My Fellow Jamaicans,
If somehow we could relive that First of August, 1838 - that dawn of “Full Freedom”, perhaps our celebration today would be of a different nature.
Yes, there would still be the joy which must come with the celebration of the destruction of the shackles of slavery.
There would still be the hopefulness for the better tomorrow which liberty must bring.
There would still be the anxiety of being on the threshold of a future you know will be difficult.
But you would celebrate being your own free person, free to choose your own path, and accepting the responsibilities which come with that freedom.
On that morning in 1838, Jamaicans had not only tasted freedom through the abolition of slavery four years earlier, but they had also left the “nowhere” land of apprenticeship, where they were neither slave nor free.
Therein lies the reality that should cause us to reflect during this time of celebration:
Too many of our people live in that “nowhere” land, with our minds still enslaved by negative thoughts which sap our creative energies, undermine our productivity and define how we view ourselves as a nation.
Too many forget the wise words of the Right Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey, that “None but ourselves can free our minds”.
In that “nowhere” land, to our peril we betray the vision of all our National Heroes. They fervently believed that from that wretched crucible of slavery, Jamaica could become a nation where peace, justice, equality and true brotherhood would prevail.
They knew, as did the great Civil Rights Leader, Martin Luther King Jr, that “We must learn to live together as brothers and sisters, or perish together as fools”.
That is not the destiny which any of us would choose for Jamaica.
I firmly believe that Jamaica must be the place of choice in which to live, work, raise our families and do business.
I firmly believe that we are destined, under God, to increase in beauty, fellowship and prosperity.
Today, my fellow Jamaicans, as we celebrate Emancipation, I thank all of you from every walk of life who commit to working to achieve that noble vision for Jamaica.
It is time for us to stand together and combine all our efforts to free our country from every form of barrier, tribalism and hindrance to our progress as a people.
Let us now move with haste to engrave a new profile on the local and international image of Jamaica. We must believe in ourselves and in our potential to be a truly great nation!
May the Eternal Father continue to bless our land!