Put politics aside and let us build the BVI, was the message delivered by Eight District Representative, Hon. Marlon Penn at the remembrance ceremony that was held in Long Look on 25 July.
The ceremony was held in celebration of Nothingham Estate, which is the first spontaneous manumission and emancipation of slaves much ahead of the abolition of slavery. The Eighth District Representative, told the gathering: “To move this country into the direction it needs to go. We must utilize the talents and abilities of all Virgin Islanders… despite their political or social affiliations… Because as Virgin Islanders we all must do what’s in the best interest of our beloved Virgin Islands.”
Hon. Penn further explained that the significance of Nothingham Estate should not be overlooked, and he announced that the ceremony was long in coming: “It is an event that has been long in the making but nonetheless we are here. Today we pay tribute to our ancestors.”
“A civilization whose freedom was fought for and gained through the CONVEYANCE TO MANUMIT… and signed by Samuel Nottingham in the year 1776, a full 58 years before the Emancipation Proclamation was read in 1834… with the Descendants also gaining full title to their plantation in the late 1700s. The people of Nottingham have a legacy to be proud of… a legacy of a proud and resilient people, a legacy of strength and determination,” the Eighth District Representative stated.
Hon. Penn pointed out that the ceremony at Long Look goes beyond the early pioneers of festival and touches on the origin or the reason why the Territory celebrates. He said: “The story of the people of Nottingham Estate is also a story of the people of the Virgin Islands. A story of a strong, resilient and determined people… A story of a people who were left behind by their former colonisers and asked to fend for themselves. Our ancestors worked and toiled and used their innate ingenuity, and turned our Territory and economy into the modern and globally recognized one it is today.”
The Legislator told the gathering that the Territory is well on its way to becoming a great little nation, however he added that in order for the BVI to get there all must do some soul searching: “We must…reflect on those qualities that make us uniquely Virgin Islanders. We must… reflect on the challenges and the sacrifices made by our ancestors and forge a path for the new wave of prosperity for our people and Territory. To build that great nation we are destined to become, it will require all of us working together. It will require us reaching out a helping hand to our fellow brother as he climbs the ladder of success as you did… and not push him back down that very ladder,” he said.
The transcript of the manumission document which conveyed the freedom of the Nothingham residents was read by Bertrand ‘Washasha’ Lettsome.