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Two Saturdays ago, February 26, the Amateur Boxing Federation of The Bahamas (ABFB) staged the second official conclave in the 42-year-old history of the organization. The first was held in 1969. That parley helped to form the embryonic body that came out of an idea the then current Bahamas Heavyweight Champion, Bert Perry, had.
This forum of present boxing leaders and participants was inspiring and I believe, will nicely shape the future of the sport. The event was quite impacting for boxing. The gathering bridged the gap between 1969 and 2011 very well.
It was very good to see such significant boxing figures under one roof, together. That had not happened in a very long time. For instance, joining m ...
Cast: Craig Pinder, Claudette Allens, Dana J. Ferguson, Duncan Casey
A poolside setting at the charming Jacaranda House provides a fitting locale and a refreshing change of pace for a new local play.
"Hibiscus Hotel" (which runs through Saturday, May 10) eschews the limitations of the traditional stage, and makes interesting use of the great Bahamian outdoors.
The play is described as a "comedic look at the family-run hotel". It's set on the fictional Bahamian family island of "Shalimar", and the hotel was once the most glamorous in the country, but it's best days are long behind it.
Owner, Eli (Craig Pinder), is still stuck in the past, and is always reminiscing about the good-old days. Well, at least when he's not bickering with his wife Cora (Claudette "Cookie" Allens).
Hotel guest Edward (Duncan Casey), visiting from England, is thrown in the middle of the family squabbling, especially when Mia (Dana Ferguson) shows up, uncovering some still raw wounds from the past.
Written and directed by the Bahamian-born, UK-raised Robin Belfied, and produced by Kim Aranha, this is the third production of Yellowtale Theatre Company. It follows their "Dat Bahamian Ting" and "Othello or the Tragedy of Conchy Joe" which played at Nassau's Shakespeare in Paradise Festival in 2010 and 2012, respectively.
Although it's an original Bahamian work, that production pedigree affords "Hibiscus Hotel" an international feel, especially compared to most original local productions of late. We are spared the overt and often preachy messages, political commentary or bizarre monologues. Instead, we are served a simple and straight-forward story.
While it may not be frequently laugh-out-loud funny, it is humorous and pleasant enough.
Pinder steals the show as the boorish Eli, displaying not only his strong acting skills and comedic timing, but also his great singing and musical ability (he strums the guitar). Allens, as always, and Ferguson deliver strong performances, as well. And what at first seems to a be a lackluster, wallflower role, is developed slowly but soundly by Casey, as we learn more about his character. Casey also shows off his singing and musical ability on that same guitar.
Despite being outdoors, there are impressive production values, with creative use of set lighting, and clever incorporation of aspects of the Jacaranda property into the story.
However, being outside does present an interesting set of challenges. The night I attended, a nearby and very loud air conditioner or generator became an annoying distraction. That, along with a couple of sirens, and the meows of a cat roaming about the property occasionally made it difficult to hear the cast.
Nevertheless, the simplicity of this four-cast member production is commendable. Far too many local stage productions of late have been bloated and overwrought, and would benefit from paring cast numbers, eliminating extraneous speaking parts, and truly fleshing out and defining their characters, all of which is largely successfully achieved with "Hibiscus Hotel".
We've been blessed with some very pleasant evenings. And luckily, there are still two chances to take advantage of this nice weather and see "Hibiscus Hotel" tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m. at Jacaranda House on Parliament Street. There is strong language, and adult situations, so this play may not be appropriate for all audiences.
When: Tonight and Saturday, May 10
Where: Jacaranda House, Parliament Street
Time: Lights go up at 8 p.m.
Tickets: $40 premium seats, $30 adults and $20 students, free parking is available at the Royal Victoria car park with Jacaranda providing full security.
Ticket outlets: Logos Bookstore, Harbour Bay Shopping Plaza; Fab Finds Gift Shop, Blake Road Shopping Plaza; Blanco Chemicals Service Centre, Prince Charles and Fox Hill Road; Bahama Art and Handicraft, Shirley Street and on the website www.yellowtaletheatre.com/tickets.o Dwight Strachan is the host/producer of " Morning Blend" on Guardian Radio. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on twitter @morningblend969.
Nassau, Bahamas - It
was an inspiring meeting for some, for others it was an enjoyable trip
down memory lane as 24 past presidents of Toastmasters Club 1600 met for
only the second time in the club's 44-year history.
'First Bahamas Branch' goes before the club's name, denoting its
premier, historical standing as the first local branch of the
international organization which develops communication, public speaking
and leadership skills.
