President Charles Savarin and Mrs. Savarin after his swearing-in on  2nd October, 2013 (Copyright: Sun Newspaper)
President Charles Savarin and Mrs. Savarin after his swearing-in on 2nd October, 2013 (Copyright: Sun Newspaper)

My fellow citizens, residents and visitors to our blessed fair Isle,

It is indeed a great pleasure for me to address a message to you for a tenth time, in my capacity as President of the Commonwealth of Dominica, on the occasion of the observance of the Anniversary of our Independence, an occasion that I always look forward to embrace with a great sense of pride, honor and elation.

Forty-four (44) years ago, on 3rd November 1978, we declared our Independence from Britain and resolved to take charge of our own affairs and to be masters of our own destiny. Like everything else, our journey to development for the past forty-four (44) years was not always smooth. There were several challenges and bumps along the way.

We began to experience major challenges to our economic and political development even before we had observed our First Anniversary of Independence when, in May 1979, we experienced major social and political upheavals but managed against the odds to preserve our constitutional and democratic form of governance. Then a few months later, all that we had built and all that we had planned for our future as an independent nation state was dashed to the ground and destroyed in August of 1979 by Hurricane David; the first category 5 hurricane in living memory to strike the island. This was followed one month later by Hurricane Frederick. Then in 1980 we were struck again this time, by Hurricane Allen. Notwithstanding these challenges in the first two (2) years of independence, we managed to make significant progress in agriculture and infrastructural development post 1980. Then in August 2015 Tropical Storm Erika inundated us with 17.8 inches of rain in six (6) hours with devastating effect. Some of our communities were so badly affected that they were declared Special Disaster Areas namely, Petite Savanne, Petite Soufriere, Good Hope, San Sauveur, Colihaut, Coulibistrie, Pichelin, Dubique, Delices, Boetica, Campbell, and Bath Estate (Paradise Valley). The impacts of Tropical Storm Erika were however felt across the entire island. In September 2017, barely two years later, we were struck by the greatest disaster that has ever befallen our nation – Hurricane Maria, which left the country with an estimated loss, in the region of

226% of GDP. While trying to recovering from the impacts of these devastating weather related crises, new challenges arose which we continue to face today particularly the ongoing consequences of COVID-19, and additionally in the areas of crime and violence, terrorism, climate change, energy and food security, the debilitating effects of non-communicable diseases, and the Russia-Ukraine war; all of which seek to erode our social order, threaten not only our health and well-being, but our very lives and livelihoods.

Notwithstanding the many struggles, challenges and difficulties that we encountered in the past 44 years, we can nevertheless be proud not only of how we faced up to those challenges but in the manner in which we have overcome them to get to where we are today. Our Government was able to put in place an effective response to the natural disasters, the pandemic and more recently the challenges of the Russia-Ukraine war that negatively impact the cost of fuel, electricity and transportation, and the cost of goods and services worldwide. Nevertheless, we have managed to continue our economic thrusts in the areas of housing, health, education, agriculture, infrastructural development, and tourism. We have also focused on the many windows of opportunities to be derived from such transformative initiatives as the digital economy, and green energy which is centered on our geothermal development program. But it is in tourism with the construction of major international hotels, the development of our road infrastructure and our commitment to the development of our cruise port and cruise village, a yacht marina and an international airport that we will see the greatest transformation in our economic growth and development.

Our young nation has made great strides in terms of our social, political, cultural and economic development amidst the challenges and uncertainties, and we are to be forever thankful and grateful to God for the successes that have accompanied our efforts. The future looks promising, and we should all be proud of the progress that we have made as a people and a nation throughout the past 44 years. We must therefore remember all those who, through their contributions, commitments and hard work, have paved the way for a better Dominica.

This year's observance of Independence is celebrated under the theme "One Dominica, One People, One Vision." This theme reminds us that to rebuild a better and stronger Dominica that improves the quality of life for all, we must, whether at home or abroad, put aside all petty differences and unite as a country and a people in our drive to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, while at the same time pursuing the vision to becoming the first Climate Resilient Country in the World. We must be cognizant of the fact that only in unity will we be able to face the challenges that lie ahead, and make even the impossible possible.

At this time of year, we welcome in a very special way the many visitors from our neighboring islands and other more distant countries, more particularly us

brothers and sisters living in the Diaspora, who are visiting with friends and relatives, and looking forward to enjoying our rich cultural heritage.

I am pleased to note that this year we are able to host the World Creole Music Festival, to celebrate our Independence Day with all the traditional activities and pageantry, and to host the President's Independence Reception, after a two-year pause occasioned by the unprecedented challenges and limitations of the COVID-19 pandemic. I pray to God that the rate of infection and the severity of COVID-19 continues to trend downwards while our state of normalcy continues to trend upwards.

On this memorable occasion of the attainment of 44 years of nationhood, I extend warmest greetings and congratulations on behalf of my wife and myself to all citizens of our beloved country wherever they may be and to all those who reside here or are visiting with us in the Nature Island of Dominica.

Let us all get involved in a project in our respective neighborhoods on Community Day of Service, and beyond.

We are still in the hurricane season. Let us therefore continue to call upon our Heavenly Father to keep His eye upon us and protect us from all storms, from high winds and from torrential rains, from raging rivers and rough seas, and from harm and danger of all kinds.

May the Good Lord bless us with an enjoyable and peaceful 44th Anniversary of Independence.

I thank you.