In preparation for this year’s 159th Emancipation Day celebration on July 1st, the Department of Culture is inviting all interested citizens and persons residing on Sint Maarten to learn the Ponum Dance as part of the festivities that includes the reenactment of the “Diamond 26 Run For Freedom.” The free Ponum Dance workshop will be held at the John Larmonie Center on Monday, June 27th 2022 at 7:00 pm in which attendees will view the Ponum Dance documentary, learn its history and experience the historical importance of this cultural dance expression.
Emancipation Day is a day to celebrate and come together as a people to reflect on the voices of our ancestors and their experiences as we stand on their shoulders. Together the people of Sint Maarten must work collectively as one nation to retain its cultural and economic momentum, by redefining the strengths of our legacy in order to pay homage to the ancestors that fought for their human rights to be a free people.
Emancipation Day 2022 with the theme “Ancestral Echos”, will mark the 159th Anniversary of the Proclamation of the Abolishment of Slavery on Sint Maarten. The Minister of Education Culture Youth & Sport, Honorable drs. Rodolphe Samuel will be hosting the celebration event, which will take place on Union Road Cole Bay, June 30th starting at 10:30 pm featuring the “Diamond 26 Run For Freedom” that goes right into July 1st with a cultural manifestation at the Belle Vue Saint Jean Plantation.
Emancipation Day, was the first public holiday established by the Parliament of Sint Maarten since becoming a Country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, as such the Government of Sint Maarten would like the community to take a moment to reflect on our past triumphs and tribulations as a people. Many believed the road to our freedom on the Southern side of the island was easy and granted to us by the European powers. Contrary to popular belief, our ancestors fought for their freedom.
The strong and resilient Sint Maarteners of that era were a people that were aware that the former enslaved persons on the Northern part of the island were freemen as of 1848 and many of them ran away from the deplorable conditions that they were forced into. These actions by the enslaved persons seeking their freedom culminated in the Proclamation of the Abolishment of Slavery as the European powers knew that slave labor system could not continue as it did for so many years. Freedom for the enslaved ancestors was inevitable. There are many accounts of rebellion and resistance towards the oppressive slave system such as the Diamond 26 Run for Freedom and the expressions of the Ponum Dance and Song.
File Photo – The “Ponum Dance” being performed at the “Freedom Fighter Roundabout” during the Emancipation Day 2020 celebrations.