The club's official charter, issued
January 1, 1969, was presented to the club's founding president, Ernest
T. Strachan in April of that year by Lynden O...
Tomorrow we celebrate the 39th anniversary of Bahamian independence. The Commonwealth of The Bahamas was established by an act of the British Parliament which was passed on June 20, 1973 and took effect in the early hours of July 10, 1973, when thousands on Clifford Park witnessed for the first time the raising of the Bahamian flag after the Union Jack was lowered for the last time on this colony, ending 325 years of British rule.
This week, we begin a series of articles on The Bahamas constitution and for part one would like to Consider This... what were the salient issues facing those charged with shaping our constitution as we moved to independence, and how were those issues reconciled?
A natural progression
Bahamian independence in 1973 was a natural progression following a decade of rapid transformation, not just in The Bahamas but also in the Caribbean. In The Bahamas, the constitution twice prominently featured in the body politic, first in 1964 and then again in 1969.
The Bahamas received its first written constitution on January 7, 1964, which granted full control over its internal affairs to The Bahamas government, with the governor retaining responsibility for external defense and internal security. Cabinet government was introduced, and the upper house of the legislature, previously the Legislative Council, became the Senate. The Senate's membership increased from 11 to 15, while the House of Assembly retained its designation and the number of elected representatives numbered 33. In 1969, the British government turned over the internal and external affairs to the Government of The Bahamas and replaced the office of premier with that of prime minister.
During this period, Caribbean countries were also obtaining independence from Great Britain. It started with Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago in August 1962. Guyana and Barbados followed in May and November 1966, respectively. The Bahamas was next in 1973 and, by the end of that decade, Grenada, Dominica and St. Lucia had also gained their independence from Great Britain.
We can appreciate that the fervor for national independence for Caribbean (and African) countries was inextricably tethered to nationalistic and socio-political realities of the era, aided by Great Britain's willingness to release its grip on the empire, upon which the sun was said never to set. For The Bahamas, the movement to independence was a natural progression, propelled by the "trade winds" of the time.
The independence conference in London
The general election of September 1972 was contested with the understanding that a victory for the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) would begin the process of national independence for The Bahamas. It won and Loftus Roker was appointed to liaise with the official opposition Free National Movement (FNM) regarding matters relative to the Independence Conference before going to London.
Therefore, beginning in early December 1972, the PLP, headed by Sir Lynden Pindling, and the FNM, headed by Sir Kendal Isaacs, led a delegation to London to discuss an independence constitution with the British government.
Because The Bahamas already had the 1964 and 1969 constitutions, there was no need to start afresh so 90 percent of the issues regarding independence were agreed upon by both political parties before leaving for London.
The mood of the Bahamian delegation was upbeat and the talks were conducted in a very congenial atmosphere. Several of the delegates to the Constitutional Conference have noted that the drafting of the constitution was a moment in time where the PLP and FNM worked harmoniously, notwithstanding several philosophical points of departure.
One of the early issues discussed at the Constitutional Conference was Bahamian citizenship. The British attempted to persuade the delegation to accept the precedent that had been established by other colonies; that is, for British citizens and "belongers" living in the colonies to register at Government House, so that, at independence, they would automatically become Bahamian citizens. The Bahamian delegation unanimously objected to this, arguing instead that citizenship should not be so open-ended, and that there should be a process by which citizenship would be determined by the government. The Bahamian delegation was adamant and united, and the British relented and accepted the Bahamian position.
Another area of disagreement surrounded gender equality. The PLP proffered that full equality for women should not be enshrined in the constitution. The FNM argued the opposite view. Ultimately, the British government agreed with the PLP's position.
There was a discussion on the issue of rustication and the freedom of movement and the right of Bahamians to leave The Bahamas. Some in the PLP expressed the concern that Bahamians might depopulate the Family Islands and were also concerned that, in the absence of a rustication provisions, the country could suffer a brain drain. This fuelled the debate about giving Bahamians the right to leave not just their native islands but the country. The British agreed with the opposition on this issue, and consequently there were no prohibitions on Bahamians' ability to move freely within or outside The Bahamas.
With the issues fully aired and agreed, Sir Kendal Isaacs and the FNM delegates returned to The Bahamas. Some of the PLP delegates, including Sir Lynden, remained in London to finalize the terms upon which the new Bahamian constitution would be presented to the British Parliament. The delegation understood that the British Parliament would introduce and pass that all-important Bill for an Act to grant Independence to The Bahamas.
