July 22, 2014
Haiti and The Bahamas are neighbors currently in quite different circumstances. The Bahamas has the highest GDP per capita in the Caribbean...
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July 22, 2014
The level of involvement of the populace in matters of national importance is at an all-time high in at least the last decade. This participation has been accompanied by a renewed spate of activism and advocacy by Bahamians from all walks of life, across the archipelago. In the midst of this renaissance, it is important that we maintain our civil liberties, never lose respect for the fundamental rights of all persons and uphold the Christian values upon which our nation is built.
Of equal importance is the need to remain focused on the things that matter while avoiding distractions based on trivial matters. The popular saying that not all that can be counted counts and not all that counts can be counted is ever so true in this regard. The important topics of focus by interest groups in recent times have included the Freedom of Information Act, the environment, violence against women, fiscal prudence and equal economic opportunities for Bahamians, just to mention a few. While some of these matters require the government's attention and/or action, the question arises as to how much we can do to advance the public discourse and bring them closer to actualization. We focus this week on gender equality.
Should this be up for debate?
The circumstances surrounding the inclusion of provisions that discriminate against Bahamian women in our constitution are well documented. As a Bahamian woman reflecting on this in 2014, it is extremely difficult to understand or justify the reasoning for making us less equal to our male counterparts. It follows, therefore, that any argument against rectifying this disparity will be hard to articulate and will be almost impossible to compose without reference to practices that are contrary to social justice, equality, fairness and fundamental human rights.
The question then is what are we going to be debating or arguing about in relation to the proposed constitutional referendum to right this wrong and address an issue that is long overdue? Unfortunately, and as with any topic of national importance in The Bahamas, we shouldn't expect this to pass without some unnecessary or contentious points being inserted into the discussion; but then again that is the beauty of democracy.
History suggests that we should act
The only and last referendum held to address gender inequality in The Bahamas was held in 2002; five years after the Free National Movement (FNM) had promised during its 1997 election campaign to improve gender equality in The Bahamas. The results of the referendum held on February 27, 2002 showed that between 63 percent and 71 percent of Bahamians voted no to the five questions put to the populace. Specifically, 66 percent of voters voted against the removal of gender discrimination from our constitution.
The blame for the results and failure to achieve the objectives of the referendum has been ascribed to the role of the opposition at the time, the rushing of the referendum and linking the referendum to the general election. The government, including the official opposition, will do well to learn from that experience by keeping politics out of the debate, not holding the referendum late in the current term and providing ample time for preparation.
The constitutional referendum
The prime minister had stated last year that the government will be proposing amendments to the citizenship provisions of the constitution and an expansion of the definition of discrimination in article 26 of the constitution to remove the existing bias against women in the supreme law of our land. These comments came in the aftermath of the presentation of the Constitutional Commission following nine months of meetings and consultations across the archipelago. Hence, the question is not if, but when.
There is no doubt that the government has a lot on its plate and is challenged to find sufficient resources to address the myriad of issues the country is confronted with. While this is no justification for the inability to adhere to the timelines established to address this important matter to date, the populace should become more actively involved in ensuring that this dream becomes reality.
The various stakeholders in this regard must individually or in concert commence the awareness campaign ahead of the eventual conduct of the referendum. We cannot and should not wait for the government's education to start educating the public. In the same manner we stand together on other matters affecting women, this is a clarion call to unite in spreading the message against gender inequality to ensure that the actual referendum, whenever it is held, is nothing more than a formality. The government on its part should engage the various stakeholders, including civic groups, not-for-profit organizations and the media to assist with the education campaign as soon as possible.
The movement must continue
Based on the results of the 2002 referendum, it is apparent that some Bahamian women voted against amendments that would have given them as equal rights as those belonging to their male counterparts. This is difficult to comprehend but more importantly highlights the importance of raising awareness and keeping politics out of the debate this time around.
In conclusion, the journey to true gender equality in The Bahamas will not and must not end with favorable results of the upcoming constitutional referendum. Amendments to our constitution to make us equal "on paper" and by law to our male counterparts will not mark the end of the struggle for gender equality for Bahamian women; rather, it will be a good start for real equality in all spheres of our society, ranging from political representation to the corporate world.
An appreciation for our history and the socio-cultural factors that have influenced the current ideology on gender in The Bahamas is important if this movement is to survive and thrive. In this regard, the publication "Engendering the Bahamas: A Gendered Examination of Bahamian Nation Making or National Identity and Gender in the Bahamian Context" by Dr. Nicolette Bethel is instructive and a good read for Bahamians as a whole and Bahamian women in particular as we continue on this voyage.
o Arinthia S. Komolafe is an attorney-at-law. Comments on this article can be directed to email@example.com.
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July 19, 2014
My father just celebrated, on June 28, his 102nd birthday. I have the privilege of being his caregiver in Haiti, as all my five brothers and sisters had to continue their nomadic lives in the United States.
I am watching a proud man (he was chief civil court judge in Port au Prince Haiti) losing his ability to be self-sufficient in his daily chores. Between bouts of reciting complete poems of Virgil or Athalie of Jean Racine, there were times when he did not know who I was and when he wanted to receive no visitors.
I came back on Saturday, July 5, from the national funeral of Professor Lesly Manigat, the former president of Haiti, a moving ceremony when President Michel Martelly, paying homage to the widow of the late president, urged the Haitian people to bury the hatchet and work for a Haiti that shall become hospitable to all in the spirit dreamed of by Lesly Manigat all his life.
My 24-year-old daughter has just had a surprise party for her birthday. I remember as if it was yesterday when she was a baby, holding her in front of a painting because I had read this exercise would render your child very smart.
These three vignettes all lead to my elaboration of the concept that life is finite while the patrimony, the children and the good works constitute the indefinite part of life. This essay is an ode to the class of 2014 as it is being sent off on a new path in its journey on this earth.
The days pass but they are part of a continuum that will lead one to a death certain, which is the finality of each one of us. Having been created in God's image, we aspire to being eternal, yet mortality is our lot since the transgression of Adam and Eve in eating the forbidden fruit.
The story of my father and the death of the Professor Lesly Manigat indicate that life is short; we have to take advantage of each day to root a family that will prolong our lives on this earth. The patrimony transmitted by the parents must be enlarged before it is bequeathed to the next generation and the accumulation of good works must be accelerated because, after all, time is ruthless to those who procrastinate.
The trilogy of prolonging our lives through our children, enlarging the received patrimony and multiplying good works should be the business of each one of the graduates.
I remember while in graduate school of social work at Columbia University, the students, who were mostly women, wanted to succeed in their professional lives before settling into matrimony. My empirical survey 40 years later indicates that most of these women did succeed in their professional lives, but have failed miserably in forging a family.
Lesson one for the young ladies (as well for the young men): build your family as soon as you can. I have made the empirical observation that those women who have children early in their lives look younger later as they age. The building of a genealogy requires a next generation made by the children of each member of the family or the grooming of the nieces and the nephews by those who are childless.
The patrimony is the accumulation of assets transmitted by the parents and enlarged by the children. I have seen parents and children of today competing to deny each other the strength of the multiplication of human resources and the full energy of the young and the wisdom of things seen and done by the old.
The concept of patrimony is the roadmap to wealth creation. When a family stands together behind the legacy of the grandfathers, abundance arrives early because each link in the chain offers a guarantee to the other links, so that swimming in the raging sea, they will all ride with the waves; thereby creating a family tableau worthy of framing.
Finally, graduates of 2014: according to one of the best futurists that I know, by the name of Emil Vlagki, the future of the world will be a bleak one, unless you endow yourself with the best education possible, beyond your college degree as such. Graduate school should be one of your objectives; armed with your higher degree, practice creativity and flexibility: abundance and satisfaction will be your lot for the rest of your life, enriching yourself and your nation.
Life might have a finite aspect, but following this path will lead you into infinity in this earth and certainly beyond, fulfilling the goal set for you by the creator: "Bring me the sacrifice of your time and watch to how abundantly I bless you and your loved ones"[Psalm 73-23.24]. Continue this intimate journey, trusting that the path you are following is headed for Heaven.
o Jean H. Charles, LLB MSW, JD, is a syndicated columnist with Caribbean News Now. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org and followed at Caribbeannewsnow/Haiti. This is published with the permission of Caribbean News Now.
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July 18, 2014
Having celebrated The Bahamas' 41st anniversary of independence, there are many realities that face each citizen. Today there are thousands of Bahamians who are unemployed. There are thousands who do not know where there next meal will come from. There are thousands of Bahamians who are unsure of their future. Yet amidst such uncertainty, there is great hope for a bright future.
