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Fellow Barbadians, I am pleased to be able to greet you on this the occasion of our 44th Anniversary of Independence.
Forty-four years ago, the Democratic Labour Party in government decided to take Barbados into independence within the Commonwealth of Nations. Barbados had, by the year 1966, been a colony of Britain for 339 years.
Not everyone in Barbados at that time thought it wise to seek independence. Some there were, who thought that Barbados was too small and too poor to survive as an independent nation; others thought that nationhood would turn out to be too expensive an undertaking and should be avoided; still others thought that with nationhood would come those threats to the functioning of our democratic institutions of which we should steer clear at all costs.
We celebrate today the completion of 44 years of independence and have confounded the prophets of doom, by the great leaps forward which Barbados has been able to make in the economic, social and political spheres.
In the economic sphere, we have been able, quietly and without disruption, to transform Barbados from being an island with a one crop agricultural economy to a nation with a modern and more diversified economy, in which tourism, manufacturing and international business now play a more prominent part.In the social sphere, we have been able to use the instrument of increased and broadened access to education to release the creative energies and potential of our people, in ways that continue to claim the respect and admiration of people across our region and in the wider world.