The surviving signatories of the Bahamian constitution are: Sir Arthur Foulkes, Arthur D. Hanna, Sir Orville Turnquest, Paul L. Adderley, A. Loftus Roker, George A. Smith and Rev. Philip M. Bethel. Deceased signatories included Sir Lynden Pindling, Sir Milo Butler, Sir Clement Maynard, Rev. Carlton E. Francis, Sir Kendal Isaacs, Cadwell C. Armbrister, Henry J. Bowen and Norman S. Solomon. Although there were other Bahamians present at the conference who were not part of the official delegation, these 15 signatories to the Bahamian constitution should rightly be recognized as our nation's Founding Fathers.
After returning to The Bahamas, the government developed the country's flag, the coat of arms and the national anthem. It is worth noting that the official opposition was not consulted on any of these matters.
After the Constitutional Conference, the government engaged in the most impressive public relations exercise ever conducted in Bahamian history. There was a massive national campaign to inform civil society and the Bahamian people about what independence meant to the country. The post-conference activities were spearheaded by George Smith, who was the parliamentary secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister and headed the Independence Secretariat.
In the early hours of July 10, 1973, the Commonwealth of The Bahamas was born.
There is no doubt that the men who assembled in London to frame the constitution of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas 40 years ago performed as impressively as the American Founding Fathers who assembled in Philadelphia in 1787 to craft that country's constitution. The Bahamian delegates to the London Constitutional Conference are to be applauded for their superlative efforts in drafting a social contract which has served us these past 39 years.
In the weeks ahead, we will examine key articles of the constitution that have guided our ship of state. We will also consider some of the issues that should be addressed in amending our constitution, hopefully before we celebrate the 40th anniversary of a nation that was born on July 10, 1973.
o Philip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis & Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic & Litigation Support Services. He served 15 years in Parliament. Please send your comments to email@example.com.
In the Anglican Hymnbook - Ancient & Modern Standard Edition, attributed to Martin Luther, there is a hymn that begins with the words "Great God what do I see and hear?" When one looks at what is happening in our formerly great country, we can readily see the relevance of that question.
Supposedly intelligent Bahamians, who possess legal minds no less, have attempted to defend the indefensible. That which was promulgated by no less a person than our prime minister regarding the situation involving the esteemed VAT consultant cannot be defended, no matter who tries to do so.
When Ishmael Lightbourne started on his VAT journey, he was informing the Bahamian populace of what their fate would be if they fail to pay VAT when the law is put in place.
Passports would be taken, heavy fines would be levied and prison terms could even be part of the package.
How in the name of all the gods at once do you appoint a person who has not paid real property tax on his residential property and on his commercial property as VAT co-ordinator? It should be obvious to all that only the PLP could make an attempt to defend someone in this predicament, having regard to the fact that he did not pay for decades.
For those who may not know, the real property tax law makes provision for exemption for the persons who are genuinely suffering from hardship. The affected taxpayer would be required to apply for relief from payment and the chief valuation officer would have prepared an examination of means to determine if the tax would be exempted in part or in full. Of course, the treasurer would make the final determination in this regard.
So the law provides for those who are unable to pay. It also makes provision for those who refuse to pay upon receipt of their respective assessment notices. The courts are there to ensure that they do. There is also a real property tax tribunal set up to deal with those individuals who want to dispute their tax assessments.
The problem has been that since October 1969 when the first notices were sent out, thousands of individuals, including politicians, have not respected the law and have refused and continue to refuse to pay. There are many who should have been taken to court and the punishment that the law calls for should have been carried out.
But, we are a lawless society and while we want the government to provide the services we require, we do not feel that we should have to pay for them. We also see that there are other areas where the law is broken with impunity and while there have been threats from the police commissioner that he will deal with those matters, the threats have not been taken seriously by the gaming establishment. The evidence is so clear that the law continues to be broken that even Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder could see it.
More and more web shops continue to be established notwithstanding the vote taken by the Bahamian people on January 28, 2013. The tourism minister, in what was an obvious rebuke to the church, said that the church must teach and preach and the government will govern. In other words, we do not care what the people have decided so the prime minister has apologized or expressed regret for having asked the opinion of the people and his tourism minister stated that he was going with his proposal to the Cabinet to regularize web shop gaming - so there!
Revisiting the real property tax situation once again, it is worth noting that our three prime ministers, who are/were all lawyers, did a rather poor job in ensuring that those (except for those exempted by law) who should have been paying since the last quarter of 1969 failed to do so. Then again, what do we expect from our politicians, who broke and continue to break the public disclosure law and with impunity?
It is no wonder that the society has become rather lawless at all levels. By the way, some of the disclosures that were submitted for past elections were not properly completed and those who notarized some of them did not, in many instances, know what they were doing.
If three prime ministers, in some instances also finance ministers, could not get the staff of the Valuation Section to do the job that the taxpayers pay them for, one can only surmise that that was how the political class wanted it.
