Minister of Public Administration and Communications Maxie Cuffie in his Independence Day message quoted calypsonian Leroy “Black Stalin” Calliste to urge citizens to try a little harder.
“We are at a juncture at age 55 where we could either continue to beat up on and blame each other, or put our collective shoulders to the wheel and press ahead. We certainly cannot change the past, but together we can shape a new future.” He urged everyone to share in the sacrifices and burdens, so as to make the next 55 our best years yet.
“The late soca sensation, Devon Matthews told us, ‘even though the road is long no matter what comes I know we will make it.’
“Black Stalin told us too ‘we could make it if we try.’”
Cuffie said, “Today, as we celebrate our 55th birthday, I am confident that we possess the resilience, the resources and the reason to make it, if we all try a little harder.”
Cuffie said that since Independence 55 years ago, the nation had cut the colonial umbilical cord and begun a voyage of self-discovery, growth and transformation.
“Despite the growing pains that attend every such journey, we have come a long way since then. We have achieved much.
“We still have a stable democracy, we have built significant institutional strength in our judiciary, our parliament, and in our public and private sectors, and the quality of life for our citizenry has changed considerably since then.”
Cuffie said a national anthem, a national flag, and a Coat of Arms are mere symbols of our independence, but alone do not make us independent.
“True independence comes when we all accept that every right and freedom carries with it an inherent responsibility.”
He said the freedom to govern ourselves includes a grave responsibility for politicians and for every citizen, that is not only exercised once every five years, but every day of our lives.
“It is our responsibility to be a good citizen, to contribute to the country's development in whatever way we can, with whatever resources we possess.”
He urged all to obey the just laws of the land, and to raise families in a wat that shows respect for the other, irrespective of gender, class, colour, creed, or political affiliation.
“The freedom to govern ourselves and acceptance of that responsibility also carries the caveat that we will make mistakes from time to time. The current economic circumstances in which we find ourselves can be attributed, in part, to mistakes made and opportunities not grasped over many decades.
“Happy independence Trinidad and Tobago!”