Sir Probyn Innis featured speaker at Rotary Club of Liamuiga’s Breakfast Meeting — Recalls Federation’s rich history and the need for independence among branches of government

Sir Probyn Inniss speaking at RCL meeting

Basseterre, St. Kitts — Noted historian and legal luminary Sir Probyn Innis offered an insightful assessment of the Federation as it celebrates its 29th Independence. In a brief 20 minute presentation before the Rotary Club of Liamigua (RCL) at its Sept. 12 breakfast meeting, Sir Innis discussed patriotism, origin of our political system and the importance of political engagement. The event was part of RCL’s Independence celebrations.

A former governor, Sir Innis drew on the Federation’s historical label as “Mother Colony of the West Indies” and pointed out the contradiction that we were one of the last islands to obtain independence from Great Britain as we remained one of the most lucrative colonies. Yet, he commended the efficient and nonpartisan civil service system that was adopted from Britain when the Federation gained independence. However, over time, this system has become diluted and politicized, he noted.

Cross section of audience at the RCL meeting
Rotarian Lee Bailey thanks Sir Probyn Inniss and gives him a token from RCL

An ardent historian and accomplished author, Sir Innis revealed to attendees that few Kittitians and Nevisians used authentic indigenous surnames. Instead, our names are a diverse mix of the other cultures and immigrants from other Caribbean islands that arrived in the Federation in the early 1900’s up through the 1970s. This influx was a reflection of St. Kitts’ attraction as a location for ‘making something of oneself’ because of the profitable sugar industry.

Not shying away from the topic of politics, Sir Innis commented on the lack of independence between the Federation’s three branches of government, the judiciary, executive and legislative. He decried the common practice of executive power over the other two branches that have developed. Instead, each should act as a check and balance for the other to ensure accountability on behalf of the people.

He encouraged the Rotary Club of Liamigua to embrace a role as a source of empowerment to the nation’s communities. He emphasized that the people have to be the change that we want to see in our nation and have the power, if united in voice and vision, to move our nation forward.

RCL President Lester Hanley said, “Sir Innis’ presentation was a true call to action. As the highlight of our 2012 Independence celebrations, it was enlightening to our Rotarians and also challenged us as a club to re-evaluate our service not only to groups that we assist in the community but to our country. I am certain that the RCL will rise to the occasion.”

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