Opposition Leader's Independence Message
10:10 pm, Sun August 6, 2023
My fellow Jamaicans, the historic milestone of political independence was won 61 years ago today. Each year on the 6th August we reflect upon the struggles and sacrifices of our forefathers who transformed our nation from colonialism to a state of independence.
Their unwavering belief in the powerful potential of our people, and the tremendous possibilities of controlling our own collective destiny, led our nation into independence, and their inspiration continues to burn bright in our hearts today.
Looking back at the past 61 years, we can take immense pride in the strides we have made as a nation. From the achievements in arts and the cultural expressions that have shaped our national identity, to the advancements in education, healthcare, and infrastructure that have improved the lives of countless Jamaicans, we have truly come a far way.
Having said that, we still have much further to go, as we face serious challenges that we must overcome for Jamaica to achieve the greatness which is our destiny.
Violent crime continues to plague our communities, causing pain and suffering to many Jamaicans. We lose valuable human resources every day that lives are taken by violence.
There are too many Jamaicans struggling to make ends meet, unable to access quality education, health care and basic services.
Our environment, too, is under threat, and we cannot ignore the urgent need to address the unfolding risks of climate change, build resilience and safeguard our environmental assets for future generations that is our responsibility.
To overcome these challenges, we must transcend the narrow, empty confines of partisan politics, and come together in a spirit of unity as Jamaicans, recognizing that we are all stakeholders in our country’s future. Our challenges as a nation can only be overcome if we move forward together, united in purpose and undeterred in our pursuit of a better Jamaica for all.
We must address the social inequalities that persist within our society and undermine social cohesion. By championing inclusivity and fairness, we can bridge the gaps that divide us and build a society where every individual can thrive. Our goal is to ensure that every Jamaican has equal access to opportunities to achieve their goals in life. We must become a caring nation in words and deeds, looking after the vulnerable and marginalized, and moving with determination to provide access to education, health care and other services for persons with disabilities.
Our laws and bureaucratic processes must enable and encourage innovation and entrepreneurship, especially for small and emerging businesses, to drive sustainable economic development. We must invest in diversifying our economy so that we are less vulnerable to external shocks, and build resilience in sectors that are particularly vulnerable to climate change. We must transform education and training to empower our young people to be globally competitive, as our young minds are the future leaders, innovators, and catalysts of change, and we must prepare them to shape the destiny of our nation. We must deepen our absorption of emerging technologies to grow national productivity. We must speed up the transition to renewable sources of energy to reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels.
Jamaica's stunning beauty is part of our national identity, and it is our duty to protect our water sources and other environmental assets for future generations. Embracing sustainable practices and advocating for global action on climate change must become central to our national agenda.
Our rich cultural heritage has built a strong national identity that is recognized across the world. The depth and diversity of our cultural expressions have gifted us self-confidence, strength, and pride as a people, helping to shape us into a nation that embraces differences and cherishes togetherness in the spirit of One Love.
As we review our Constitution, let us be guided by principles of greater accountability and transparency in governance, more participatory systems of decision-making in public affairs, and ensuring the protection of the hard-won rights and freedoms of our people and our democratic way of life. Let us end the final vestiges of colonial rule by at last providing our people with effective access to justice by acceding to the Caribbean Court of Justice as our final court of appeal, even as we establish a Jamaican president as our head of state who enjoys the trust and confidence of the entire society.
In celebrating our independence, I acknowledge the significant contributions of the Jamaican diaspora. Our Jamaican brothers and sisters living abroad play a pivotal role in the development of our beloved homeland, even as they contribute to shaping their host communities overseas. Their unwavering love for Jamaica is evident in their continuous support for philanthropic initiatives, their investment in our economy and the support they provide for their families back home. They have carried our culture, traditions and values across the globe, becoming ambassadors of our nation's spirit and the tremendous capacities of our people. Let us strengthen the bonds with our diaspora and deepen their engagement in national development.
In this moment, as we celebrate our past and look towards the future, let us remember the values and ideals that define us as Jamaicans and propelled us to independence 61 years ago. Our indomitable spirit, our vibrant culture, our care for others who are in need, our sense of decency, our capacity for self-discipline and our embrace personal responsibility - these must be the bedrock upon which we overcome our challenges in a spirit of national unity and build a brighter future together.
May this 61st anniversary be a reminder of the strength, resilience and boundless potential of Jamaica and our people.
Happy Independence Day!
May God bless you all, and may God continue to bless our great nation.
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