Celebrating the advent of a New Year always reminds me of the wonder of a glorious Jamaican sunrise. As the golden sun peeks over the majestic Blue Mountains, it seems to gently push away the night-sky. Rays of hope and promise nudge through a soft and reflective crimson sky. The dazzling light and vibrant energy of that sunshine fuel the activities of a brand new day…a brand new year.
On this the first day of the year 2013, I greet you with the love, light, warmth and energy of this new dawn.
Our ancestors from Africa, Asia and Europe call upon us to gaze into our past to seek out the lessons that help us to chart the path for our future. Today, I call on each of us to look to both recent and more distant histories to prepare us for every new day; every new year. That history teaches us that we are a resilient people. We have come through the fires of struggle and the tests of time. Those challenges have made us courageous and strong.
Reflection causes us to look back until we see in our minds’ eyes and feel in our very spirits, the significance of the efforts made by our forefathers and mothers. They fought to resist the shackles of slavery. They worked their very way through the uncertainty of emancipation. They fashioned an independent society. They engendered the pride and identity of a people. They envisioned and started the journey towards making Jamaica a developed and prosperous country… and the journey continues.
We look to our history of leadership and acknowledge that each leader, every administration has made a contribution toward the development of who we are. We also look within us, each Jamaican man, woman and child and must admit that every one of us have had a part to play in the creation of who we have become. We all must take pride in what is great; take responsibility for what is challenging and take charge of our words and deeds to ensure that they are geared towards making good better, and better, best.
We look through the lens of recent history and see Jamaican Barrington Irving, the first young man to do a solo flight around the world. We see Jamaican scientists making strides and developing cures for terminal ailments, using plants and herbs found here in Jamaica. We see men and women from every walk of life excelling in medicine, innovation, agriculture, technology, culture, education, academia, law, business and public service. There is much to be proud of.
Reflecting on our triumph over adversity gives us hope. This hope is not built on fanciful expectations. Hope inspires all of us to engage in the practical and focused action that must transform our natural creativity and innovation into productive output. It is such action that in turn, produces results; such results that engender confidence – greater confidence in ourselves and the confidence of others in us, as a nation.
In this spirit, I call upon all of us to look first with gratitude at our most recent past; the year 2012 – our ‘golden year’, in which we celebrated and reflected on fifty years of independence and our development as a nation and a people thus far.
During our celebrations we were joined by two outstanding Presidents from the African continent, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa and President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria. Many other leaders from the United States, the Caribbean and beyond joined our golden celebration. They included our Caribbean sister, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar who joined us from Trinidad and Tobago. I was proud to represent Jamaica there as the twin-isles also celebrated 50 years of independence.
As we reflect, we also look to the glorious, golden performance of our sportsmen and women across sporting disciplines. In 2012 they proved to us, what we know of ourselves as a people – that we are strong; we are determined and we are destined to triumph.
Our sportsmen and women, among them Usain, Shelly-Ann, Veronica, Yohan and other outstanding athletes on the track; Nicholas Walters in the boxing ring; Gayle, Samuels, Russell and Lambert on the cricket pitch; Atkinson in the swimming pool – all did us proud. The sporting triumphs of 2012 have been numerous and outstanding. Time does not allow me to name all of last year’s sporting heroes and heroines. All our sportsmen and women represent the confidence of ‘together we can’; the optimism of ‘together we will’, and the determination of ‘together we must’. This spirit resides in every Jamaican, from Morant Point to Rocky Point and beyond, in our Diaspora. This spirit will serve us well in the year to come. Challenges there are but we must be resolute and stand up in the face of adversity.
While the pride of Jamaica 50 will follow us into the future; this New Year will bring stark realities into focus. Jamaica and Jamaicans are capable and we must live up to the challenges. Our people have ‘what it takes’ to meet these challenges ‘head-on’. We have the talent. We have the ideas. We are purposeful and productive. We have clear and strong plans and must summon the collective will to succeed.
As we look to the year ahead, we continue the dialogue with the International Monetary Fund with the objective of agreeing to an extended fund facility. Let me assure you that this Administration will adhere to sound macro-economic policies whilst at the same time taking all necessary steps to foster increased investment in the economy, particularly in physical infrastructure and tourism. We will work with all our social partners and citizens as we face those challenges together. As we continue to work toward our economic recovery as a nation, we must believe in our souls and believe in our hearts that this can be a great year for Jamaica. Rest assured this Government will never flinch when it comes to protecting the interest of the Jamaican people. We will continue to work assiduously to uplift all Jamaicans.
This is a time of new hope and new beginnings. It is indeed a new day and a new dawn. Let us always remember and live each day of 2013 with the words of the Right Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey in our minds, when he said: “God and Nature first made us what we are, and then out of our own created genius we make ourselves what we want to be. Follow always that great law. Let the sky and God be our limit and Eternity our measurement”.
I have an abiding confidence in God’s faithfulness and an abiding confidence in the Jamaican people. Let us together reach deep into our souls and from our unbreakable spirits be the change we wish to see in our country.
With all the challenges and choices that 2013 will bring, let us resolve to live in love – the richest of blessings that come from above. I wish Jamaicans at home and abroad prosperity, peace and personal fulfillment for the New Year.
Happy 2013, God bless Jamaica and God bless us all.