My Fellow citizens and residents at home and abroad,
Today 19th September, 2023 is a watershed moment in our nation’s history. Forty years ago we embarked upon a journey of political independence, nationhood and self-determination. This journey was forged in the fire of hope and resolve, with boundless faith in our ability to determine our destiny. Our journey took us from slavery to emancipation, from colonialism to self rule and from self rule to universal adult suffrage. Today we celebrate the 40th anniversary of our political independence.
Across the nation today, our colours are being proudly displayed in an outpouring of nationalism and patriotic pride. Our offices and buildings are bedecked with flags and other national symbols. Today, more than ever, we know and cherish what it means to be a citizen of St. Kitts and Nevis.
On this day, we are celebrating our nation’s birthday and we are standing on the shoulders of giants who came before us – those men and women who continue to inspire and fortify us. I speak of our forefathers and national heroes who had the vision of a new nation under God with a self reliant and ambitious people, free and living in harmony. Today we recognise and pay homage to these who, through their faith in the capacity of our people, inspired the birth and growth of our nation.
Over the past forty years, our country has made monumental progress and we continue to make great strides as a young developing nation.
· We are a stable democracy with a growing economy
· We have expanded our health care and education delivery
· We have made significant infrastructural improvements in our roads, telecommunications, air and sea ports, sporting facilities, leisure facilities and our utilities
· We have increased our social safety net programs to assist the poor, the differently abled and the elderly.
· We respect the rule of law
In areas of sport, culture, labour, literature and every conceivable human endeavour, we have produced great men and women who have excelled.
My brothers and sisters we have accomplished much over the 40 years and we have much to celebrate and of which to be proud. Clearly, our courage, commitment and dedication to our country have contributed to making us the great nation that we are today. I am of the firm view, however, that we are now poised to embark upon an even more promising era in our history. We are a nation not built on sand, but on solid rock laid by citizens who preceded us and citizens today who continue to inspire and fortify us.
As we celebrate our 40th Anniversary, there is a new sense of optimism about the affairs and the direction of our island and our country. Our economy is recovering, post-pandemic, and our people have a new found confidence about our future. Our employment numbers are burgeoning, the small business sector is growing, the hotels are reporting unprecedented numbers, progress is being made in achieving our ambitions of food sovereignty and energy sustainability, and government revenues have increased. Official statistics from Social Security show that not only are the number of jobs increasing but wages and earnings are also increasing. It means that more people are working on Nevis and they are earning more for their work. With the recent opening of two new call centres, several restaurants, the growth of our international financial services sector and the dramatic increase in the construction industry, there is no question that investor confidence in our island is at an all time high.
Though we have made great progress over the past 40 years, our island and Nation has not been without significant challenges. But it is a well known truism that tough times don’t last but tough people do. I have marvelled that each and every time there has been a challenge whether devastating hurricanes, global and domestic economic difficulties, crime, or the recent global Covid-19 pandemic, our people have risen and overcome. Never once did we allow the spirit of fear and defeat to engulf us. I have always had an abiding faith in the strength, resilience and tenacity of our people and our capacity to face and overcome even the most insurmountable challenges. We are Nevisian. We are Kittitian. We are strong. Yes we are sometimes knocked down but we have never and will never be knocked out. Whenever we have been confronted with challenges, we have neither withered nor surrendered. We have over this past 40 years demonstrated to the world that we are children of victory and masters of our destiny.
As we begin the next stage of our journey, let us continue to embrace the values that have brought us this far – values such as hard work, integrity, a commitment to excellence, unity, mutual respect, shared responsibility and love for our fellowmen.
Let us acknowledge our young people as the new directors of our future. It is our duty to bequeath to them a much better Nevis and a much better Nation than we inherited.
Let us create the St. Kitts and Nevis that we desire and deserve. Let us therefore embrace the spirit of compassion, the spirit of commitment, the spirit of caring, the spirit of love – that spirit that was characteristic of us when we began our journey 40 years ago.
Fellow Citizens, the 40th anniversary of our independence is our coming of age celebration. It is therefore time for us to recommit ourselves to the service of our country and become living examples of our national motto, “Country above Self.”
It is a time for us to redouble our efforts to forge a better and brighter future – one where everyone is valued and respected.
It is a time to put all animosity and rancour aside and to be peaceable with all men.
It is a time for us to be courageous and confident, and to work together as individuals, communities, the public and private sectors and civil society to fulfil our collective ambition as one people. We must continue to build our sense of patriotism and nationhood if we are to realise our aspiration of one nation.
As Premier of Nevis and Leader of His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition in the National Parliament, I vow to you today that I and my team shall remain resolute in keeping aloft the high standards set by our founding fathers. We shall neither retreat nor surrender in our quest to make St. Kitts and Nevis the best small island State to live and work in the entire world. Our 40th anniversary of independence is a time for us to look back but more importantly it is a time for us to look forward. The future of our island and our country is within our collective hands. Let us therefore put rancour and divisions aside; let us put our collective shoulders to the wheel and let us consecrate that glorious future together.
Happy 40th Anniversary
Happy Birthday to the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis
May God bless and protect you and your families and may His face shine perpetually on our beloved St. Kitts and Nevis.