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As one of the essential foundation practices for artists, mastering the human figure allows for the artist to honestly engage with the human form. In the case of local collage and mixed media artist Sue Katz, it's a chance to use this honest interaction to present the human figure through the lens of societal standards in breathtaking pieces.
"I've always loved figure drawing and I loved the theme I had set out for myself - women in different forms, love for women, the perception of women and femininity," she said. "For me the female figure is a lot more interesting to draw."
"I don't make figures how I exactly see them or how other people may see them - my figures are exaggerated," she added. "It's always been my specific style and I think it has to do with my illustration background."
Indeed her collection of work on display at The Central Bank of The Bahamas, "Bodies of Eve" present anonymous women with distorted bodies in her specific signature style, causing viewers to confront the space between reality and expectation in conversations about the female figure and femininity at large.
"It's important to me to take on this subject matter in my work because women struggle with body acceptance issues," Katz explained. "Ask any woman and she will find problems with herself and I think that's one of the reasons I don't make figures as-is."
"I think that perception is a big problem worldwide, though not too much here - it's one of the things I really love about being here, that attitude of here I am, love me as I am. But often I see the images of women's bodies are distorted, and I have a problem with that."
Katz takes this message to the extreme, presenting figures in which thighs, hips and breasts are distorted beyond proportional possibility. The facelessness of these figures conveys the idea of the "every woman", addressing the very real and shared anxieties of female body shame. Yet they teeter dangerously on the edge of fetishism, asking viewers to question the line between sexualization and brutalization of the female figure in a society rife with gendered double standards.
Adding to this is Katz' use of material - from a collection of decades-old magazines and books, she builds a palette of retro ads that harkens back to a carefully constructed era of complex feminine ideals.
"I tend to use a lot of retro pieces," said Katz. "I'm fascinated by 1950s and 1960s ad culture, the idea of modern items to make your life easier and perfect."
"Everything I put on has a specific place. I think some people think collage is slapping paper randomly on, but it's not true. It means something in terms of color balance and color impact and focal points."
In such a process, Katz deconstructs these patriarchal mid-century realities and uses it as raw material for her own constructions in a post-female-empowerment world, suggesting a disconnect between modern philosophies and practices - pertinent in a time where the female body is a heated political stage both locally in the marital rape law and next door in an all-out attack on female reproductive rights by Republican lawmakers.
What do the fragments say about ownership? What do they say about the constantly shifting construction of femininity? About boundary? About fragility? Do they need to say anything at all? What does the female body say? Does it ask, through its unabashed nudity to be approached? Does it ask to be shamed? Does it ask for approval? The reality is, the female body can hardly just be a female body anymore.
At the end of the day, though never addressing current gender these struggles directly, the nude figures nevertheless inspire powerful conversations surrounding the politics of the female body, destined always like its biblical predecessor to suffer not for its own free will, but for that act in a time where women suffer simply for the possession of female bodies themselves.
"Bodies of Eve" is on display now at The Central Bank of The Bahamas, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The official opening commences Friday, April 20 at 6 p.m. The show will close April 30.
There is ongoing debate on the leadership attributes of the prime minister and leader of the Free National Movement (FNM), Hubert A. Ingraham, and the leader of the official opposition and Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), Perry G. Christie. Leadership was the dominant theme of the FNM's 2007 campaign and it is not surprising that the FNM has adopted the same modus operandi for its 2012 campaign.
The general position of the 21st century Bahamian electorate is one that rejects a leadership campaign in favor of a campaign that promotes plans to create jobs, reduce crime, address the immigration debacle and place the country on the path to economic prosperity.
Against this backdrop, it is imperative to state that a leader will be judged by and for successive generations based on his/her ability to, among other things, manage the economy in a manner that balances economic prudence, socio-economic expectations and infrastructural development. A review of the budget communications for fiscal years 2002-2012 and comparative analysis of the stewardship of our economy by the Christie and Ingraham administrations is important as we go into the 2012 general election.
Christie administration (2002-2007)
Upon assuming office in May 2002 following a landslide victory at the polls, the Christie administration was faced with multiple challenges. In the aftermath of two consecutive Ingraham-led terms from 1992-2002, The Bahamas was in recovery mode following a blacklisting by the Financial Action Task Force and the backlash of the 9/11 terrorists attacks in the United States which had weakened our main industries of tourism and financial services.
