Dr. Kwame Nantambu

Emancipation versus Liberation

By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
July 20, 2007

One of the most perplexing, disturbing and still yet unresolved perennial reality-check dilemmas that afflict Afrikan-Trinbagonians is their supremely blurred vision to clearly ascertain the intrinsic, historical differences between emancipation versus liberation.

In this regard, Malcolm X is perfectly correct when he concludes: "The major problem with Black people is that we left our minds in Africa."

However, the sad tragedy/legacy of this historical dilemma is that the internalization of Afrikanness by Afrikan-Trinbagonians will "remain a fleeting illusion to be pursued but never attained" as long as they continue to celebrate emancipation instead of seeking total liberation, by any and all means necessary.

The annual celebration of Emancipation Day (1st August) speaks volumes as to the tragic truism that Afrikan-Trinbagonians are exhibiting the symptoms of the deadly diseases of Afrikan dyslexia, amnesia, sclerosis, paralysis and atrophy.

They are in serious denial of their inherited Afrikan self.

The fact of the matter is that Afrikan-Trinbagonians must realize that the most potent weapon to challenge European supremacy is for Afrikans to come out as a powerful people from Mother Afrika in ancient Kemet/Egypt in the B.C. era.

This period represents 99.9 percent of the history of Afrikan people on this planet; most importantly, during this period, Afrikans were a free, spiritual, independent, liberated and powerful people. They were also the world's original teachers and master-thinkers.

The fact of the matter is that Afrikan peoples cannot challenge European supremacy as powerless, defenseless and nothing slaves coming out of the plantations in the Diaspora/Caribbean in the A.D. era.

This period represents only .01 per cent of the history of Afrikan people on this planet; during this period, Afrikans were enslaved, colonized, dependent, powerless, religious-Christian, expendable, nothing, "infidel" peoples.

Now is the time for Afrikan-Trinbagonians to delete/expunge the ubiquitous, asinine Carnival-bacchanal mentality/atmosphere that embodies Emancipation Day. Moreover, this day represents a total, utter mockery and bastardization of and insult to, the torturous, dehumanizing conditions our forefathers had to endure during their prolonged period of enslavement.

The bottom-line is very simple: Emancipation is the problem; liberation is the only solution. Emancipation represents historical dislocation; liberation represents historical location, location, location.

Emancipation focuses on Afrikan Nationality; liberation zeroes in on Afrikan Originality. Emancipation deals with Afrikan history from 1516 A.D.; liberation deals with Afrikan history from 1516 B.C.

Emancipation focuses on the Afrikan connection with Father Europe; liberation focuses on the existence/potency of Afrikans in Mother Afrika before there was a Father Europe. The philosophical construct of liberation suggests that Afrikan peoples do not need a European connection to make them legit.

The fact of the matter is that there would not be a Europe of today if there were not an Afrika of yesterday. Indeed, the continent of Europe is named after Princess Europa of Mother Afrika.

In addition, Emancipation represents a period in their history when powerless Afrikan slaves (our forefathers) picked cotton, sugarcane, tobacco, cocoa, etc, for powerful Europeans; liberation, on the other hand, represents a period in history when powerful Afrikans (our ancestors) civilized, humanized and educated the powerless Greeks (world's first Europeans).

The fact of the matter is that Europeans do not celebrate any period that manifests/exposes their historical powerlessness.

For example, Europeans do not celebrate their powerless/lethargic experience during the Middle/Dark Ages when they were people poor, land poor and resource poor. Europeans do not celebrate their Bubonic plague experience when Europe lost one-third of its population or 20 million people.

Europeans do not celebrate their period of enslavement from the middle of the 7th century - a period known in history as their "thousand year fear of Islam." This represents a period during which these European slaves referred to their slave-masters as "Infidel Arabs."

Afrikans are the only people on this planet who celebrate their history from a position of powerlessness. This is the overt dysfunctional nature of Emancipation.

The fact of the matter is that a capitalist is a capitalist 24/7/365; he is not a capitalist only at Christmas time.

Likewise, an Indian-Trinbagonian is an Indian 24/7/365; he/she is not an Indian only on Indian Arrival Day, Divali and Eid-ul-Fitr. He/she is also proud of Mother India.

Similarly, a Chinese-Trinbagonian is Chinese 24/7/365; he/she is not Chinese only on 18 October. He/she is proud of Mother China, and so on, and on and on, for all ethnic groups in TnT. Afrikan-Trinbagonians are the only exception - the only motherless group.

The stark reality is that on their national days, Indian-Trinbagonian performers always sing in the tongue of Mother India and on Chinese Arrival Day 2006, Chinese-Trinbagonian performers sang in the tongue of Mother China at Queen's Hall. In addition, Chinese-Trinbagonians speak in their Mother tongue 24/7/365 - liberation cum historical location.

Thus, the crucial question that immediately comes to the fore is: In what tongue do Afrikan-Trinbagonian performers sing during shows on Emancipation Day? - emancipation cum historical dislocation.

It is indeed this ominous, scary historical differential that has compelled social commentator Morel Peters (Luta) to ask in song: "How free, how free are we?"

Indeed, the Afrikans who celebrate Emancipation Day are just One-Ah-Day, feeling-good Afrikans. The more fundamental questions that must be faced are: Who are they from 2nd August to 31 July?; what's their mind-set, worldview and modus vivendi during this period?; what clothes are they wearing, what foods are they eating and what Gods are they worshipping during this period?

The reality is that Afrikan-Trinbagonians are powerless on Carnival Monday and Tuesday; they are also powerless on carnival Emancipation Day.

The celebration of Emancipation Day is a myopic, micro, truncated, divisive, albeit Euro-centric interpretation of the totality of Afrikan history; the celebration of total liberation under the rubric/banner of Afrika Year is a holistic, unifying, macro, linkage, albeit Africentric interpretation of the totality of Afrikan history.

This all-inclusive concept of Afrika Year embraces such Afrikan milestones as Afrikan Liberation Day (25 May), independence of Ghana (6 March), Emancipation/slave resistance (August), Haitian revolution (1st January), Kwanzaa (26 December-1st January), Pan Africanism (July), just to name a few.

Most importantly, Afrika Year seeks to re-connect, re-locate and re-vitalize the umbilical cord that was deliberately and purposely severed, dislocated and emasculated between Afrikan-Trinbagonians and Mother Afrika. It seeks to re-unite Afrikan children with their mother.

Liberation emphatically postulates that there is a Mother Afrika and that Afrika is our Home, TnT is our Destination. Afrikan-Trinbagonians must be Afrikans in mind, spirit and action, 24/7/365 and not just on 1st August.

In the final analysis, whereas Emancipation gives Afrikan-Trinbagonians a fish to feed themselves for one day (1st August), liberation teaches Afrikan-Trinbagonians how to fish so that they can feed themselves for the rest of their lives.

Dr. Kwame Nantambu is a part-time lecturer at Cipriani College of Labour and Co-operative Studies and University of the West Indies.

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