Holidays and Festivals - Emancipation Day
On August 1st, 1838, the enslaved Africans throughout the British Empire in the Caribbean were finally freed from the bondage of chattel slavery. In 1985, on August 1st, Emancipation Day was declared a national holiday by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago. Since 1985, Emancipation celebrations have grown into a major national festival, where tens of thousands of people participate in various activities.
The Emancipation Support Committee of Trinidad & Tobago hosts a week of activities leading up to Emancipation Day including cultural performances in music, song and dance. Other activities include an art exhibition as well as lectures by prominent Pan African scholars.
The Kamboule (street procession) on Emancipation Day is theatre in motion, a mass procession throughout the streets of the capital Port of Spain, featuring African drums, steelband, moko jumbies and dance groups. The day ends with the Flambeau Procession later in the night, recalling the rebellion of the African Ancestors against slavery.
Within recent times, Emancipation celebrations have attracted an increasing number of foreign visitors from across the African diaspora. Trinidad & Tobago is now dubbed the Emancipation Capital of the world and the celebrations form one of the world’s foremost African festivals.