These realities coupled with a burgeoning national debt in excess of $2.1 billion, a debt-to-GDP ratio of 37 percent and a growing deficit of 3.7 percent, would ultimately limit the Christie administration's ability to implement many of its proposed policies and programs, least among them National Health Insurance. The administration would proceed to execute austere measures and engineer an aggressive economic policy to improve the economy of the country and maintain deficit levels.
At the onset, the Christie administration recalled a US$125 million loan incurred by the previous Ingraham-led administration that had a four-year term and imposed heavy servicing costs. As a result, a US$200 million bond attracting a lower interest rate and extending the life of the loan was issued.
Over its five-year period in office, the administration borrowed approximately $640 million to meet is annual budget requirements and aid in its revenue shortfall. The administration invested in social programs, such as urban renewal, carried out what is arguably the most ambitious housing program in Bahamian history with the building of more than 1,400 homes and allocated funds to the consistent repatriation of illegal immigrants. Further, the administration chose not to increase taxes, thereby saving Bahamians additional hardship in a depressed economy and implemented austere measures in budget allocations to ministries.
This policy decision as expected, negatively impacted government revenue and curbed expenditure. However, the administration turned the economy around by securing multiple anchor projects for improvements in infrastructure and job opportunities resulting in an increase in foreign direct investments (FDI) of approximately $240 million in 2002 to an excess of $880 million in 2007.
This enabled The Bahamas under the Christie administration to increase external reserves to a record in excess of $690 million from $370 million in 2002. Unemployment figures fell from 9.1 percent in 2002 to 7.9 percent in 2007, accounting for approximately 20,000 jobs created.
Ultimately, the Christie administration was able to achieve social, economic and infrastructural development in challenging times that called for austerity.
Ingraham administration (2007-2012)
The Ingraham administration was greeted with multiple FDIs, a national debt of approximately $2.4 billion, a reduced deficit and a debt-to-GDP ratio of 35 percent when it took office in 2007. In its Manifesto 2007 promise, the administration had committed to deficit reduction and hoped to achieve this feat and reduce the debt-to-GDP ratio to a low of 30 percent by 2012.
Faced with favorable economic conditions and a projected growth rate of 4.5 percent, the Ingraham administration's first and second budgets were generous. Allocations to most ministries were increased significantly over and above allocations in previous fiscal years. However, The Bahamas' tourism and financial services industries would become negatively impacted by the global economic downturn.
Over the ensuing fiscal years, the Ingraham administration witnessed a decline in revenues and consequently relied upon the headroom it met when entering office to significantly increase its borrowing and make up for revenue shortfalls. In addition, the administration carried out perhaps the most aggressive and controversial fiscal policy in Bahamian history. Tax increases by the administration adversely impacted lower and middle income earners and Bahamian businesses. Private schools, charitable and College of The Bahamas subsidies were reduced in an already depressed economy.
Confronted with reduced revenue and only remnants of FDIs negotiated by the Christie administration, the administration seemed to pay the price for its "Stop, Review and Cancel" policy for FDI projects left on the table by the Christie administration, which Standard & Poor's noted affected investor confidence in The Bahamas. The administration would later seek to address its revenue shortfall with the controversial sale of the state-owned telecommunications company, Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) to British firm Cable & Wireless and the reduction of the prime and discount rates lowered the administration's debt servicing cost.
The challenges faced by the Ingraham administration were great and as such required prudent fiscal and economic planning. Caught off-guard by the global recession and with no real or robust economic policy, the Bahamian economy has suffered a great deal. Unemployment levels have risen to more than 15 percent, foreclosures are at record levels and the government had oversight of more than $100 million in cost overruns for the road improvement project. The national debt has doubled in excess of $4 billion, deficit levels exceed eight percent and the debt-to-GDP ratio exceeds 60 percent (more than the recommended rate of less than 40 percent).
In the final analysis, a review of both administrations' performance in managing the economy suggests that the Ingraham administration lacked a plan to improve economic conditions in the country as evidenced by its reactionary fiscal policy. The Christie administration, on the other hand, despite being faced with multiple challenges throughout its term charted a course that set The Bahamas on the road to economic recovery.
It is difficult to see how another Ingraham administration would differ from the current one being faced with the same challenge and appearing to wait on a slowly recovering United States economy. It is fair to state that a similar strategy will be deployed. The Christie-led PLP has indicated that it will adopt similar policies (as deployed between 2002 and 2007) to restore economic prosperity to The Bahamas if elected.
The Bahamian people ought to be mindful of the following words of President Thomas Jefferson: "To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude".