The honest politicians in the current Parliament should have no difficulty in leading by example and laying their tax receipts on the table of the House to show that they are current.
The government should not have to hire private debt collectors with the attendant expenses to try to collect the more than half a billion in outstanding taxes (real property). All that is necessary is for the politicians to butt out and leave the civil servants to do their jobs.
Finally, all that is required to redeem the situation is for all of our leaders to lead by example and then those whom they lead will no doubt follow. We cannot move to the First World if we continue to fail our country by our failure to obey our own laws.
But what can we expect from a government that has yet to reveal the number of persons assisted under its failed mortgage relief plan? Telling us that less than 10 persons have been assisted does not help. Was it nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one or even zero? Inquiring minds want to know.
As stated by James Russell Lowell "once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide, in the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side." Are we good or evil?
- Oswald C. Munnings
International Women's Day is a celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women in recognition of their economic, political, and social achievements.
Supporting women is a high-yield investment, resulting in stronger economies, more vibrant civil societies, healthier communities, and greater peace and stability. On this International Women's Day, formally observed on March 8, 2014, I would like to take this opportunity to encourage all Bahamians to continue in your pursuit of equality for all women of The Bahamas. We recognize the courageous and unwavering tenacity of Bahamian women during the suffrage movement over fifty years ago, which set the stage for majority rule and independence in 1973. I congratulate The Bahamas for the progress that has been made, as women continue to excel in government, education, health, business and many other sectors.
For the past seven years in honor of International Women's Day, the United States Government has asked its embassies around the world to nominate one female leader for the International Women of Courage Award. Embassy Nassau has recognized several outstanding Bahamian women for their contributions to nation building and the empowerment of women. Past honorees have included: Ms. Rose Mae Bain for her work with HIV/AIDS; Dr. Sandra Dean-Patterson for championing the fight against domestic violence; the Honourable Janet Bostwick for her contribution to empowerment and advancement of women, particularly in the labour force, and Ms. A. Missouri Sherman-Peter for outstanding public service.
This year, U.S. Embassy Nassau has selected Mrs. Andrea Archer as The Bahamas International Women of Courage award recipient. Mrs. Archer, a retired public servant became the first Bahamian School social worker in 1969. She is known for opening the doors in the field of social work in The Bahamas' school system and has made it possible for thousands of youth to have uninterrupted access to health care and education. She is a nation builder, pioneer of women's rights, and a human rights activist who preserved in the struggle to effectively address inequalities faced by Bahamian women. She is credited for establishing the Providing Access to Continued Education (P.A.C.E) program that has afforded teenage girls an opportunity to continue their education throughout their pregnancy in a supportive atmosphere and then later return to the regular school system. Approximately 12,000 teenage girls have passed through the P.A.C.E. program since 1969. I wholeheartedly agree with First Lady Michelle Obama that, women of courage, "every day, with every life they touch and every spirit they raise, they are creating ripples that stretch across the globe." I congratulate Mrs. Archer for her steadfast commitment to ensure that so many young women of The Bahamas have that same opportunity to create ripples that stretch across our vast globe.
Dr. Emmanuel (Manny) Francis has again made Junkanoo history by creating the first textbook on Junkanoo, "Manual of Junkanoo Costume Construction: A Beginner's Guide to Junkanoo Design".
The launch for this first ever handbook on Junkanoo will take place today at ChapterOne bookstore from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Special guest speakers will include Dr. Hubert Minnis, Dr. Hervis Bain and Percy 'Vola' Francis. This event is sponsored by Burn's House Ltd.
Junkanoo legend Dr. Emmanuel (Manny) Francis was introduced to Junkanoo by his brother, Percy (Vola) and Phillip Cooper in 1966, with the Saxons, at the age of 15 while attending GHS.
Dr. Francis has designed many winning costumes, the first of which was in 1969 while attending GHS, when he led the Saxons to its second victory over the 'invincible' Valley Boys on New Year's Day, 1970, under the theme, "Egypt 1,000 BC".
He was a mentor to many of today's renowned Junkanoo designers, but saw the need to chronicle his expertise in a handbook on the basics of Junkanoo design for teachers and students of Junkanoo.
Dr. Emmanuel (Manny) Francis is the founder of the "University of Junkanoo", a concept which recognizes the potential for educational development through Junkanoo.
In 1969, he discovered that Junkanoo costume design and construction for a competitive group was indeed an educational exercise involving science, history, art, sociology, religion, economics, parenting, mentoring, communication, acting, sports, sanitation, hygiene, safety, etc., requiring training and discipline in many areas (much like a university).
The final production we see on Boxing Day and New Year's Day is the culmination of many credit hours of didactic and practical study in libraries and Junkanoo laboratories (shacks).
