Happy Independence Day, Jamaica

Happy Independence Day, Jamaica

Thursday, August 06, 2020

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Fifty-eight years ago, on August 6, Jamaica stepped forward as a sovereign country, brimming with pride and hope for a bright future.

Jamaicans, moved by the sight of the lowering of the Union Jack and the hoisting of our own national flag, celebrated the historic moment — the dawn of a new nation that, even before Independence, had started punching above its weight in world affairs. We speak here of Jamaica's principled stand against apartheid in South Africa, being the first country to declare a trade embargo against the racist regime there.

It never mattered to us that we were still a colony of Britain, which, at the time, supported the South African Government. What was important for us was to turn our face against a great injustice. It is a reputation for which all Jamaicans should always be proud, especially because it defined us as a nation in the eyes of the international community.

Since then, Jamaica has played an outstanding role as a member of the United Nations, directing international focus to important issues such as human rights, decolonisation, economic co-operation, the rights of women and children, world trade, as well as climate change, to name but a few.

We have also stamped our name across the globe in areas such as culture, sport, academics, science, food, and tourism, as sovereignty gave us not only a much greater degree of control over our own destiny but also confidence, pride, and identity as a people.

We acknowledge that the past 58 years have presented us with serious economic and social challenges, some of which were created by us. As such, we should not be afraid to review the past and use that reflection to ensure that we learn from our mistakes.

The task of this generation, we suggest, is to get our beloved country to the point where we no longer depend on the charity of other nations, and that we staunch the country's haemorrhaging of our talented educated young professionals.

But, even as we set about achieving those goals and others outlined in Vision 2030, we must not discount the fact that this country — small in geographic size, but huge in world influence — has made significant forward strides since August 1962. As such, it is fitting that today we not only celebrate that decision to govern our own affairs, but recognise its importance.

We should bear in mind, and recommit ourselves to the ideals of justice, brotherhood, and peace so eloquently stated in our national pledge in which we also vow to help Jamaica “play her part in advancing the welfare of the whole human race”.

Additionally, we must accept that this country is our home and it is our duty — all of us — to protect and nurture it.

So, today, despite the problems that still give us cause for concern, we proudly salute Jamaica. We are convinced that the future can be better because our people have the capacity to ensure that collectively we achieve the greatness which can be our destiny.

Happy Independence Day, Jamaica.

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