When we stop believing in ourselves and allow those who would seek to destroy us to control our mental state, we become hopeless. Oftentimes, people look to politicians and expect that their success in life will be based on what the political directorate does. This creates an atmosphere of dependency and is counter to what independence should be about for us all. The Bahamian today has to be a productive and focused individual if he or she is to enjoy the benefits of an independent Bahamas.
Our success as people is not measured in material things. It is measured in the contribution that we make to uplift. The continued work of those who try to instill pride in others is admirable and is to be encouraged. We have to push or pull each other to achieve greatness. The Bahamas must have a plan that is longer than this generation. The previous generation mapped out a strategy and plan that has now materialized 41 years later.
We have the opportunity as citizens to take this country forward and ensure that it grows and moves beyond a typical Caribbean state. This requires ingenuity and innovation. It also requires the next generation to step up and take their rightful role as leaders and substantial contributors to the growth and development of the present and future Bahamas.
The thought of seeing a Bahamas that embraces technological advancements while implementing science is one that breeds optimism. When we can have more of our citizens becoming involved in private sector growth and public sector reform, this gives cause for being hopeful. Today's Bahamians are more educated and more advanced than the independence era generation. We have a great task ahead of us to accomplish even greater things. It means that we must be resolute and convinced that our responsibility as the beneficiaries of the independence movement is to achieve even more and create an even better Bahamas than we inherited.
With all the expectation that many have for the next generation, how is it possible to accomplish these things given the challenging state of affairs? Quite frankly, no one person has the answers to all of these issues but collectively if we put our heads together we can find the answers and implement the solutions. We need a more peaceful and tranquil Bahamas. Maybe with the advancement of our country post-independence we forgot from whence we came and took it for granted. If we analyze our country over the past 41 years, we see that in various households a lot of things happened that created a Bahamas that today is far from perfect.
In spite of the realities that paint a picture of sadness for some, we must still be focused and committed to lifting our people to a brighter and better future. The bloodletting and savagery of our present is not a reflection of who we can be and who we really are as a people. However, from the outside looking in, it may appear that this is who Bahamians have become.
Contrary to what others may think of The Bahamas today, there is hope for a country that loves more. The Bahamas must truly believe in Bahamians and ensure that Bahamians are given opportunities to succeed in every sphere of life. This is no easy task when balancing between the interests of external influences and the needs for national development. However, as a matter of unity in our belief that it is Bahamians who have the most to gain from a better Bahamas, we can have hope in a hopeless world.
What is it that you want for yourself? What kind of future do you want for your children? These kinds of questions provoke so many responses. For those of you who were around 41 years ago, is The Bahamas today better than it was under the British? It is for you to determine that through your actions and in your thoughts.
Thankfully, our country is not at a crossroads. We left that point on July 10, 1973. We are now on a path to development as a young country. We are a young country and that is a fact that should give us all hope. It means that we are growing and learning and our citizens are becoming more astute. Those who take the people of The Bahamas for granted should know there is no mistake that the people cannot reverse. Our country is alert and not as lost as some do believe. For a country that has less than 400,000 people, we celebrated our 41st independence day knowing that we have a great hope in a hopeless world.
It is with a great sense of pride that many of you represent all of us in spheres of life within and outside of The Bahamas. This gives us all hope. The Bahamas that the independence generation championed has the potential to be much better than they envisioned. Regardless of your political view, do you have hope in a hopeless world? It will require people who have hope to move this country forward to a place where opportunity abounds for all Bahamians.
As we all determine what role we will play in the further growth and development of the Bahamas we have examples from the independence era that 41 years ago ushered in The Bahamas that has evolved today. While you journey through life in The Bahamas, make your mark and let your contribution count to making us a better and brighter Bahamas.
o John Carey served as a member of Parliament 2002 to 2007. He can be reached at: email@example.com.
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July 16, 2014
That Perry Christie was never his own man in the PLP was dramatized in his decision in recommending the appointment of the widow of Sir Lynden Pindling as governor general, thereby kowtowing and extending the cult of personality of the Pindling era. For fear of political retribution he perhaps dare not have appointed another.
Kowtow is the westernized term for kau tau in Cantonese or koutou in Mandarin Chinese. The term refers to an act of deference in which one prostrates, kneels or bows to another, "so low as to have one's head touching the ground".
At the swearing-in of Dame Marguerite, we were not simply witnessing the elevation of an individual to the essential constitutional post of governor general. We were more probably watching the emergence of a new potential center of political power for the Pindling Dynasty.
So it was last week that the head of government seemed almost like a supplicant to the incoming head of state, beseeching her to act in a nonpartisan and non-political manner. It proved embarrassing for a prime minister who may have grudgingly recommended her appointment.
Christie spent so much time extolling the virtues of past governors general and pleading with her for neutrality, that his praise of her seemed less than fulsome, almost second hand. Curiously, much of the support by PLPs for the appointment has been either grudging or defensive in nature.
At a 2012 general election rally, Dame Marguerite was in full political swing: "I want you to get behind your leader, my leader, Sir Lynden's chosen successor, his only rightful heir, the Right Honorable Perry Gladstone Christie... Perry's the man. Let's march with our leader and on May 7 let's all see that we vote PLP. I know that's what Sir Lynden would want us all to do."
While quite a number in the PLP are famous for their sense of entitlement, the Pindlings seemed to have more of a sense of ownership, as if the party belonged to their imperial court, with outer rings of supplicants and fawners. That Dame Marguerite believes that she deserved to become governor general speaks to an unmistakable mindset.
Notice the dynastic language and the sense of ownership, as if the party is a Pindling franchise: "only rightful heir" and "chosen successor", akin to the Juan and Eva Peron mindset in Argentina.
That mindset is one of, 'Look what we've done for you. We made you, now repay us with obedience and deference'. When Hubert Ingraham, Dr. B.J. Nottage and others did otherwise they became persona non grata.
Christie was on the outside for a brief spell. But eventually he was redeemed, with the Pindlings supporting his leadership of the PLP for a number of reasons, a primary one of which was their belief that he was controllable and would be held accountable to the dynasty.
With Christie boldly claiming that he would swim through vomit to get back to the PLP, the Pindlings knew that this was their man. In many ways they have been proven correct. He not only recommended her knighthood some years ago. Now he recommended her becoming head of state, still a bewildering choice to many.
During the 2002 general election the party propagandized that it was a new PLP. That was only an outer coat of paint on a party still mired in the bad old ways of the PLP, ways that have returned with a vengeance during this current term of office.
When Sir Lynden retired from the House of Assembly, he gave a moving farewell. But there was something missing. Sir Lynden offered the stylized form of apology of, 'If I offended anyone'.
Such apologies, lacking in specificity, never fully capture the gravity of wounds inflicted on others. The Pindling reign was often malicious and brutal, destroying lives, separating families, and with wide scale victimization. Many of the wounds inflicted by that period have resurfaced.
In coming to terms with the Pindling legacy, credit must be granted for the many accomplishments. Likewise, there must be an acknowledgement of the brutality of the reign.
What so disturbs many about Dame Marguerite's appointment is that it appears that the excesses of the Pindling era are somehow to be whitewashed, with those excesses now vindicated and rewarded. Though up until last year Dame Marguerite seemingly could not bring herself to speak of the FNM's accomplishments in office, last week she called for national unity.
Such unity necessitates first truth and then reconciliation. The problem is that there has never been a truthful acknowledgment of the damage done to so many Bahamians during the Pindling reign. And there has never been any semblance of a fuller remorse and apology for the grave excesses of the period.
The notion of 'let's forget about all of that and move on', will not wash. We have heard this cry of amnesia throughout history.
In the idea of restorative justice and the Roman Catholic sacrament of reconciliation, there is first a coming to terms with the wrong inflicted on others. There is then the basis for greater mutuality with those wronged.
There is no genuine reconciliation absent a confession of one's wrongdoing, which is why Richard Nixon could never come close to redeeming himself in the eyes of the American people for the crimes he committed while in the White House, including the Watergate scandal and other abuses of power.
Dame Marguerite's appointment is the most controversial in an independent Bahamas. Her main reason for being recommended seems to be that she is Sir Lynden's widow, and that though she has contributed to the national good, those contributions did not rise to the level of recommending her appointment.
Scores of Bahamians do not believe, given her history, that at this point she will now somehow be nonpartisan. She may well use her new office overwhelmingly to favor PLPs with token signs of unity. The country will wait and see.
There are already troubling signs in terms of personnel at Government House. If inquiries begin to be made of the political affiliation of any staff member, we are in dangerous territory. The mere asking of such affiliation would intimidate staff members.
There will be respect afforded Dame Marguerite because of the office she holds. But it is not likely that she will win hearts and minds if she acts as if she is extending the Pindling reign, dividing the country into us against them.
