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USP students, staff celebrate Solomon Islands Independence

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Part of the crowd at USP during the Solomon Islands 39th Independence Anniversary celebrations.

A celebration of the Solomon Islands 39th Independence Anniversary was held at The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Laucala Campus on 7 July, 2017.

Chief Guest, Honourable Peter Shanel, Solomon Islands Minister for Communication and Aviation acknowledged the invitation by USP’s Solomon Islands Student Association (SISA) saying he was privileged to officiate at such an auspicious occasion.

Honourable Peter Shanel, Solomon Islands Minister for Communication and Aviation during the SI 39th Independence Anniversary at USP’s Laucala Campus.

In his keynote address, Hon. Shanel said independence means the ability for people to elect into Office representatives that will form a sovereign government that is able to exercise the full range of powers a State possesses under International law.

“Between 1976 and 1977, when our pre-independence leaders and the British government leaders initiated independence for our country, it was then called the British Solomon Islands Protectorate.

“In 1978, on this very day and month, Solomon Islands was born into freedom of sovereignty, born with the legal right to determine its own destiny and that of its people. That is what our forefathers have achieved for us. We are gathered here and in other parts of the world to commemorate and celebrate this very important day in the life of our nation,” he stated.

Hon. Shanel said 39 years on, the Independence Day marks another year “in the coming of age of our nation as a new united people, it is a manifestation and reflection of the desire of Solomon Islanders to stand up on their own feet, signifying our maturity and our shared vision”.

Furthermore, he commended the work of the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) and acknowledged the Governments of the 15 Pacific Islands nations, led by Australia and New Zealand.

“Recently Solomon Islands celebrated the departure of a very good friend, RAMSI, a friend that brought us out of the dilemma of ethnic difference, a friend that came with a mandate by Parliament to assist Solomon Islands with the three mandated pillars – Law & Justice, Economic Reforms and Machinery of Government.

“After 14 years of RAMSI that saw the re-establishment of law and order, economic reform and machinery of Government, the question I would like to pose to you all is where do we, as a sovereign country, go from here?”

“The onus is on every Solomon Islander, we have a right to acknowledge this momentous day and will continue to do so in years to come through thick and thin. It is true that we have endured many challenges along our nation’s journey,” he said.

Hon. Shanel further mentioned that, “after 39 years it would be absurd for us to deny that we have so much to be grateful for. It is a celebration of the way in which Solomon Islands has faced up to its many challenges, survived as a unified nation and set its eyes on the future, a nation determined to improve the lives of its citizens and take its rightful place both regionally and beyond where it matters”.

Mr Elijah Raomae, SISA President urged students that as future leaders, they needed to celebrate with mindsets that will provide Solomon Islands with agendas for the future.

“A future with stability in all spheres and anti-corruption, a future of peace and prosperity. We must be aware that we were sent to this educational institution for a purpose – to gain the right knowledge and skills that will contribute to our nation’s development,” he stated.

He mentioned that despite the negative experiences of the Solomon Islands, it has improved and he acknowledged Solomon Island leaders at community and national level, including civil society for their hard work and cooperation.

Dr Tammy Tabe, a staff representative, said as Solomon Islands reflected on the past 39 years, it had indeed come a long way.

She said it had been a journey of celebrated successes, of victories and of progress of a unified island nation - a journey overshadowed with political upheaval of violence and economic collapse, as a result of social unrest that took place from 1998-2003.

Dr Tabe said it led to the death of hundreds of people and the displacement of many communities and thousands of Solomon Islanders. She said the once celebrated portrait of Solomon Islands as a Hapi Isles was tainted with hostility as a result of ethnic tension.

“But over the years we have slowly transformed this image of Solomon Islands, and restored its once renowned portrayal, as the Hapi Isles,” she noted.

The occasion was well attended by the Solomon Islands community at USP, including staff and students, members of USP’s SI Student Association and staff of the Solomon Islands High Commission.


This news item was published on 12 Jul 2017 02:54:41 pm. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email communications@usp.ac.fj


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