Dear Editor,

Allow me to seize this opportunity to wish the Chiefs and people of Vanuatu a HAPPY 40 YEARS INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY.

Before European contact the Chiefs run their chiefdoms and look after the welfare of the people. Vanuatu was culturally diverse then and is culturally diverse now. However, after independence we begin to cultivate a sense of national oneness and unity in our diversity until this year as we are on the verge of celebrating our Independence for the 40th time.

On the 23rd of July 2020, I took part in the Victory March to the Independence Park to mark the opening of the our 40th Independence Anniversary. Our government declared the 23rd until the 30th of July, Public holidays.

The Victory parade is the biggest ever and I am so proud to be a part of it in my capacity as the Advisor to the Minister of Tourism, Trade, Industry, Commerce Ni-Vanuatu Business. As I sit here writing this, I am convinced that we have achieved Unity in our diversity as one people one nation. The forces that have somewhat sought to divide us have failed and today July 23, 2020 we demonstrate hope and our resilient spirit to exist and survive come what may.

We will keep smiling in times of natural disasters in these times of climate change. Nothing in the world has the right to take away our happiness because we are a happy people due to our low threshold of happiness bolstered by our extended family system that is the very fabric of our society of caring and sharing. For those who drink kava, a shell is the answer after a long day.

July 23, 2020 Victory Parade is our demonstration of La joie de Vire in our beautiful COVID-free Vanuatu. I must admit that we broke the rule of social distancing but we are COVID-free fortunately. The people responded today in great numbers. One estimate is that 10,000 plus people took part.

God our creator has blessed us immensely and we praise Him for it.

Our government has decided to open our borders so that other global citizens can travel here to share our COVID-free status. I am sure that many will be eager to make the trip to our shores when the pictures of our Victory parade provides yet again a testimony to our rich culture and simple gleefulness.

Thank you to previous leaders for contributing to our development of unity in happiness.

The next 40 years will be challenging but hey what is challenge when the challenge is met with happiness.

I met with many school mates, workmates, family and friends. Our victory parade happened and will be recorded in the annals of our history as the biggest ever despite COVID-19, TC Harold, and volcanic ashfall.

Thank you to our donor partners for being a part of our victory March. Thank you to Business Houses. Thank you to Government Ministers, Ex-Prime Ministers, Government Departments and Government Ministries.

Thank you to the Reserve Bank for hosting lunch. To God be all the glory.

YUMI 40!

Thomson Pakoa Matokai Kokona

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