The facts do not lie and we must choose economy and liberty over profusion and servitude. The choice is ours to make.
o Arinthia S. Komolafe is an attorney-at-law. Comments can be directed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A top U.S. investor is looking to revive a concrete plant on Exuma and purchase a large tract of land, a move that could facilitate considerable development on the island.
In September, Guardian Business exclusively revealed that February Point is poised to sell for "eight figures" to a large foreign entity.
John McGarvey, a property developer with major interests in Florida, has now set his sights on the property across the street. While already pumping millions into the Coconut Cove Hotel, he plans to gain this strategic foothold and play a leading role in future projects.
"My inspiration is mostly from a logistics standpoint. There is a lot more we can do once we square away February Point," McGarvey told Guardian Business. "There is so much energy happening on Exuma. I can see it being mall sub-divisions, maybe in time a golf course, a sports complex, or a business center. So we're working through it. It's still in the planning stages. But it's a good piece. I like the location."
Guardian Business understands that the concrete plant, closed down more than one year ago, has been included in the sale price. Sources close to the matter said it could act as a "staging point" for general construction, particularly for February Point and its future ambitions.
The Talisker Corporation, based in Toronto, is thought to be the leading contender to acquire the luxury community. This major deal involves approximately 715 acres of "mostly vacant" land, leaving plenty of room for development.
McGarvey noted that the plant would be mostly for his own use, although synergies are beginning to form as major players flock to one of the country's most beautiful places.
The developer told Guardian Business that work is progressing well on his first project at the Coconut Cove.
McGarvey is pouring $750,000 into phase one, with a projected budget of $5.5 million over the course of several years to bolster its room and amenity offerings.
He complimented the government on its efficiency and willingness to see Exuma develop and provide new opportunities for Bahamians.
In fact, he said training needs to be "the biggest focus" for the island going forward.
"If we don't train, the world is always crashing over our heads. We want to train Exumians as craftsmen. I want to take it to the next level," he explained. "We are better off taking the population here and doing it properly."
A third project being considered by McGarvey is a "private club" on Stocking Island, Guardian Business can reveal.
McGarvey said he hopes to combine the best elements of a hotel, fractional ownership model and single-family homes. He felt most people don't have $3 million to spend on a second home these days. Instead, he wants to provide a fractional piece of paradise at $300,000.
The renting of homes on Stocking Island would be restricted, he noted, in order to give it that private club feel.
McGarvey is looking at a boutique development that fits into the landscape, through low-lying buildings with a "green focus". Solar energy would feature prominently, he said.
Exuma has benefitted from a number of new investors of late.
Peter Nicholson, the Canadian developer at Grand Isle, recently pulled the luxury community out of receivership by purchasing 31 villas.
Former race car driver Eddie Irvine has invested close to $10 million into the Exuma Yacht Club. Guardian Business also exclusively revealed that a project on Norman's Cay had entered the "execution phase", according to Minister of Investments Khaalis Rolle.
And with the additional of Talisker, an experienced resort company, Exuma could enjoy a considerable boom over then next few years.
Investors in the troubled Cotton Bay Estates project have invested "eight figures", according to its chairman.
Franklyn Wilson said despite the project's recent legal woes and hard economic times, the $200 million development in Eleuthera is still moving forward with support from "some very deep pockets".
Wilson, who is also the chairman of Arawak Homes, said Cotton Bay remains undeterred.
"The reason I have been reluctant to give any specific timelines, is because who knows when the economic conditions make sense," he told Guardian Business. "We are being deliberate and cautious. Development has never stopped. We have simply been pacing ourselves."
The comments come shortly after a ruling in the Supreme Court that denied Cotton Bay's claim to $11 million in performance bonds.
Judge Stephen G. Isaacs sided with CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank (Bahamas), claiming "the bonds are not valid and enforceable against the bank."
The former project manager of Cotton Bay, Penn's Renovation & Construction Company, requested the bonds in preparation for phases one and two of the project. After the work contracts were
terminated, Cotton Bay investors still called in the bond, which was subsequently denied by the bank.
Wilson told Guardian Business that he was disappointed by the verdict, commenting that "it was not a frivolous matter".
"My position is this, nobody sues a bank, a major one like FirstCaribbean, and you do that lightly. We had four different senior attorneys from in and outside The Bahamas take a look at this case, and we were not represented by lightweight council. The judge did not rule in our favor, and that's life."
The Cotton Bay chairman explained that attorneys had sought confirmation through the bank that the bonds were valid. Wilson claimed he received what was interpreted as confirmation, although the document was ultimately deemed improper.
The plaintiffs also asserted the bank's actions through the process validated that the bonds were accepted.
