Address by Her Excellency Dr. Thelma Phillip-Browne St.Kitts-Nevis Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United States At the St. Kitts and Nevis Embassy’s Celebration of Independence Day 2016, Wednesday September 21, 2016
My task today is to welcome, celebrate and embrace the diasporic community and to perform an introduction to our friends and colleagues gathered here.
On the 19th of September 2016, the smallest nation in the Western Hemisphere celebrated its 33rd Anniversary of Independence, under the theme, “Prosperity and Sustainability through National Unity”
In the words of our Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris, Independence means for us self-determination, the right of our diverse and spiritual peoples to live in freedom, to value justice fairness and equality and to approach our challenges as opportunities for growth and advancement.
I say to the men and women of our Diaspora that you are an integral part of that prosperity. It is by partly by your uniting to form strong diasporic bonds and circles that our sustainability as SIDS is ensured. Moreover transient diplomats like me will come and go but your role as ambassadors for your native land in the land of your adoption, goes on forever.
To our friends and well –wishers gathered here I say let me introduce you to a Queen and a Mother!
On account of being more profitable per capita that all 13 American colonies combined, in the mid-17th century, the island of Nevis was dubbed Queen of the Caribbean. This land where Lord Horatio Nelson found his wife, where Alexander Hamilton was given life, where in 1607 John Smith rested for five days on his way the first successful settlement in Virginia, was earlier termed Oualie “land of beautiful waters by the Kalinago or Carib people who had migrated from the Orinoco basin through Venezuela thousands of years before the European arrival.
The smaller of the 2 islands, Nevis stands at 36 sq. miles by virtue of the fact that it’s very first settlement Jamestown had been sunk by a tidal wave in the 17th century. The Queen still demonstrates its serenity and gentility in the ancestors of world renowned actress Cicely Tyson.
Subject to a more torrid history, dubbed Liamuiga or fertile land by the Kalinago, the Mother Colony of St Kitts, was so styled by virtue of being home to the first French settlement in the Caribbean when the Huguenots alighted and remained in 1538 before being ousted by the Spanish. The island also bears the distinction of the first British settlement, since Sir Thomas Warner, having visited in 1623, returned in 1624 permanently. When a year later he welcomed French settler d’Esnambuc it was the beginning of the battle for supremacy with one notable interregnum in the ongoing dispute, the Europeans pooled forces to defeat the Kalinago on a day when the river ran blood.
Like a true Mother, the colony endured the pangs and the pain the blood and the sweat. Vestiges of such a history are evidenced by the World Heritage site the Fort at Brimstone Hill, Romney Manor a former sugar plantation alledgedly owned by the ancestors of Thomas Jefferson, (2 islands 2 founding fathers). Amidst this climate the Mother Colony nurtured a resilient and fighting spirit seen in the likes of Betto Douglas the ‘one woman revolutionary’ considered to be ancestor of the indomitable Frederick Douglas.
So come visit Queen City, tour the halls of the Hamilton Museum, dip your feet in the hot and healing springs which flow from the majestic Mount Nevis then cross the Narrows and come home to Mother. There in a small churchyard lies a monument to John Newton a former slave trader, whose trail led to the area near a little village, aptly named Newton Ground. After one such trip he had a conversion experience and not only worked to end the very trade he helped to perpetuate but penned the words to the world’s most famous hymn adapted and adopted as a favorite by our first national hero, Sir Robert L Bradshaw, “Through many dangers toils and snares, we have already come. Tis grace hath brought us safe thus far and grace will lead us home.”
Over three centuries of colonialism, 33 years of self-determination!
Lead on Amazing Grace!
Address by Dr. Everson Hull St.Kitts-Nevis Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the OAS At the St. Kitts and Nevis Embassy’s Celebration of Independence Day 2016, Wednesday September 21, 2016
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is a pleasure for me to welcome each and every one of you to the Embassy’s celebration of the 33rd year of our Nation’s political independence.
At the outset, I would like to express my profound thanks to all those, especially the very small staff of our Embassy who went beyond the call of duty to make this event possible.
Over the 33-year interval, we have faced our full share of difficulties. We have been hit hard by severe hurricanes in the same way that my CARICOM colleagues in Dominica and Belize have. Although we are small in size, our dogged determination and will to succeed have helped us to overcome many of the obstacles that have been strewn in our path.