One sign of progress would be an effort by Dame Marguerite to begin to acknowledge the grave errors and excesses of the Pindling years. This may be wishful thinking, for the PLP today seems to be generating all manner of excess, under the misrule of Perry Christie.
The Pindlings were correct: In not the most flattering ways, Christie is Pindling's heir and successor.
o firstname.lastname@example.org, www.bahamapundit.com.
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July 16, 2014
If you've seen a photo of me, other than the one posted here every week on this column, you're thinking "where is this vanilla-skinned woman going talking about black Bahamian beauty?"
Hold that thought.
There was a time in history, not even so long ago, when I would have been considered too black to be white in some countries. And, yes, in some other countries, I would have been too white to be black.
This need to identify racial differences was driven by ignorance. Today, it still is.
People were then, as some still are now, unfamiliar with others who looked nothing like them, and they built their prejudices and judgments, and eventually hatreds, on their differences, fueled further by the human need to be right or to be best, and by the many intolerances of their parents and others before them who perpetuated this kind of thinking.
Now, after decades, centuries of racial mixing, when greater knowledge and less ignorance should exist because of greater exposure between countries and cultures, the separations continue.
The need to see and keep people in color blocks stems from an individual's need to feel more comfortable about her or his position with respect to that other person. People long to fit in, be understood and loved. And if there are any perceived threats to them fitting in, being understood, or being loved, or the chance they might be considered unworthy of these things they long for, then they immediately begin an internal campaign to challenge the things and people they regard as threats to their comfort. From the comforts of racism to the comforts of relationships, this applies across the human experience.
The mere fact that everything always comes down to black and white, black or white, black versus white, is a lingering disturbance, but I have heard the question asked recently, "is The Bahamas racially divided?" "Do black Bahamians hate white Bahamians and vice versa?"
Maybe I'm not the one to answer this, because no one ever knows what I am. (Insert laughter here.) But when you hear Bahamians make serious racial slurs, in either direction, they're just being one of two things: ignorant or hateful. And when you have a conversation with them, you find that the story goes a bit deeper, usually back to some personal experience that left them with emotional or mental discomfort, or something more psychologically invasive like a full-fledged mental (re)conditioning inflicted by 1) their own people, or, 2) an outsider.
A while back, I met a little girl at a private school sports meet. I should say, more accurately, she met me. She was about five years old. And I guess she gravitated towards me because she wanted to have a conversation about something that made her uncomfortable, and she was looking for some resolution.
She told me that she wished she was white. I told her that she should never say that or feel that way because she was beautiful... and she really was. But, of course, being who I am, I had to find out more about why this child, at five years of age, was already on this road to self-hate.
Every reason she gave me for wanting to be white was superficial, or mostly aesthetic, and in the end I concluded that her dilemma stemmed from the fact that she didn't want to look the way she did because someone had, along the way, told her or shown her that her skin color made her inadequate.
Now, because I grew up in The Bahamas, my own experience reminded me that it was likely that the other little kids who looked just like her could have had a lot to do with this little girl's interpretation of herself and the low self-esteem that would arise later on because of it, affecting, quite possibly, every part of her life and her outlook on life.
Yes, there are always some other influences in these circumstances, and with a little more time in this little girl's company I might have discovered more. But, drawing on my own encounters, I was willing to bet that there was something going on closer to home. Someone was reinforcing for her that her brown skin was not as good as lighter skin. I would also be willing to bet that, at present, there is still at least one generation of brown-skinned people who don't know or love themselves as they are, which is mind-blowing to me in a predominantly black country. And the perpetrators? Often ourselves... in the way we have subconsciously adapted the concepts of beauty over many years of being subjected to what we believed to be superior to us.
Sit and listen to the children playing in the streets or on a playground. Children can be so cruel and heartless, and Bahamian children have a special type and method of 'cruelty' when they grab on to the use of certain hurtful words. It is not uncommon to hear them taunt each other about their skin color: "come from here with your black self", "well mudda sick, you look black, boy", or "you so black and ugly."
Where are these children hearing these things and why do they relive them every day? This special kind of thinking comes from a special kind of environment, with a special kind of parent or parents or adults who perpetuate it.
And it makes me wonder, where is the mother's love in this equation? What about my little friend? What would her mother say if she heard her child telling me these things about her skin color preference? Or, maybe, she'd say nothing, because she herself says these things to the child or around the child. And maybe, just maybe, she, the mother, feels the same way about herself.
And I reflect on my own mother.
I was a mixed child who grew up with a predominantly black family. Unless they knew my maternal relatives, the assumption of most people I encountered was that I was white. But my mom never gave me any reason to believe I was different. We never had a need to have a conversation about race... not until I was almost a teenager, and she told me about the idiot (my word) who worked with her who, whenever he saw me, would call me 'Imitation of Life.'
As a child, and at that time, I had absolutely no idea what that meant, but, when I grew a little older and watched the movie by the same name, it broke my heart. The movie itself was sad, but it was even sadder and more heartbreaking to me that someone could label me with such a burdensome title and know nothing about me. And from that moment on I became more aware of racial differences and intolerances, but most specifically the black Bahamian's dislike for self and need for constant comparison, evaluation, and approval.
It never dawned on me that my skin color could make so many people perplexed, and that ranged from shock and speechlessness, to excitement at the novelty, to disgust and jealousy.
As I got older, the comments and questions got more ridiculous. While at COB, I recall another student walking up to me and asking "are you black or white?" And even though I had come to expect it by then, it still always caught me off guard. It never stopped being strange that someone had such a need for an answer to this question that had nothing to do with them.
I started to have a little fun with my responses, just to entertain myself, because surely this was a joke. Sometimes I would say 'both'. Sometimes I would say 'neither'. Sometimes I would ask, "Which makes you feel better?" Of course, on those latter occasions, I would get dead air. I still do this. And if today someone says 'hey white girl', I say 'hey black boy/ girl' and watch their silent, jaw-dropped reactions to the absurdity of the way that sounds.
From the insane comments about my good hair (which, by the way, still happens), to the more foolish comment that I was white and I thought I was better than they were, over the years the racial feedback grew in intensity.
And I remember feeling afire inside, finally deciding that no, I don't think I'm white, I know what I am, but you apparently think I'm white, and are obsessed with labeling me to make yourself more comfortable with your interpretation of me.
In spite of the many mixed babies being born the world over and in The Bahamas, this assumption still holds strong to this day. I think this idea that I and others like me (perceived white) automatically have thoughts of superiority is based more on the fact that those who believe this automatically have thoughts of inferiority about themselves. Clearly, they were then and still are ignorant of my parentage, and it is has never been my concern to explain it to them. But it does starkly reveal the deficiencies in their own parentage which has caused them to see themselves in such a negative light, deficiencies perfected by years of practice being something other than they are.
Through the simple cultural routine of hair relaxing, pressing, and now weaving, to the skin bleaching, I realize that it is ingrained in our black Bahamian women (and men) to deny their true selves and their true beauty.
Could this be what happened to my little friend who wanted to be white?
The (Bahamian) black woman is taught, subconsciously, that her hair must be straighter. Some black women are taught that their skin must be lighter.
And in my years of observing my own culture, I've never known anyone to perpetuate these stereotypes more than the black woman herself, save for a few random exceptions, to fit the norm of societal expectation.
My mum has, since I was a child, worn her natural hair in a low afro. My grammy did, too. It was my norm to see this, and for black women to be this way. They were just being themselves. It was the standard of self-love and self-approval. It was a sincere lack of interest in conforming to those haunting and depleting social norms, something I held on to and have never, ever let go of. If you know me, you know I am a nonconformist in every possible way, and I care nothing about people's opinions of me. And I think that, next to immeasurable love, is the greatest gift my mother and grandmother have given me.
When I look at Mummy, I see a woman of color with natural hair breaking barriers in an enslaved concept of black beauty. And when I see other black women who have done or are doing the same, intentionally or otherwise, I sing a little victory song inside, because there's nothing more empowering for little girls, who one day become mothers of entire nations, to see their own mothers love themselves so completely.
It tells me that they know who they are and they love who they are. It tells me that if they can love themselves this way, their children will be more likely to love themselves in the same way. And if this could happen all around the country, there would be fewer little Bahamian girls telling me and other random strangers that they wish they were white. And they can stop looking at their differences from the perspective of needing to conform or change themselves on the basis of an arbitrary standard of beauty, and more from the perspective of celebrating themselves as they naturally are. And if they can celebrate their many differences even in beauty, then the differences, one day, perhaps won't matter as much.
o Nicole Burrows is an academically-trained economist. She can be contacted via Facebook at Facebook.com/NicoleBurrows.
