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Dame Jennifer reiterates independence call

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Keynote speaker: David Burt, the Premier, and his wife, Kristin, are shown with Renée Rhoten Morris, the chief executive of Uncle Funky’s Daughter, an all-natural hair product company and her husband, Milton, at the Progressive Labour Party’s Wakanda Royalty Gala on Saturday (Photograph by Anthony E. Wade)

Dame Jennifer Smith called for the Progressive Labour Party to remain focused on independence.

Speaking at the PLP’s Wakanda Royalty Gala on Saturday night, celebrating the 20th anniversary of its historic General Election victory, the former premier said members must remember what their predecessors fought for.

She said: “They had a vision that one day Bermuda would be an independent country.

“Our ancestors dreamt it would be an independent country and put it in our constitution so we could not and would not forget.”

Dame Jennifer, who became the first elected female premier when the PLP first took power on November 9, 1998, said it was important for all leaders to remember those who came before them.

She read out a list of all of those who ran for office under the PLP banner between the party’s inception and 1998.

She added: “I recognise that the list is long, but I thought it was necessary to acknowledge that we do not do what we do alone.

“Perseverance, endurance and patience are good virtues to have in politics, but even better is to have the trust of the people you serve.”

The sold-out gala at the Fairmont Southampton brought together party leaders and members with music, acknowledging the PLP’s successes and the hard work of volunteers and elected officials.

Many participants adopted the event’s Wakanda theme — inspired by the fictional African nation from the Black Panther film and comics — by wearing African-style attire and make-up.

David Burt, the Premier, said that the choice of theme did not please everyone, as some argued that it would not be inclusive and others were unhappy it highlighted a fictional African country.

Mr Burt said: “There will always be noise with whatever you decide, but if you are clear and focused with what you are trying to do, then you must press forward with that agenda.

“What we were going to do was to ensure that the people who typically do not get to benefit from the shops and sales with everyone getting ready their dresses are able to get some money in their pockets.”

The PLP donated $10,000 to five charities after receiving contributions from the community and sponsors: Project Action, Women’s Resource Centre, Raleigh Bermuda, CADA and Foster Parents Association of Bermuda.

A spokeswoman said: “We are overwhelmed with the support from our sponsors and supporters, it would be remiss of us not to give back as a token of our appreciation.”

For a copy of Dame Jennifer Smith’s speech, click on the PDF under “Related Media”

Former premier Dame Jennifer Smith with David Burt, the Premier (Photograph by Anthony E. Wade)
Selena Fields with Kristin Burt at the PLP Wakanda Royalty Gala (Photograph by Anthony E. Wade)
PLP Gala (Photograph by Anthony E. Wade)