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Prime Minister Address at 20th Independence Anniversary - February 22, 1999

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Brothers and sisters,

This year we celebrate our twentieth anniversary of attaining independence. I have, repeatedly, on behalf of the Government called upon all Saint Lucians to focus more on the state of our country and to muster our energies to build a more secure future for all ourselves, our children and future generations. After nineteen months, I can reflect with much satisfaction on the changing face of our national pride and civic responsibility. It has not been easy but it is a journey that we have started, and there is no turning back. It is vital that we succeed in improving the personality of St. Lucia.

As always, anniversaries are opportune times for contemplation. As we prepared to celebrate, I thought of the successes in improving the appearance of our communities and our country through the beautification programmes. We must always take pride in the surroundings in which we live. I thought of the successes of the COMFORT 2000 programme and I am delighted at how we can mobilise communities to contribute to improving the quality of life of their communities. It is the start of a new practice and will only get better. I noted the tremendous increase in activities to commemorate our independence, and I am inspired to build on the impetus that you have provided.

However, for all our physical improvements life will have little meaning if we cannot improve the quality of thinking of our people. Personality is not only about appearance, it is also about conscience, character and convictions.

Our nation is our family

This is why we have deliberately chosen as the theme for our anniversary, "Independence 20: Purposeful, Confident and United." It embodies a vision, a strong hope and a resolve. We need, and must embrace, a sense of national purpose in our lives as St. Lucians. Too often while we pursue individual goals towards personal fulfilment, we ignore at our peril, our irrevocable responsibility to the nation of which we are citizens. This nation is a family in which everyone is important, we all have a special role to play. The well-being of this national family, as with individual families, is dependent on every member. It is for this reason, that I encourage every Saint Lucian to reflect on the components of the theme of our celebration purpose, confidence and pride.

Sense of purpose

We must nurture a sense of national purpose. While our Constitution guarantees every St. Lucian full claim on their civic rights, it is expected that everyone will strive to fulfil their various responsibilities. Rights have no meaning if there is no shared responsibility. We all ought to think often of the kind of St. Lucia we want. We ought to join with others in our communities, to create a society in which respect, kindness, moral standards, accountability, and other such virtues are highly valued. Self-centredness that cares nothing for others, and an obsessive materialism that crushes spiritual sensibilities, will shape a criminal, lawless and unkind society. Our shared purpose must be one that will lead to a strong nation, marked by admirable qualities.

The essence of Confidence

From the granting of adult suffrage through the achievement of Independence on to the end of this closing century, St. Lucia has made significant progress. We can be confident that our people have proven their creative abilities, their resourcefulness, and their resilience. We must encourage each other to raise our personal and public standards of excellence. We must challenge each other to work more diligently, to be more concerned with quality in whatever we are doing. Independence means that we are responsible for ourselves. We are our main resources. Our country will prosper or fail according to the efforts we make. Confidence, courage and the determination to do well, will ensure lasting success. Let us welcome the new century with the confidence of a people accustomed to challenges and inspired with a sense of purpose to survive and strive for excellence.

Strength in unity

As a nation our strength must lie in our unity. We must understand that after the routine of choosing our leaders there is the eternal task of confronting the challenges of improving the lives of all. Our maturity is demonstrated when we can forge out of our political diversity a common sense of purpose. Political divisiveness ought not to be the accepted practice. We must develop our political practices and modernize our political institutions to be more tolerant of competing views and opinions. Let us challenge ourselves and peers to utilize the opportunities for greater discourse and debate on national issues with the utmost sensitivity and responsibility. Life must not be about confrontation and confusion, for no-one benefits. Instead, let us build a culture that understands dialogue, mutual respect and consensus.


United as St. Lucians, joined in purpose, strong in confidence, we can enter the new century as mature citizens of our world. Worthwhile achievements and an enduring legacy will only be earned through the uniting of minds, hearts and hands of this St. Lucian family.

Dr. the Hon. Kenny D. Anthony

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