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Media Release: Commemorate Emancipation Day; victory over slavery by enslaved Afrikans

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Emancipation 2012: None But Ourselves Can Free Our Minds and Bodies
Emancipation 2012: None But Ourselves Can Free Our Minds and Bodies

Media Release

For immediate release                                                                    July 25, 2012

Commemorate Emancipation Day; victory over slavery by enslaved Afrikans

Toronto, ON - The Network for Pan-Afrikan Solidarity, United Black Students at Ryerson, and other partnering organizations will commemorate Emancipation Day in Toronto on August 1, 2012. This commemorative event will take place at 6pm in the Thomas Lounge in Oakham House, which is located at 63 Gould Street on the campus of Ryerson University.

Central to our commemoration of Emancipation Day is our affirmation of Afrikan people's self-determined resistance to all forms of oppression. While the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 was a legal catalyst for the abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire on August 1, 1834, this victory over chattel slavery was a partial one. The formerly enslaved Afrikans had to continue working (40 hours per week) without wages for their former masters under the Apprenticeship System, and only children under six years of age were fully emancipated. After this deeply oppressive formulation of emancipation was enacted, Afrikans continued to fight against their oppressors. The Afrikans resisted the free labour regime and the British were forced to prematurely end the apprenticeship scheme on August 1, 1838.

Despite formerly enslaved Afrikans' consistent and persistent resistance to slavery, many mainstream academic and popular spaces give undue credit to the work of White Abolitionists in ending the enslavement of Afrikans. The many resistance struggles organized and carried out by Afrikan people, including outright rebellions and protracted military operations, played the central and most significant role in ending slavery. According to   Dr. Ajamu Nangwaya of the Network for Pan-Afrikan Solidarity, “The Emancipation Rebellion which started out as a general strike on December 25, 1831 in western Jamaica should be credited with being the proximate cause of abolition. The insurrection involved about 20,000 enslaved Afrikans and the scale of its destruction of property and loss of lives forced the British Parliament to immediately explore the termination of slavery.”

The former enslavers of Afrikans were given £20 million for their loss of “property”. But no reparations were paid to the former enslaved Afrikans or their descendants. "Many former British colonies in the Caribbean continue to owe millions of dollars in debt to North American and European countries. This state of affairs has forced the former colonies into repaying these onerous debts as opposed to expanding social services and income security programmes that would benefit their citizens" says Abena Agbetu (aka Murphy Browne), writer, journalist, and community activist. The payment of reparations to the descendants of enslaved Afrikans is one of the unsettled accounts of the enslavement and emancipation experience.

The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade marks one of the largest forced exoduses of human beings. Afrikans were abducted and forcefully dislocated from the continent of Afrika and taken to the Caribbean, South America and North America. Educator and CARIBANA Chairperson Henry Gomez, reminds us, “It is estimated that about two million Afrikan people did not survive the horrific Middle Passage between Afrika and the Americas. When we commemorate Emancipation Day, we commit ourselves to remembering the revolutionary Afrikan ancestors who evoke our legacy to continue and strengthen the consistent and persistent resistance to all forms of oppression.”

The Emancipation Day commemorative event will feature a panel discussion featuring Dr. Melanie Newton, professor and historian at the University of Toronto, Abena Agbetu, journalist, writer and community activist,` Educator and CARIBANA Chairperson Henry Gomez as well as Helio Sousa, Capoeira Angola teacher. We hope that the historical relevance of Emancipation Day will be examined by not only Afrikan Canadians and peoples of good conscience in Toronto but also around the world.

For further information please contact:

Kimalee Phillip at (416) 836-0231 or Andrew Abraham at (416) 819-7075 and by Email:


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Ajamu Nangwaya (Ajamu Nangwaya)
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