My fellow Barbadians,
In 1966, Barbados became the smallest country, up to that stage, to attain Independence from Great Britain.
Many were skeptical as to whether a country that was so small and which possessed such a fragile and limited resource base could successfully meet all of the demands of nationhood.
Our Barbados has however consistently and successfully confounded the skeptics over the years.
We have gained international renown and respect for the manner in which we have managed our affairs, and for our success in building a stable, a relatively prosperous and a just society in the face of overwhelming challenges.
Today we celebrate the 46th year of nationhood with our country undeniably facing its most severe crisis since Independence.
Our economy is becoming smaller, and is showing itself to be less capable than in the past of meeting the material needs of our people.
The level of poverty is rising. So too is the level of unemployment. Rising prices continue to bear adversely upon the well-being of our people, and especially the poorest and the most vulnerable among us.
As a society, we are saving less and investing less and hence not preparing adequately for the future.
Enterprises, both large and small are failing.
The policies which are intended to rescue Barbados from this crisis appear not to be working.
There is also a new and very worrying sense of drift and indecisiveness in the management of our national affairs.
In consequence, among all sections of the Barbadian society there is a legitimate concern about the state of affairs of our nation, and a growing sense that our future may turn out not to be as bright as our past.
It is therefore important at this critical moment in our development as a society that we should tap that great national stock of resilience, resourcefulness and creativity that has brought us safe thus far, to carry us successfully on the difficult journey that lies ahead.
Now is not the time to doubt ourselves.
Nor is it the time to replace confidence with fear.
Rather, we must view what lies before us as just another chapter that we must successfully open in our nation’s journey upward and onward.
Other small countries, faced with the same challenges that we do, are finding new ways to exact progress and prosperity for their people from the challenging environment within which their development is taking place.
We are no less capable than they are of rising to today’s challenge.
And our generation of Barbadians must feel no less confident than the previous generation that we can master and surmount any and all of the challenges that come with the right of national self-determination.
The simple message that I would therefore wish to leave to our people is that we must each in our own way, and to the fullest extent of our capabilities resolve to help Barbados.
We should do so with faith in promise that “weeping may endure for a night; but joy cometh in the morning”.
It is in this spirit, that I wish on behalf of the Barbados Labour Party to salute our nation on the celebration of yet another anniversary of Independence.
I do so in the expectation that with God’s grace and guidance, we can look forward to a better and brighter tomorrow.
Happy Independence Barbados.