Hello, hello, hello!
It is so wonderful to welcome you to my Cat Island Independence Celebration, Goombay Summer Festival and to our incomparable Cat Island home!
Now, you know that as the Prime Minister of The Bahamas, I love all of our extraordinary people and all of our beautiful islands.
But as a native Cat Islander, one who grew up running around barefoot and causing no small amount of trouble, and as someone who has been blessed with the privilege of representing the very special people of Cat Island, Rum Cay, and San Salvador – I have to admit that welcoming Bahamians and visitors alike to our beautiful island and sharing our unique culture is a special delight for me.
In Cat Island, we know how to do music and food and dance and have a good time!
And this year, the Goombay Summer Festival is extra special, as we continue celebrating the 50th anniversary of our independence.
Our Golden Jubilee has given us an occasion to celebrate how far we’ve come, to be reflective about what makes our country so special, and to be thoughtful about the opportunities we must seize to continue growing as a people and as a country.
Bahamians believe in innovation and progress, but we also love, respect and enjoy our traditions and way of life. Our vibrant Bahamian culture is the heartbeat of our nation.
The Goombay Festival gives our local artists and entrepreneurs an opportunity to shine – what a wonderful showcase for our local talent, foods, and crafts.
Festivals and celebrating milestones such as our 50th anniversary are also a wonderful opportunity, to make sure our culture and traditions are passed on to younger generations.
I want to acknowledge the Ministry of Tourism, Local Government and The Office of The Prime Minister for their efforts in collaborating and organizing this event as well as local sponsors for their contributions. Their hard work is the reason we are here to bask in the joy and beauty of our shared heritage.
I also want to appreciate our talented Bahamian performers, including Fanshawn, the world-famous Royal Bahamas Police Force Band, and our local junkanoo group, The Southern Rockers. Your music brings our culture to life – and that is very high praise.
Before I wrap up – allow me a quick moment to share with you my excitement about what lies ahead for Cat Island. We have opened a tourism office here, and seen a significant increase in visitors, as more and more people find out something I have been blessed to know since my earliest days – which is that Cat Island has warm people and endless beauty and adventure to offer.
The site for our brand-new, state-of-the-art airport is humming with action, with new trailers of supplies arriving and important preparations for construction underway.
The new airport will be accompanied by new and improved roads, upgraded health facilities, new resources for our schools – Cat Island is on the move!
This is really important. So many Cat Islanders now living and working on other islands, or even out of the country, would love to come home if there are enough good opportunities for them here.
I am determined to create those opportunities, so that every Cat Islander who yearns for home can build their lives here.
As a Family Island man, this belief that young Bahamians should be able to return to build lives in the communities of their parents and grandparents is a belief that I hold dear to my heart. We are building investments and creating infrastructure and opportunities not just here but across our Family Islands.
As you celebrate during this event, know that as you eat, dance, laugh, and sing – you’re playing a part in preserving a very special culture, boosting a local economy, and investing in a future with more inclusive opportunities.
May you enjoy every moment, and when you leave Cat Island – I hope you do so with a smile on your face, a song in your heart, and a straw bag or hat full of beautiful Cat Island crafts and goodies!
I look forward to seeing you next week at the 67th Annual Cat Island Regatta where we will continue to enjoy all Cat Island has to offer.
God Bless! Forward, Upward, Onward, Together!