Remarks by Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris on the Annual Prime Minister’s Independence Lecture Series Nevis Performing Arts Centre September 12, 2016 6.00pm
It is a pleasure for me to welcome everyone for the Annual Prime Minister’s Independence Lecture Series which is being held here in Nevis for the first time in our 33 year history as an independent nation.
I am happy that we have involved Nevis in a significant way in the Independence programme because Independence is about National Unity.
It is a mark of distinction denoting people who are willing to work together, to take on this task of nation building together, because we are better together when we are united in what we do.
Like the potter at the wheel, we have to shape the pot. We cannot throw the clay and expect it to form of its own accord. We have to take the clay and shape it in our hands. We give the clay its identity and that is no different to the role each and every one of us plays every day in the way that we live our lives, the way that we influence others and the way that we shape our nation.
You may ask, what impact can I have? You may think that nothing that you do will make a difference of any significance but I will say that without the effort of every single person, we cannot build a nation of which we can be proud. This means a nation where we can be asked, what have you achieved since independence that has demonstrated good governance and progress?
Our Independence constitution largely defined what we are as a society. In the preamble it tells us that we are one nation under God.
We have a unique constitution through which the founding fathers sought to address the past, present and future:
- A history marred by the cries of disadvantage and inequality expressed by Nevis. Addressing this issue of disadvantage resulted in Nevis receiving the most significant powers of authority and autonomy ever given in a Federal state arrangement in the Commonwealth Caribbean.
Our present, by providing a framework that keeps the Federation together by inserting section 113 – the right of Nevis to secede and the path for independence for Nevis. This alongside section 110 which refers to revenue sharing arrangements between Federal and NIA governments.
And the future which is in our own hands to determine whether the enshrined provisions require change or adjustment. The future however will never negate the past and present, but could only build on the very substantial and substantive relations and relationships between our two beautiful islands. The founding fathers seemed to wish that we give our all to ensure that we work together, that we respect each other and that we break bread together. That is why the bar for a political separation was set very high for Parliamentary approval and via a referendum.
Our founding fathers of the independence constitutional order would be pleased at the solid, genuine relationship and cooperation now existing between Basseterre and Charlestown. They would be pleased by the substantial and substantive influence that the elected officials of Nevis, the Honourable Vance Amory and the Honourable Mark Brantley, have on the Federal Government.
They would be pleased that 33 years after independence, Nevis can see its sons and daughters in our Embassies in Washington DC, London and the Middle East. I hail the outstanding contribution of Ambassador Everson Hull, our permanent representative at the OAS and our own Vice-Consul Elsa Wilkin-Armbrister who is representing us in Dubai.
They would be pleased that we are working together as one nation, one people, one Federation. They understood that nation building is no easy task. It is not for the faint-hearted. It is not without its disappointment and lows but it is a wonderful feeling to make progress every step by step and year by year. As our national anthem says “A Nation bound together with a common destiny.”
The task of nation building requires all of us, our youth, our workers and our senior citizens to lend a hand. It requires the diligence, industry and application from our sanitation workers through to the Governor General. It is a Herculean effort and must be an inclusive exercise spanning all of our resources at home and abroad.
In this regard I am happy to welcome back home one of our illustrious sons of our beloved Federation, Mr Larry Quinlan. I understand that like me he has strong Nevisian roots, but unlike me on the maternal side. Additionally, his brothers – Quincy and Glen – were born on Nevis. Larry benefited from the guidance of a distinguished Teacher and Head Mistress named Olive Sutton of Butlers. Larry’s mother, Enid, is the adopted daughter of Olive Sutton. Larry’s outstanding achievements have their roots that extend to that Butlers household, under the guidance of Olive and John Sutton. This shows how through collective responsibility we can nurture and inspire great talent.
Our keynote address, delivered by Mr Larry Quinlan, in a sense encapsulates how the character of our nation is strengthened through enterprise, innovation and application. He is a perfect example of the character of our nation and the heights that we can aspire to both at home and abroad.
Thank you Larry for having accepted this invitation. You have come highly recommended and we are looking forward to gaining insights from your talk. May God bless you and may all of us be inspired by your words.