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EMANCIPATION

And what you should know

By By Nicole S Farrell

On August 1 we celebrate yet another year of freedom in the purest sense that we can imagine, I would suppose.

It will be Emancipation Day in Trinidad and Tobago and this day is also celebrated in many former British colonies in the Caribbean and areas of the United States on various dates. The genesis of course is the observance of the emancipation of African slaves.

According to my research, the Emancipation Bill was presented in Parliament by Thomas Buxton in 1833 and the Act came into effect on August 1, 1834. Total freedom did not come immediately, as ex-slaves were to be apprenticed to their former masters for a minimum of four (4) years. Thus a period of 'apprenticeship' was put in place to bridge the gap between slavery and complete freedom.

Fast forward to August 1, 1985, when Trinidad and Tobago became the first country in the world to declare a national holiday to commemorate the abolition of slavery.

We may know some things about Africa and I decided to enlighten not only myself but you, the readers, about this land that contributes to our heritage.

Below are some of these facts:

Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most-populous continent. With 1.0 billion people as of 2009, it accounts for about 14.72 per cent of the world's human population.

Slavery had long been practised in Africa. Between the 7th and 20th centuries, the Arab slave trade took 18 million slaves from Africa and between the 15th and the 19th centuries, the Atlantic slave trade took an estimated 7 to 12 million slaves to the New World.

There are 54 countries and over 1,500 different languages in Africa.

South Africa alone has 11 official languages with a population of over 45 million.

Nigeria is the most populated country with over 145 million people

Egypt is the most popular tourist destination in Africa, attracting around 10 million visitors annually.

There are fewer people with Internet access in all of Africa than in New York City alone.

South Africa is five times the size of Japan and three times the size of Texas or the size of Spain and France together.

More people are killed in Africa by crocodiles than by lions.

South Africa is rated in the top five in the world in supplying safe, drinkable tap water and is the second largest exporter of fruit in the world.

South Africa is ranked first in the world for its floral kingdom and its blue sky is the second brightest in the world!

Africa is the birthplace of the human species, which developed there about 5 million years ago.

South Africa is the world's top ranked producer of gold commanding more than 80 per cent of the world's platinum reserves.

The highest quality cars in Europe are made in South Africa. BMW's Rosslyn plant was awarded the highly prestigious European Gold Plant Quality Award ranking it first among European plants in terms of quality.

Two Nobel Peace Prize winners, Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, were housed on the same street.

Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is the highest point in Africa. It tops out at 19,340 feet above sea level.

Unfortunately, the top 10 poorest countries in the world are all in Africa.

Mogadishu, Somalia's capital and largest city, is the fourth most dangerous city in the world. Johannesburg, South Africa is tenth.

The Nile is the longest river in the world (6,670 km or 4,160 miles). It flows through ten countries: Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Egypt.

Twenty people from Africa have been awarded a Nobel Prize. They come from Algeria (2), Egypt (4), Ghana (1), Kenya (1), Liberia (2), Nigeria (1), South Africa (9).

African elephants are the largest living land animals. They can weigh up to six to seven tonnes and drink over 160 litres of water a day.

The world's largest frog, the Goliath frog, can be found in Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. It is over one foot long!

Four of the five fastest land animals live in Africa. The cheetah is the fastest and can run at 60 mph.

The Sahara Desert is expanding in the south at a rate of about half a mile a month.

The Fish River Canyon in Namibia is the second largest canyon in the world.

There are about 2,300 bird species in Africa.

3,000 children die from Malaria every day, mostly in sub Saharan Africa.

There are parts of the United States that celebrate the Emancipation holiday.

For instance, in Texas, Emancipation Day is celebrated on June 19. It commemorates the announcement in Texas of the abolition of slavery made on that day in 1865. It is commonly known as Juneteenth.

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico celebrates Emancipation Day, an official holiday, on March 22.

The United States Virgin Islands celebrates Emancipation Day, an official holiday, on July 3. It commemorates the abolition of slavery by Danish Governor Peter von Scholten on July 3, 1848.

Happy Emancipation Day, in advance, to all and as they say in Swahili, Mungu akubariki (pronounced 'Moongoo akoobareekee'). That means 'God bless you'! Note: Mungu (God/Jah); akubariki (bless you)

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