While the court claimed the bonds would have only covered 35 percent of the contractor's cost, Wilson insisted the $8 million bond, earmarked for the clubhouse, represented nearly the entire expenditure. The second bond, coming in at $3 million, was meant for villas valued at around $6 million.
In all, he said the $11 million worth of bonds were for approximately $15 million in contracts.
Wilson admitted to Guardian Business that the ruling serves as another blow to the project.
He said the legal affair "was huge" and "something not taken lightly".
But overall Wilson remained upbeat on the property's future. He insisted that once complete, Cotton Bay will feature "one of the greatest golf courses in the Caribbean".
Work is ongoing on the course and hotel, he explained. The giant clubhouse, which is now the largest building on Eleuthera, is essentially complete, along with villas totaling 54 rooms.
On a personal note, Wilson told Guardian Business he took comfort in the fact that Judge Isaacs defended him amid allegations from the defense that his testimony was "not credible".
Located five miles south of Rock Sound, Starwood Hotels & Resorts first signed an agreement with Eleuthera Properties Ltd. in 2005 to develop the massive project. Comprising more than 100 estate lots, a clubhouse, a private marina and an 18-hole golf course, it was heralded as one of the largest projects ever undertaken by a group of Bahamian investors.
In 1982, the less than one-year-old Caribbean small island state, Antigua and Barbuda, raised the proposition at the United Nations that Antarctica should be regarded as a global common similar to the deep-sea bed and should be managed by the UN for the good of mankind.
Few could understand why a small island-state would want to raise a matter that seemed to be "big country politics". Today, as "polar ice caps melt and small islands drown", the reasons for Antigua and Barbuda's concern in 1982 have become very apparent.
In 1982, arrangements for the governance of Antarctica lay exclusively in the hands of the signatory states to the Antarctic Treaty System. It was an exclusive arrangement between 12 countries. Of the 12, seven -- Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom -- have territorial claims, sometimes overlapping (as in the case of Britain and Argentina in the region of the Falklands/Malvinas islands). The U.S. and Russia also maintain a "basis of claim".
As matters turned out, Antigua and Barbuda was too recent an independent nation and lacked the resources to continue to press the case for the UN declaring Antarctica "a global common" that should be managed by the UN for the good of all nations. It was left to Malaysia to take up the cudgels.
In 1983, Malaysia argued at the UN that Antarctica should be a global heritage similar to that of the high seas and any benefits derived from Antarctica should be shared by all and not only the exclusive right of certain vested countries and parties. Malaysia also argued that the pristine "Antarctic environment be protected and preserved".
The seven countries with claims to Antarctica were as unhappy with the Malaysia proposal, as they were with Antigua and Barbuda's aborted first raising of the issue. Nonetheless, Malaysia garnered sufficient support to ensure that until 1996, the question of Antarctica was discussed at the UN. But, in 2005 it dropped off the UN agenda.
There is clear evidence now that the worry about preserving the pristine condition of Antarctica was very valid when it was raised in the UN in 1982. Human activity in the area and climate change in Antarctica and in the Arctic are adversely affecting small island states and vulnerable coastal areas of larger countries.
This point was well made at a conference most people would say small island states in tropical climates had no business attending. The International Polar Year Conference 2012, under the theme, "From Knowledge to Action", was held in Montreal, Canada, from April 22-27. Organized by several partners, especially the World Meteorological Organization, Ronald Jean Jumeau, ambassador for climate change for the small island state of Seychelles, made a compelling argument for the continued active concern by small island states for what is happening in Antarctica.
His remarks at the Montreal Conference have particular relevance because small island states and developing countries with vulnerable coasts (such as Belize and Guyana) appear to have lost the toe-hold at the UN for discussing Antarctica and the effects on them of melting glaciers. In 2005, the UN agreed, in its First Committee, that Antarctica would not be placed on the agenda of the UN General Assembly. It hasn't been on the agenda since then. But, it should be.
Here are Jumeau's remarks on the effects of climate change in the two poles: "The worse the situation gets in the Arctic and the Antarctic, the more worried we islanders get. For the more your ice melts in the north and the south, and on the mountain tops and in the glaciers of the world, the more our world, in tiny Seychelles just four degrees south of the equator and in the rest of the Indian Ocean and in the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Caribbean as well, the more our world goes under. As the poles melt, we drown".
He pointed out: "The melting ice at the poles is not just contributing to sea level rise, it is affecting the oceans as drivers of the world's climate as well. The seas around our islands, some of which are the lowest land on earth, are rising, and coastal erosion is getting worse and worse to the extent that some islands may be swept away before the waves cover them and wipe them off the face of the earth".
