21 May 2021
Diversity is at the heart of St Helena
Today we celebrate St Helena’s Day. The special day in the calendar each year when we remember the discovery of the Island in 1502. However, today should be much more than just a date. Throughout our long and eventful history, St Helena has built its distinct culture and traditions from the diverse range of peoples who have come here and made it their home. For centuries, arrivals from Asia, Hong Kong and China, Europe, Africa and the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern lands eventually found sanctuary and opportunity on St Helena, though not always at first. This diversity is one of the Island’s most enduring characteristics.
We know well the territory has not had a smooth history since the first settlers arrived. Life was often hard and intolerance towards some groups of people is well known. If time could be rolled back, with the knowledge we have today, many things would no doubt have been different. However, in spite of its remote location, over time, St Helena has endured and found its way. Inadvertently it developed perhaps one of the first multicultural societies, decades, if not centuries, before it became a modern-day phenomenon in many other places.
Diversity of thought, beliefs, ideas and experiences are at the heart of an open-minded and understanding society. The coming together of people with different backgrounds and origins are hallmarks of a dynamic and tolerant society. Everyone on St Helena has a part to play in acknowledging the benefits we receive from our wide mix of people. Visitors see it too, often telling others and writing about us as one of the most hospitable places in the world.
It is therefore very fitting on this National Day in 2021 we celebrate our diverse background in the theme of the St Helena float parade. A wonderful opportunity to showcase the distinctive combination of peoples, talents and beliefs that define not only the past but also the present and future of our Island.
Dr Philip Rushbrook
Governor of St Helena
21 May 2021