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July 15, 2014
The swearing in of our new governor general, Dame Marguerite Pindling (Lady Pindling as she is fondly called), marked the end of a tenure, beginning of a reign, but more importantly the beginning of the end of an era.
Our history and identity
It is often said that an individual that does not know where he or she came from cannot possibly know his or her destination. In other words, we cannot move forward towards a common loftier goal without an appreciation for whence we came. This speaks to our history as well as the struggles, pain, tears and triumph that have made it possible for us to come this far while achieving the current level of success we enjoy as a nation.
The tributes to and speech by Sir Arthur captured a minimal yet important portion of our history and his immense contribution to our beloved country. The blessings of technology, media and the Internet have also enabled us to take a sneak peek into the heart of an elder statesman whose love for his country is undeniable. The records show and the history books will reflect the role this giant of a man played in major milestones accomplished by The Bahamas including Majority Rule and Independence. We salute Sir Arthur as he goes into retirement and commences a well-deserved rest.
Ordinary people on the hill
One of the most fascinating aspects of the speeches delivered last week were the references to and accounts of the upbringing and early years of Sir Arthur and Dame Marguerite. They both have stories that capture the essence of the Bahamian Dream for which they have fought. It is a dream that ensures that a Bahamian is not discounted from progress or success due to their ethnic background, race, social status, gender, religion or political affiliation. A vision of a better life for all Bahamians that are willing to make sacrifices and pursue success.
The story of Sir Arthur's early days on the remote island of Inagua in a family with limited resources and his ascension to Government House gives renewed hope to young Bahamians. How could we forget the story of the barefoot girl from Andros, Dame Marguerite? Recounting her voyage to and arrival in Nassau, she often references with genuine innocence her amazement with the Nassau of several decades ago. The origins of these two great Bahamians did not however discount or disqualify them from getting to the zenith of political power in our country. This alone is reason for this new generation to believe and our leaders to emulate their predecessors by ensuring that opportunities are not monopolized by a select few among us.
Authors of the lions' and lionesses' exploits
Prime Minister Perry Christie has highlighted on numerous occasions the importance of recording our history. Quoting one of his favorite African proverbs, he often notes that until lions have authors, the story of the hunt when told will favor and compliment the hunter. In essence, the story of hunting expeditions will often miss the other side of what transpired from the perspective of the lions and lionesses if no one takes the time to document the same.
Christie has been an advocate for the writing of biographies and autobiographies for the new generation and generations yet unborn to appreciate not just their history but in order to enrich our country with the knowledge and wisdom of our national treasures. As a student of history and nationalist, this writer keeps a library of the writings and thoughts of our great sons and daughters. However, it is often apparent from the memoirs of a lot of our past and present leaders that some of their stories and reflections have not been captured in these documents. This reality means that we have missed and will miss a lot of the important chapters of our nations' history unless the lions and lionesses begin to put pen to paper or entertain interviews to document the missing chapters in our history books.
Passing the baton
And so this piece concludes where it started, the beginning of a tenure which ironically signals the beginning of the end of an era. The prime minister described Dame Marguerite as the last of the freedom fighters. This comment forces us to face the fact that an era is passing away with warriors of that generation exiting the forefront and limelight to retirement and their eternal rest. There is no doubt that they leave behind a rich heritage and legacy due to their commitment to humanity and the Bahamian people.
Our new GG has promised to serve all Bahamians without prejudice or discrimination. This is what we have come to expect from all our distinguished GGs over the years and there is no reason why Dame Marguerite cannot serve without partiality, partisanship or bias. It is encouraging to also see the Free National Movement recognizing its role as Her Majesty's Official Loyal Opposition, congratulating the new GG following her pledge and expressing commitment to seek to unite a divided electorate. We must now move on as a nation and support the GG in the execution of her constitutional duties.
The sacrifices of our founding fathers and mothers, the struggles for equality and fight of the Suffragettes must not be forgotten as the sun sets on the remainder of the generation that made a difference. The new generation must take up the mantle as this is the only way we can properly honor the legacy of our ancestors. We must read their stories and learn from their experiences to build a better Bahamas. More importantly, we must emulate their selflessness and fortitude in the quest to make our nation the best it can be. In doing so, the burning desire to succeed must be driven by deep rooted convictions in equity, equality, impartiality, patriotism and the fear of the God that has brought us this far as a country.
o Arinthia S. Komolafe is an attorney-at-law. Comments on this article can be directed to email@example.com.
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July 15, 2014
Bahamians, descendants and friends of The Bahamas, on Sunday gathered at the historic St. Agnes Church...
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July 14, 2014
"Unity is strength...when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved."
- Mattie Stepanek
On Tuesday, July 9, 2014, one day before independence day in The Bahamas, there were several historic moments in Bahamian history. On that date, we witnessed His Excellency Sir Arthur Foulkes demit office as our ninth governor general in an independent Bahamas, four short years after being sworn in.
Several hours later on that same day, the 10th governor general since independence, and the ninth Bahamian, assumed that office in the person of Dame Marguerite Pindling. We should remember that Sir John Paul, a British citizen who served as the last governor of the colony of The Bahama Islands, was the first governor general of the newly created Commonwealth of The Bahamas on July 10, 1973. He held that post for a very short time, only until August 1, 1973 when Sir Milo Butler became our first Bahamian governor general.
Therefore this week we would like to Consider this... What should we expect of our newest governor general, Her Excellency Dame Marguerite?
In assuming office as the governor general, Dame Marguerite embodies a series of firsts for our nation. She is the first Bahamian governor general to attain that post without having served in the executive or legislative branches of government. Without exception, all other governors general have served in either the executive or legislative branches of government, and in some instances both.
In addition, Dame Marguerite is the first spouse of a former Caribbean prime minister to become governor general. The only other similar situation, albeit not quite analogous, was Dame Nita Barrow, the sister of the founding father of Barbados, Errol Barrow, who served as prime minister of Barbados from 1966 to 1976, and who during his tenure led Barbados to independence from Great Britain in 1966.
There is no question that Dame Marguerite has made enormous contributions to the body politic for many decades, primarily in a supporting role as the spouse of Sir Lynden Pindling, the leader of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and prime minster for 25 years.
And while she has never offered for elective political office, Dame Marguerite has been squarely at the center of politics in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
Married on May 5, 1956, Dame Marguerite found herself immediately in the thick of the first political campaign ever fought by the Progressive Liberal Party. Election day, June 8, 1956, saw history made when six members of the fledgling Progressive Liberal Party were elected to the House of Assembly, including her new husband, Lynden Pindling.
Finding herself in a new role as her husband became the leader of opposition business in the House, she immersed herself, along with many other PLP women, in fundraising, which enabled the men to bring the PLP message to the Out Islands, as
well as efficiently and speedily organizing branches of the party.
She also became part of the group of women agitating for the right to vote because, in those days, activism and being a part of the PLP went hand in hand, even for women who were traditionally homemakers. Almost everyone in those days was caught up in what was becoming a national movement toward economic and social empowerment. Being involved in the movement, she became well informed about the events of the day so she could liaise with the women of the party and keep them abreast of what was happening as the party moved forward, toward their goals.
Even as her family grew, Dame Marguerite grew as a public figure, the wife of the man who eventually became the leader of the party. Gifted with natural wit and innate style, she learned how things were done in a more international arena as she represented The Bahamas at the side of her husband, even filling in for him upon occasion. It is also a matter of historical record that the first time she actually stood in for him was to deliver a speech in England on his behalf when Sir Lynden was called back to The Bahamas in May 1980 to deal with the national crisis caused by the sinking of the HMBS Flamingo by Cuban fighter jets.
The family influence
It is well known that Sir Lynden, unless he was away or otherwise engaged in some pressing matters of state, returned to his home almost every day for lunch, where he shared time over the meal, more often than not prepared by his wife, with his family. Friends and colleagues of Sir Lynden have recounted how helpful such a respite was for him, and that, on occasion, when confronted with important national issues, his luncheon sojourns to his family home would provide him with the time to reflect on such issues in a quiet space, which often would allow him to discover a resolution before returning to his office, no doubt aided by the support, insight and advice that he might have received from Dame Marguerite.
As a mother and grandmother, Dame Marguerite also brings to her new assignment a maternal perspective that has been forged not only from her family structure but also from her interaction with thousands in her political life, as can be seen from the nurturing and caring support that she has always provided to her husband and children as well as to her political associates. These life experiences should assist her in becoming an outstanding governor general.
Charitable and civic contributions
For more than half a century, Dame Marguerite has made enormous contributions to the Bahamian community through her involvement in charitable organizations, most notably the Red Cross. Her role as patron succeeded in raising the profile of many of these organizations and directly contributed to increased funding.
