Reparations Commission calls for Emancipation Day to be declared a public holiday

Chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Reparations Support Commission, Dorbrene O’Marde (file photo)
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Days after the country celebrated Emancipation Day, a call has been made by one member of the Antigua and Barbuda Reparations Support Commission (ABRSC) for August 1 to be declared a public holiday.

ABRSC Chairman Dorbrene O’Marde believes that the day being a public holiday would highlight the significance of the occasion even more.

“It’s one of the most important days on our calendar. The Emancipation Day is the day on which we fought our way out of enslavement, out of bondage and we celebrate all sorts of other holidays. We celebrate four Christian holidays so our request to the policy makers is that attention be given to the importance of emancipation in our lives and history. We think that that day is perhaps one of the most important days if not the most important day in fact only equal to our independence,” O’Marde said.

The commission has put forward its suggestions to government in the past and, according to O’Marde, it will continue to do so.  

Making this a possibility O’Marde acknowledged,could be quite difficult for policy makers as Emancipation Day precedes two public holidays, Carnival Monday and Tuesday. He however questioned the need to have Carnival Tuesday as a holiday and called on the relevant authorities to construct a committee to discuss the matter as it is still his belief that Emancipation Day should be declared a public holiday.

“One wonders if we really need Carnival Tuesday as a holiday, let’s say, opposed to Emancipation Day holiday. These are some of the concerns that we have so we are calling on the establishment of some kind of committee to examine this issue in detail. Of course, the unions would be involved, our Carnival mas’ makers would be involved in helping us to make the decision, historians, the youth, all these groups but we still do not think that the hurdles to make August 1st a national holiday are such that they cannot be overcome,” he added.

Each year, the ABRSC hosts a number of activities to mark the August 1 observation.

This year, an African Dress Day was among the activities which was supported by many residents to include vendors and workers in the public and private sectors.

The highlight of the week was however the Watch night programme that was held virtually.

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