Handicapped by a heavy debt load that saw our debt-to-GDP ratio soar to 186 percent, the third highest in the world; we exerted the requisite discipline; reined ourselves in and learned to live within our means. Today, the most recent report from the ECCB indicates that we are on track to reduce that heavy debt burden to a manageable 60 percent of GDP, by the end of this year.
As a consequence, the substantial reduction in our debt financing costs has freed up resources for meeting basic human needs. Today, the results of our coming together as one are being reflected on several fronts. As the smallest sovereign state in the Americas, our Nation proudly stands tall at, or close to, the head of the regional class in a number of very important performance rankings.
According to IMF data published in April of this year, St. Kitts and Nevis recorded an economic growth rate, last year, of 6.6 percent. It was the second fastest rate of economic growth in the entire OAS region. Only the Dominican Republic, at 7 percent, recorded a faster rate of economic growth.
I note also that (Exclusive of the USA and Canada) St. Kitts and Nevis recorded the third highest level of per capita income in the entire 34-member state OAS region. Only the Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago were higher. Additionally, (Exclusive of the USA and Canada) St. Kitts and Nevis recorded the third highest level of exports, per capita, in the OAS region. Only the Bahamas, and the twin-island state of Trinidad and Tobago were higher.
These remarkable achievements did not occur by happenstance. They are the direct result of good governance policy actions put in place in a newly-united twin island Nation State that is bound together with a common destiny.
Notwithstanding, as we look to the future, we are obliged to readily concede that we have our own share of productivity issues that stand in the way of progress and prevent us from realizing our full productive potential. Our future as a Nation requires all hands on deck, with each individual component part, performing at optimal levels and being the best that each one of us can be.
In this regard, I am most pleased that our Honorable Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris has again re-affirmed his deep commitment to putting in place an incentive based compensation plan that is aimed at enhancing the productivity and efficiency of our labor force. In his Independence Day appeal to the nation and to each one of us to be the best that we can be, our Hon. Prime Minister stated:
“…..Our quality of life is good. Yet, there are areas which require improvement. We must do more in the quest for excellence. Our labour productivity must improve. We must do more in less time and we must improve the quality of our work. HE FURTHER STATED THAT Come next year, my government intends to move apace to implement pay for performance in the public sector and to encourage its application elsewhere. Independence requires of us a higher standard of discipline, …… in order to mould the country we deserve for ourselves and that which we wish to bequeath to the generations to come…..”
As we celebrate this historical milestone and as we look to the future, I would like to encourage my fellow countrymen and women to continue to support our local St. Kitts and Nevis associations. Each one of our organizations is fully dedicated to bridging the gap between those who live and work abroad in a “Land of Plenty” and those loved ones who have remained at home, many of whom are far less privileged than we are. As President John F. Kennedy said in his January 20, 1961 inaugural address, “Ask Not What Your Country can Do for You – Ask what You can Do for Your Country.”
Before I close, I am obliged to seize this opportunity to extend a warm and cordial invitation to each one of you to visit St. Kitts and Nevis. In addition to deep blue pristine seas, refreshing tropical breezes and brilliant sunshine share with us our rich history and reminisce on the deep historical bonds that exist with the U.S.
Please be reminded that in 1607, more than 400 years ago, the earliest settlers who set sail from Bristol England on the way to establishing the first permanent English Colony in North America actually stopped in Nevis, where they watered their ships before continuing on to Jamestown in Virginia. The museum at Jamestown, VA, just outside of Williamsburg memorializes this historic voyage, and the role that Nevis played in the establishment of the very first English Colony in the New World.
On the heels of the very successful record-breaking Toni award Broadway Play, titled “HAMILTON”; we would love to have you visit Nevis, the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton the First Secretary of the U.S. Treasury and one of America’s Great Founding Fathers. Plans are well underway for having his place of birth accredited as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Visit our several award winning resorts that have received global acclaim in Conde Nast magazine. Mount Pelier Plantation Inn in Nevis was a favorite of Princess Di who took her two sons there shortly after her separation from Prince Charles. The Four Seasons Resort in Nevis is a favorite of Oprah Winnfrey. Most recently, the newly-elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Pierre Trudeau stayed at the Paradise Beach villas.
Make a trip to St. Kitts and bask on the beautiful beaches of Cockleshell and Frigate bay. Take a round the island tour on the scenic railway or visit the Brimstone Hill Fortress – itself a UNESCO World Heritage site — and see the spectacular views of the neighboring Dutch islands of St. Eustatius, St. Barths and Saba.
We would love to have you visit with us.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR ATTENTION