ANGUILLA--"Father of the Nation"Ronald Webster celebrated his 86th birthday in great style with many Anguillians Friday. His birthday celebrations started with a parade at Webster Park, after which there was also a boat race, a motorcade, and a visit to the Fun Day and Health Fair at East End.
Speaking at the parade, Governor Alistair Harrison hailed Webster as a revolutionary leader and paid tribute to him as Anguilla's first Chief Minister. He noted that during the revolution Webster had three important assets: unity, vision and courage. He said that all three remain important today and he congratulated Chief Minister Hubert Hughes and the Executive Council for aiming to live up to Webster's vision.
The Chief Minister reflected on the part that Webster played in the revolution in seeking a better life for the people. He remarked that as Webster looks on the affairs today, he must see that the nation "comes up short" and is not where Webster would want us to be. "Where we are now does not do justice to the integrity of us as a people," he said, adding that the people have seen the workings of a colonizer that does nothing to enhance the dignity of the people of the island. He went on to say that there is much work to be done and pledged to Webster that, as long as he is chief minister, he will fight for dignity and march on to free Anguilla.
Leader of the Opposition, Evans McNiel Rogers congratulated Webster on his birthday and thanked him for his contribution during the revolution and for guiding the people. He suggested that the majority of the population has no direct memory of the revolution, and therefore it is important to educate everyone about the events at that time. He spoke of a video he saw where Ronald was a young vibrant leader standing with his people and inspiring hope. He spoke of the different governments who have tried to maintain a focus on building a nation that is "proud, strong and free," and said it is important to remember the vision and legacy of Webster as "a symbol of our past and a beacon for our future."
Webster said he was touched by the parade in his honour and the number of people attending and is grateful to the government and the organizers of the event. He said that he is indebted to all who joined him in the revolution and their many achievements. "We must now march on with the same spirit of unity and determination with God as our Helper," he said. He noted that there is still much to be done and he is confident that the island will have a bright future. He spoke of the need to re-commit to freedom and justice for all and to have unity to make Anguilla a self-reliant and dignified nation.
Webster said the 30th anniversary of Social Security is also a celebration and that it is one of the best systems for the people. He remarked that under the influence of Britain, leaders have become weak and in a "state of infancy" and this must be changed in the constitutional reforms. He said there are many people in Anguilla of other countries and all are welcome to join in unity, love, strength of purpose and commitment for the future of the island. He remembered the contribution of all who fought in the revolution and asked for a moment of silence in their memory.
The parade included the Royal Anguilla Police Force, the Police Community Band, Prison Officers, Cub Scouts, Scouts, Girl Guides, Brownies, Rainbows, Girls Brigade and Pathfinders. It was attended by members of the House of Assembly and other government officials as well as a large number of the population. The Chief Minister and Webster inspected the parade participants and took the salute at the March Past. The programme included a poem by Daisy Wong read by her daughter Shirley Gumbs, a musical tribute by Anguilla Time as well as King Dynamite and the cutting of a large birthday cake.
A DAY after accusing Britain of "ridiculous colonialism" over the Falkland Islands, Sean Penn has struck again, claiming London's decision to send Prince William to the overseas territory to join an RAF search and rescue team is insensitive.
The Hollywood actor was lampooned by the British media yesterday after calling on the UK to negotiate with Argentina over sovereignty of the Falklands during a meeting with President Cristina Kirchner.
"Yesterday in Buenos Aires, I spoke to the press and did not expect to be immune to their paraphrases and hyperbolic statements," he began. "However, I will make a small clarification regarding Great Britain and the Falklands.
"My oh my, aren't people sensitive to the word colonialism, particularly those who implement colonialism?
"There are many kinds of colonialism... It's unthinkable that the United Kingdom can make a conscious decision to deploy a prince who is part of the military to the Malvinas, knowing the great emotional sensitivity both of mothers and fathers in the United Kingdom and in Argentina who lost sons and daughters in a war in those islands.
"There are many places to deploy the prince. It is not necessary, when the deployment of a prince is generally accompanied by warships, to send them into the seas of such shared blood."
Penn is on a tour of South America, hoping to persuade governments there to offer aid to Haiti, the earthquake-stricken Caribbean island which has named him its 'ambassador at large'. (He has not mentioned the fact that Argentina has given only $8.3m of the $17.8m aid it promised Haiti in the wake of the 2010 earthquake. The UK, on the other hand, promised $39m and has given a total of $40.5m.)
Meanwhile, on the subject of "colonialism", Penn is facing calls to give up his own land. In a tongue-in-cheek article in The Daily Telegraph today, historian Dr Tim Stanley calls for the actor to hand back his Malibu estate to Mexico.
"His continued occupation of Malibu is an unacceptable mockery of national self-determination," writes Stanley. "The Mexicans owned that stretch of real estate well into the early 19th century and it was stolen by the Americans in a naked act of imperialist aggression." ·