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Belize to Celebrate Emancipation Day for the First Time

Belize will be marking Emancipation Day for the first time on its national calendar on August one. It’s to mark the emancipation of enslaved people in the Caribbean in 1834. Director of the Institute of Social and Cultural Research, Nigel Encalada told our newsroom about some of the events on the calendar this year.

Nigel Encalada, Director, ISCR (NICH): “There are number of initiatives that have been planned, activities that have been planned some of which are already underway. So for example we launched an exhibit yesterday, a virtual exhibit on what the archival records say about the history of slavery and emancipation in Belize. There will be a number of panel discussions on for example the in Institute of Archaeology will be having a discussion about the role of archaeology in telling the story of our African ancestors. There will be a number of church services, I know the Baptist community will be having an emancipation eve service. There will be an Ecumenical Service on Sunday where the churches of Belize will be recalling in prayer the concept of emancipation and so on. And then you have a number of other smaller organizations doing activities. There will be art components where children in various parts of the country are participating in preparing art that reflect the concept of emancipation. Those are the ones that come to mind immediately. But you know it’s an important start what we want to do in the future is to make a call for organizations, communities across the country to come forward and to put forward ideas for the commemoration of emancipation going forward.”

Encalada also discussed the importance of the day in Belize and what he hopes Belizeans on a whole learn about its history and culture.

Nigel Encalada, Director, ISCR (NICH): “The people of African decent have been in my view have enjoyed many freedoms in this country but the history has been overlooked. The cultural heritage has been overlooked, it has been taken for granted. It is a multicultural society and one of the things we want to do is to acknowledge the history and heritage of all of our people. And so in this case this is an opportunity to recall the freedom from what was a couple hundred years of slavery under very brutal conditions. And again one of the things to recall too is the impact coming out of slavery has had on African and afrodecendant kriol people in Belize. If we can identify these things on these such occasions then we might be able to develop strategies for the improvement of our afrodescendent communities in Belize.”

The virtual exhibit is online. Emancipation Day was added to the national calendar after a bill was passed in January.