Solomon Islands, the British Protectorate lying between the New Hebrides and New Guinea was formally granted independence on Friday (7 July) at the beginning of a week of planned celebrations.
GV Naval contingent heading parade around stadium in Honiara during rehearsals for Independence Day (2 shots)
SV Newspaper Editor George Atkins talking to reporter Neville Petersen
CU Atkins speaking
GV Bank marching in stadium on Independence Day
GV Crowd in stadium
SV Duke of Gloucester shaking hands with Governor General and walking onto Dais (2 shots)
GV Troops on parade ground
SV Union Jack being lowered and Solomon Islands flag raised.
GV Crowd and CU Solomon's flag (3 shots)
SV Prince Richard speaking in pidgin
PETERSEN: "The Government's Independence Day message was to urge people to forget their differences and work towards a single national unity. As a start towards winning regional confidence it's national development plan proposes the aims of decentralization and a fair geographical sharing of development projects. But the government clearly still has to convince everybody of it's good intentions. The editor of Solomon Islands only independent newspaper, George Atkins, believes that much more should have been done."
ATKINS: "People have been talking about independence but you know it hasn't been fully explained to them. You know, what is independence?"
PETERSEN: "Why hasn't it been fully explained?"
ATKINS: "The thing is that there hasn't been enough political education in the Solomon Islands. You know there is no set plan to go around to the villages and to islands to explain about what goes on in the government, you know what is happening and you know what is politics."
PETERSEN: "So what kind of problems do you foresee as arising because of that?"
ATKINS: "I'm sure it will take us some more years before Solomon Islanders will think of themselves as Solomon Islanders."
PETERSEN: " Yesterday's formal granting of Independence by Britain was a beautifully stage-managed affair in front of several thousand spectators. The Duke of Gloucester, representing the Queen was greeted by the native born Governor General, Mr. Baddeley Devesi, and the Prime Minister, Mr. Peter Kenilorea. Solomon Islands is a constitutional monarchy within the Commonwealth with the Queen as head of state. After the blessing of the new Solomon Island's flag came the change-over ceremony."
PETERSEN: "The Solomon's Flag represents the nation's untapped resources. Green forests, blue oceans, golden beaches, and five stars for the five island groups which constitute the new nation. Prince Richard in his speech launched into a carefully rehearsed message in pidgin, the most common language of Solomon Islands.
PRINCE RICHARD: "Today one big fellas day him he come now. Country belong you fellas him he grow up and kin him he wanting every something belong you fellas. He come up good fellas long all get he years bye he come."
The Prime Minister, Mr. Kenilorea summed up the Government's view in his message to the nation when he said the Solomon Islands has many friends who can assist, but beyond this, the task of development rests with the people themselves.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Solomon Islands, the British Protectorate lying between the New Hebrides and New Guinea was formally granted independence on Friday (7 July) at the beginning of a week of planned celebrations. The Solomon Islands became a British Protectorate in 1893 and until 1952 were governed from Fiji. The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester represented the Queen at the celebrations. The Australian Broadcasting Commission's Neville Petersen, In Honiara, the capital, reports that the government's most pressing problem will be to convince many of its people that the change is a beneficial one.