My fellow Jamaicans, it is a great joy as our Nation comes together to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of our political independence from colonial rule.
As we observe this diamond jubilee along our journey as a nation and a people, I wish a Happy Independence Day to all Jamaicans, at home and abroad.
It is a time to celebrate the achievements of Jamaica in a plethora of human endeavours – in academia, music, the arts, education, commerce, cuisine, science and, of course, our sporting glory.
This is an appropriate occasion to specifically mention our sporting prowess. Our consistently high performance in World Track and Field, most recently at the World Athletic Championships in Eugene, Oregon, has the world in awe. Our Reggae Girlz have again qualified for the World Cup. There is no doubt that the 22nd Commonwealth Games now in progress in Birmingham, England will see our black, green and gold flag, and hear our national anthem, rippling and echoing across the stadium.
Over the sixty years, the Jamaican people have our mark in global affairs, and built our reputation of being little but ‘tallawah’. We have much for which we must be thankful and, as Koffee wisely said in an epic song, “gratitude is a must.”
In international diplomacy and politics, Jamaica has impressed others most when we stood up for principle, even at times when some would prefer we do otherwise. Jamaica’s name should always be associated with consistent adherence to the principles of non-alignment, non-interference, self-determination, the rule of international law and the pursuit of equity and justice among nations. These principles are the foundations of our nation’s democracy. They were bequeathed to us by our Heroes and Heroine who remain an inspiration to our people. We should never abandon them for perceived short-term gain.