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Prime Minister's Address at Launching of Independence 2000 - January 16 2000

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Remarks by Prime Minister, Hon Dr Kenny D Anthony

On the Official Launching of Saint Lucia's 21st Anniversary of Independence Celebrations

Sunday, January 16, 2000

Soufriere Playing Field  


[General Welcome...]

Sons and daughters of St. Lucia, ti mamay Sent Lisi, the 21st Anniversary of our achievement of Independence will soon be here. Tonight in Soufriere, we begin a year of activities to mark the occasion. From beautiful Soufriere, we are calling to St. Lucians at home and abroad, to begin the celebrations.

An Févwiyé, I kay fè 21 lané dépi nou andépandan. Oswè-a, nou ka koumansé aktivité pou sélébwé anivèsè sa la. Nou ka koumansé an bel Soufwyè, èk nou ka mandé tout Sent Lisien pou sipòté aktivité an komunité-yo.

The passing of one millenium and the arrival of another, has usually been a turbulent period throughout the ages of mankind. Deep in the psyche of humanity, this turning over of centuries seems associated with the survival of our world and its societies. Millennial movements appear, proclaiming either doom or utopia. The effect of these is to create both anxiety and unrealistic hopes. The experience, being both real and symbolic, causes us to contemplate the vulnerability and fragility of our lives.

On the doorstep of the year 2000, our world was thrown into a frenzy concerning Y2K. Despite assurances from reputable organisations, many groups  preferred to encourage panic. On the other hand, there are many who are looking forward to the long anticipated millennial kingdom of peace and prosperity. Most of us would place ourselves somewhere along the continuum between these two extremes.

For us in St. Lucia, the year 2000 bears added significance as we celebrate 21 years of Independence. At this time, both hopes for an ordered and prosperous nation, and apprehension about social decline fill our thoughts. After 21 years of managing our own affairs, we all want Independence to be practically meaningful. All St. Lucians want social and economic improvement. We want our education system to provide relevant training for our citizens. We want effective health care for our families. We want prosperity across all social boundaries.

We also want, as an independent nation, to see a maturing of the national character and personality. Where we have unfortunately replaced respect for others with selfcentredness and discourtesy, we need to come again to a fresh understanding of the great value of common courtesies. Where we have been tempted by the old colonial denials of our own self worth, and turned from the strength of our cultural traditions, we need a fresh rediscovery of the best of ourselves.

After 21 years of national Independence, years of trial and error, years of failures and triumphs, years of seeking the right way for ourselves, it is more than time to set our course with decisiveness and purpose.

You and I thank and praise those who have gone before us for their lifelong commitment to our country and their hard work. These include  political leaders like Sir George Charles and Sir John Compton who stand head and shoulders above everyone else. Yet, let us not forget that 21 years of Independence followed years of struggle by trade union leaders and fledgling political parties against colonialism and imperialism. Let us not forget those school teachers throughout St. Lucia, in towns and villages, who ensured diligently that we,  including our famous  Nobel Laureates, received a good education. We cannot forget our farmers and agricultural labourers. Let us not forget our nurses and doctors. Let us not forget our policemen. And let us not forget those who made the public service a lifelong career. Let us remember our business people who gave life and growth to our economy. Let us give thanks and praises to priests and spiritual leaders who gave us a religious and moral sense. Remember also our newspaper journalists, and later on, our radio and television professionals, among all those others, who also helped to found a modern and Independent St. Lucia. And we give thanks and praises to all those involved for all these years in the arts, culture and entertainment industry of St. Lucia.

And we dare not forget our parents and foreparents, many of them poor grandmothers who raised families of many children. Those strong women taught us manners, ensured we went to school with clean clothes every day, took us to church. Among these simple God-fearing St. Lucians, you and I will find many "Men and women of St. Lucia's twentieth century."

No pa sa oublié tout sé moun sa a ki pòté Sent Lisi koté I yé jòdi-a. Nou ka wemesyé Misyé George Charles ek Misyé John Compton ek tou lézòt chèf politik. Nou ka osi wemèsyé tout moun Sent Lisi ki twavay pou Sent Lisi.

The theme chosen for this year's special anniversary is "Approaching the future with vision." A vision of a better St. Lucia, with equal opportunities for all, with mutual respect guaranteed for nationals and visitors, with a real sense of identity and purpose - has shaped this year's programme of Independence activities. We celebrate this year both the highest achievements of our people, as demonstrated in our Nobel Laureates, as well as the neighborhood and community festivals of our towns and villages.

While the nationwide events will encapsulate the best of our past history and culture, they also speak with optimism to the future. They will reflect our millennial aspirations even as they secure further our past resilience.

The Cabinet of Ministers is pleased to give their assent to the Programme prepared by the National Independence Anniversary Committee. On behalf of the Government of St. Lucia, I extend early Anniversary greetings to all St. Lucians, at home and abroad. A special St. Lucian welcome also goes out to our visitors.

Let us not be afraid of the new millennium. Let us together, in the finest spirit of national unity, approach our future with vision.

Thank you.

Mèsi, tout moun, fwè èk sè.




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