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Speech

My fellow Jamaicans,
I greet you with love on this the 58th anniversary of our independence.

Our celebrations are affected this year by Covid-19 which is causing severe hardships and pain for our people.

Our heartfelt condolences to the families who have lost loved ones and to those who are ill, we wish you a speedy recovery.

On behalf of all Jamaicans, I thank our frontline workers particularly those in the health, security, and transport sectors. Your sacrifice and efforts continue to save lives.

We must remain vigilant in the days ahead, as this pandemic is not over. As we reopen our economy, we must do everything to protect the health of our people.

Despite the enormous challenges, we have so many achievements for which we can be thankful and proud.

For nearly six decades:
• We have maintained the basic structures of our democracy.
• The right to vote and the right to form political parties has been preserved.
• Our right to free speech, our trade union movement, and our freedom to organize as citizens whether in citizens associations or human rights groups, or as defenders of the environment are mainstays of independent Jamaica.

Unlike many other countries, we have had regular changes of government through elections, with the ballot and not the bullet.

This Independence Day is the final before we face another General Election and we are confident that Jamaicans will behave consistent with our highest democratic traditions.

Beyond those achievements, we must also recognize the tremendous impact made by our people on the global community.

Reggae music has influenced every continent of the world. Millie Small, Bob Marley, Marcia Griffiths, Jimmy Cliff, Shaggy, Sean Paul, Chronixx, and Koffee are among the many who have made a lasting impact.

Just recently, Dancehall Icons, Beenie Man and Bounty Killer made waves with an on-line performance watched by nearly half a million people.

That is the power of our culture!

Our athletes have established themselves as the best in the world.

Our culture, our language, our food, our way of life, has caught the imagination of the world.

As Buju Banton tells us in his winning festival song –
“No matter where in this world I go I am a Jamaican. Beautiful smile, Godfearing people, known across the world.”

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