On August 1, 1834, legal slavery ended in the British Empire, of which The Bahamas was (is) a part.
The first Monday in August is a holiday that commemorates emancipation.
St. Mary’s Anglican Church, Old Bight Cat Island, is but the only monument to this historical act, built by the slaves to sit all 200 of them.
This so-called emancipation ushered in the four-year apprenticeship system when the masters were to teach ex-slaves how to be free.
In the name of God, how did such a cruel, ungodly, inhumane, unjust, bitter, painful system flourish on these shores for more than 300 years?
Africans were dragged from their homeland, jammed into holes of ships, stacked in tiers like animals for a sea-sickening Mid-Atlantic voyage. Many died, even jumping to certain death into the rough seas.
Many families were yanked asunder as ships sailed, auctioning human cargo along the shores in the so-called New World.
All to enrich the coffers of the masters. Slavery is the worst of the worst that has ever occurred and flourished in God’s world. Anyone who dares to give a justification should be flogged.
Today can only be one of national repentance.
Some today live off the residue of slavery and some keep many in chains for their own selfish agenda.
Even the church that could have and should have done more early in the process needs to repent.
Thank God for politicians who allowed their Christianity to lead and influence them and did redeem the church somewhat in this madness.
One such person was William Wilberforce, an orthodox Christian, and practicing Anglican, who raged war in the English Parliament for some 40 years against slavery, but died months shy of August 1, 1834.
Today, we continue to suffer from the bitter hangover of slavery: racism, inferiority complex, sexism, Blacks lording themselves over Blacks as Black leaders imitate overlords of pre-independence.
To our shame, we have failed to institutionalize any national observation/celebration of emancipation.
The church and government should give greater leadership in these moments. Shame on us.
We must keep the message alive; 1834 was but a start.
An enslaved mindset is the greatest of all shackles we must cast off.
My professor at Codrington College, Dr. Kortwright Davis, is very right: “Emancipation still comin’.”
— Fr. Sebastian Campbell