Saint Lu­cians Cel­e­brate

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By STAR Re­porter

Saint Lu­cians from all walks of life turned out in droves last week­end to par­tic­i­pate in var­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties in com­mem­o­ra­tion of the is­land’s 36th an­niver­sary of its po­lit­i­cal in­de­pen­dence from Bri­tain on Fe­bru­ary 22, 1979. And while ac­tiv­i­ties were held in var­i­ous parts of the is­land, in­clud­ing Cas­tries, Gros Islet and La­borie, the town of Vieux Fort in the south of the is­land was the ma­jor hub of ac­tiv­ity.

Dubbed “In­de­pen­dence City”, Vieux Fort came alive on Satur­day Fe­bru­ary 21, with the first ever Seafood and Meat Ex­trav­a­ganza fea­tur­ing lo­cal chefs and cooks pre­par­ing the dishes. That evening a num­ber of artistes also per­formed on the prom­e­nade in Vieux Fort where the event was held.

The fol­low­ing day, Fe­bru­ary 22, In­de­pen­dence Day, the an­nual pa­rade of uni­formed groups took place at the Sab play­ing field at Vigie. There, both the Gover­nor Gen­eral Dame Pear­lette Louisy and Prime Min­is­ter Kenny An­thony in­spected the guards as the groups marched past. They in­cluded var­i­ous arms of the Royal Saint Lu­cia Po­lice Force, the Saint Lu­cia Fire Ser­vice, the Cadet Corps, the Borde­lais Cor­rec­tional Fa­cil­ity War­dens, the Saint Lu­cia Girl Guides and the Boy Scouts. On that morn­ing the names of the re­cip­i­ents of na­tional awards were an­nounced. This year, for the first time, the list in­cludes a na­tional hero hon­our. Two per­sons will re­ceive the awards posthu­mously; they are for­mer chief min­is­ter Ge­orge Charles, and Sir John Comp­ton who led the is­land into In­de­pen­dence.

Later that morn­ing hun­dreds of mo­tor­cy­clists made their way from the Boule­vard in Cas­tries down to Vieux Fort where they were ex­pected to par­tic­i­pate in a mo­tocross ex­hi­bi­tion.

Vieux Fort was a hive of ac­tiv­ity that day, par­tic­u­larly the Phillip Marcelin Grounds and its sur­round­ings, where the main ac­tiv­i­ties were held. In­side the grounds the an­nual In­de­pen­dence rally, the In­de­pen­dence Food Fair and Ex­hi­bi­tion, the Dance Fes­ti­val and Slam Con­cert were held.

The rally it­self fea­tured a num­ber of per­form­ers who at­tempted to give mean­ing to this year’s In­de­pen­dence theme, “The Jour­ney.” They in­cluded the Mir­a­cle Dancers with a dance duet and mov­ing po­etry/ drum­ming recital from Ken­dal Hip­polyte and Nestor. In his first piece, “The Land”, Hip­polyte pointed out that if Saint Lu­cians were to be truly in­de­pen­dent then the first thing they should own and con­trol is the land.

The per­for­mances were in­ter­spersed with speeches from the Venezue­lan am­bas­sador Leiff Escalona, Op­po­si­tion Leader Gale Rigob­ert and Kenny An­thony the Prime Min­is­ter of Saint Lu­cia, among oth­ers. Rigob­ert, while call­ing all to be proud of the achieve­ments of the is­land’s great sons and daugh­ters, also called for the heal­ing of the na­tion of prej­u­dices. Th­ese prej­u­dices, ac­cord­ing to her, “threaten to se­lect and de-se­lect who among us shall suc­ceed and who will waste away at the fringes of our so­ci­ety”.

For his part Dr. An­thony re­minded of the roots of many of our an­ces­tors, not just from Africa but also from many parts of the world as he em­pha­sized the no­tion of the jour­ney in his speech. “To­day as we mark In­de­pen­dence at 36 we should ask, ‘How far can we jour­ney with Saint Lu­cia in a day? How much work can we do for Saint Lu­cia in a day? What can we do for our is­land na­tion as a birth­day gift?’ Just think for a mo­ment. If we each would give a day of ser­vice of our tal­ent to our coun­try what could this coun­try achieve?” the prime min­is­ter said on Sun­day.

As the day’s jour­ney con­tin­ued, the large crowd was treated to per­for­mances by a num­ber of Saint Lu­cian per­form­ers in­clud­ing Rob Zi Tay­lor, Ron­ald “Boo” Hink­son, Naomie Gran­der­son, In­vader, Eval­u­cian band, TC Brown, Dupes and oth­ers. There was also a fash­ion pa­rade and dance num­bers from the lo­cal In­dian com­mu­nity as well as stu­dents from the med­i­cal school in Vieux Fort.

The fol­low­ing day, Mon­day Fe­bru­ary 23, the cel­e­bra­tions con­tin­ued at the Sandy Beach in Vieux Fort and at Pi­geon Is­land in Gros Islet which fea­tured a num­ber of per­form­ers in­clud­ing Herb Black, Mongstar, De Ashanti, Me­shach, Michael Robin­son and sev­eral oth­ers.

Saint Lu­cians from all over gath­ered at the Phillip Marcelin grounds last week­end

to cel­e­brate.

Young and old alike could be seen in na­tional

colours.

Prime Min­is­ter Dr. Kenny An­thony speak­ing at In­de­pen­dence Rally in

Vieux Fort.

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