Sunday, September 29, 2013 was one such moment as over two hundred of the federation’s citizens converged at the Crawford Methodist Church in the Bronx, New York to celebrate the federation’s thirty-year independence anniversary. Spearheading the signature event was the Kittitian American Benevolent Association (KABA) whose community service work began some thirty years ago. KABA has certainly withstood the test of time having served the people of the federation for thirty years making Sunday’s celebration a truly momentous one for members and well-wishers of the organization.
The presence of several dignitaries emphasized the symbolism of the celebration and those in attendance showed their warm appreciation to have the distinguished officials in their midst. Also present at Sunday’s service was the designer of the national flag of St. Kitts and Nevis, Mrs. Edrice Lewis-Viechweg and the elegant and vibrant Ms. Colette Stapleton, Ms. St. Kitts and Nevis New York representative for the 2013 Ms. Caribbean U.S.A. Pageant in November. KABA is also the proud sponsor of Ms. Stapleton.
The service included prayers, songs of exaltation, scripture reading, exchange of the peace, announcements and acknowledgments, poetry, music ministry as well as special greetings from dignitaries in attendance, namely Jacinth Henry-Martin, Ambassador to the U.S., Ambassador Delano Bart, QC on behalf of the Permanent Mission to the United Nations, along with the nation’s current Prime Minister, Denzil Douglas. Ambassadors Henry-Martin and Bart gave brief remarks and expressed their pride in the accomplishments of the federation despite its many challenges and they re-affirmed their commitment to nation building. High Commissioner to the OECS Mrs. Astona Browne also attended the evening of worship and celebration.
The Prime Minister made special mention of the advancements that have now become synonymous with the federation of St. Kitts and Nevis and praised all citizens at home and abroad who continue to work in various ways to build the young independent nation. He too expressed his pleasure in having the opportunity to worship and celebrate with citizens in New York.
The theme chosen by KABA in celebration of the thirty-year anniversary of Independence was “Honouring Our Heritage”. Reverend Edmund Martin of Nevis, who currently resides in Montclair, New York and also pastors a church there, delivered the evening’s message.
Reverend Martin highlighted his nostalgic side as he reflected on his upbringing in Nevis, his development as a young teacher and his experiences living in both St. Kitts and Nevis. He spoke glowingly of how the values imprinted on his mind from an early age helped to shape the individual he has become. He emphasized his pride in being born on Nevis and his sense of appreciation for all who contributed to his positive upbringing. Reverend Martin further suggested that as a people, “We should be grateful for our heritage and those things that helped to build us. He challenged attendees to “Get your mind back on the place where you grew up. St. Kitts and Nevis is what has shaped you and made you who you are!”
Reverend Martin ended by encouraging attendees to honour, respect and support each other and to pray for the peace and welfare of our lands.
Representatives from various organizations were also in attendance in collaboration with the KABA. They too rose to the occasion in recognition of the federation’s independence celebration. Several organizations joined with COMPAS, Inc.,- a college mentoring and preparatory service organization that prides itself in assisting college students through the often challenging initial stages of the college process- to provide small monetary scholarships to assist with defraying some of the costs associated with pursuing higher education. Their invaluable contributions and that of many other individuals and organizations is a solid testimony of the nation’s motto of country above self at work.
The official end of the worship service segued seamlessly into the congregating of attendees on the upper and lower levels of the church to partake in tasty treats that included black pudding, chicken, fritters, salt fish balls, cake, sandwiches and more as well as an assortment of refreshing local drinks and beverages.
A band of steel pan specialists entertained the guests for well over an hour. Of notable mention is the mentoring services provided by Bernell “Tweedie” Hanley who taught a group of young steel pan enthusiasts and successfully molded them into accomplished musicians who are now on their way to becoming steel pan specialists themselves. Given Hanley’s expertise and the work of all those involved in training the young musicians, it is safe to say the future looks bright for our young people. Kudos to our kids and their future and kudos to Tweedie and his band!
Once again, KABA members successfully brought hundreds of Kittitians and Nevisians in the Diaspora together to celebrate one common accomplishment: 30 years of handling our own affairs as an Independent nation. Those in attendance were clearly satisfied as the moment was a rare opportunity to reconnect, rejuvenate and refocus as proud citizens of two small but promising islands in the Caribbean.
The members and supporters of KABA as well as participating organizations offers heartfelt thanks to all who attended and all who contributed in any way to the success of Sunday’s worship service and social. KABA also sincerely thanks and makes special mention of Mrs. Sandra Laws in St. Kitts, who was instrumental in getting some favorite goodies sent up to New York for the special occasion. Goodies such as jawbone breakers, peppermint sticks, guava cheese, fudge and sugarcake. These treats were a welcome surprise for the nationals.
Cheers to St. Kitts and Nevis at 30!
Cheers to our nationals wherever they may be!
Cheers to our Land of Beauty!