continue to support the festival and encouraged the visibility of Crop Over events, especially those related to the culinary, visual and performing and literary arts.??We always say Crop Over is more than a carnival, but I hope when we say that, that we mean that Crop Over is part of our own reality, and identity and remember all aspects of it???Remember that the journey has not ended,??? he stressed, highlighting the festival???s link to enslavement, emancipation and empowerment.

While the Season served to acknowledge Barbados??? past, the Culture Minister said that ???we are faced with new challenges, many of them labelled as fiscal challenges ???[which] require us to be much more resilient and much more productive as a nation. The season of emancipation, particularly coming at this time, when we know that many Barbadians are facing hardship???is really an opportunity to remind us of the need to be innovative and to find new pathways to ensuring that our economy can rebound from the challenges that it faces now.

???Our economy is going through a complete restructuring, a complete overhaul and things will never be the way they were before. Therefore, we have a responsibility???to look at Barbados through new eyes and those new eyes have to be based on holding each other???s hands and resolving to approach our economic challenges???[by] creating solutions that are home grown,??? he suggested.

The Season of Emancipation 2014 will be held on the following dates: April 14 and 15, the dates of the slave uprising led by Bussa; and National Heroes Day (April 28), which will be observed this year with a public lecture at Parliament. There will also be Africa Day (May 25); the Day of National Significance (July 26), which will be celebrated with the annual Crop Over Folk Concert at Frank Collymore Hall; Emancipation Day (August 1); the birthday of Marcus Garvey (August 17); and the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition (August 23); and Crop Over (May, June and the first week of August).

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