Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles, in Tobago Day message on Monday, called on Tobagonians to reflect on the qualities that define the Tobago personality, and work to reclaim them to use to face “the stormy and difficult times we face.”
Charles, noting that creation of the Assembly 37 years ago on December 4, said Tobago Day was a “time to look back at where we came from and celebrate our progress, whilst we simultaneously introspect, analyse and strategise for the future.”
“I take this opportunity to congratulate all of you, for each one has contributed in one way or another, at some time or another, to the political, social, cultural and economic landscape of Tobago. Our achievements as a people are many but so too have been our challenges,” he said.
“As we celebrate this glorious occasion, even in the midst of all the uncertainties we face, I encourage you to pause and reflect on some of the qualities that once defined our Tobago personality, such as our
friendliness, our caring and hospitable nature, our strong work ethic, our industriousness, our strong moral and spiritual values and our inner beauty, to mention a few.
“The time has come for us to reclaim these traits. It is these very traits my brothers and sisters, endowed in the bosom of our souls, ingrained in us by our forefathers and ancestors that will help us to survive the stormy and difficult times we face.
“We must be our brother’s keeper and challenge each other to make a positive contribution to the Tobago we want to see and leave as our legacy. We must purpose in our hearts to be part of the solution as we forge ahead in unity for the benefit of this great and beautiful land we call Tobago,” he said.
Charles noted the change of name from Assembly Day to commemorate the formation of the Assembly, to Tobago Day, which “allows us as an island and people, not only to celebrate our system of governance in the form of the Tobago House of Assembly but as well, to celebrate all the things that define us in this Tobago space.”
“It allows us to highlight our unique features of which we should be so proud, for example, our culture, our food, our history and our various achievements. The history of Tobago is distinctly different from Trinidad’s and even the rest of the Caribbean in many ways. We are the only Caribbean island that has changed hands over 30 times. This means that we have many influences from the various countries that ruled this island, coming together in a melting pot to create the unique and sweet culture of Tobago,” he added.
In an appeal specifically to the island’s children and young people, Charles said they were the ones positioned to continue to fly the flag of Tobago high.
“I want to encourage you to love this land that God has blessed us with and placed you in. You are here for a reason. You are filled with so much talent and creativity that must be shared with all of Tobago and even the rest of the world. You have a purpose for being here today and I would like you to take that very seriously. You matter. Your positive contribution to your island is important and needed at this time and even as you continue to mature. So I beseech you, please do not think otherwise,” he said.
Describing young Tobagonians as “our beautiful gems who we as adults are proud of and also on whom we depend to ensure that the legacy of Tobago lives on - a legacy that will make us known throughout the world for our strength, hard work, productivity, creativity and excellence,” he encourage them to stand out and dare to make a difference in theirr schools, youth groups, churches and places of worship.
Charles offered congratulations to several young persons who have been excelling in their various fields of endeavour – Paralympian Akeem Stewart, 400 metres specialist Lalonde Gordon, CAPE 2017 scholarship winners and winners of awards at the recent Tobago Youth Awards.
“I say to them, continue the great work and always aim higher even in the face of challenges and setbacks and I say to you, let them be your inspiration, to encourage you to do even greater things,” he said.