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Government of Saint Lucia

 Emancipation Day - August 1, 2003

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Address to the Nation
Hon. Menissa Rambally
Minister for Social Transformation and Culture

On Emancipation Day

August 1, 2003

My fellow Saint Lucians, this year, the celebration of our Emancipation assumes special significance, as it is occurring at a time of increasing social and racial intolerance. Every incident of turmoil or threat to world peace reminds us of the ravages of racism and discrimination which we have experienced in the Caribbean. These ugly developments and our historical experiences as a people must serve to heighten our determination to ensure that the horrors of the past are never repeated.

Our challenge is to avoid being burdened by the bitterness over past injustices. Instead, the resilience of our ancestors must serve as inspiration to propel our advancement as a people.

We must resolve to learn from the failures of the past. Our Caribbean society stands out as a region of tolerance, openness and acceptance of all races, cultures, religions and people. Our diversity is our main asset. Therefore, we must all strive to be a tolerant and understanding civilization in honour of the sacrifices of our fore parents.

Social Transformation
In this regard, it is with a sense of pride that the Ministry of Social Transformation is now well poised to facilitate the betterment of every St. Lucian citizen and of every community.

Through the implementation of Social Transformation Programes we have insisted that our efforts must be towards improving the consciousness and sense of complete progress of the populace. In this way, we can ensure that we obtain the real benefits of our freedom which was won for us by the struggles of our forefathers.


It is indeed fitting that the Cultural Development Foundation has extended this year’s observance of Emancipation to a full month. The inclusion of St. Lucia’s offerings for Carifesta, and the staging of the world-renowned South African play Sarafina, add new meaning and scope to the celebration.

The events have again been decentralized with theatrical and educational activities taking place throughout the island. I wish to encourage all St. Lucians to support the various programmes as they reflect our journey towards total liberation.

Last year in my Emancipation Day message, I committed to the establishment of a National Heroes Memorial. I am pleased to confirm that a National Heroes Committee has been appointed to work towards building a National Heroes Park. Its first order of business will be to spearhead efforts at finalizing the commissioning of a sculptor to build the monument, which will stand as a memorial to our heroes including the leaders of the slave rebellions.

During a recent official visit to Senegal, I visited the historic Goree Island, which served as a major point of incarceration and shipment for thousands of slaves being transported, in the most inhumane circumstances, to the plantations of the Caribbean.

It was a very moving and emotional experience. After talks with the Mayor of Goree Island and officials from the Ministry of Culture in Senegal, it is proposed that St. Lucia will present a plaque to the people of Goree Island as a symbol of solidarity with the people of Africa and of our mutual resolve never to have such atrocities repeated. The plaque will be permanently displayed on Goree Island, making St. Lucia one of four countries to be so represented.

It is a small gesture, but rich in symbolism. It is through such awareness of our roots, our origins and our willingness to forge our destiny that we will be able to speak of true physical and mental emancipation.

I wish all St. Lucians a reflective Emancipation Day and let our commitment to the great emancipation journey extend beyond this August first. Once again, I call on every Saint Lucian to use our Emancipation Celebration to recommit ourselves to the ideals of tolerance and openness on which much of our strength as a people has been built.

I thank you.


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