At the heart of any nation are its people – driven by trials, pain, fears, hopes, dreams and successes. On this most special day, I stand with you not only to celebrate our 50th anniversary of independence but to honour the memories of those who have so diligently and steadfastly paved the way so that we can have a better future.
Today we stand on their shoulders faced with a new challenge to inspire and create a better future for the next generation to come, which is our collective responsibility.
Our nation’s success lies in the hands of its people- the architects of the future and we must embrace new innovations, foster inclusivity and champion sustainable growth.
As we raise our flag on this Independence Day, we use this opportunity to celebrate YOU, our people, our journey and look toward a future of great hope and prosperity.
I highlight our heroes and sheroes, those who work at the forefront of our country and those who labour tirelessly behind the scenes, ensuring that our country moves forward no matter what.
Believe it or not, our heroes and sheroes come from all walks of life. Our police officers, teachers, doctors, nurses, orderlies, farmers, fishermen and women, construction workers, cleaners, drivers, musicians, artists, sportsmen and women and all the workers who have built this nation and shaped our communities.
Our national heroes are none other than you- the people who fought a little more than the others, a little harder, a little more determined than those next to them, carrying the torch a little further so that others can pick up and take it a little further on to a never-ending finish line of nation building.
Flawed as they may be, they were determined in their efforts to make Grenada a better place, a more just place, a more equitable place, a better place for all of us. You the people are who we honour today. They inspire us by their everyday actions to make change and sometimes by their extraordinary actions that inspire us.
Kalinago warriors like Captain Duquesne, Levera, Marquis and Antoine who fought against the invading French, and today inspire us with their determination and sacrifice, leaving a legacy of resistance despite the overwhelming odds stacked against them.
Let us not see Leapers’ Hill as a final act of death or even sacrifice, but one of freedom and determination. They are the beginning of our national myths and founding culture.
Rebels like Julien Fedon and Joachim Philip, who in the face of humiliation and discrimination, decided to defend the “Rights of Man”.
They inspired the Grenada Revolution to succeed for four and a half years, building and inspiring Grenadians for another generation.
From the heights of Fedon’s Camp to the charge of Freedom Hill, we all continue to seek change and equality. Newspapermen and legislators like William Galway Donovan who insisted that it was far better to be a naked freedman than a gilded slave in his fight for representative government in Grenada, and T.A. Marryshow who took up the mantle of Donovan’s charge and would see it through when he got elected to the Legislature to continue the fight begun by the Kalinago, by the maroon, and by those who continued to build and create our nation.
And so – Sir Eric Matthew Gairy, with the baton passed by him, shook the fabric of the society by his social and political revolution of the 1950s and armed with a mandate from the population obtained this nation’s independence 50 years ago, to the date, from British colonial political rule.
In doing so he turned on its head the anemic and limited view that small countries like Grenada were nonviable. After 50 years of independence, we can say emphatically that Sir Eric was right!
We also celebrate the Grenadian women who have led the struggle for not just their own equality but for the nation. Women like Dr Dame Hilda Bynoe, Lady Cynthia Gairy- Sylvester and Gertrude Protain who had to struggle not only for the rights of the nation but their own civil rights in the centuries of discrimination.
Our Independence journey has been one of resilience, progress and great aspirations and in the face of our many challenges we have shown unity and strength, as is so magnificently on display today.
This remarkable journey has been the defining factor shaping the very essence of our nation. Let us continue on that collective journey fueled by vision, determination and unity. A journey to build a better Grenada.
A journey to create better opportunities for our children and grandchildren. A journey to provide better healthcare for all.
A journey to provide better education for all Grenadians.
Having acknowledged and learned from our shortcomings over the last 50 years, we now need to shape the next 50 years.
Let us make it our duty to shape a future where all Grenadians can share in the dreams of our nation.
A future where all Grenadians can enjoy equal opportunities. A future where all Grenadians can be proud of who we are because of where we come from.
For this bright future to be realised, it will require a shared commitment from all of us, recognising that the seeds we plant today will blossom into prosperous fruits tomorrow if we continue to work towards the goals.
But we must plant now! We need to foster an environment where opportunities are accessible to all, regardless of background, gender or socio-economic status.
Let us work towards eliminating disparities ensuring that the benefits of our nation’s progress reach every corner of Grenada. Let us empower marginalised persons and communities so that they too can enrich their lives and communities because we know that social cohesion and unity are the bedrocks of our nation.
We have always cared for each other. We come together in our churches to pray for each other. We celebrate together at Sporting and cultural events – Carnival, Big Drum Dance, Saraka, and Carriacou Regatta, to show pride in our unique cultural heritage.
Today, as we are together to celebrate this Golden Jubilee, we must be stronger, more determined and more united in our desire to make Grenada a better place because we all want what is best for our children and grandchildren, because we all call these three beautiful islands Sweet, Sweet, Petit Martinique, Carricou and Grenada – simply home.
So as we take a moment to reflect on our last 50 years; our trials, tribulations, our disappointments, our pain, our successes, let us remember the lessons of the last 50 years, let us remember that our darkest years were when we were disunited, when we were intolerant and when we were not prepared to share with each other.
Let us ensure that as we go forward into the next 50 years that we go forth united, together, stronger as we aspire, build and advance as one people and ascend up, up, up!
I love you Grenada, I love my people. May God continue to bless this beautiful nation of Petite Martinique, Carriacou and Grenada.
Happy 50th Anniversary of Independence!