#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – Wednesday August 1, 2018 – It is an important commemoration and a living example of how far the people of the Turks and Caicos have come… and that passionate thrust is what has given life to a partnership between the National Museum, the National Trust and the Department of Culture for what is touted as a poignant evening to remember full Emancipation in the colonies, marked 180 years ago.
Candianne Williams, Turks and Caicos National Museum administrator explained that the 180 year anniversary is important, but the annual remembrance of the freedom from chattel slavery is not to be diminished. A press conference was held at the Cheshire Hall former slave plantation in Providenciales to announce tonight’s event.
“We think it fitting that we should celebrate it because it really changed the course of history, just think, in another setting 180 years ago if we were here, we would be slaves,” said Mrs. Williams.
The remembrance event begins at 6 p.m. today at the Cheshire Hall Plantation, which is currently managed by the National Trust and is a popular tourist stop.
“It is going to be a short event, just drop by and acknowledge the ancestors and acknowledge the history of what has been done and it is more like a celebration of where we have come from.”
Ms. Williams called the setting beautiful and Dr. Dellerese Higgs, Heritage Sites and Education Programme Manager – TCI National Trust, agrees.
“We chose the Cheshire Plantation because of the significance of the plantation to Provo and the history that the plantation holds for the ancestors and to people because of slavery. We chose this setting as honouring and paying homage to our history, to our strength to the ingenuity of a people. That is why our theme is ‘Honouring the unbreakable spirit and tenacity of the Turks and Caicos people because when we stand in this space, in this space that is filled with this strength and filled with this tenacity because look at us here we are today from a people who were enslaved…”
Dr. Higgs explained that the day and the place should mean much to islanders.
A former director of culture and still very active in the cultural education of islanders is David Bowen; he shared that it will be a night bursting with artistic expression.
“Not only do we have dancers, we have singers, we have musicians, we have poets, we have spoken word we have various things that will showcase the African traditions as its now changed and developed over time in the Caribbean and within our own hometown. You will see a wonderful blend of the Caribbean, of the Turks and Caicos Islands, of the African culture in our celebration to celebrate our history, our culture and our ancestors.”
‘Celebrating the spirit and tenacity of the people of the Turks and Caicos’ is the theme and Mr. Bowen said, including the trials and tribulations, the Turks and Caicos could not have been the amazing country it is today; he called it a wonderful story.
“One of the things we lack here is a sense of our connection to our past and I think we need to embrace that and to celebrate it,” David Bowen shared when asked about the value of tonight’s commemoration of full abolition of slavery; he continued with, “So we have to celebrate that, give thanks for all the persons in the past who sacrificed…”
Full Emancipation from Slavery was acknowledged on August 1, 1838. While some countries within the region have public holidays today, many more – including the Turks and Caicos Islands – will take the day off on Monday August 6, 2018.