The 47th edition of Saba Day was celebrated on Friday, December 2 in the presence of young and old, invited guests, and elected officials, starting with the official program in the morning hours, including the hoisting of the flag, speeches, cultural performances, and a lively street fair in The Bottom in the afternoon. This year’s Saba Day theme is “Remis Velisque – With oars and sails.” The festivities continue during Saba Day Weekend.
The official program started with the singing of the Saba national anthem and the Flag Song by Elisabeth Henry, and the hoisting of the flag by Island Governor Jonathan Johnson, Police Chief Wingrove Baker, and students of the Saba Comprehensive School. The public sought shelter during the short, heavy downpour as the flag was hoisted, a sign of blessings from above, said many.
It was a short walk from the Government Administration Building to Princess Juliana Sports Field where the program continued, starting with an ecumenical service, led by Pastors Vernon Liburd and Mervin Alexander.
Remis Velisque, the motto inscribed on Saba’s Coat of Arms is often translated as ‘With oars and sails,’ and the figurative translation of this is taken to mean ‘With all one’s might,’ said MC Elsa Peterson. “Today I would like to share with you another interpretation of this motto, namely to move with a purpose, an interpretation that is definitely a suitable description of the legacy that we have inherited from the great men and women that came before us,” said Peterson.
Reflecting on this year’s theme ‘Remis Velisque’ and Saba’s relation to the sea, Commissioner Rolando Wilson said that Sabans should always feel proud and recognize that they have made their mark in the world, especially as captains and seafarers. It is our duty to carry on that legacy, he said.
“From our ancestors’ time to today, we have been forever moving forward. Forward with oars and sail full speed ahead to rise above the economic, political, social and development issues that we face daily. Has the journey of progress been easy? No, it has not. We will continue to face challenging times, like a fisherman who is out at sea, at times battling rough waves. The key is to stay focused, determined and watchful,” said Wilson.
Commissioner Bruce Zagers mentioned the many challenges that Sabans face, such as the high cost of living, inflation, basic services like proper banking lacking and a medical referral system that urgently needs to be improved. “These challenges are valid and definitely give reason to raise emotion and concern. These are issues that impact us all on a daily basis.”
Still, Zagers said he remained optimistic, with 2022 having been very significant in terms of growth and development. He mentioned the Saba Package 2.0 with more than USD 4 million added annually to Saba’s free allowance, the establishment of a task force to tackle long-time bottlenecks, funding that the Dutch government has made available to tackle poverty and mitigate the high cost of living, and the investments in physical projects that improve Saba’s infrastructure, create jobs and boost the economy.
Trials and triumphs
“Looking back on the past year, we have once again faced many trials and triumphs. Looking forward to next year eligible voters will decide who will lead our island for the next four years,” said Island Governor Johnson, who pointed out that March 2023 would be his fourth and last local election to oversee as his term ends in 2026. “I would implore everyone to listen, discuss and decide what you feel is best for our island. Remember to carry yourselves in a respectful manner as the day after elections we still have to live with each other,” he said.
Awards to members of the community for their dedication and commitment were given to Charles Dexter Johnson, Egidius “Gied” Mommers, Clifton Gumbs, Henriëtte “Jet” van Heijnsbergen, Jozua, and Avant Baker.
The official program included cultural performances and presentations by the Essence of Saba dance group, students of the Sacred Heart School, Saba Comprehensive School, the Child Focus dance group, Elvis Levenstone, winners of the poem contests Tanya Matthew and Kristen Zagers, the Mankind drum group and the Child Focus steel pan band.
The official program was attended by delegations from Bonaire, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, and the Netherlands.