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Celebrations leading up to the August 1, Emancipation Day holiday would not be affected by the political campaigning by parties, as they get ready to head to the polls on August 20.

This was the assurance of the Emancipation Support Committee (ESC) chairman sister Zakiya Uzoma-Wadada.

In a telephone interview Uzoma-Wadada told Guardian Media, “The election has not really impacted our plans because from earlier on in the year we had already made some decisions with regards to how we would roll out the festival this year based on the restrictions that came as a result of the pandemic.”

She said at the organisation’s launch of Emancipation 2020, which was held virtually on May 25, where the public was informed, the festival this year would be a virtual one.

Uzoma-Wadada revealed when the Government announced there would be ease of restrictions over a phase period, for a moment, the organisation did consider which of its events it could probably host physically but subsequently scrapped the idea opting to stay virtual as it might be best at this time.

Apart from the launch some of the events already passed to mark the 35th annual observance were the Uruba Drum Village Festival, which was held on June 20, and on July 5, the launch of the Kwame Ture (Stokley Carmichael) lecture series, which will continue until July 23. On July 25, a virtual trade exhibition would be held to assist entrepreneurs affected by the pandemic followed by a virtual youth concert in tribute local reggae artiste Taurean “Zion Star” Taylor, who was killed in a vehicular accident one year ago after his performance at the youth concert formerly held at the Lidj Yasu Omowale Village at the Queen’s Park Savannah.

Uzoma-Wadada said on Emancipation Day, the organisation was looking forward to the unveiling of the monument to commemorate the proclamation of Emancipation.

The one-only-physical event during this year’s Emancipation Day would take place at the Treasury building in Port-of-Spain where the proclamation was read in 1838, signaling the abolition of slavery on the twin-island. Uzoma-Wadada said there would be the unveiling of a monument to commemorate the historic milestone.

That day would also see a virtual drum call, Uzoma-Wadada said, as drummers would be asked to play their drums live online in their various communities. Footage of previous Emancipation Day celebrations would also be available online for the public’s viewing. Also scheduled virtually, are calypso concerts, highlighting calypsos from the 1970 era, a flambeau event, and to conclude the celebration, a pan jazz concert featuring panist and vocalists would take place on August 2.

Uzoma-Wadada noted the theme of this year’s celebration was 1970 Remembered: Reconnection and Rec commitment. She said the theme was chosen in observance of the 50th anniversary of the Black Power Movement in T&T—an era that brought some progress for African people in T&T.

Uzoma-Wadada said it was imperative that people understood of the 400 years of enslavement we were only into the 182nd year of emancipation.

“For 400 years African people were systemically taught to be and accept dehumanisation. I want to remind people of that. We have to be a remarkable and special breed of humanity who have risen out of the depths of enslavement to achieve what some of us have been able to achieve even internationally in the areas of music, sports, inventions, etc. And we need to focus on that. Even today all we hear is that ‘African people lazy,’ and I think it is time we talk about what we have achieved in spite of what we have suffered for centuries,” Uzoma-Wadada said.