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Barbados Emancipation Day

Emancipation Day in the Barbados is a public holiday.

Barbados Emancipation Day: August 3

Emancipation Day is a public holiday in Barbados.

In Barbados, emancipation day is celebrated every year on August 4. This event marks the abolition of the inhuman tradition of slavery. A slave named Bussa led the slave revolt of the island. He is still regarded as a national hero. In honor of him, a statue of him stands on the Emancipation Roundabout in Hagget Hall, St Michael. This day is celebrated all over the island, particularly at the Bussa roundabout. On this spot a grand function is organized every year to commemorate the abolition of slavery. The celebrations include parades, educational displays, speeches and performances.

In the Bahamas, Emancipation Day is more commonly referred to as August Monday because it is celebrated on the first Monday of August. Mostly the celebrations take place at Fox Hill village, Nassau. It is a former slave village. According to folklore, the inhabitants of this village got to know about their freedom a week after others on the island.

History of Barbados Emancipation Day

Now, we come to the history of this event. Bussa is also known as Busso or Bussoe. Not much is known about his date of birth but it is known that he was born in Africa and was brought to Barbados to work as a slave. He worked as a slave at Bayleys Plantation in the southern parish of St Philip. Even today, the plantation’s “Great House” stands and is now home to the famous musician Eddy Grant. He uses the house as his residence as wall as recording studio.

Bussa worked as a domestic slave on the plantation. Domestic slaves did not have to experience the hardships of field slaves. So, domestic slaves thought themselves above the field slaves. They revealed to their masters the plans of slave rebellions to gain favor. Bussa had a privileged position but he helped to plan in advance. Plans of rebellion started after the House of Assembly rejected the Imperial Registry Bill in November 1815. The slave rebellion was a result of the strong desire to uproot the oppressive white aristocracy, and to claim their rightful freedom. On the night of Good Friday, April 12, 1816, the rebellion was given the final touch and a mulatto slave, Washington Franklyn, was declared the governor of the island.

Two days later, Bussa led around 400 slaves and set on fire several cane fields. The revolt spread from Bayleys Plantation in St Philip to Christ Church, St George, St Thomas, and St Lucy. The white plantation owners had a tremendous blow. It took about four days for the authorities to curb the revolt and to regain control. Bussa was killed in the battle, and the ringleaders were executed. It is true that the rebellion was a failure but it was successful in leaving its mark. More than a century later, the Emancipation Statue was erected at the roundabout in Hagget Hall, St Michael. In 1999, Bussa was declared one of the national heroes of Barbados.

Barbados Emancipation Day Traditions and Activities

On this gala day (August 4), grand celebrations happen at the island of Barbados. This includes Emancipation Day Walk, Village and Beach Fest. The crowd walks from Independence Square to Bay Street Esplanade early in the morning. There is a Rhythm Section. After that, various renowned artists organize a cultural rally with performances by them. Delicious African cuisine can be tried and one can opt for some serious shopping too

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