The courses are hard and long, and freshmen can enter at any academic level, which makes teaching a wonderful challenge for Junkanoo professors. It is very rewarding to witness the personal development of these students as we find innovative ways to build their self-esteem and release their inner brilliance.
What is next for our country and its people and who will be our 4th prime minister?
Sir Lynden Oscar Pindling led this country for 25 years. From 1967-1969, Sir Lynden served as the first black premier of the Colony of The Bahama Islands. From 1969-1992, Sir Lynden served as prime minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. He was the only leader of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) from 1965-1997 (32 years) when he resigned from public life.
From 1992-2002, Hubert Ingraham served as prime minister. He was also leader of the Free National Movement (FNM) from 1990-2002.
From 2002-2007, Perry Christie served as prime minister. He has been leader of the PLP from 1997 to the present.
Ingraham was elected prime minister once again in 2007 and he remains in the post. He returned as leader of the FNM in 2005.
For 42 years The Bahamas has had only three prime ministers. In less than 12 months leaders from each party, including the new Democratic National Alliance (DNA) Leader Branville McCartney, will be contesting the upcoming general election. If lngraham regains the post of prime minister in 2012, it will mean that he will serve as prime minister of The Bahamas for 20 years once he has completed his full five-year term.
In 2013 The Bahamas will celebrate 40 years of freedom. The question is, is The Bahamas ready for a new prime minister in 2012 or do we need more time, like an additional five years, to make that change? Bahamians have to consider seriously if we are ready for this fundamental change.
Before we decide on this question we must understand what a leader is:
o A leader is a person who fears God and rules or guides or inspires others.
o A leader is a person who guides others toward a common goal, showing the way by example, and creates an environment in which other team members feel actively involved in the entire process.
o A leader is a person who listens.
o A leader should work with his or her teammates and learn how to delegate responsibilities while being mindful of everyone's interests, goals, and strengths.
o A leader is firm but fair and never flaunts personal authority.
o A leader operates well under pressure and in rapidly changing environments.
o A leader does not fear challenges or obstacles, but instead deals with them head-on.
o A leader takes responsibility.
o A leader has an exemplary character and is trustworthy.
o A leader is enthusiastic about work or cause and also about being the leader - people respond more openly to a person of passion and dedication.
o Although the responsibilities and roles of a leader may be different, the leader needs to be seen to be a part of the team working towards the goal.
o A leader is able to think and consider the future, giving it equal importance as the present.
We must remember that our children's future depends on the type of leader we choose to govern. We must ensure that this new leader has the interest of all Bahamians at heart.
Our beloved country either will move forward in prosperity and great success, or moved backwards in disarray. We have a serious decision to make when it comes to choosing a new leader and I hope and pray that this decision will not be made just on party lines. Instead, we should choose the person who is best to take our beloved country forward with all Bahamians on-board.
This country has been politically divided for so long. This new leader must be a person to build the bridge to success for all, not just the haves. We, meaning all Bahamians, must be very careful in deciding which party is suitable to govern the entire Bahamas. This is not a job for want to be leaders, indecisive leaders or leaders who find it easier to just quit under pressure.
God help us all if we choose one of the above. We need to think about what is best for our families, our children and their children.
Let us choose wisely our next leader - our next PM; let us not be moved by the hype and by those who tend to play with our emotions; let us, the Bahamian people, make a loud and bold statement.
May God continue to bless today's leaders and our future prime ministers. May God also bless you the reader and the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
Have you heard, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ," (2 Cor. 5:10), and, "And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Heb. 9:27)? Admittedly, judgment tends to evoke a sense of fear and consternation with many - and for obvious reasons. The very name judgment conjures up trial, investigation, sentence and of course the attending questions, "How will I look?" "Will I pass the scrutiny?" Nevertheless, my topic is "The Joy of Judgment." Is that possible?
Looking at the judgment
The Bible refers to different phases of the judgment such as the pre-Advent phase (Daniel 7:9, 10), the judgment by the Saints referred to as the millennial judgment (1 Corinthians 6:1-3), and the executive or final phase (Revelation 20;5, 6). And some add another judgment which takes place during a partial resurrection of those who pierced Jesus being raised up to see Him according to Revelation 1:7.
Bring it on
Doesn't this sub-topic, "bring it on", sound a bit presumptuous? Who asks for judgment? I would imagine that few persons would think to do so. However, as I read Psalm 7:8 and Psalm 26, the Psalmist with much boldness is asking God to judge him. Essentially, he is saying, "Bring it on." To some, this would seem ludicrous, but not when one knows the purpose of judgment, who is in charge, and who will represent him in the judgment. Without a doubt, David knew the answers to all these questions. The judgment allows for the truth to be known as it vindicates God's people. Secondly, while God the father is judge, according to John 5:22, He has committed all judgment to Jesus the Son, who is our advocate or defense attorney. That undoubtedly is good news.
