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Happy Independence to St. Kitts & Nevis

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Basseterre-8891Basseterre, St. Kitts, 19th September, 2017 (MyVueNews.com) - The people of St. Kitts and Nevis have been forced to mark their 34th Anniversary of Independence, on Tuesday, 19th September, while under the destructive forces of another hurricane.

 

Already, since the passage of Irma a few weeks ago, the islands have had to cancel and postponed most of their major activities to mark the occasion.

 

At a time when citizens were to be enjoying the customary military parade and other social activities on Tuesday, they have been instead, hunkered down in their homes as the powerful storm winds let loose their fury.

 

A similar fate was experience in 1989, when at that time, it was Hurricane Hugo that made its visit, leaving a massive trail of destruction to homes, hospitals, power lines, coastal areas, churches and many businesses and government buildings.

 

Back then too, the events for the grand celebration had to be cancelled.

 

It was Dr. Kennedy Simmonds who led the country into independence in 1983. Simmonds, is now one of the country’s five National Heroes.

 

The road to independence though was not an easy one. It was an attainment that had to first see the end to a brutal colonial era under the British Government that took control of the two islands since the 17th Century.

 

Though some local and black Kittitians and Nevisians were able to gain some political prominence in the 1940s it was not until Adult Suffrage in 1952 that the ordinary black citizens were granted the right to vote, no matter their economic position, which previously determined who could be candidates and who had the opportunity to vote on election day.

 

It was then that local leaders like Robert Bradshaw, Joseph N France and Paul Southwell, and others, got the opportunity to contribute to the administration of the country. 

 

Greater internal autonomy was achieved on 28th February, 1967, when the Associated State of St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla was established by the British.

 

While the British governor maintained control over foreign affairs and defense, local leaders took the reins for education, health, commerce, public works and other local portfolios.

 

Despite some efforts in the late 1970s by Bradshaw and later former Premier Lee L Moore, St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla was unable to gain political independence and became the very last in the Leeward and Windward Islands, to remove the tentacles of colonial rule.

 

The advent, in 1980, of the coalition government of the People’s Action Movement, (PAM) led by Simmonds and the Nevis Reformation Party, (NRP), under the leadership of Simon Daniel, paved the way for St. Kitts and Nevis to finally gain independence. 

 

Anguilla, by 1980, had been officially separated from the State, opting to once again become a colony.

 

Dr. Simmonds, with the strong support of Daniel’s NRP, took three years, and by 1983, they found the right formula to convince all parties that the time for independence had arrived.

 

Simmonds would go on to become the first Prime Minister of independent St. Kitts & Nevis, with thousands gathered at Warner Park, to witness sister to the British Queen, Princess Margaret, hand over the instruments of independence to a smiling Simmonds.

 

As the political controls were being transferred, a short “blessing” of showers visited the park, ushering in a new day and a new nation.

 

St. Kitts and Nevis has now had three Prime Ministers, with Dr. Simmonds serving from 1983-1995, (after serving as the last Premier from 1980-1983); Dr. Denzil Douglas from 1995-2015 and: Dr. Timothy Harris from 2015-present, (2017).



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