Happy 40th Year of Independence to My Fatherland of Antigua and Barbuda!
Updated: May 25
A throwback Facebook post from November 1, 2016. Happy 40th Year of Independence to my fatherland of Antigua and Barbuda! Enjoy!
With Pride, Shaunda
On November 1st, 1981, two small islands located among the Lesser Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean Sea became one island nation.
For 139 years after Columbus and his crew first spotted the two islands in 1493, the native Carib population was able to stave off European domination, until the British succeeded in colonizing the islands in 1632. The two islands through British colonization and the mass importation of African lives as slave labor, quickly became a heavy asset to the economic prosperity of the British empire, with sugarcane as the main cash crop.
Over 73,000 Africans were brought to these two islands as slaves under British rule. The Afro slave population found ways to resist their servitude, including the creation of runaway maroon colonies and isolated uprisings on plantations throughout the islands. In 1736 there was an ambitious plot to overthrow white rule on the larger of the two islands by killing all 3,800 whites. This plot was conjured up by the now infamous slave, Prince Klaas, and 87 of his fellow slaves. The plot was discovered before it could be implemented, and it would be another 98 years until the slaves of the two islands would experience emancipation along with the slaves throughout the rest of the British Caribbean.
As we all are very aware of in this part of the world, emancipation didn't bring immediate opportunity and prosperity to the former slaves or their offspring - who made up about 90% of the population. Through years of organizing and the formation of independent unions and parties, the people of these two islands fought for their rights, and eventually gained their independence from the United Kingdom after 349 years of British rule.
Happy Independence Day to the beautiful land of sun, sea, and sand; where we celebrate the blood of our slave forefathers and our dynamism as a people, the darkness and richness of our soil and African heritage, our hope as a people, and the dawn of a new era that our independence created.