It is highly unusual for the same person who represents you to sit as judge. It is unthinkable in our court system. It would not work. Of course there are those who pull strings and pay under the table, but with God none of that is possible, for David refers to Him as the "Righteous Judge". The key, I have come to realize, is to know Him; and that we do through a daily relationship with Him.
Prayer, Bible study, church attendance and Christian witnessing allow for growth in understanding and appreciating Jesus. Thereby we are able to approach the judgment with much confidence, for we know in whom we believe; and we know that He is able to deliver us.
And just in case a further point of assurance is needed, consider these poignant words, "He who dwells in the heavenly sanctuary judges righteously. His pleasure is more in His people, struggling with temptation in a world of sin, than in the host of angels that surround His throne" (Christ Object Lessons, p. 176). Given the aforementioned, I say, "Bring it on!"
Winning souls for Christ
Reverend Dr. Robert L. Colebrook celebrates 25 years in ministry
He's a man who never considered himself to be in perfect standing with the Lord. Still, for a quarter of a century, Reverend Dr. Robert L. Colebrook has trained ministers of the gospel and church musicians in his bid to win souls for Christ.
This month, the New St. Paul's Baptist Church senior pastor celebrates his 25th anniversary at the church located at the juncture of East and Bias Streets.
"We've always been a church with an open door, supportive of persons who want to advance in ministry. We train ministers. There are many persons who I have trained and are now serving in other churches," said Colebrook, who in 1999 had the degree of doctor of divinity bestowed upon him by the Richmond Virginia Seminary.
"When I came in the church there was no one to work with me as a young preacher and I promised myself I would not leave the church how I met it."
The fourth child of Rev. Arthur Samuel and Bessie Colebrook, Robert, was born on February 13, 1953.
He grew up singing and playing music in the church he would one day pastor.
Although endowed with a fear and reverence for God, like many who grew up in the church, he drifted.
A professional musician, Colebrook played with some of the top bands in town such as Tony Seymour, Gary Davis, Jay Mitchell, the Blue Notes and others. It took a serious car accident in 1969 to draw the 18-year-old lead and bass guitarist back to God.
"After a serious accident some people have an experience where they see God. My experience was different. I had a hell experience. I cried out to God and said, 'If you change me I'll be a Christian'," Colebrook recalled.
On December 2, 1969 he was baptized at his father's church.
The early 1970s was a time when professional musicians who entered the church were ostracized. "You were looked at as a prostitute," Colebrook recalled. "It's not like today where you could be a reformed drug dealer, or a prostitute and you could start a ministry and people would follow you. Back then, it would never happen."
Still he persisted, forming interdenominational choirs, like the Majestic Choir with Arthur Rolle (later reverend) of AME Zion Church.
Colebrook also preached at street meetings with groups such as Youths for the Truths, headed by Ross Davis (later bishop and senior pastor of Golden Gates World Outreach Ministries).
In the early 1980s, Colebrook's love for music led him back to playing in night clubs. He promised God that although he played in bands he would not live the "band life".
On November 3, 1981, God placed a calling on his 28-year-old life.
"It was a Tuesday, and I was sleeping. This voice said to me three times, 'I called you to follow in the footsteps of your father'," Colebrook said. "At that time, I felt the same pain that I felt in the car accident. I was able to relate it to my first deliverance."
Pitching up from his sleep, Colebrook began to jump up and down in his room.
"I'm not an emotional guy, but it was the Holy Spirit within me because I started to shout without any effort. I said, 'Ok, God. Stop. I believe you now'," the reverend recalls.
Shortly thereafter, Colebrook attended American Baptist College in Nashville, Tennessee, where in 1987 he completed his bachelor's degree with honors in theology and psychology.
The year before graduation, Colebrook was ordained in the United States at Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church, where he served as an associate minister.
In December 1988, he became senior pastor of New St. Paul's Baptist Church.
"I have a passion for helping persons who are in need. We shouldn't have to wait for persons to tell us they are in need," said Colebrook, who wants to create an even stronger church in the coming years.
"My goal is to help our church's youths. They are the generation of the future. I'm investing in them and speaking life to them."
Colebrook is married to Tonia (nee Humes). He is the father of three - Lerond, Bobbeth and Torianne.
On December 2, 2013, I celebrated my 80th birthday with much gratitude. Having reached such an important milestone, I paused to reflect on my youthful days when I became a part of an organization dedicated to the struggle for social justice.
