February 22, 2009
Fellow Saint Lucians, it is truly an honour to communicate to you on this momentous occasion, as we observe our Nation’s thirtieth anniversary of independence.
The occasion is an historic one that gives us; as a people, the opportunity to reflect and determine our destiny in today’s challenging global environment. Hence, the theme: “A Journey to be proud of…A future to look forward to” is most appropriate and appealing.
In our observation, and as we celebrate this milestone – our country’s 30th Anniversary of Independence, let us reflect on our achievements – economical, social, moral, spiritual, and material. Let us hope that there is a blend that we can truly be proud of.
On reflection, as we retrace that journey; though checkered, there is every reason to be proud and to celebrate our past. As we do so, we must recognize those who have made invaluable contributions to our development, changing our social and economic landscape, and those who today continue to contribute in a meaningful way.
There are those of you abroad, who we must be proud of, for your level of patriotism, national pride, commitment to nation building and your consciousness as proud Saint Lucians, even as you pursue your aspirations in your adopted homeland. You, by your own personal achievements and advancement in the World environment, in academia, commerce, culture, entertainment, sports and enterprise, have lifted Saint Lucia’s flag even higher than the great nations of the World.
As a nation, Government recognizes the significance of Saint Lucians living throughout the World. That is why in recent times Government thought it essential to place renewed importance on ensuring that the Diaspora plays an even greater part in the process of national development. To this end, Government has established an Office of Regional Integration and Diaspora Affairs, specifically to support our citizens residing overseas, and who continue to demonstrate an interest in Saint Lucia’s national development agenda.
But as we celebrate our individual and collective achievements as a nation, we must endeavour to explore new opportunities and possibilities that present a platform for further and future advancement. While we may be proud of the past, we cannot be contented with our achievements of the past and must therefore continue to strive with even greater ethos, purpose and energy, as we venture further on our journey.
As a country, since that evening of February 22, 1979, when we hoisted our flag to signal the birth of our nation, we have had many reasons to celebrate, and to be truly proud. To list all of our accomplishments would require a great deal of time, but I am compelled to mention at least a few.
As an independent nation, we have witnessed the rapid expansion of our education system; improvements to our health care services; redevelopment and expansion of our air and sea ports infrastructure; development of our sporting facilities to international standards, and we have experienced the positive impact to our economy by the banana industry during the 1980s and 90s, and now the impact of tourism in an emerging modern, diversified and services oriented economy.
Still, there’s much more to celebrate and to be proud of our people. In 1979, while still in our first year of independence, a son of the soil, Sir William Arthur Lewis, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics -the first person of colour to be so recognized for academic pursuits. However, we were almost beside ourselves with pride and joy when fortune struck us a second time in 1992, with the awarding of the Nobel Prize for Literature to another Saint Lucian in the person of Derek Walcott.
Once again, in 2004, Saint Lucia’s World famous Pitons, under the “Pitons Management Area” formally entered the annals of history when it was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. That achievement endorsed what we always knew as Saint Lucians, that Soufriere is one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Saint Lucia, Our Fair Helen, is now 30 years of age - a youth in the prime of her life. She is full of vision and eager to bring her dreams to reality. She is strong in heart and in ambition, and prepared to work to fulfill her destiny.
As we prepare for that journey to destiny, our country, like others, is forced to navigate uncharted seas; wide and turbulent, and seemingly unfathomable. These are most challenging times in our short history as a nation. We do not know what the conclusion of this journey will be, but we're hopeful that the path that we have pursued and the course ahead will safely take us to a safe haven, where we will have all gained tremendously from our experiences.
Indeed, it is at these very times of doubt that you must invoke the courage and mettle that lie within. It is at this time that you; to paraphrase Kipling, need to keep your head, while all of those around you are losing theirs. You must keep your faith in God, and trust, that you will be able to use the talents that he has given you to navigate your way with confidence through the mist, the fog and the turbulence that punctuate the journey.
As we celebrate our nation’s thirtieth anniversary of independence, I ask you; upon reflection, to look with confidence towards the future and be prepared to play your part in shaping it.
As a Government of our independent nation, we renew that pledge to be an inclusive government for all Saint Lucians no matter where you may be or of what persuasion. We appeal for your collective support for national development, in the true words of the anthem: “Love O love our island home” and heed the call of our fair Helen.
I wish you every success and a happy 30th Independence Anniversary celebration.
May God richly bless you.