February 25, 2008
Deputy Premier of Nevis Hon. Hensley Daniel and Special Advisor in the Ministry of Culture Mr. Halstead Byron, in a televised broadcast on Nevis TV (NNC) on February 25, 2008, enlisted the support of the public to recognised that the Federation’s 25 years of Independence was worth celebrating. They said given the island’s history of colonialism and underdevelopment, Nevisians had made remarkable strides from 1983 to the present.
Minister Daniel, chairperson for the Planning Committee said the single most important aspect of development in Nevis was the return of local government.
“The return of local government to Nevis is significant and it happened with Independence under the Nevis Reformation Party government. We were there at the start of Independence celebrations and now we have 25 years of celebration, we are here again,” he said.
The Minister listed a number of achievements in Nevis since the Federation’s Independence in areas of the island’s development and cited that Nevis had come a long way.
“We were able to sort out access to Secondary Education in Nevis and by 1986, we were able to ensure that all students throughout the island were able to get Secondary Education and the flagship has been the establishment of the Sixth Form College. Since Independence we have three students who have captured State Scholar recognition.
“We were also able to regularise the provision of water and electricity, which prior to independence in 1983, were constant problems for the public. We were able to put forward one of the most imaginative land reform policies that’s superior throughout the region. We were able to make land available to people at reasonable prices that they can now build their own home and now there is another component, where we can build homes for people on their own land,” he said.
Minister Daniel also spoke about achievements in the tourism sector and cited that since Independence in 1983, there was the establishment of the Four Seasons Resort which provided a regular source of employment and revenue for the NIA, which had made a significant difference in the life of the people of Nevis.
“We also had the Mount Nevis Hotel that was also established under the NRP Administration and as a result of our Independence we were able to developed a particular kind of tourism product, which is an up-market product that essentially deals with low impact and high-yields, where we control the numbers and where we can come out in a sense of exclusivity,” added Mr. Daniel.
He further added that since Independence, “we have put Cricketers to play for the West Indies team and one in an international match. Keith Arthurton, Stuart Williams, Runarko Morton and Carl Tucket have all played for the West Indies team and have done some remarkable things in the area of sports,”
Minister Daniel indicated that the NIA had planned to celebrate all aspects of endeavours throughout the year and the people of Nevis should not be lukewarm about it.
Mr. Halstead Byron, who is also a member of the committee, has the responsibility for the dramatic presentations aspect of the celebrations. He said, “even though it is a short 25 years, it is important for us to celebrate history and if we’re to do a dramatic presentation, we would want to go back a little earlier than that in order to show the general public the prelude to how we got to 1983,”
“The dramatic presentations should be the focus from Africa, to the Plantations in the Caribbean, to Emancipation, to the fight for Independent Statehood and into Independence itself and then of course, to look at the many achievements we’ve made since 1983.
He made an appeal to the general public to get involved in the many activities that were designed to educate and reeducate Nevisians on the important aspects of Independence.
The Department of Information was informed that an official calendar of events would be available to the public later this week. However, Mr. Daniel gave an overview of the events as means of motivating the public.
To mark the start of activities, there will be an Ecumenical service jointly organised by the Christian Council and the Evangelical Association. The Committee chairperson also informed the Department of Information that another Ecumenical service would be held in September, the official month when the nation became Independent in 1983.
Throughout the year, there will be special sports competitions to celebrate the achievements of Nevisians in all areas of sports; a beautification and village clean up project designed to help to elevate the spirit of the communities. Each Parish will have a Community Day to celebrate its achievements and to bring about a sense of appreciation and oneness.
There will be Schools in Concert programmes, essay competitions, and an elocution contest; a series of debates and public lectures and a gala event dubbed The Premier’s Gala, to which a major speaker will be invited to mark the 25th Anniversary of Independence.
A major religious concert is also planned; a national exhibition of arts and crafts products and services on the island. A queen and calypso show is being contemplated in collaboration with St. Kitts.
There will be the recognition and profiles of children born in September of 1983. The Committee will also focus and profile all persons celebrating their 25th Anniversaries, particularly of marriage and businesses. There will also be a Food Day, where an array of local foods and dishes, fruits and vegetables and locally processed foods would be on display.
A number of streets, buildings and important landmarks would also be named or renamed. The Deputy Premier indicated that suggestions for this exercise would be done on a village basis where residents will be asked to submit the names of persons who have made critical contributions to their respective communities.
Minister Daniel said, “the impetus for this must come from the people of the community and based on their recommendations, the final decisions will be made by the committee.”
He urged the Nevisian community to seize the opportunity to recast the society after itself and in its own image. “Independence celebrations are for the communities, they are not for the politicians and we want to urge the communities to come forward and make suggestions as to how we could improve.
“I’ve indicated some activities that are not cast in stones and I’m sure our committee would be more than happy to include other areas and include other persons and we look forward to the continuing involvement of all of our people and we trust that they would find it necessary and place it on the priority list,” the Deputy Premier added.
The islands of St Kitts and Nevis were originally settled by Indians from South America but were wiped out by the English and French colonists who settled there in the early 1600s. For a while the islands were squabbled over by the two European territories. On the 19th of September 1983, St. Kitts and Nevis became independent from British dependency. The constitution for the new state, styled the Federation as St. Kitts and Nevis.
The activities are slated to begin in March and will spread throughout the year. Such widespread celebrations will allow for a memorable observance with the requisite pomp, ceremony, dignity and significance, befitting such an occasion.