Today, my soul mourns the social, economic and political state of the nation and I must conclude that we have travelled from slavery to slavery. We have to agree that something is drastically wrong in our nation and we must unite to seek an effective remedy.
My struggle on the battlefield was rough and sometimes disappointing. However, I remained steadfast and focused in my resolve to preserve democracy. Recently, I was shocked and disappointed in the minister of tourism regarding his revelation of the intention to establish a gaming mecca in The Bahamas. Our forefathers must be in misery as they turn over in their graves. My, my, what a serious departure from our heritage culture and the things we fought for not so long ago. Questions about who should get the next casino license and the establishment of a gambling economy should be cause for serious reflection by all Bahamians.
I vividly recall that in March, 1972 I was informed that Cabinet was to develop a green paper on independence. A green paper is a working document that is sent to Parliament for further development of a final document called a white paper. I was elated because this meant that we were continuing to uphold the primary underpinnings upon which our election rested. My joy quickly vanished when I found out that the venue for the national conference was to be the casino theater on Paradise Island.
I immediately sought an audience with the prime minister to find out what was the reasoning behind his decision to discuss and develop independence for a nation in a casino theater. The prime minister confirmed that the casino was the intended venue and bluntly told me that if I had a better location to suggest he would accept that location. I accepted the challenge and within days identified Harold Road Auditorium (A.F. Adderley School gym) located over the hill. The prime minister accepted the Over-the-Hill location and fortunately the conference was opened on April 15, 1972.
This conference was indeed symbolic because we created a mock parliament setting up the auditorium like the House of Assembly. We borrowed the paraphernalia from the House, including the mace, and constructed a replica of the House over the hill.
It was a national event and it seemed like everybody attended. In attendance were social and cultural organizations, a delegation from every Family Island, unionists, taxi drivers and persons from all walks of life. It was a historic event and we were able to openly discuss and share our views on what we thought an independent Bahamas should be. The official opposition members refused to attend the meeting because they felt as if we should not have created a mock Parliament over the hill and while they believed in independence they did not believe that we were ready for it in 1973.
The opening of the mock Parliament took the form of the official opening of Parliament held in Parliament Square today. During the meeting we were able to develop the green paper and place the completed draft of the proposed format on the prime minister's desk. It was sent to Parliament in the fall of 1972 and a date was set in January 1973 for independence on July 10, 1973.
On December 12, 1973, there was a serious rift within the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and the government over casino operations and ownership in The Bahamas. I recall the nasty confrontation between former Minister of Development the late Carlton Francis and the former Minister of Finance A.D. Hanna. It was truly a rude awakening for those present. The confrontation came about because of the critical position taken against the United Bahamian Party in 1967 by the PLP. As a matter of fact, the PLP waged a vicious campaign against casino gambling and the mafia bosses during the 1967 campaign which led to majority rule. It was unthinkable to many of us that the government would want to form a partnership with the mafia group that we campaigned so vehemently against after winning the government. We must not forget the remarks made by Francis that day on the floor of Parliament in connection with the government's plan to take over the casinos in The Bahamas. Francis, who was also perceived to be speaking on behalf of the Baptist Convention, stated the following, "I am making it clear that as far as I am concerned this is a conscience matter. This resolution raises a fundamental question for me. I am making a clear divergence between my principles and political considerations. Leaving conscience aside, I would like to raise the point that we are a young nation. We have not yet found a national identity. I feel that the white paper (on independence) and the speech from the throne put before us certain ideals and qualities that I would like to see in a young and growing nation. Gambling is a cancer eating away at the qualities that help to make people what they are. I believe there are alternatives, but no one will find these alternatives as long as they can find the easy way out. I do not believe that gambling is good for the country."
Francis was forced to resign as minister of development and it is my opinion that his reaction was brought about by the behavior of Hanna. Further, I found it difficult to understand why the prime minister seemed eager to let his most able minister go and demonstrated no compassion or sympathy for him. Francis' removal from the Cabinet table created a void that was difficult to fill.
Some 41 years ago, our government seemed hellbent on lying in bed with casino operators and today nothing has changed. The mission of the Quiet Revolution has been betrayed.
On January 26, 1974, I made the following statement at the First Annual Conference of the Coconut Grove constituency, "The introduction in this country of an economy based on organized gambling will surely destroy our cultural heritage."
Today, 40 years later, I stand by that statement and call upon the nation to take a stand. We do not need any more casinos in The Bahamas. I humbly beg the government to reconsider its present position. We all know that there are alternatives, but we refuse to explore them. We must act now and we must be creative.
