The Government of Saint Lucia is planning to go ahead with its 42nd Independence Anniversary celebrations despite the hardships the country is going through as a result of COVID-19.
During a house sitting, on Tuesday, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet hinted that an exciting array of events have been planned to commemorate Independence, disclosing also that a list of activities has been drawn up and will be publicized, shortly.
The program of activities will feature a ‘special focus’ on the country’s artists and musicians, who according to PM Chastanet, have been deprived of a means to earn their livelihood due to the pandemic.
The Independence Planning Committee is preparing the agenda for the celebrations under the theme: A Resilient Nation: We can and we Will.
“Every Independence is an important milestone for this country,” declared Chastanet.
He added, “Probably, this one is one of the more significant ones that we’ve had in a very long time. The 42nd Independence Anniversary …proffers us the opportunity to rethink the importance of our nation, to appreciate how far we have come, but more importantly …how far we still have to go.”
Describing the COVID-19 pandemic as “an unexpected force of nature” that no one anticipated, the prime minister noted that globally “we are grappling with the fall out and the containment of COVID.”
He said government had to think “long and hard about hosting Independence this year,” and soon as the decision was made to then decide what sort of format the celebrations would entail.
“So, on February, 22 we will be celebrating our 42nd Independence Anniversary,” PM Chastanet continued. “It is a celebration that will be tailored to reflect the times (that) we’re in.”
He said COVID-19 has definitely changed the way things are done and “Independence is no difference.”
However, the prime minister contended: “We will not let COVID-19 define us.”
Chastanet added, “We must do all we can to overcome as we have done in the past.”
He listed a series of activities planned, to include; Praise and Worship programs, a ‘Mask Unchallenged’ as this is important “to get our people to adhere to the protocol and understand the protection that masks provide.”
Also on the agenda, will be a series of panel discussions geared to examine critical issues, such as, adaptability and sustainability and sustainable economic empowerment.
The latter component will take the form of an open forum “for businesses to discuss how they are staying afloat during these difficult times.
However, PM Chastanet stated that despite the crisis it was not all gloom: “In celebrating St Lucia, we recognize businesses that have contributed to the financial success of this country over the last 42 years.”
Focusing on the younger generation, he asserted, “Our young people are the heartbeat of the nation …and we will celebrate their talents and their contributions.”
Chastanet informed that there would be a feature on the nation’s ‘Sports Heroes’ and Youth Parliament. He also noted that “our musicians and artistes keep us upbeat, especially in these times” and so, “We’ve planned a Legacy Concert showcasing the best of our calypsonians and an ‘Independence Song’ competition on the Prime Minister’s playlist 42.”
He said that in addition to the musicians, singers, and sound engineers that have signed up for the celebrations, 200 new artists have also registered to participate.
Chastanet asserted, “A big component in wanting to do our Independence is to be able to showcase our musicians and our artisans …who have been robbed over the last year of their livelihood.”
The prime minister stated that a number of ‘virtual presentations’ have been incorporated into the program of activities, in an effort to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
He said the authorities have requested for respective communities to participate in the celebrations and they are being given the opportunity to present videos “showing how they are resilient, and distinguishing them across the public service.”