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Our faith will see us through – Happy 38th anniversary of Independence SVG!

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Tomorrow, October 27, 2017, St Vincent and the Grenadines will celebrate its 38th year of Independence.

The majority of Vincentians alive today were born after 1979 and did not witness that moment when our national flag was raised for the first time. Understanding the demographic changes in our population since 1979 and what this means for the character of our nation are critical as we reflect on the meaning of Independence, what we have achieved, and what still needs to be done.

The first thing we are called upon to do is to pay homage to our forefathers, who had the confidence that as a people who had been enslaved, a people who had lived for nearly 200 years under British colonial rule, we possessed the intellectual, moral, and God-given capacity to rule our lives independent of colonial oversight.

Today, this might appear easier than it actually was. Colonial rule did not prepare Vincentians for Independence. The colonial state was fundamentally a predator state whose only interest rested in extracting wealth from its colonial possessions. The mechanisms of governance, the education system, the economic infrastructure, these had a single mission: facilitating the colonial mission. Once that mission became untenable, the colonizers left and the burden of constructing a new society fell squarely in the laps of the formerly colonized.

The task facing the generation of 1979 was the creation of a state that was responsive to the concerns and needs of the Vincentian people, rather than the ambitions of the colonial state. All Vincentian leaders, from Prime Ministers Milton Cato, James Mitchell, Arnhim Eustace, to our current Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, have been consumed with the challenge of fostering the economic, social, intellectual, and moral development of our nation.

Certainly they have not all approached it in the same manner, neither have they all achieved the same results. But that fundamental proposition that the creative energies of the Vincentian state must align with the deepest and most cherished desires of our people, this is a principle of governance that is now a cornerstone of Vincentian life.

Our 38th birthday, however, is a powerful reminder that a new generation will have to take over the challenge of leading our ship of state. Indeed, as our demographics indicate, that new generation is already here. The choices they must make to advance economic development, guarantee national security, pursue social justice, these must rest on the foundations laid by the generation who brought us national autonomy.

And some of the fruits of their labour we can already see. The outstanding performances of many of our students in Caribbean wide exams is cause for hope. The brilliance of young professionals such as Dr Jason Haynes is particularly noteworthy. The promised land that Independence promised will not be seen by the generation that brought us to Independence. Moses could see the Promised Land, but it was Joshua who would finish the journey. But without Moses, no one would have arrived in the Promised Land.

We are a people of faith. The faith of our foreparents convinces us that “What e’re the future brings, our faith will see us through.”

At our 38th birthday, we place that faith in our young. And they have shown us enough to affirm the conviction of our foreparents that Vincentians have the right, the capacity, and the endurance, to overcome all the challenges we would face.

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