Commissioner of Culture Bruce Zagers was the first to officially address the public during Friday’s Saba Day ceremony, writes The Daily Herald. He extended a special thank you to all official guests from abroad to the 38th Saba Day Celebration and the official 50th anniversary of the airport. Zagers emphasized the island’s unique identity highlighted in the royal couple’s recent visit. With great pride he said, “It was inspiring to see our talented youth reenact the lives of the icons, which were instrumental in building Saba.” He said the common theme that day was “the will, the determination, the strength of Saba people,” of those who “were willing to make the ultimate sacrifices for their beloved Saba.” He expanded not only on aviators and Windward Islands Airways International N.V. Winair, who served Saba for half a century, but also on those who maintained the ferryboat service, stating the Edge will be celebrating its 20th anniversary later this month. Both were recognized for their service and commitment to the island. Zagers also highlighted the medical school, hotels, restaurants, dive shops, construction workers and clergy and all “locally-established stakeholders” for their “contribution towards our local economy and development of Saba. They have all proven their commitment to Saba, even though I’m also sure they have often faced many sacrifices.” He stressed that civil society also plays a role in the development of the island. “Our role has changed significantly from our forefathers’, but nevertheless, it is as equally important. As Sabans, we need to restore that true feeling of unity; the values passed down to us by our forefathers. We need to continue to set examples for our youth of what it truly means to be Saban. We come from a rich heritage. Our people are known to be strong, hardworking and courageous people. These are traits that we cannot simply allow to disappear over time. It is up to us Sabans to assure that we uphold our heritage and cultural beliefs. Yes, we face challenges and are subjected to many third-party influences, however, we are a resilient people and there is no challenge that we cannot collectively overcome.” Zagers called on the preservation of “ancestral pride” and determination which are the centrepiece of local identity.
Following a performance by Saba Danza, Island Governor Jonathan Johnson honoured the men who made Saba accessible by air, but also the women who supported them. He pinpointed “hard work, determination and resiliency as character traits making this possible.” While acknowledging that the airport and the island’s interconnectivity have limitations, he stressed the opportunity to graft a unique niche-tourism market. He too thanked all involved in the successful Royal visit success, finishing the address in the split second before another Winair flight touched down.
Commissioner of Transportation Christopher Johnson held his formal address after a Saba Queens youth dance performance.
As an accomplished politician, he made light of himself being formerly dismissed by others as an extension of his father’s influence on local governance. He recounted comical incidents when he was introduced with his father’s name and the effort it took for people to believe in him being fully in charge. Speaking as a man no longer burdened by the tall shadow of his father’s political career, Chris used the occasion to read one of Will Johnson’s history essays on the airport. Filled with firsthand information and “local flavour” the essay, titled “Fifty years of air service to Saba,” is published on the historian’s SabaIslander blog. The connection between the world and Saba “was made possible because of the leadership of those people and the vision they had,” Commissioner Johnson said in closing his speech.