186th Anniversary of the Emancipation of Slavery

Between 1662 and 1807 Britain shipped 3.1million Africans across the Atlantic Ocean in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Africans were forcibly brought to British owned colonies in the Caribbean and sold as slaves to work on plantations. Those. engaged in the trade were driven by the huge financial gain to be made, both in the Caribbean and at home in Britain.

Enslaved people constantly rebelled against slavery right up until emancipation in Most spectacular were the slave revolts during the 18th and 19th centuries, including: Tacky’s rebellion in 1760s Jamaica, the Haitian Revolution (1789), Fedon’s 1790s revolution in Grenada, the 1816 Barbados slave revolt led by Bussa, and the major 1831 slave revolt in Jamaica led by Sam Sharpe. Also, voices of dissent began emerging in, Britain, highlighting the poor conditions of enslaved people. Whilst the Abolition movement was growing, so was the opposition by those with financial interests in the Caribbean.

The British slave trade officially ended in 1807, making the buying and selling of slaves from Africa illegal; however, slavery itself had not ended. It was not until 1st August 1834 that slavery ended in the British Caribbean following legislation passed the previous year. This was followed by a period of apprenticeship with freedom coming in 1838.

Even after the end of slavery and apprenticeship the Caribbean was not totally free. Former enslaved people received no compensation and had limited representation in the legislatures. Indentured labour from India and China was introduced after slavery. This system resulted in much abuse and was not abolished until the early part of the 20th century. After indenture, Indians and Africans struggled to own land and create their own communities.

The above was taken from: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/caribbeanhistory/slavery-negotiating­-freedom.htm·

The Anglican Church in the Diocese of the Windward Islands came to the nations that make up the Diocese of the Windward Islands St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada and St.’Lucia during the days of slavery and as someone has said; “its worship was once the planter class at prayer.” The Anglican Church in those days served the colonizers and supported slavery and owned slaves. This is part of our history which we are not proud of and that which we cannot deny. Over the years there has been a transformation and the church’s leadership consists of the descendants of former slaves and most of its members as well.

Emancipation was granted over 186 years ago but there is still something in our psyche from the vestiges of slavery and colonialism which is reflected in our actions and behaviour which suggest that those who are Caucasian or of similar ethnicity are superior and are to be treated differently to those of us who are of a dark complexion or black. We need to help ourselves and others to emancipate ourselves from that notion, for it is very much present in the nations that make up our Diocese and beyond.

Let us work together for freedom and emancipation, not for some, but for all.

For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5.1)

As servants-* of God, live as free people, yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil. (1 Peter 2.16)

Have a Happy Emancipation Day, Saturday 1st August, 2020

With every good wish and God’s blessings

Yours sincerely

The Rt. Rev’d C. Leopold Friday

Bishop of the Windward Islands