PHILIPSBURG – With the theme “the water remembers”, the 6th annual Emancipation Day Celebration was held at the Captain Hodge Wharf in Philipsburg. It has been 155 years since the Emancipation Proclamation was signed liberating the enslaved Africans on Sint Maarten on July 1st, 1863.
Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin, among many other dignitaries, attended the celebration and delivered her address as follows’ –
“I would like to share with you an excerpt of a poem called “Title Deed” written by a son of the soil, our own Lasana Sekou from his book The Salt Reaper.
is always just ensuing
it is our eternal story
renewed each time we are so forward
as we gaze upon the face of Freedom
and summon her like proud rooster flock
spur off the locks barring the sight from night
from oozing out the maroonspill light of dawn
bawl out songs of “good morning, good morning…”
ah come fo meh country
reaping a day … in which nothing compares
to Freedom – which so many of us have forgotten to claim…….
Ladies & Gentlemen, as we are gathered here this morning for this year’s Emancipation Day Celebration, we are surrounded by Mother Nature and we are reminded of her beauty, serenity and also her power & wrath that was on display with the passing of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
This year’s theme of “The Water Remembers” puts into context recent discussions on climate change and the possible negative impacts the rising of sea levels can have on the future development of our nation.
Of course, we cannot speak of the future if we don’t remember our past and how the water that surrounds us has shaped our nation.
These are the waters that claimed the lives of our ancestors who resisted captivity and chose death over slavery by jumping overboard the slave ships. These are the waters that our ancestors unwillingly sailed on, arriving in chains on the shores of this island to face a life of hardship.
These are the waters that fed our people with its bounty of fresh fish and other seafood delicacies like conch, crab and lobsters.
These waters, are where our ancestors left Sint Maarten to go to further their studies and pursue a better life throughout the neighboring Caribbean islands, the United States and Europe
Therefore, when we say “The Water Remembers” we must be thankful to God and we have to treat this wonderful natural resource with care. It has provided for us in the past, it continues to provide for us in the present and we definitely will need the water to ensure a sustainable future.