Dame Marguerite's new role
Dame Marguerite will no doubt adorn her new office with the same grace, elegance, civility and aplomb as she displayed these past 58 years. Now in her role as governor general, as then, these and other attributes will serve as an important model, especially for the young people of our still fledgling nation.
By her own statements, we know that Dame Marguerite fully appreciates that the central role that she played in the body politic prior to attaining this office will require a radical shift in her political focus and perspective. She now recognizes that such activity and public and private pronouncements will have to be subsumed by impeccable impartiality. She acknowledged this in her first address as governor general that, both in tone and tenor, assuaged the concerns that were publicly expressed in the lead-up to her appointment. We applaud her for seeking to allay these concerns so definitively.
As she executes her vitally important role as head of state and the Queen's representative in The Bahamas, we are confident that at all times Dame Marguerite will remember the powerful words of the father of the nation that as we "look up and move on, the world is watching".
We join with all who wish Dame Marguerite well and believe that she will serve our country with distinction as governor general.
o Philip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis and Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic & Litigation Support Services. He served 15 years in Parliament. Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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July 10, 2014
For my generation who was born around the independence era, it is amazing to see the development of The Bahamas from childhood to now. For what it's worth, while we were not able to remember or understand what independence meant at the time, we are certainly appreciative of what it means for us today.
In this vein, our Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling has been a strong pillar of support in the development of the modern Bahamas. Whether you agree with me or not, I think she is an absolutely wonderful choice and it brings much pride and joy to thousands of Bahamians.
When we are able to get past the politics which oftentimes blind our good sense, rational Bahamians will conclude that this choice for governor general will augur well for the Bahamas. Our governor general represents the best in us. None of us are perfect but with hard work, determination and a commitment to country, she admirably demonstrates what we can become by God's grace and mercy.
Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling has a wealth of knowledge on the history and development of the modern Bahamas. Her experience is one that will contribute substantially to our further development as a young nation. There can be differences in views of who should or should not be governor general, but when the history of this time period is written and many of us are long gone, the record will reflect that Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling was the right person at the right time for the right position. The pride that most of us share in having Dame Marguerite as governor general comes from the fact that she is an individual of remarkable skill and accomplishment.
The honor to serve our country as the governor general is one that Dame Marguerite has earned. It is unconscionable that there are those who wish to characterize her appointment as governor general as anything less than the result of service with distinction. I would imagine that way back in 1956, it never occurred to Dame Marguerite that in 2014 she would be appointed governor general. It is fitting that God's will is one that man cannot comprehend and the fact that she is our governor general is a testament to the idea that what destiny has in store for you, no one can take away.
It is indeed encouraging that women can aspire to be the governor general. Her appointment speaks well to gender equality in The Bahamas. In a time when there is so much that we can criticize and complain about, we can all agree that the elevation of Dame Marguerite to the office of governor general is a powerful and meaningful fact.
Our governor general has been an inspiration to me personally. In my path to public service, she was an influential figure. I recall on June 12, 1991, when I graduated from the then West Indies College in Mandeville, Jamaica, her message to me as a young college graduate was to come home and make a contribution. I would dare say that she may probably not even remember that day but for a 19-year-old who had just met the wife of the prime minister of the Bahamas, it was a positive and proud encounter.
Dame Marguerite was born on the same island as my paternal grandmother. She has certainly brought honor to the people of South Andros. The people of South Andros and the entire Bahamas have a lot to be proud of when we examine how far we have come after 41 years of independence. With a governor general who has a record of distinguished contribution to our country having not served in public office, it demonstrates to the ordinary citizen of the Bahamas that he or she can attain greatness.
All of us have a role to play in the growth and development of this country. Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling has made a difference and in her new capacity, will make an even greater contribution to our country.
As I look at the generation of my children who are all under the age of 14; I can project without contradiction that the future is bright when they can look at a role model such as our governor general. She epitomizes to me that the possibilities are endless with God.
I challenge the naysayers to come to terms with the reality that we have a marvelous governor general in the person of Dame Marguerite Pindling. Put the political rhetoric and insulting remarks to rest. Get over your personal choice of what you would have wanted or not wanted. It's important that we support our governor general. She is not the governor general for some, but the governor general for all Bahamians.
Partisan politics is not a detractor to being able to serve as the governor general. However, once in the role, impartiality becomes the standard. Our governor general will be an impartial beacon of light that helps to guide the government and opposition in these critical times. The Bahamas needs a Dame Marguerite Pindling who brings many years of wisdom, grace and elegance. She is deserving of all the honors bestowed upon her and as a people we should be appreciative of what she brings to the role.
We can rest assured that our new governor general will be a continued inspiration in her new role and our country will be better for it. There can be no contradiction in the reality that the governor general plays a very important constitutional role. I am elated to see Dame Marguerite Pindling as the governor general of The Bahamas. The future of The Bahamas is absolutely fantastic and if we continue to move forward with a positive outlook there can be greater things ahead.
o John Carey served as a member of Parliament from 2002 to 2007.
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July 10, 2014
Like Nelson Mandela, Sir Arthur Foulkes embodies the best of his country and the best of the human spirit. At the moment of his release from prison after 27 years of captivity, Mandela felt the swell of anger for the violence done to his country and to him by the perpetrators of apartheid's efficient and vicious brutality.
To secure the freedom of his people and to preserve that of his soul, he resolved to leave any lingering bitterness in his prison cell. He was determined not to allow his captors to imprison his spirit as he emerged from a physical confinement which never succeeded in shackling his hopes and his convictions.
In and out of prison Mandela embodied "Invictus", the Victorian poem of William Ernest Henley:
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be,
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance,
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance,
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears,
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years,
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
Sir Arthur, now 86, decided early in his life that he was the master of his fate, the captain of his unconquerable soul. Over an extraordinary lifetime, with a sovereign Bahamas on the horizon, eventually dawning, developing as a young independent nation, he helped to conquer racist minority rule and the misrule and viciousness of the Pindling era.
Sir Arthur refused to be defined by those who plotted to destroy him and his unquenchable witness to freedom and a democratic Bahamas. Anger is described as one of the seven deadly sins. But it is not anger per se that is the sin. The true sin is the poison of unending bitterness and the never satisfied appetite for vengeance arising from undistilled anger.
In the wisdom of Dr. Maya Angelou: "Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean."
What Mandela, Angelou, Martin Luther King Jr., Sir Arthur and other noble souls understood as a classic challenge of the human spirit and of the cause of justice is the enduring and necessary struggle to transform anger into positive and creative action without internalizing bitterness and the bile of revenge.
Bitterness destroys the one who gorges on it, the one who is unable to forgive, the one who is unable to reach for reconciliation, the one who is unable to let go of certain hurt and pain inflicted by others, which often metastasize from anger into rage and all manner of destructive tendencies; a lifetime of crippling feelings, grievances and chips on shoulders engorged to boulders if not released.
It is often easier to conquer a nation than to tame or conquer one's appetites and sprits. The greatest among us are those who are able to achieve both of these, like Mandela, like Mohandas Gandhi, and in his own way, like Arthur Foulkes.
By his early 20s he had moved permanently from Inagua to New Providence, finding employment at The Tribune, during which time he celebrated his 21st birthday. "In the fell clutch of circumstance" of the 1950s under a racist minority government, Arthur A. Foulkes joined the fledgling Progressive Liberal Party.
The British activist Vivienne Westwood bemoans: "Most people don't think change is up to them; they think somehow it will just happen." Sir Arthur eschews such moral indifference.
He knew that it was up to him to play his part. His conscience dictated that he join the struggle and his moral compass pushed him to oppose Sir Lynden, at great cost to him and his family, while others who initially agreed to support the historic vote of no confidence against Sir Lynden buckled and lost courage, continuing to support the Pindling regime even during its blackest days.
The young Arthur Foulkes' political consciousness was radicalized by the discrimination he saw around him, including as a young reporter covering the House of Assembly. By 1958 he was on the council of the PLP, had helped to found the political action group the National Committee for Positive Action soon after the formation of the PLP, and in 1962 at 34, was a candidate for the party in eastern New Providence.
With the bitter defeat of the 1962 contest, in which the PLP lost the election and Sir Arthur lost his bid for a seat, he left a promising journalism career to found Bahamian Times, which proved pivotal in the struggle for majority rule.
Sir Arthur saw himself more as a journalist than a politician. But he knew that he had to take up the cause of politics, employing his considerable writing skills in the interest of the great cause of the day, the liberation of the mass of Bahamians from racial, political and economic discrimination.
