INDEPENDENCE DAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2022
Happy Independence Day.
I greet you with love, peace and a renewed sense of purpose and hope for our beautiful nation of St. Kitts and Nevis on the 39th Anniversary of Independence.
When our national flag was raised on September 19th, 1983, so too were the hopes and dreams of our people.
We are a proud people, a hopeful people – led by our forefathers and foremothers from British colonial rule to our own dream of freedom and self-sufficiency.
Each Independence season, it seems only right that we ask: “Are we truly independent? Are our people free?” The debates are robust and lively in our barbershops, village bars and shops and even in our homes among friends and relatives.
While the answers will vary – I believe we can all agree that our Federation has come quite far since that day 39 years ago when we first uttered the words of our anthem: “Thy children stand free on the strength of will and love.”
It is our will and our love of nation that has brought us this far. We are a people who are always stretching for better. We have the power of our ancestors, the many unsung, known and unknown heroes who we celebrated just this past weekend on National Heroes Day.
Our political independence was just the first step. Over the years, we have also built the foundation of our own social, economic, and cultural freedoms. I will confess, we are not totally free yet – as a small island nation, we depend on many partners, internationally and regionally.
But we are on a path of continuous improvement for our people and our country. And as your Fourth Prime Minister of this land – of which I am very proud to be a citizen – I am honoured to lead our country along this path.
Our nation is much closer to true independence than not. As we approach 40 years as an independent nation in 2023, we also set our eyes on transitioning into a republic. We trod on towards that goal. That goal of self-determination and self-actualisation where we truly encapsulate our sovereignty.
That is why each time I get the opportunity to speak to our nation’s young people, I challenge them to be innovative, to be creative and to envision a better St. Kitts and Nevis and use their immense skills to help get us there.
Such was the call to action made by Kittitian and world-renowned photographer, Professor Tau Battice during the 2022 Prime Minister’s Lecture on September 14th. He encouraged all of us to tap into our visual and creative faculties, as we envision where we would like to see St. Kitts and Nevis in the future. Thank you Professor Battice for challenging us to do better and be better.
My goal is to harness the immense power and unbridled talents of all our people to help fuel this rocket ship, we call Liamuiga and Oualie, into the stratosphere of prosperity and excellence.
Your government is now just a month old and we have been working extremely hard to fulfil the pledges and the covenant we have made with you:
- All COVID-19 related health and travel protocols have been removed
- A new, modern MRI has been ordered for the JNF General Hospital
- Our Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College is now free for our students
- Financial assistance has been enhanced for our critically ill children who need overseas medical attention
- Persons wrongfully dismissed for not taking a COVID-19 vaccine have been compensated
- Our COVID-19 frontline workers will soon receive an honorarium for their selfless work during the pandemic
- Economic costs supported have been reinstated for all disciplines being pursued by our students at the University of the West Indies
- Women and youth have been appointed to critical ministerial and ambassadorial positions
- And for the first time in our nation’s history, we have three women in our Federal Cabinet of ministers
Your government is working! And we will continue to work tirelessly on your behalf.
We continue to ask for your support and your patience as we carry out this work. Yes, there will be missteps but I assure you and reassure you that any mistakes made will not be because of ill-intent but rather because of our fervent desire to make our country better.
I must pause here and recognise the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Second who will be laid to rest today in England. Her 70-year reign was marked by resilience and piety and we offer prayers and comfort to her family and all who mourn at this time.
As we commemorate our 39th Independence, we have to give thanks for God’s mercy over the years and more recently as our nation was spared the full brunt of Tropical Storm Fiona. I thank sincerely all the members of our National Emergency Operations Centre and our disaster response teams for keeping us safe and informed.
My fellow citizens and residents, the state of our St. Kitts and Nevis is stable and hopeful. I know this because, throughout every corner of these great islands that I visit, our people are reenergized to work and build our economy … our people stop me and express how excited they are about our future.
This gives me hope that your government is on the right path and I continue to ask you to support us and help keep us on that path.
“Your country can be no greater than yourselves. It is not God that makes the cities and towns. God gives you the land, but you build the cities. Your St. Kitts [and Nevis] will be no greater than your mindset.” These were the words of The Right Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey when he spoke to our people in November 1937 at the Mutual Improvement Society Hall, the remnants of which still stand in Lower Market Street, Basseterre today. Brother Marcus Garvey was right then and his words are quite appropriate even now.
I encourage us all to have that collective mindset to build our country, to mould and empower our youth, to protect and empower our women, to truly live out the philosophy of Country Above Self. Indeed, as our Independence 39 theme states, we must all collectively “refocus, re-create and redesign.” When we do that, when we realize that St. Kitts and Nevis can be no greater than ourselves, then we will be able to answer that question and say “YES, we are independent!”
Thank you and HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY once again. May God continue to bless you all and may God continue to bless our Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.