Christopher Columbus landed on the islands of Trinidad and Tobago in 1498, and made them both Spanish colonies until 18 February, 1797, when the British landed in Trinidad. With a fleet of 18 warships, they defeated the Spanish led by the Governor, Don José Maria Chacón. By that time, Trinidad had a population of 17,718, of which 1,082 were Amerindians, 2,151 European, 4,476 ‘free Blacks and people of colour’ and 10,009 slaves.
Tobago, the cigar-shaped island, was passed between various European colonisers over the centuries, including the British, Dutch, French and Spanish. Eventually, after numerous struggles, the British augmented its hold over Tobago as, in 1889, it became one half of the colony of Trinidad and Tobago.
On August 31, 1962, Trinidad and Tobago lowered the British flag and replaced it with the now iconic black, red and white standard, led by its first Prime Minister, Eric Williams. Widely regarded as ‘the Father of the Nation’, the leader of the Peoples’ National Movement (PNM) served as Prime Minister from 1956 until his death in 1981.
‘Trinbago’, as it is popularly known, became a republic within the Commonwealth, severing its links with the British monarchy on August 1, 1976; a fitting date, as it is celebrated as ‘Emancipation Day’.
The country held an election on Monday 10 August, when the serving Prime Minister and leader of the PNM, Dr Keith Christopher Rowley, was voted back into power. He has held the position since September 2015.
We wish all Trinbagonians a Happy Independence.