I was first elected to Parliament on Tuesday, January 10, 1967 to represent the Coconut Grove constituency. I soon found out that the Progressive Liberal Party government inherited a system of oppression and had no intention of changing it. I called my constituents together and we decided to seek help to embark on a social, cultural and economic development program. The program was a success and to our credit the constituents of Coconut Grove gained a community center, Jumbey Festival, and Jumbey Village on Blue Hill Road. I recall our first classical and folklore concert on March 9, 1969 at the Government High School Auditorium. The Rt. Hon. L.O. Pindling attended the concert and expressed surprise and shock at the talents displayed by our young people from the Coconut Grove constituency.
Shortly after this concert, the prime minister invited me to his residence for a talk and congratulated me for the work that I was doing in the community and invited me to become a parliamentary secretary in his office with responsibilities for community development known these days as Urban Renewal. I accepted the post and received my instrument of appointment in December 1970.
I arrived at the prime minister's office in January 1971 to receive instructions and was shown a nine by 12 office in the Cabinet building very near the prime minister's office and instructed to set up the community development program from there. I expressed some concern about the space I was offered and was informed that it was the only space available. I sought some assistance from Carlton Francis, minister of finance, and with his help I was able to set up satisfactory machinery on the second floor of the Spotless Cleaners Building on Madeira Street.
I was eager to get started and immediately contacted the community development unit of the United Nations requesting assistance in the development of a community development program. An officer from the United Nations was dispatched to Nassau to assist us and we developed a program for The Bahamas. On September 15, 1971, I wrote to the prime minister expressing my frustration and disappointment in the government's attitude towards social problems in the country. The following is an excerpt from that letter, "Our educational system is nearly up to par at present, however, we must remember that we took this country over just four short years ago and all who voted for us at that time are now in the cold and in need of social development machinery. Immediate steps should be taken: To improve and build the minds of the masses in Over-the-Hill areas like Grants Town, Bain Town, the Five Pound Lot etc. and to develop a program that will allow our people to further participate in the economy of the country. Then and only then will we be able to say that we represent all our brothers and sisters."
In October 1971, I presented that community development program to the Progressive Liberal Party's convention and it was unanimously adopted by the convention.
The Coconut Grove Community Centre was an ambitious venture but the residents of the Coconut Grove constituency and their member of Parliament rose to the task undauntedly. The community library and clinic,
preschool, cultural workshops and a small theater were a part of a self-help project. This was the first time that a member of Parliament had personally done something so significant in his constituency. The first fundraiser, a telethon, was held on Sunday, June 15, 1969. We received pledges of donations in the sum of $10,000 and donations of labor and material. In October 1972, we delivered to the government of The Bahamas two complete units, namely the community clinic and
library, which are still in operation today. Both units, which are located on Acklins Street, were fully equipped and professionally staffed, putting in operation the first of its kind over the hill. It may be interesting to note that the clinic served women and infants from as far away as Gladstone and Carmichael Roads. The pre-school unit was completed at a later date and that too is still in operation today.
Cabinet initially agreed to provide funds for the completion of the center, the cultural workshops and small theater with a seating capacity of 200, but later we were denied by the powers that be. God knows I tried. The theater on Acklins Street was to be a training ground for artists, an opportunity for them to sharpen their skills and talents before they performed at Jumbey Village Theatre, which was likened to Carnegie Hall.
Every year we constructed a site for the four-day street festival on Coconut Grove Avenue called the Jumbey Festival, which brought thousands of persons in to the Coconut Grove community to experience indigenous Bahamian culture and way of life. The site included a replica of a typical Bahamian village. It was a strenuous task having to build and take down the site every year and I recognized that eventually we had to develop a permanent site.
In 1970 I had a vision for a cultural center, Jumbey Village. I knew that through self-reliance and self-help, we could produce life from a former dumpsite on Big Pond to create and construct a beautiful heritage village. In 1970 our Jumbey Festival on Coconut Grove Avenue provided the financing to begin land clearing at Big Pond. I was able to get the entire community involved. The proposed Jumbey Village was a three-prong mission: social, cultural and economic. Donations came in the form of monies, trees, trucks and delivery drivers, to name a few items.
The Coconut Grove Women's Charity Club, Junior Jaycees, Southern Youth Corporation, College UNICOMM, churches and the nation's schools, private and public, all played a major role in the development of the Village, as it was called.
The junior and secondary schools had a function and the proceeds were donated and the teachers donated a half day's pay towards the Bahamian people's Jumbey Village. Dame Doris Johnson, then minister of transport, and Livingstone Coakley, then minister of works, provided assistance in materials and equipment.
o Edmund Moxey is a former member of Parliament. The second and final part of this piece will be published in tomorrow's newspaper.