The importance of true Independence

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The importance of true Independence

The importance of true Independence

As we reflect today on the bold step our forefathers took 54 years ago to govern our own affairs, we should, amid the celebration, take time to think about the importance of that decision.

We should never forget that sovereignty gave us not only a greater degree of control over our own destiny, it gave us confidence, pride and identity as a people and provided the conditions for enhanced respect from the international community, a forum in which Jamaica, without doubt, has excelled over many years.

That respect, we believe, began germinating in 1957 when Jamaica, while still a British colony, stood at the forefront of the global campaign against apartheid in South Africa and, indeed, was the first country to declare a trade embargo against that racist regime.

As we have stated in this space before, that willingness to stand for what is right and principled and to turn our face against injustice, has defined us as a nation in the eyes of the international community. It is a reputation for which all Jamaicans should be proud and one we should never betray.

The pivotal role played by Jamaica, through its then Foreign Minister Mr P J Patterson, in forging the agreement that led to the original Lomé Convention in 1975, is another reason for pride, as is the fact that over the years 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 and, most commendably, women’s issues.

There’s no denying the fact that we have made significant progress as a nation since Independence, most notably in the preservation of democracy which, we hold, is vital to the political stability that is essential for investor confidence and public respect for law and order.

Yes, the country continues to struggle under the weight of social and economic challenges, many of which were spawned by reckless management of our affairs by successive governments. However, it is not within the Jamaican DNA to roll over and die. We are a resilient people who have shown our mettle time and again, even in the face of the greatest adversities.

As such, we face each day with the expectation that Jamaica will overcome its problems and place great hope in the successes of our people in myriad areas, such as education, business, technology, science, tourism, volunteerism, philanthropy, social services, the performing arts, music, and sport, to name a few.

And so, as we “get together and feel alright” today, let us also send our best wishes to our ambassadors at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They, by dint of hard work, dedication and commitment to their country, are seeking not only personal glory, but further international recognition and respect for Jamaica.

Indeed, our athletes are in a good position to deliver a fitting 54th birthday present to Jamaica by outperforming their rivals at the Games. At the same time, we hope that the Government has successfully laid the foundation for economic growth which, if they can get into double digits, would set us on the path to true independence.

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