Slavery, abolished in 1834, was followed by a 4-year apprenticeship period where free men continued to work a 45-hour week without pay in exchange for living in the tiny huts provided by the plantation owners.
Full freedom from slavery was celebrated in 1838 at the end of the apprentice period with over 70,000 Barbadians of African descent taking to the streets to celebrate. Today, Emancipation Day is celebrated as a national holiday on August 1st.
Many Barbadians refer to the statue as Bussa, the name of a slave who helped inspire a revolt against slavery in Barbados in 1816. Bussa was born a free man in west Africa but was captured and transported to Barbados to work as a slave. He is one of Barbados’ National Heroes
The Freedom Fighter
Although not much is known about the man, Bussa was born a free man in West Africa.
There is no biographical information available about Bussa; his actual birth name remains a mystery, as does the majority of his life.
What is known is that African slave merchants captured him in the late 18th century, sold to the British, then transported as a slave to Barbados.
What is also known is that Bussa had the strength of character and a passion for enforcing change. It is this courage and sheer determination that is recorded in the history books.
The man Barbadians fondly remember as ‘Bussa’ played an integral role in changing the social and political climate of the island forever.
Note: Existing records do show there was a slave called ‘Bussa’ who worked on a plantation in St. Philip around the time of his rebellion.
Bussa’s Rebellion, as it is known, was the first of three large-scale slave rebellions in the British West Indies in the years leading up to emancipation. It was followed by the massive revolution in 1823 in Demerara (now part of Guyana), and by an even more enormous rebellion in 1831 – 1832 in Jamaica.