Having barely recovered from the ongoing Nobel Laureate Festival, Saint Lucia’s mass event coordinators, headed by the Minister for Local Government and Culture, Fortuna Belrose, successfully launched the calendar of activities and theme for our 39th Independence Anniversary on January 31 at the NTN studios. There were a number of presenters including Chairman of the National Standing Independence Advisory Committee, Donavan Williams who delivered the welcome remarks. He was followed by Jeshrun Andrew who holds the presidency of the National Youth Council, and later by Senator Belrose who delivered the final speech.
Before musing about the theme “I am Saint Lucia”, Williams—also Permanent Secretary in the Department of Local Government and Culture—announced, “This year marks what I think will be a turning point.” He pursued an analogy of Saint Lucia planning an elaborate birthday party but annually the planning committee has to “deliberate on a wish list of events and activities”. He said, “Invariably we become constrained by fiscal logistical considerations to the point where it seems as if we take the safe path and we do the same things year in, year out”.
He was also quick to add, “I say this not to suggest that this year it’s going to be different but I say this because I think we need to begin to move away from that comfort and comfortable process that we have established over the years.”
Williams indicated that Independence Day celebrations this year will be a way to move forward and develop “new, fresh activities and events” for the upcoming milestone 40th anniversary in 2019. However the committee will still focus on executing a favourable calendar of activities for Saint Lucia’s 39th Independence Anniversary.
Most attendees and presenters were smartly dressed in colours of the national flag. One person who did not comply—for reasons or wardrobe malfunctions unknown—was the Master of Ceremony, Tyrone Harris, who redeemed himself when gave those in attendance something to chew on, “You have to ask, what have I done for my country? Reflecting on your own personal achievement, it gives you insight as to what independence should really mean.”
Jeshrun Andrew highlighted the need for youth to participate in activities and continued to emphasize the sentiments of the others who spoke of Saint Lucia understanding the importance of being independent. The soft media launch also featured the first viewing of a promotional video for this year’s independence anniversary.
Nearing the end of the Launch, Senator Belrose described what the theme “I am Saint Lucia” might mean to some. She stated, “It evokes reflection and debate, inspires confidence and pride, it comforts and for me it reassures, it is many things to many people.”
She informed, “We’ve made some amendments in the institutional arrangements for independence.” These include Events St Lucia being fully involved with celebration executions, a “greater focus on planning and implementation” by relevant committees and fully operating for the next year as opposed to the usual planning period of October to February.