Rowley: Stay the course, Trinidad and Tobago

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. –

THE Prime Minister said Trinidad and Tobago has made great strides and, despite current challenges, can continue to develop if citizens stay the course.

In his message for this country’s 60th anniversary of Independence, Dr Rowley said TT can boast of great individuals in sports, arts and entertainment, plus others in governance who have lifted the country to industrialised status, all of who were now worthy of recognition.

“Look across the globe, let’s place ourselves on the world canvas.

“We are a world-class achievement! Colonialism is gone, a nation was born and we are called upon to keep building it.”

TT’s current socio-economic and political status may be best assessed by looking at the world, and how the stability of older and better-resourced countries has been shaken.

Referring to the recent Commonwealth Games, he said, “At 60, we are also enjoying today, heady moments of excellence in sport thanks to the gold, silver and bronze medals given to us recently by our cyclists, Nicholas Paul and Teniel Campbell, and 200-metre sprinter Jereem Richards.

“On reflection, our athletes have brought us many such moments, over the past 60 years, and even before Independence, from the silver and bronze medals of the great featherweight lifter Rodney Adolphus Wilkes in the 1948-52 Olympics.

“We are ever grateful for our Olympic medals – three gold, five silver and eleven bronze – the regal memories of the sporting giants we created, their successes and world records.”

He cited Olympians Hasely Crawford, Wendell Mottley, Edwin Roberts, Ken Bernard, Lennox Yearwood, Richard Thompson, Keston Bledman, Emmanuel Callender, Marc Burns, Aaron Armstrong, Keshorn Walcott and Ato Boldon. The PM hailed paralympians Rachael Marshall, Akeem Stewart and Nyoshia Cain.

He recalled bodybuilders Christopher Forde and Michael Hercules in bodybuilding; TT’s 1979 joint champion netball team; boxing champions, Claude Noel and Leslie Stewart; swimmer George Bovell; the TT football team at the 2006 World Cup including Dwight Yorke, and world’s greatest cricket batsman Brian Lara.

In culture, he hailed TT’s pannists, calypsonians including David Rudder and Mighty Sparrow, and chutney artistes. In literature, he saluted Nobel Laureate VS Naipaul, St Lucian-born Derek Walcott, novelist Earl Lovelace and others.

He recalled TT’s three world-class beauty queens, great artists such as LeRoy Clarke, Glenn Roopchand and Carlisle Chang, designer Peter Minshall, dancer Geoffrey Holder and artist Boscoe Holder, musician, Pat Bishop, limbo dancer Julia Edwards, pop star Billy Ocean MBE, UK-based steelband leader Terrence Noel MBE, and UK newscaster Sir Trevor McDonald. Rowley hailed fashion designers Anya Ayoung Chee, Meiling, Claudia Pegus, and Heather Jones.

Of TT’s first prime minister Dr Eric Williams and activist/author CLR James, he said, “Both Dr Williams and CLR saw within us the potential to become a great nation, if we are tolerant of each other, and marched, collectively.

“Our democratic freedoms allow us the choice of subsuming our egos, ambitions and interests to the needs of the whole nation. That is the essence of politics and nationhood – citizens working together in furtherance of their common good.”

He said TT’s economic fortunes, following global economic cycles, have ebbed and flowed, but the UN now ranks TT on their high level of human development index.

“So, citizens, let us go beyond, the perpetual naysayers, with their self-defeating miserable bag of negatives, that ‘this is not a real place.’

“We are a great place and our red, white and black covers us all in every circumstance. Accept the responsibility, feel the pride.

“Many citizens still do not realise that the revenues from Point Lisas have up-graded and maintains the quality of their daily lives from classroom to hospital to dining table and vacation experiences. At 60, this nation must say loudly, “Thank you Dr Eric Eustace Williams. Thank you Professor Ken Julien, thank Frank Barsotti, thank you Frank Rampersad, thank you Dr Euric Bobb and the teams of dedicated public servants.”