Chief Secretary: Trinidad and Tobago yet to boldy carve its own path

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Chief Secretary Farley Augustine is led through the ranks as he inspects the various armed detachments at the Indpendence Day Parade, at Parade Grounds, Dwight Yorke stadium, Bacolet, Wednesday. – David Reid

THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine believes Trinidad and Tobago is still too conservative and has yet to carve out a unique identity since achieving Independence on August 31, 1962.

In his message to commemorate the country’s 60th anniversary of Independence on Wednesday, Augustine said the change in status presented citizens with a chance to insert fresh energy and direction into the governance process.

He added it also allowed citizens to develop a style that was more authentic and reflective of the realities of the country and its people.

But Augustine observed, “In some ways we are yet to fully maximise this prime opportunity, tethering closer to former and familiar standards, rather than boldly carving a path of our own. We have found ourselves too often along the straits of safe and small, instead of being the trailblazers leading the way.”

Recalling the country’s strides in several areas, Augustine said TT is capable of doing great things.

“Those moments when Trinidad and Tobago was audacious, still resonate around the world to this day. It is the marvel of the steelpan, which serves as evidence of our ingenuity to see and extract value, even in the old and discarded. This remains the only new instrument to have been invented in the 20th century, an invention that came courtesy of the red, white, and black.

“Who can also forget when a country of approximately 1.3 million dared and believed that we could successfully qualify for a FIFA World Cup? A historic qualification which made us the smallest nation in the world to have ever achieved that feat up until Iceland advanced in 2018.”

He also recalled it was under the leadership of the late ANR Robinson that TT tabled the motion at the UN General Assembly for an International Criminal Court in 1989.

“This was an idea that Robinson passionately advocated for and led the charge as a leader of a developing country, even earning the stripe as the ‘godfather of the ICC’ in the process.”

Augustine added, “I reflect on these national achievements as a timely reminder that we are meant to be the vanguards. We are the ones who should be bravely breaking the mould, while welcoming and surmounting the challenges that arise along our development journey.”

Urging citizens to reflect on TT’s progress over the past 60 years, Augustine wondered if every citizen feels truly independent or if some, based on creed or geographical location, feel more restricted and dependent than others.

“The dream was not solely to attain the power to govern ourselves, but to do so in such a manner that it makes a marked difference in the lives of all citizens. It was to build a Trinidad and Tobago where equity triumphs elitism; a twin-island nation that protects the dignity of all residing within its borders.”

As such, he said the country’s diamond jubilee must trigger critical introspection.

“We cannot be afraid to ask the tough questions, or engage in the difficult conversations, for it is only then we can gain a better understanding of our diverse and lived experiences.”

Saying that some have been championing the idea that life begins at 60, Augustine said, “If so, we are at a crucial juncture where we can strive to start again. We can breathe new life into the dream that transformed us from a colony, to a country of promise.

“The journey from dream to diamond jubilee germinated from the belief that no one can manage and seek our own interests better than ourselves. So remember, as we serve our country, we are ultimately serving ourselves.”

He urged citizens to recommit to the vision of the first patriot, who believed that together much could be achieved as a country.

“Reignite the love and dedication that may have grown cold for your beloved country. Let us stoke the fire once again and vow to push the land of our birth to go farther than ever before.”