For the first time on Saba, Emancipation Day was publicly recognized with a lecture, film presentation, and interactive discussions on Friday, July 1, at Saba Heritage Center in Windwardside, hosted by Saba Archaeological Center SABARC.
Many people came out, including government dignitaries, for this educational event in recognition of Emancipation Day as an aspect of Saba’s heritage, including those of African and European descendent.
The evening started with a short film produced by the Intangible Cultural Heritage Committee of Saba, in particular LaToya Charles, Stacey Simmons and Olga Simmons, with young Sabans interviewing older folk about cultural traditions, such as the Maypole Dance, which has developed uniquely Saban characteristics.
This was followed by a presentation by SABARC Director Ryan Espersen on the history of Africans and African descendants on Saba, with a focus on the emancipation period, and extensive new data which he has found in old archives during his work on a PhD dissertation at Leiden University. He also presented the actual list of 703 persons who were emancipated on Saba, on July 1, 1863.
The evening continued with a lively discussion by many participants about the importance of recognizing Emancipation Day on Saba, and new research information about Saba life in those emancipation years.
One of the important reasons to recognize Emancipation Day on Saba, was noted in the discussion by SABARC President Jay Haviser, stating that Saba has a common heritage in which both African and European descendants were directly affected by emancipation, and also how these two groups lived much closer culturally than on many islands in the region.
The Daily Herald.