Still, to call Sir Arthur a writer is a failure to fully appreciate his gift and his legacy. More fully, he was a public intellectual, having thought through and written more on a vast variety of topics than any other Bahamian save for a few.
He was by some comparison The Bahamas' Thomas Paine, the "English-American political activist, philosopher, author, political theorist and revolutionary", whose writings were, like Sir Arthur's, pivotal to a liberation struggle.
In addition to his journalism and commentary Sir Arthur penned or drafted notable political documents including the famous petition to the U.N.'s committee on decolonization. Sir Arthur's writings were more pivotal to majority rule than any other single Bahamian.
It was the nature of the struggle and of the courage and conviction of Sir Arthur and others that led them to initially oppose as internal dissidents the misrule and cult of personality mushrooming around Sir Lynden Pindling.
Approaching nearly two decades in the vanguard of the struggle for majority rule, Sir Arthur and others like Sir Cecil Wallace-Whitfield, Warren Levarity, and Maurice Moore, left their political home and spent a quarter of a century struggling to secure the democracy of which they long dreamed and for which they endured extraordinary sacrifice, charges of treason, the viciousness of Lewis Yard, the denial of jobs and other economic opportunities, myriad assaults on their person and families, and other indignities.
There were also the internal struggle to form and sustain a new political party, the great split between the FNM and the Bahamian Democratic Party and the central and pivotal role played by Sir Arthur and Basil Nicholls to reconstitute and reunite the major opposition forces in the country.
Along the way, attempts failed to woo Sir Arthur back to the PLP with certain favors and appointments. Mandela was similarly wooed. Both refused to trade conscience for comforts.
Sir Arthur and others spent nearly 40 years in opposition fighting for a certain dream of Bahamian nationhood and democracy. In their many decades in opposition they did more to secure our democracy than did many who spent decades in government. Indeed, the former saved our democracy.
The Hon. A.D. Hanna and others have lionized Sir Arthur with the enduring tribute that few sacrificed more for the struggle than did the man who, though once described as "The Man Who Survived" in a Bahamian Review Magazine cover story, might best be described as the man who flourished and who ensured the flourishing of his country.
Sir Arthur contributed extraordinarily as a public intellectual and writer, as a politician, parliamentarian and Cabinet minister, as a diplomat and for the last four years as one of the finest governors general in an independent Bahamas.
Yet he has contributed much more to the Bahamian spirit. He leaves office with no rancor or bitterness despite the viciousness of many of his former opponents including some now in high office. He leaves office deeply beloved, with his integrity unquestioned and having fostered national unity and one Bahamas.
Two of the greater lessons of his extraordinary life and legacy are the examples of resilience and reconciliation. Those who hated what he stood for and who sought to destroy his vision never caused him to hate. "Under the bludgeonings of chance", his head was sometimes bloody, but never unbowed.
Power reveals. As governor general he exemplified a spirit of humility and graciousness, with his words and speeches uplifting to the people for whom he dedicated a lifetime of struggle and, yes, love.
At a flag-raising ceremony in Rawson Square last week a primary school student offered a tribute to Sir Arthur. In his encomium, he thanked Sir Arthur and Lady Joan Foulkes for their hospitality at Government House, especially of young people. That boy of eight or so captured the gratitude of a nation.
In time he will relish that which generations of Bahamians already know: That we enjoyed the great fortune to live during the times of one such as Sir Arthur, a father of the nation, one whom we are proud to call our own and one who has exemplified the better angels of our nature.
o email@example.com, www.bahamapundit.com.
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July 09, 2014
"Massah an' dem" might as well have just let us loose in the cotton pickin' fields yesterday. Because the way we conduct ourselves sometimes is too reminiscent of a people whose shackles (real and metaphorical) were only just thrown off and who are running free and wild through the bushes, uncertain about their identities, the best direction for them to go or simply what to do with themselves or their newly-acquired time and status.
Even though there may have been no plan when the shackles came off, it was fairly evident that we were 'massah's' source of economic prosperity, and we did pick up on the fact that whatever we did with our time once freed should probably have something to do with economic wealth and the acquisition of things. And so getting money and having things became a central goal, knowingly or unknowingly.
Until emancipation, we hadn't really had an opportunity to have money or things. Once we did, it became almost instinctive for us to move through the brand new world like bulls in a china shop, knocking things out of place without even noticing, breaking things up, oblivious to the crashing sounds around us, to get the things and money we were supposed to have in abundance once free.
Now, we are accustomed to not being accustomed to having things, and it shows in our frivolous expenditure of time and money. We are surface-oriented. Meaningfulness beyond the visual is often too far a stretch for our general tolerance. We obtain, listen to, retain and reproduce nonsense. We believe wholeheartedly in nonsense - any old thing we're given or told we just suck it up and regurgitate and perpetuate it.
Our human depravity, having lasted for so long, makes us live and act as though we are in eternal desperation, clinging to things we are told are true, real or good, without the presence or development of a liberated mindset to understand it for ourselves, even before we can understand it for what it actually is.
Our enslavement jumped from being physically bound to being mentally bound, and, like a true mental illness, it appears to be hereditary. We have it and we don't know. And we don't get treatment, because no one identifies it for what it is. When it can be identified, we are embarrassed by it or ignore it and call it something else. And we just pass it on from one person, family, and generation to the next, never acknowledging it for what it is. It is sustained mental bondage.
It is the reason why we can gain freedom from shackles and independence from the European motherland, be in charge of our own destiny, take control politically, socially and economically, yet never be in control of ourselves. We cannot shake this thing that is the same norm for countries of like people who have traveled paths the same as or similar to ours. And it's not just because of economics.
Certainly, if someone steals your physical wealth, it leaves you economically deprived. But it seems as if no matter what you've done, even after starting with a clean slate, you still can't get it together, because you don't recognize that something more important than your material possessions and rights to them was taken. Your mental and emotional wealth were stolen, too, and those resources take a much longer time to be restored, if in fact they ever can be.
Even after adopting an entire system of government, you cannot enjoy your separation from the world to which you are bound, in spite of the religious, political, academic or social constructs you transfer from the possessor country to yourself.
You cannot enjoy your separation, because it is illusory. You've never separated yourself from the stronghold of a bound mentality, and transplanting religion, policy, education and social norms will not remove the vestiges of enslaved conditions. You began as a country that didn't really know what it wanted to be, so it adapted a template of the only thing it knew - a template that would serve only to perpetuate the experiences of slavery.
You could not and cannot restore your mental wealth and well-being without reconditioning your thought patterns. Otherwise, you have created and will continue to create a system of institutions and formalities which have no real purpose. Everything will become symbolic of nothing. And, if you don't recognize it, it is not far flung from a lost cause, because you don't even know what's missing. You don't see that the way you think as well as the things you focus on, the decades and centuries of indoctrination, have set you on a collision course with yourself.
When you are the target and you are the bomb, there is no escape. If you can't find a way to separate yourself from the thing that can annihilate you, you will remain bound to it, because being attached to it keeps you alive, while you're hoping for something different - something better - and hoping that the explosive is never triggered.
Bob Marley first sang it for you 34 years ago. You sway your head to and fro when you hear his voice, maybe take a draw when the song hits a high note and you "feel" it. But do you get it? Do you understand the insidiousness and tenacity of mental slavery? Do you understand that nothing you say or do will ever matter, unless you free yourself of the psychological controls that linger with, within and around you?
You put on a light show up to the sky every year to show the world you are free, but you are not. Because you have never accepted the primary tenet of freedom - responsibility - for yourself, your world, your future.
Freedom, real freedom, is extremely expensive. You will forego many things, many emotional, physical and financial things to have it and to keep it. Until you accept this cost of freedom, the burden of true and free living, the sacrifice of making what anyone thinks of you, what anyone thinks you should have or thinks you should be as irrelevant as possible, you will never understand or appreciate real freedom.
You cannot be free without being responsible, chiefly to yourself, for your actions and for your words. You cannot be free just by singing the Redemption Song. You cannot be free by lighting firecrackers. You cannot be free by waving a flag. You cannot be free by singing an anthem or reciting a pledge.
When you accept that freedom is your own and greatest responsibility for the rest of your human existence, then you are able to be free. And you cannot be independent without being free. You can celebrate a political divorce from a mother country, but it does not automatically equate to freedom. In some ways, it makes you less free, because it makes you more responsible. Being in control, being independent, being in charge of yourself, is accepting and embracing the fullness of that responsibility.
When you've freed yourself and your mind of the controls placed upon you by others and by yourself, then you can take control. When you take control of your personal freedom, then you can be a free country. When you are a free country, as represented by the strength and endurance of your thought patterns and activities, then you can be free from your dependence on the thinking and controls of others. And when you're free of externally-imposed mental controls, then you can truly be independent.
