The Neg Mawon Emancipation Monument was built to serve as a reminder of the struggles of freed slaves toward the independence of the Dominican Republic and their ultimate liberation in 1838. Neg Mawon, which literally translates into an escaped slave, is depicted as a muscular figure of a shirtless free man who is no longer bound by chains, according to Slavery Monuments.
The sculpture which is made of bronze is situated center of a traffic circle, honoring the memory of freed slaves who broke free from the shackles of slavery and French colonialism. The monument was designed by Franklyn Zamore on August 1, 2013, to celebrate the 175th anniversary of Dominica’s emancipation from slavery.
The maroons stood up against the harsh treatment meted out to them by slave masters and took to the bushes to escape slavery. This was not their only contribution to the struggles for freedom; they also fought and laid down their lives in the World Wars of the 20th century, as reported by the Commonwealth Walkway.
The memorial, according to the Dominican Republic government, is meant to pay glowing tribute to the toils of the enslaved Africans who were persecuted and killed for the state to be free. It is also a marker of history that the freed slaves did not only fight for their present liberation but also took risks aimed at liberating generations unborn.
One of such were those who were sold and summarily killed at the Old Roseau Market as well as those placed in confinement at the Barracoon Building in Roseau before they were placed on slave ships to go and work on plantations.
The memorial also honors the memory of African ancestors and the ingenuity they brought to the development of the foundations of economic growth and agriculture in the Dominican Republic. The Neg Mawon monument is also to acknowledge the cultural influence the enslaved people had on the music, language, food and clothing of present-day Dominica. But, most importantly, it is to remind the people to preserve and uphold the virtues and heritage the enslaved Africans espoused.
Historian Dr. Lennox Honychurch said as much as the monument symbolizes the struggles of the runaway slaves, it immortalizes local chiefs such as Bala, Jacko, Pharcel and Qwashi who challenged the colonial authority and took to the bushes to avoid being placed in chains.
He indicated that the location where the memorial is sited is significant because the Roseau Old Market was where slaves were punished and killed. To erect a memorial there to indicate they are free is very symbolic and gives the souls of those who were brutalized there respite.
The Information Minister, Ambrose George, said the memorial should not only be seen as a historical relic but a tribute to the ancestors who made it possible for them to enjoy the freedoms they have today. He said the memorial institutionalized the values the maroons stood for and their memory will live on long after they are dead and gone.
He added however that the people should take inspiration from the resilience of their ancestors and direct their energies to build a society that reflects maturity. He observed that history would only be rewritten when the people defend what the maroons stood for and walk in with the values they preached.