REMARKS BY THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL HIS EXCELLENCY THE MOST HON. SIR PATRICK ALLEN ON, GCMG, CD AT THE WORSHIP SERVICE FOR THE 51ST ANNIVERSARY OF JAMAICA’S INDEPENDENCE

A very good morning to you all!

It seems as if it were just a few months ago that we were gathered in worship and praise as we celebrated our Golden Jubilee!  Yet, this morning we meet in Bethel, “the House of God”, to thank Him for bringing us to this new Anniversary, the 51st in our journey as an independent nation. In the year that has transpired, we have had many reasons as a people to thank Him for the way He has blessed us.

I believe that it is God’s blessings why this good ship Jamaica has remained on an even keel as we traverse the rough seas of economic stagnation and social difficulties and inequities. And so, we celebrate our 51st Anniversary, knowing that the same God of our Emancipation from slavery and who led us through colonial domination and into independence, is the Eternal Father who will guide us with His mighty hand to the attainment of our individual and national goals. Yes, these are challenging times, but in the history of nations and God’s intervention, tough times define our character and strengthen our faith. Our current condition, my brothers and sisters, is not our destiny!

It is neither a mere coincidence nor a random act of selection that at this point in our history we are worshiping in a sanctuary called “Bethel”, whose meaning is “House of God”.  Those of us who know Bible history pretty well, will readily remember that it was at Bethel that Jacob received that transformative blessing which made him Israel, and father of a nation.  It is not that Jacob stumbled on to Bethlehem.

  • Thanks to the wisdom of our Minister, we come to Bethel today, acknowledging the many ways in which weaknesses across our society have undermined our progress.
  • We have come to Bethel, recognizing that Jamaica has a strong potential for sustainable growth.
  • We come to Bethel this morning, to have him remind us that “There is nothing wrong with Jamaica that cannot be fixed by what is right with Jamaica!” and everyone sitting here is what’s right with Jamaica.

The question is whether we leave this sanctuary affirming or renewing our commitment to be the agents of transformation whom Jamaica needs to fix what is wrong with her! Last Thursday, we signed the document committing us to breaking free from the wrong attitudes, misplaced loyalties, the greed and the selfish lust for power which cripple any effort to unite in partnerships to build Jamaica. We can only achieve our national goals when we release ourselves from the chains which we ourselves have forged and placed around our own necks. We have the intellect, the skills and the resilience to make Jamaica great.  We must free ourselves  and allow ourselves to fly and soar.

What we need is unity, so that the best brains, the abundant creative genius of our people may be brought together to devise and implement appropriate strategies for our advancement.  Our nation needs for each of us to serve and work to the best of our ability, to make us more productive, more competitive and put us on a firm path to prosperity. We also need respect for each other across all levels of society, including within the leadership of every sector and we need to be more caring, learning again to be good neighbours.

And so, my brothers and sisters, as we gather together for service, may we leave Bethel determined to do our part to make Jamaica the great country we all want her to be. May it be that the next generation will commend our successful struggle to leave them a worthy heritage, so that theirs will be the true song of a Jamaica that is triumphant, proud, free!

May we all work together to achieve that objective under God.  May God bless you!