July 10, 1973 did not make us free. It gave us political independence from Britain. Being free is the responsibility of each individual and begins with each individual, and it is a permanent state of mind as well as body, which requires significant self-appreciation, self-awareness and self-love.
o Nicole Burrows is an academically-trained economist. She can be contacted via Facebook at Facebook.com/NicoleBurrows.
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July 08, 2014
These are no doubt interesting times in The Bahamas and it has become increasingly difficult to predict the news headlines or topics that will dominate the airwaves. This unpredictability could be interpreted as the beauty of our thriving democracy, the genius of our local press, a sign of the exciting times in which we live, the maturity of the electorate or the unraveling of a new era in our nation's history. This writer is inclined to conclude that all of the aforementioned are in play in the current dispensation.
It is easy and convenient to focus on some of the challenges we face and enlarge the difficulties of these times while minimizing our achievements as a small island nation over the last 41 years. While the topics of public discussions are important and crucial to the maintenance of our standard of living, we must never lose sight of where we have come from and must be grateful for the liberties we enjoy in the best little country in the world. And so the question is whether in the midst of the often referenced doom and gloom, we have a reason to celebrate our 41st anniversary of independence.
Year one of a new beginning
The festivities marking 41 years since we obtained political independence are expected to be less extravagant than last year. This is only appropriate seeing that we celebrated a major milestone of 40 years in 2013. While the discourse over the last year has focused on reflections on our position a generation after independence, the new journey toward the next 40 years has begun. The labor and struggles of our ancestors, which allowed us to thrive for the first 40 years, must now be built upon by our elder statesmen and stateswomen, but more importantly by a new breed of Bahamians without greed.
We begin the first year of a new journey into the unknown in a world that has changed and in a global economy that is volatile. It is incumbent upon our leaders and more importantly us as Bahamians to begin to dream for a better Bahamas. The work has just begun and there remain many rivers to cross and mountains to climb. We have not arrived; rather, we have just embarked on a new voyage with documented experiences of our predecessors serving as a guide into this unchartered territory.
True sovereignty and independence
One of our major strengths as a nation lies in our independence as expressed in our ability to govern ourselves and make decisions that shape the destiny of our country. During the first 40 years after independence, we faced social and economic adversities but emerged from them stronger as a people. Protecting and guarding our sovereignty, not just in theory but in practice, is a task we are charged with in the new normal of a global village, disappearing territorial boundaries and converging international standards.
In order to sustain our way of life and pass on a country with values which are identical to those passed on by those who came before us to future generations, we must not lose the essence of who we are. Our political and social groupings should not divide us to the point that we cannot find causes that unite us. The Bahamian people have been known as patriots, faithful and loyal to the aquamarine, gold and black. Our allegiance must remain to our Bahamaland, putting country above self at all times if our nation is to keep its true sovereignty and political independence.
The role of Bahamian women during the next 40 years
As Dame Marguerite Pindling is sworn in as the 10th governor general of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas on today, we congratulate a lady who has become synonymous with grace, class, elegance and strength. Lady Pindling, as she is fondly referred to, hails from humble beginnings and often refers to herself as the 'barefoot girl from Andros'. We also salute Marion Bethel on being the 11th recipient of the CARICOM Triennial Award for Women.
The aforesaid appointment and award at this time in our history are symbolic of the important role Bahamian women have to play in the development of our country over the next 40 years. The future success of The Bahamas will undoubtedly be determined by how well the other half of our gifted and talented population - our women - are incorporated into the governance and decision-making process in the public and private sectors as well as on national and corporate levels.
Our culture and identity
As we commemorate the first year of the second generation after independence, our renewed mandate is not limited to the economic empowerment of our people, but also to the championing of human rights, social justice and gender equality within our commonwealth. Our culture defines who we are and has ensured that generations of Bahamians have been able to have a sense of national pride and identity.
It is therefore fitting that this year's celebrations have been given the theme 'Celebrating our Culture: A Commitment to Peace' in dedication to our cultural icons. The national treasures embodied in these individuals ought to be recognized and praised for enriching our culture and their overall contribution to building our country. While the list of honorees released is comprehensive and impressive, it is noteworthy to state that quite a number of them have passed on. This highlights the importance of giving individuals their roses while they are still alive, and it is hoped that this will not be a one-time recognition of our sons and daughters who have made us proud.
The question as to whether we ought to celebrate should be a rhetorical one, seeing that every year of uninterrupted democracy and political independence is worthy of commendation. In a climate of challenging social issues, sluggish economic growth and high unemployment, there appear to be enough grounds for despair. However, the reality that The Bahamas is a blessed nation and we are a resilient people cannot be denied.
Our leaders, regardless of their political affiliation, must lead the charge and subscribe to the philosophy of their predecessors to wipe every tear from every eye. The mantra must not be to give handouts but to do all they can in the national interest to better the lives of all Bahamians. Should we then celebrate? Yes we should, not because everything is perfect or we have no challenges, but because as a nation grateful for all that we are and all that we hope to be, we must give thanks. Happy independence, Bahamas!
o Arinthia S. Komolafe is an attorney-at-law. Comments on this article can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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July 07, 2014
Contending that the country's social problems will multiply once web shops are regularized, Bahamas Christian Council (BCC) President Dr. Ranford Patterson...
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July 07, 2014
"A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus."
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Tomorrow, His Excellency Sir Arthur Foulkes will demit office as the ninth governor general of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, a position that he has held since April 14, 2010. By any measure, Bahamians from all walks of life and from both sides of the political divide will attest that he is unquestionably the very best son of the soil to hold the highest office in the land since the founding of our nation in 1973. Therefore this week, we would like to Consider This... What will be Sir Arthur's legacy?
The youthful years
Arthur Alexander Foulkes was born in Matthew Town, Inagua, May 11, 1928, son of the late Dr. William A. Foulkes and Julie Foulkes, nee Maisonneuve.
He was educated at public schools in Matthew Town and in Nassau and first worked at The Nassau Guardian as a linotype operator and proof-reader. He then joined The Tribune as a linotype operator in 1948 and took up journalism under the tutelage of editor and publisher Sir Etienne Dupuch, who made him a reporter and later appointed him news editor of The Tribune.
Sir Arthur was one of the founders of the National Committee for Positive Action, a think-tank and activist group within the PLP which supported the leadership of Sir Lynden Pindling and contributed significantly to the achievement of majority rule.
He drafted the PLP's petition to the United Nations Committee of 24 (on decolonization) and was a member of the Delegation of Eight that presented the petition in 1965. Sir Arthur wrote many political documents over the years, contributed to the manifestos of both major political parties and drafted the first platform of the Free National Movement in 1971.
Sir Arthur was founding editor of Bahamian Times, the official organ of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) from 1962 to 1967. He selected as its motto a quote from American emancipation crusader Frederick Douglass: "Without struggle there is no progress". That newspaper played a pivotal role in the campaign for majority rule which was achieved in the general elections of January 10, 1967.
Noted for his stirring oratory in the 60s, Sir Arthur was elected to Parliament in 1967 and served in various political offices over the years, including minister of communications and minister of tourism in the PLP government.
Under his leadership, the Ministry of Tourism recorded impressive gains in 1969. It was also on his ministerial watch in 1968 that a Bahamas-based airline, International Air Bahama, flew to Europe for the first time and he was instrumental in enabling black Bahamian stewardesses to work on international flights not only to America but to Europe as well. As minister of communications, he presided over the complete Bahamianization of the management of BaTelCo, the national public telephone corporation.
Sir Arthur was one of the Dissident Eight who rejected the leadership of Sir Lynden in 1970 and broke away from the PLP, forming the Free PLP. In 1971, he was a founder of the Free National Movement. He was appointed to the Senate in 1972 and 1977 and reelected to the House of Assembly in 1982.
During his public career, Sir Arthur attended many international conferences and, in 1972, was one of four opposition delegates to The Bahamas Independence Constitution Conference in London. He drafted the opposition memorandum for the conference and was primarily responsible for the drafting of the preamble to the Bahamian Constitution.
In the 1970s, when opposition forces in the country seemed hopelessly splintered, Sir Arthur, together with others, initiated arduous negotiations which finally resulted in a united opposition under the leadership of Sir Kendal Isaacs in time for the 1982 elections.
Later, he was a columnist for The Guardian and The Tribune and, from 2002 to 2007, resumed his popular column, "To The Point", in The Tribune.
Sir Arthur, the diplomat
In 1992 Sir Arthur entered the diplomatic service of The Bahamas as high commissioner to the United Kingdom and ambassador to France, Germany, Italy, Belgium and the European Union (resident in London).
