THE main independence activities are over and appear to have come off quite well. It would seem that year by year, independence stimulates the patriotic juices of our people more and more. The production of various items in our national colours reached new heights this year as many of our people capitalized on the occasion to engage in a little commercialism at a time when things continue to be tough in the country.
Some of the activities were of particular significance. The Prime Minister’s Ball at Sandals Grande turned out to be a grand affair for many reasons, one being that part of the proceeds will go towards the very worthy cause: the running of the Upton Girls Centre. At EC$250 per person, the event was well patronized and the fund-raising raffles generated much excitement as well as additional funds.
The presence of diplomats from some 20 foreign countries stationed here who were formally recognized at the event and presented with gifts was another major coup for the organizers as it gave St Lucians one very rare opportunity to say a collective thanks to our friends who continue to come to our assistance both in good times and bad. It was a major public relations exercise that also went down well with everyone.
The next day, the Best of St Lucia celebrations at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground showcased a different kind of entertainment, as the youth of St Lucia took centre stage. There, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet continued his mission of pitching for equity, justice, human rights and democracy. But the high point of the occasion, we suggest, was the participation in the programme by the Leader of the Opposition.
We cannot recall any other previous occasion when the Leader of the Opposition, or any other opposition member –from either of the main political parties—was given the opportunity of addressing an Independence Day rally. We are not at all surprised by this development because several weeks ago, we made the point that this present Prime Minister appears to have a different outlook on party politics compared with what we have been accustomed to in the past. In fact, Mr. Chastanet continues to speak favourably of the opposition at every public opportunity even complimenting them for encouraging debate on the controversial Desert Star Project although the party claims to oppose the project in its present form.
If there is a genuine desire on the part of the Prime Minister to cultivate a new political culture in the country that embraces the values of respect and regard for the opposition, then it augurs well for the future. Some may want to write off the gesture as unimportant but in the context of our politics, it is a major development that deserves to be acknowledged.
In fact, Mr. Pierre himself appeared to be on the same page as the Prime Minister when he spoke of re-embracing some of our old values like mutual respect, tolerance, equity, openness and fairness. They may not have been aware of it, but both gentlemen, we believe, have provided some of the ingredients that go into making a united, peaceful and progressive nation. We say so because we believe that if the leadership of the country is united, the people will be united. But we look to see where the present initiative takes us.