THE Prime Minister said Trinidad and Tobago has made great strides and, despite current challenges, can continue to grow if citizens stay the course.
In his message for the 60th anniversary of this country’s independence, Dr Rowley said that TT can boast of having great personalities in the fields of sport, arts and entertainment, as well as other personalities from governance that propelled the country to industrialized status, which now deserve recognition.
“Look across the globe, let’s place ourselves on the canvas of the world.
“We are a world-class achievement! Colonialism is gone, a nation is born and we are called to continue building it.”
The current socio-economic and political status of TT can best be gauged by looking at the world and how the stability of older, better-endowed countries has been shaken.
Referring to the recent Commonwealth Games, he said: “At 60, we also enjoy moments of sporting excellence today with the gold, silver and bronze medals recently awarded to us by our cyclists, Nicholas Paul and Teniel Campbell, and 200 meter sprinter Jereem Richards.
“On reflection, our athletes have brought us many such moments, over the past 60 years, and even before independence, from silver and bronze medals to featherweight great Rodney Adolphus Wilkes at the Olympics in 1948-52.
“We are forever grateful for our Olympic medals – three gold, five silver and eleven bronze – the royal memories of the sporting giants we have 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 saluted Paralympians Rachael Marshall, Akeem Stewart and Nyoshia Cain.
He recalled bodybuilders Christopher Forde and Michael Hercules in bodybuilding; 1979 joint champion TT 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 the world’s greatest cricket batsman, Brian Lara.
In culture, he hailed TT panists, calypsonians including David Rudder and Mighty Sparrow, and chutney artists. In literature, he hailed Nobel VS Naipaul laureate, Saint Lucia-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, the limbo dancer Julia Edwards, pop star Billy Ocean MBE. , UK-based steelband frontman Terrence Noel MBE, and UK presenter 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 CLR activist/author James, he said: “Dr Williams and CLR saw in us the potential to become a great nation, if we let’s tolerate each other and walk collectively.
“Our democratic freedoms allow us to choose to subsume our egos, ambitions and interests to the needs of the whole nation. This is the essence of politics and the nation – citizens working together for the promotion of their common good .”
He said TT’s economic fortunes, following global economic cycles, have fluctuated, but the UN now ranks TT on its high-level human development index.
“So, Citizens, let’s get past the perpetual naysayers, with their miserable bag of self-defeating negatives, that ‘this isn’t a real place.’
“We are a great place and our red, white and black has got us all covered in all circumstances. Accept responsibility, feel the pride.
“Many citizens still don’t realize that income from Point Lisas has improved and maintained the quality of their daily lives, from the classroom to the hospital, dining table and vacation experiences. At 60 years, this nation must say loud and clear, “Thank you, Dr Eric Eustace Williams, thank you Professor Ken Julien, thank you Frank Barsotti, thank you Frank Rampersad, thank you Dr Euric Bobb and the teams of dedicated officials.