African Emancipation Day around the world in 2024

African Emancipation Day around the world in 2024
Pigeon Point, Trinidad & Tobago. Image by stifos , via 123RF
  How long until African Emancipation Day?
African Emancipation Day
  Dates of African Emancipation Day around the world
2025 Trinidad and TobagoAug 1
Trinidad and Tobago Fri, Aug 1National Holiday
2024 Trinidad and TobagoAug 1
Trinidad and Tobago Thu, Aug 1National Holiday
2023 Trinidad and TobagoAug 1
Trinidad and Tobago Tue, Aug 1National Holiday
2022 Trinidad and TobagoAug 1
Trinidad and Tobago Mon, Aug 1National Holiday
2021 Trinidad and TobagoAug 1, Aug 2
Trinidad and Tobago Mon, Aug 2National Holiday (in lieu)
Trinidad and Tobago Sun, Aug 1National Holiday

Emancipation Day became a national holiday in Trinidad on Aug 1, 1985. People celebrate the day with parties, cultural events and performances. The festivities conclude with the Flambeau march to honor the courage of the formerly enslaved ancestors.

Related holidays

When is African Emancipation Day?

This holiday marks the end of slavery in the British Empire. It is a public holiday in Trinidad and Tobago on August 1st.

African Emancipation Day has been celebrated in Trinidad & Tobago since 1985 when it became the first country in the world to declare a national holiday to commemorate the abolition of slavery.

Emancipation Day replaced Columbus Discovery Day, which marked the arrival of Christopher Columbus on Trinidad on July 31st 1498.

From 2024, the public holiday will be referred to as African Emancipation Day.

Making the announcement, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley He said: “The time has come for us to make it quite clear what Emancipation means, and who’s being emancipated and from what.”

The Prime Minister explained that the specificity was necessary as he has observed “at the international level that there are other people attempting to climb on to the Emancipation bandwagon and are attempting to add appendages to it.”

Rowley continued: “We in Trinidad and Tobago who led on this matter will have none of it and we make it quite clear that Emancipation in Trinidad and Tobago is as a result of the emancipation of slaves; and there’s no comparison between slavery and any other form of human indignation.”

History of African Emancipation Day

The British like other colonial powers had allowed the widespread practice of slavery to take place during the time of expansion to the new world. In 1772, the ruling in the case of Somerset v Stewart determined that slavery was unsupported by the common law in England and Wales. While the ruling was not clear on the situation in other parts of the Empire, this case was seen as a key turning point in the change towards emancipation.

Slavery was finally abolished throughout the British Empire by the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, which came into effect on 1 August 1834.

Celebrations to mark emancipation took place in Trinidad and Tobago in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1939 the Legislative Council replaced Emancipation Day activities with Discovery Day, honouring Christopher Columbus and his journeys to the new world.

In the 1970s, there was a push to replace Discovery Day with Emancipation Day. In 1984, the 150th anniversary of emancipation, the Trinidad and Tobago government declared that 1st August would be made a public holiday from the following year.

Early Emancipation

Before Emancipation was officially declared in 1834, there were two groups who had already gained their freedom living in Trinidad and Tobago.

The first was the Merikins. They were former slaves from the American south who had fought with the British army in 1812 against the former colonies. For their service, they were rewarded with their freedom and land in the Princes Town and Moruga area. 

The other group were Muslim soldiers born in Africa that had served in the British Army between 1793 and 1815. They too were granted their freedom and land in Cumuto, Valencia and Manzanilla.

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