French Guiana celebrates Abolition Day as a public holiday every 10 June. It is also sometimes referred to as Emancipation Day. This holiday only began to be observed in 2012, though of course the historical event goes back to the abolition of slavery in the colony in 1848.
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The French had colonised what is now French Guiana in the late 1700’s, then lost it to Portugal in 1809, and regained it in 1814. Soon, black African slaves were imported to the colony to work the sugar and spice plantations.
On 27 April, 1848, the French government abolished slavery in France and all its overseas possessions. This was great news for the enslaved people of French Guiana. However, that news didn’t reach them until 10 June of the same year. Thus, 10 June was chosen as the date of this holiday rather than 27 April.
The abolition of slavery greatly impacted life in French Guiana, and the descendants of freed slaves can definitely be thankful for this day. But Abolition Day can also function to point out the value of freedom to all residents of French Guiana and to encourage people to take constructive actions to abolish other social abuses or to work for social change.
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