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.
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
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
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.