Minister Samuel invites the community to the “Born Free” 160 th Annual Emancipation Day Celebration

The 160 th Annual Emancipation Day celebration will take place on July 1 st , Minister of Education, Culture, Youth & Sport drs Rodolphe Samuel invites all interested citizens and persons residing on Sint Maarten to join in the celebration that is scheduled to take place in Philipsburg. The celebration will begin with an Ecumenical Church Service at 5:30 am at the Anglican Church on Backstreet, followed by a “Freedom March” to the Boardwalk (Sports Park) for the “Born Free” cultural manifestation.
Emancipation Day was the first public holiday established by the Parliament of Sint Maarten since becoming a Country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Every year the Department of Culture hosts the Emancipation Day celebration at different venues throughout the island as a means to bring the community together as one people to reflect on the atrocities and inhumane conditions that our ancestors experienced. Emancipation Day is also a day to pay homage to the freedom fighters that fought for their human rights to be a free people throughout the period of enslavement until they achieved their goal.
“BORN FREE”, the title of this year’s theme, celebrates the God-given right of all persons to enjoy the ability to come into this world and experience freedom as human beings without any imposed restrictions. It is important to note that our African ancestors were free before they were captured and enslaved. The cultural manifestation will be an interdisciplinary tribute to celebrate the spirit of resistance, rebellion, and triumph over, suppression and inequality, and role of the Dutch Kingdom in the enslavement period. The cultural manifestation will also celebrate and pay tribute to the greatness, intelligence, beauty, full scope, and grandeur of our humanity and survival over adversity.
The strong and resilient Sint Maarteners of that era were a people that were aware that the former enslaved persons on the Northern part of the island were free as of 1848 and many of them ran away from the deplorable conditions that they had been forced into. These actions by the enslaved persons seeking their freedom culminated in the Proclamation of the Abolishment of Slavery of 1863 as the European powers knew that the slave labor system could not continue as it did for so many years.
Freedom for the enslaved ancestors was inevitable. There are many accounts of rebellion and resistance towards the oppressive slave system such as the Diamond 26 Run for Freedom and the expressions of the Ponum Dance and Song. Persons interested in joining the festivities for Emancipation Day are encouraged to follow a dress code that symbolizes nobility, wealth, and power.