In his address to mark the milestone, Holness pointed to the achievements made by Jamaicans in several areas including music, sports and academia.
“We can draw inspiration from our sports men and women who have quintessentially incarnated the true spirit of Jamaica: A spirit of excellence, extraordinariness, daring, resilience, optimism, faith and hope.We have been stunning the world with our sporting prowess even before our independence.”
Holness noted that Jamaica had the first person to make the final in all three major Olympic sprint events—the 100m, 200m and 400m sixty-five years ago.
“To this day no one has equaled that Herb McKenley’s record.We were also the first Caribbean team to hold the 4 by 400m relay world record, and that again 65 years ago in Helsinki, when the Jamaican greats of Arthur Wint, Herb Mckenley, George Rhoden and Leslie Laing mined gold.”
The Prime Minister said that in the field of culture – Jamaica is a superpower.
“How many countries in the world —not just counties of comparable size—have produced someone as internationally famous and influential as Bob Marley, Usain Bolt or Marcus Garvey?How many countries have produced either world-famous music or sporting legends, let alone both?”
Concerning the country’s economy, he said hard decisions have been made but Jamaicans made the “sacrifices to strengthen our independence by putting our macroeconomic house in order.We knew the debt trap and double digit inflation were whittling away our independence, making us more vulnerable to external pressures.”
Fellow Jamaicans, you have shown the discipline necessary to undertake the reform measures. We have achieved record low inflation rates and have significantly cut our debt-to-GDP ratio.”
“We have demonstrated as a people that we are quite able to manage our own affairs and to show economic discipline without social unrest.
Let us celebrate this fact at independence, as I salute you for supporting economic measures which secure a bright future for our children and advance our independence.Nobody owes us anything. We seek no patronage. We are a self-respecting nation — proud, free and quite capable to be masters of our own destiny. We have something –indeed, many things— to give to the world.”
“We seek no special favors. There is no reason for us to be poor. With our creative human capital and fortitude in tackling our economic and social challenges, there is no problem we can’t defeat. As the Scripture says, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.”
In his message, leader of the opposition People’s National Party (PNP), Dr. Peter Phillips said "the outstanding successes of our athletes, our scholars, and our professionals in their respective fields of endeavor have enriched the modern world and created Jamaica’s unique presence on the global stage.
However, he observed that that even as Jamaicans celebrate achievements, the 55 anniversary of independence should be a time for reflection and renewal in the face of challenges."
Too many Jamaicans have been left behind in the search for economic advance; too many of our children leave school without adequate preparation for both the world of work and the exercise of responsible citizenship; too many of our citizens are still squatters in the land of their birth and too many lives are being destroyed by the scourge of crime.”
“As a result we are now faced with the reality that among the post-independence generations there are many Jamaicans who no longer have confidence and faith in our nation’s ideals,” Phillips said, adding that it is time for a renewal of the national spirit and a commitment to build a Jamaica that works for all its people.
"There is still too much waste of tax-payer’s resources and too much corruption, and breach of public trust by people in positions of power, " he said.
"Far from giving up, we must be inspired by what we have achieved as a people and become even more determined to fulfill our potential as a people. It is clearly a time for a renewal of the national spirit and of our commitment to build a Jamaica that works for all its people.
We owe it to the generations who built the national movement and led the struggle for independence to complete their mission by expanding opportunities for economic and social progress to Jamaicans of all social classes," Dr. Phillips declared
Governor General Sir Patrick Allen, in his message pointed to Jamaica’s democracy – saying that although not perfect, the democracy and freedoms enjoyed by Jamaicans have been a standard for many countries across the world to emulate.
“We have developed a reputation for free and fair elections, a highly respected judicial system, and a vibrant press and media which together, keep us informed, entertained, and influential.”
“I encourage us to preserve this sense of togetherness, and to embrace even more fully the traditions of volunteerism and the ‘duty of care’ which have served us so well in the past,” he said.
The theme for this years independence celebration is – “Celebrating Jamaicans at home and abroad”.
- Countries: Jamaica