Saint Lucia celebrates its 38th year of independence today Wednesday 22 February, and Lucians worldwide are preparing for a plethora of events including concerts, religious observations and, of course, partying. Saint Lucia has a long history of conquest and settlement, which began with the native Arawak Indians and ended with the British, who, in 1979, finally submitted to the call for an end to its tight colonial grip.
Historically, France and Spain were also involved in battles to claim and occupy the island, known as the ‘Helen of the West’, with the French being officially responsible for the first settlement in Soufriere in 1746. Sugar and slavery turned the wheels of commerce on the island until the latter’s abolition in 1838.
120 years later, in 1958, Saint Lucia, as many other Caribbean islands, sought varying measures of autonomy through the ultimately unsuccessful West Indian Federation. A new constitution was enacted in 1967, and remained in place until the British flag was lowered, patriotically supplanted by the new Saint Lucian flag in all its black, blue, white and yellow finery. In London, this year’s independence observations will be led by the new High Commissioner, His Excellency Mr Guy Mayers.