The twin island state of Antigua and Barbuda will celebrate its 36th year of independence on Wednesday 1 November. Antigua and Barbuda became an associated state on 27 February, 1967. The islands gained full independence from the United Kingdom on 1 November, 1981, when the Right Honourable Vere Cornwall Bird Sr, known affectionately as ‘Papa Bird’, becoming the first Prime Minister. On that day the Union Jack was finally lowered, and replaced by the new country’s symbolic flag. The flag features red to symbolise the dynamism of the people, blue for hope, and black representing the soil and the islands’ African heritage; the seven pointed Golden Sun symbolises the dawn of a new era, and the ‘V’ is for victory.
The colourful National Dress Day parade, which was introduced in 2011 as a new addition to the activities, marks the annual independence celebrations. But many individuals throughout the country add some of the distinctive yellow and red check madras fabric to some or all of their attire – and it’s not only people, government buildings and schools are also decorated with the fabric.
The independence celebrations are usually launched in September, and throughout October there are competitions, parades, expos and food fairs. It remains to be seen how the recent devastation of Barbuda may affect this year’s events. But nevertheless, we wish all Antiguans and Barbudans a very Happy Independence Day!