Saint Lucia and Guyana celebrate!!!

It was time to celebrate in Saint Lucia and Guyana during the past week. Saint Lucia celebrated its 26th Anniversary of Independence on February 22, while the Republic of Guyana observed its 35th Anniversary as a Republic. Guyanese in Saint Lucia enjoy a unique position of being able to celebrate these occasions one day apart. For Saint Lucia, it was the usual Ecumenical Service, Independence Day Parade, School Rallies, etc.

The past year was great for Saint Lucia as it attained 25 years of independence and moved into its 26th year. There has been significant progress in the area of investments. Just as the year was coming to a close, a US 130 million dollar project in the tourism sector was announced. A further boost came with the famous twin peak mountains – the Pitons being officially granted World Heritage Site status. Soufriere, the western town will come alive over the next few years and real estate prices would have been given an overnight boost. Saint Lucia Simply Beautiful, Saint Lucia Nice, Saint Lucia Blessed!!!

In the case of Guyana, it was the first time in the history of the celebrations that occasion has passed without an elaborate Mashramani programme. The President’s Address to the nation highlighted the call to rebuild, now that the water receded fully. The world is behind Guyana and it is evident that things will be back to normalcy in a short time.

Guyanese in Saint Lucia celebrated their anniversary a day later instead of the 23rd due to the exhibition, the occasion was hosted on the 24th. While a minute of silence was observed for those who died as a result of the flooding in Guyana and thousands of dollars were raised at the function for the Flood Relief effort, they marked the occasion in the usual grand Guyanese tradition as they got together to award outstanding sons and daughters living in Saint Lucia for their sterling contribution to the local community. Honourees this year included such persons as Ron Savory, a Guyanese Artist, Noorani Azeez , a dynamic young administrator who for the past five years has led the charge of training young persons in several skills for the field of work, and Edward Harris, an Entrepreneur, Private Sector Advocate, Freelance Journalist and Community Worker. A student, Miss Paul was presented with a plaque for her recent success at the CXC examination. It has become a feature of the Anniversary Awards ceremony to bring to the attention of the nation brilliant Guyanese students who are successful at the CXC and “A” Level examinations.

Guyanese living in Saint Lucia usually come together in the hundreds to celebrate their Republic Anniversary. Mr. Maniram Prashad, Trade Advisor to the President who was in Saint Lucia to represent the President at the officially opening of the exhibition attended the ceremony and was loud in his praise for the level of commitment exhibited by the gathering and the manner in which the programme was presented. He was particularly impressed with the cultural presentations as he participated in the singing of folk songs, listened to poetry, watched Indian dancing and a skit entitled the Banana Man. It was an evening that will long be remembered. He also noted that we sang all the verses of the National Anthem.

Once again the Guyana Saint Lucia Association with the full cooperation of the Honourary Consul for Guyana to Saint Lucia, Mr. Lokesh Singh has shown that Guyanese wherever they are can come together, stand up and be counted for their contribution to their communities.

This year, the celebration spilled over to the Guyana Exhibition which was mounted over the weekend, February 25 – 27. The determination of Guyanese businesspersons to move forward was demonstrated in the level of participation and the quality of the exhibition. Over 50 companies were represented. Hon. Philip J. Pierre, Minister for Commerce, Tourism, Investment and Consumer Affairs, and Hon. Ignatius Jean, Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries participated in the official opening ceremony of the exhibition which was well attended.

Residents flocked to the venue to secure bargains and in my conversations with the exhibitors, they have been able to test the market and now see Saint Lucia as an important destination for their products and services. Art and Craft items, Pharmaceuticals, Noni Juice, Sandals, Household Furniture, and as usual Guyana Rums were on hand. The exhibitors included large, medium and small companies. As I walked through the exhibition and observed the displays, I felt a sense of pride.

As the launch of the long awaited Caricom Single Market and Economy – CSME approaches, I can see Guyanese being among the principal movers and shakers as they take their skills to the other islands of the region. The various trade promotion agencies should get busy in promoting the culture of joint ventures in the region and guiding entrepreneurs in the art of duplicating themselves in collaboration with others.

Lots of good things are beginning to happen in the region and especially in Saint Lucia, a place where many Guyanese are making a contribution and influencing developments within the wider region. Guyanese and Saint Lucians have a great history of working together and as the years go by we have seen a greater appreciation for the contribution of each other.

Keep the Faith, God is in Charge!!!

Edward A. Harris
Freelance Journalist: Business & P. R. Consultant: Realtor:
President of the Guyana – St. Lucia Association

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