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Barbados Season of Emancipation

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The Season of Emancipation is a time for reflection, education, and celebration commemorating the end of slavery on the island. It runs from April 14th (the Anniversary of the Bussa Slave Rebellion) to late August.

Several important dates fall within this period including National Heroes Day (April 28th), Day of National Significance (July 26th), Emancipation Day (August 1st), and UN International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition (August 23rd).

The Season of Emancipation includes a range of events and activities, including lectures, exhibitions, and cultural performances. It is a time for Barbadians to reflect on the legacy of slavery and the struggles of their ancestors, as well as to celebrate their freedom and the rich cultural heritage that has developed in the years since emancipation.

The Emancipation Statue in Barbados

It is estimated that between the 1620s and the 1800s, over 387,000 enslaved Africans were brought to Barbados. They were taken from their homes in West Africa, endured a brutal voyage across the Atlantic, and were forced to work on the island's many sugar plantations under horrendous conditions. Long hours of work, punishment by whippings and beatings, separation from family, overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, and overall exploitation were all part of a slave's life.

On August 1st 1834, slavery was abolished throughout the British Empire, including in Barbados. However, the process of emancipation was a gradual one, with enslaved people continuing to work, often for their former slave masters, until August 1st 1838 when they were finally granted full freedom.

Monument at Rock Hall Freedom Village
Monument at Rock Hall Freedom Village

The Season of Emancipation is a time to reflect not only on the injustice and suffering of slavery but also on the unbroken spirit of our ancestors, a resilient people who endured the worst of treatment yet emerged triumphant. It is a journey that is still not over, as we strive to tackle remaining social and economic inequalities.

Much of Barbados' cultural heritage, including dance, music and cuisine, is proudly rooted in the traditions and experiences of the country's African descendants.

Barbados Heritage Tours

Learn more about our island's heritage...

 
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