Remarks by Dr. the Honourable Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts at the Unveiling of Emancipation Support Committee’s Monument

The recent events in our world are teaching us an invaluable lesson about the erection of monuments. Monuments are compelling reminders of the voices and events which have shaped our trajectory. There is a certain power behind these figures, for they depict greatness. They can embody an individual’s exceptional morality; a nation’s movement against an opposing force; tragedy; or victory. They are supposed to teach mankind a meaningful lesson about the paths travelled and the lessons to be learnt.

In an ideal world, monuments are supposed to inspire hope and society’s positive transformation. Here in Trinidad and Tobago, we have proudly honoured some of this country’s finest men and women across all spheres with monuments. They reinforce our patriotic spirit and drive to honour our prolific figures.

Regrettably, not all monuments evoke similar sentiments. Some trigger pain and anger. They hurt the deepest parts of our sensibilities. As leaders, we must acknowledge every reaction to a monument and come together as intellectuals to discuss this reality.

Today, we are erecting a monument to commemorate Trinidad and Tobago’s Emancipation movement. This symbol embraces several time spans in our history. The scourge of slavery and the rebellious spirits of our African ancestors as they fought for freedom. The Kambule Riots. The rise of steelpan. The Black Power Movement of the 1970s. The many, everyday successes of the African diaspora here in Trinidad and Tobago. Our continued efforts to restore lost connections to our African heritage. The UN’s International Decade for persons of African descent.

This monument recognises all of these attributes and so much more. I am indeed honoured to be the Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts at this time in our history, to stand beside you to unveil this historic tribute. May every passer by pause and reflect on the story behind this monument. May we collectively strengthen our appreciation of our African ancestors and their tireless battles. May this monument radiate hope and a spirit of resilience, especially during this particularly unique predicament across the world.

I congratulate the Emancipation Support Committee for continuing to be the guardians of our African legacy and for having the foresight to materialise today’s event. I thank everyone for being present to witness this historical moment, and I wish you a Happy and reflective Emancipation Day 2020. Please continue to observe the necessary health protocols and keep safe as you continue with your daily routines.

I thank you.