Sixty-one years have passed since we took down the Union Jack and replaced it with the red, white, and black flag.
During that time, we have seen the economy transform from an agricultural base to an energy base economy. Port of Spain and many of our towns and villages has grown from communities of shacks and shops to towns and villages not much less that those of the developed world. Our banks have grown from areas where the privileged few transacted business and worked, to a common place where our citizens of all class and race, work and transact business. The days of very serious distrust among the two major races are gradually being replaced with a sense of national identity and a desire for unity. Toilets have replaced outhouses, outdoor containers of water to wash dishes are replaced with indoor plumbing and in many cases dishwashers. Few today know about bleaching one’s clothes in the sunlight or hanging up clothing on a line to dry.
Washers and dryers have replaced that scenario. So, as we sit and watch live television broadcasts on big screen high-definition television and sip a cold beer, take some time off to say happy birthday Trinidad & Tobago, we have come a long way.
The growth and development of a country, a people, a society, is not something that occurs in a vacuum. It is inspired and, in many cases, influenced by the outer world. Trinidad & Tobago did not invent the cell phone, automatic teller machines, the personal computer and the many other electronic devices that are part of our daily life. For these and most of our food and clothing, we depend on our foreign neighbours. It is therefore incumbent on those we elect to represent us, to manage our country to be competitive and on par with international standards.
While there is much to celebrate, there is a lot to be despondent about. Since independence there are still human beings rummaging through our garbage dumps for items for survival. Despite having accessed billions of dollars this small island is still struggling with poor roads and an unreliable water supply.
Moreover, crime and criminal behaviour has infiltrated every sector of our society. Our murder rate is among the highest in the world. Perhaps it is appropriate at this period of our Independence celebrations to recognize that we are better united. Whether it is our success at sports, culture or in business it has always been the effort of our people coming together that has made our successes possible.
My Independence wish is for a total rejection of any sect, group or entity that seeks to divide us for their personal gain. We are a complex Nation, but we are one people with one flag under one God.
Let us unite as we face the tasks ahead with hope. We will overcome the obstacles that seeks to slow our growth and development. Happy Independence.
God Bless Our Nation.