He represented The Bahamas to the African Caribbean Pacific Group in Brussels, was permanent representative to the International Maritime Organization and also Doyen of the Caribbean diplomatic corps in the United Kingdom. He also founded Friends of The Bahamas, a London-based association.
In 1999 he was appointed the first Bahamas ambassador to the People's Republic of China and ambassador to the Republic of Cuba, both nonresident posts.
In 2001 he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (KCMG) by Queen Elizabeth II and on April 14, 2010 he became the nation's ninth governor general.
A profound and perpetual legacy
Sir Arthur served as an exemplary head of state. He is first and foremost a nationalist, whose credentials as such were unquestionable and unassailable. He is one of those individuals who can unquestionably be described as one of the "fathers of the nation" or "heroes of the revolution". He is a nationally unifying force and his short tenure as governor general was devoid of any hint of the profound partisan divisions that are present in so many facets of Bahamian life.
Notwithstanding his reservations regarding the timing for independence for The Bahamas, he is without question a powerful proponent for national freedom and strong supporter of state sovereignty.
Sir Arthur is the kind of unique Bahamian who has managed to stay the course and rise above the fray, keeping his ideals and beliefs constant and unwavering in spite of the storms that sometimes seethed around him. In short, he has become an example of how an active and politically passionate person can also be a force for harmony and common sense across the great political divide.
There is no doubt that he will demit office far too soon, only four short years after assuming the highest position in the land. There is also no doubt that, unlike so many others in public life, he has chosen to depart on his terms and his timetable, at the pinnacle of his public profession.
Sir Arthur's humility, his deep love of and for The Bahamas and Bahamians, his enormous depth of knowledge about the land and people of his birth, his eloquent and elegant employment of the English language and his globally-informed world view are but a few of the elements that have crafted the person whom we have come to know as our ninth governor general.
As he travels through the gates of Government House and descends Mount Fitzwilliam on Tuesday, July 8 one last time as our governor general, and is driven through the streets of New Providence on his way to a place of placid retirement from active public life, the smile that will likely grace Sir Arthur's face will be one of contentment and great satisfaction.
He will be pleased that, as he demits office, his legacy is fully and eternally ensconced and embedded in the annals of Bahamian history - a legacy that symbolizes all that is good about The Bahamas: our courage in adversity, our capability to withstand and overcome hardship, our dignity in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges and our innate kindness and graciousness toward our fellow human beings, no matter their race, religion, economic status or political persuasion. History will recognize Sir Arthur Foulkes as a governor general for the ages.
o Philip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis and Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic & Litigation Support Services. He served 15 years in parliament. Please send your comments to email@example.com.
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July 05, 2014
The past 50 years have been horrific for the entire planet Earth. Except for a few countries that have established the right template for nation-building to help their citizens reach their full potential, enriching them and enriching their nation, the state of the world is cloudy.
In spite of prodigious scientific discoveries and their application for man's welfare, it seems we have been regressing annually in creating a canvas for a critical mass of people to be satisfied in their status in life.
'Things were better before' is the sentiment felt by those who have reached the critical age of 50 years old and beyond. Indeed, it was so much better that one of my cherished wishes was to have my children enjoy the idyllic life that I knew when I was a child.
Starting with myself in my own country of Haiti, my father of 102 years old recalled how, when he was a lad, people were excited when there was an electrical blackout because it was an event so unusual. We now have uninterrupted electricity only for the World Cup. It happens every four years.
His course of study included Greek and Latin for an eight-hour length of instruction. Today, Greek and Latin, the roots of our modern language, have been eliminated and the length of instruction is only four hours per day.
I was 11 years old when the so-called Duvalier revolution took place. For 33 years, the people of Haiti, including myself, languished in the homeland at the beginning of the regime and later in exile before we could get rid of the nefarious dictatorial government. It created so much havoc in the country and in the Haitian family, and the lost years can never be recovered.
Hordes of citizens became nomads in their own country, a place without any planned urban development. Family dislocation abroad caused familial links to be lost, similar to the time of slavery, when husband, wife and children were sold to different masters.
When democracy arrived in 1987, it brought with it so many false promises that citizens found themselves in the strange situation of wishing for the good old days of the dictatorial regime, when at least law and order was the rule of the game.
In the United States, the hope of a promised land offered by Dr. Martin Luther King and supported by President Lyndon Johnson had been interrupted by the death of the former and the imbroglio in Vietnam War of the latter. The exuberance of the movement has never again reached the level of the 60s, even when Barack Obama, the beneficiary par excellence of the affirmative action initiative, became the supreme commander of the land.
In the Caribbean, decolonization did not bring the milk and the honey of the liberation. Hordes of citizens followed the metropolitan colonizers to London, Toronto or New York, depriving their land of the human resources that could have built the nation from the ground up. Sustained development has been diverted to a fictitious nirvana based on touristic goals and dreams that run against the basic needs of the population.
In Latin America, the revolutionary wars of the 70s have given way to drug wars today, and democratic governments still lack the magic formula to root their people at home with good institutions and excellent infrastructure. Palliative welfare programs cannot sustain the drive for millions to migrate up north to the United States, seeking a better life for themselves and for their children.
The Africa of the 60s that was liberated from the yoke of the colonial empire, be it British or French, was recolonized without the master through mafia deals controlling the mineral resources by freedom fighters turned the Cains of predatory states that have no vision and no will to practice hospitality for all.
Extremist Muslims, profiting from the state of despair of the people and the lack of good governance, are creating havoc amongst the population. Raids, abductions and kidnapping are common practice where the army and the police find themselves impotent to rein in the insurgents.
The Middle East, in havoc since the creation of the state of Israel on May 4, 1948, has not found relief, in spite of the recent Arab Spring revolution. Autocrat Arab leaders have used the Muslim shield to discriminate against women, neglect public education and divert their rich natural patrimony into tools of war and luxury living for they and their families.
The Israeli analyst Orit Perlov has painted the Middle East with the broad canvas of ISIS, the Islamic state, and SISI, the military state. Both models failed to provide a vision for education, jobs and freedom to young Arabs. The extremist ISIS vision of a caliphate for the Arab world is as corrosive for the creation of a nation as the vision of SISI, which sees a terrorist in each and every member of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Arab Spring is not for tomorrow. Singapore, Malaysia and Turkey represent bright Muslim lights to follow.
The Europe of the 50s that was rebuilt through the Marshall Plan funded by the United States is developed on a two-track formula. Northern Europe, which includes Scandinavia, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Britain and France, is enjoying a reasonable growth, while Southern Europe - Italy, Spain, Greece and Portugal - are cicadas that sing when they should have labored with the support of the European Community.
Asia, in particular South East Asia, which includes China, India, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Indonesia, constitute the best hope of gain in the last two generations. China and India in particular were basket cases filled with a large population that could have declined into a Malthusian pandemonium. Instead, through state capitalism in China and through excellent education in India, a critical mass of the population has migrated into the bliss of a middle class status, enriching themselves and their nations.
Oceania, with Australia and New Zealand, constitutes a haven of growth and development - a rare oasis in the world of the two lost generations. They have profited in leading the good fight for inclusion, development and good governance. They are rewarded with few horror stories that make up the template for rich and poor countries alike.
This template is made of a culture of greed that replaces hard work, nudity that makes up for originality and crass exploitation by the world media of artists that promote the lowest denominator in value and in standards of excellence. The Aretha Franklin of yesterday has surrendered the stage to the Rihanna of today; the Johnny Holliday of yesterday has been replaced by Chris Brown in concert between bouts in prison.
The United Nations, born in 1946, was the light placed on a lampstand to brighten this world, using the language from Matthew 5:14-16. It has done none such. With a mandate that has now lasted 20 years in Haiti, the country has descended into Hell on its watch, while the UN is pleading not guilty because it was not part of its responsibility to help Haiti become a better nation.
The hordes of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that descend into failed countries act like vultures on a carcass made of live human beings. They are there for themselves, not to help the resuscitation of the wretched and the meek of this Earth. I remember a program like 4C in the 60s, sponsored by the United States in Haiti. It was of short life but its outcome is still being felt in the region 60 years later. Using the lowest standard of evaluation, the prognosis for today's USAID program is very bleak compared to the performance of 4C.
The youth of today may not believe it, and I will have my own critics to prove me wrong, but with all their apps and their Instagram and their instant communication through Facebook or LinkedIn, life was better in the 60s. It was safe, convivial and collegial. Shouldn't we all work to give a better legacy to our grandchildren, having failed to pass on the baton to our children?
o Jean H. Charles, LLB MSW, JD, is a syndicated columnist with Caribbean News Now. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org and followed at Caribbeannewsnow/Haiti. This is published with the permission of Caribbean News Now.
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