By Yinka Kolawole in Osogbo
Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, has been honoured with the ‘Spirit of Emancipation Award of Excellence’ in Trinidad and Tobago by the Emancipation Support Committee of Trinidad and Tobago.
The event was held at the Lidj Yasu Omowale Village, the capital city of Port of Spain in the country.
Aregbesola was accompanied by his wife, Alhaja Sherifat, and government officials, including the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Dr. Ajibola Bashiru; Commissioner for Home Affairs, Dr. Obawale Adebisi; the Special Adviser on Culture and Tourism, Mrs. Taiwo Oluga; the Director General of Office of Economic Development and Partnership (OEDP), Dr. Charles Akinola, and the Chairman state Tourism Board, Bimbola Daniyan.
While presenting the award to him, Chairman of the Emancipation Support Committee of Trinidad and Tobago, Mr Khafra Kambon, commended Aregbesola for his commitment to the emancipation of all black people in the tradition of the great pan-Africanists like Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Web du Boise, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and others.
He thanked him for attending the Emancipation Day celebration and for identifying with the people of Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean.
“We have decided to honour our brother, His Excellency Rauf Aregbesola, for his commitment to the emancipation of all black people in the rich tradition of the great pan-Africanists.
“We feel honoured for him to have attended this year’s emancipation day with a delegation from Osun State. We have therefore decided to honour him with this award not just from Trinidad and Tobago but on behalf of all the people of the Caribbean,” he said.
Aregbesola, in his response, thanked the Emancipation Support Committee for the award. He urged them to carry on the torch of the emancipation of all black people in order for the struggles of the past not to be in vain.
According to him, “I feel at home, with my brothers here in Trinidad and Tobago. I can see that all black people are one. I share your aspirations and struggles and I urge you not to rest on your oars until there is freedom for all black people wherever they are found.
“I thank the Emancipation Support Committee and especially my brother, Kambon, for the honour done to me today. This award will spur me to greater commitment to fight for the freedom and emancipation of all black people.
“I look forward to greater cooperation between our two countries economically, socially, culturally and spiritually. If the blacks in Diaspora are successful, it will lift the black on the continent. By the same token, if the blacks on the continent are poor and downtrodden, it will negatively affect the status of the Diaspora blacks.
Other eminent personalities that received awards at the occasion included Deputy Chairperson, African Union Commission, Ambassador Kwesi Quartey, and Ambassador Wallace William.
Earlier in the day, a rally was held in front of the Treasury Building on the Brian Lara Promenade. This was the spot in Port of Spain where emancipation proclamation was made on August 1, 1834. That was 184 years ago. From that spot, huge crowd of people, led the Prime Minister, Dr Keith Rowley, and other government officials held a five mile walk.
There was a stopover at Piccadilly Greens where for over an hour a carnival and cultural display showcasing the rich Yoruba continuity in the Diaspora and the history of slavery culminating in emancipation proclamation. From that spot, the train moved on and terminated at the emancipation village where Aregbesola was honoured with the award.
The rally and the walk were attended by political, religious and community leaders in Trinidad and Tobago, delegates from the Caribbean, Africa, United States, Europe and other parts of the world.