His Excellency Dr. Lovell Francis, High Commissioner for the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, hosted the 61st Independence celebration on the 1st of September 2023 at his residence in Pretoria. H.E. Dr. Francis welcomed the Secretary for the National Planning Commission, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Members of the Diplomatic community, honorable guests, and friends warmly. Having arrived in South Africa in November 2021, H.E. Dr. Francis returned to his country for the first time last year. The journey takes 26 hours. After spending two weeks in Trinidad, he remarked to his friends that he was now returning home. The love for South Africa and its people has made it feel just like that – home.

Trinidad and Tobago has been invested in South Africa since the country became free, extending hands and friendship, which were welcomed. The countries have always and will always continue to be friends. Trinidad is a small country; however, they are big on ambition, big on pride, and big on style. Still thriving after 50 years, the small nation has a lot to be proud of, and the people like to celebrate the things they have accomplished and celebrate with friends.

Trinidad and Tobago, a dual-island Caribbean nation, is the southernmost Caribbean nation, gaining its independence from Great Britain on August 31st, 1962. At midnight on 30th August 1962, the Union Jack was lowered, and the Trinidad and Tobago flag was raised for the first time. Bells tolled and sirens rang out to herald the birth of the newly independent nation. This first Independence Day was marked by more than a week of festivities and events across the country from August 28th to September 5th, 1962.

The guest speaker, Secretary for National Planning Commission in the Department of Planning and Monetary Evaluation in the Presidency, extended congratulations on behalf of the Government of South Africa to the Government and people of Trinidad and Tobago. The ties between Trinidad and Tobago and South Africa continue to run very deep. They are based on shared history, shared culture, and a sense of a common identity. South Africa attaches great importance to cooperative partnerships with the countries of the Caribbean, which the African Union has rightfully declared its sixth region. The large African diaspora in Trinidad and Tobago forms a very strong and enduring link with Africa. There is a growing South African community in the country working in the oil and gas industries and in the medical professions. The establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries began in 1994. Both governments have worked tirelessly to solidify the historical relations and to facilitate cooperation in energy, arts, culture, sports, tourism, as well as trade and economics. Raising a toast, guests enjoyed the evening celebration combined with good food and live entertainment.

To peace, love, and prosperity, Happy Independence Day.

by Marion Kate