The ambassador ended by saying: "The poles' global linkages make the Arctic and the Antarctic a common, a global, heritage of the whole community of man and womankind".
And, if it might be felt that the Seychelles ambassador's warnings are self-serving, this is what Ban-ki-Moon, the UN secretary-general, said about the situation in 2007: "Antarctica is on the verge of a catastrophe - for the world." He offered figures to support his claim: "glaciers on King George Island have shrunk by 10 percent, while some in Admiralty Bay have retreated by 25 kilometers; the 87-kilometer "Larsen B ice sheet" collapsed several years ago and disappeared within weeks; the entire Western Antarctic Ice Shelf is at risk - it is all floating ice, one fifth of the entire continent. If it broke up, sea levels could rise by six meters or 18 feet." Since then, matters have gotten worse.
Work is being done by small island states to raise attention to the growing threat to their existence, and to the dangers posed to their productive areas and human habitats - both food security and human dislocation are real issues.
This matter should be forcefully pressed at the forthcoming Rio+20 Sustainable Development Conference in the interest of all small island states and vulnerable coastal areas. It should also vigorously be pushed back on to the UN agenda however resistant may be those countries that regard Antarctica as their exclusive preserve.
o Sir Ronald Sanders is a business executive and former Caribbean diplomat who publishes widely on small states in the global community. Send responses to: www.sirronaldsanders.com.
By RENALDO DORSETT
WITH schools on a break, basketball action remained in full swing with the Providence Basketball Holiday Classic, which featured an appearance by one of the top players in American prep basketball.
Texas Select - 51
NGM Major - 23
Billed as one of the top prospects in the Class of 2012, L J Rose lived up to expectations in controlling every phase of the game, leading his team to a blowout win.
Rose finished with a game high 14 points to go along with six assists and three rebounds. He finished as one of three team members in double figures along with Stephen Strachan and Remardo King who each finished with 10.
Rashad Major and La ...
The Bahamas has a rich legacy of cultural icons known internationally and abroad for being pioneers in their field - from Sidney Poitier to Tony McKay to Paul Meeres. Yet many Bahamians know little about these figures who built them a rich heritage. Lack of tribute to such giants have allowed their stories to slip away, but with a new initiative by Doongalik Studios, their impact is being brought back into our cultural consciousness.
Thanks to the initiative by a core committee of people - Jackson Burnside, Pam Burnside, Orchid Burnside, Charles Carter and Fred Ferguson - last year, Doongalik Studios hosted the exhibition "Remembering Youngie and Exuma".
Under the curatorship of Orchid Burnside who drove most of the research based on her training at the Smithsonian Museum, the exhibition collected countless items of memorabilia about Bahamian music icons Tony McKay and Joseph Spence to piece together the important stories and impact these figures had on our cultural landscape - both at home and abroad.
"I want people to recognize how talented we are and realize just how much information is here about our Bahamian stars and heroes, and that we really need to appreciate it," explains Orchid. "They need to see these people made a difference here and abroad, so there is no excuse for them to do it too."
Now named "The Jackson Burnside Annual Conversations on Culture" after Jackson's passing earlier this year, the exhibitions continue to examine primarily performers as forgotten heroes to inform and inspire Bahamians today about their history and potential.
"We said we definitely needed to continue this legacy because Jackson was so excited about it all," says Pam. "Jackson was very concerned about educating especially young people about all of this cultural treasure we have in this country that we know nothing about, and so the youngsters now are claiming foreign icons when we have some right here."
Indeed, it's where the sentiment for the phrase for the conversations, "See what you're looking at", comes from - telling the stories of our own greats right here at home.
Storytelling is indeed a large part of the "Annual Conversations" - last year for "Youngie and Exuma", it became apparent that even though Orchid led the curation and information gathering from many foreign sources, many people in the community had memorabilia and their own stories to add. To that effect, they hosted a series of lectures dedicated to the community sharing their interactions with the two singers.
"People were really moved by it and wanted every night to be lecture night," says Orchid. "They asked us when there would be more. So when we wrapped we didn't want it to die - we made a list of forgotten heroes whose lives we wanted to make into an exhibition to celebrate."
This year, keeping in the tradition to focus on performers, especially those who made waves abroad, the committee - with the added help of Dr. Keith Wisdom - chose to focus on three giants of Bahamian dance. The current exhibition, "The Spirit of the Dance", synthesizes countless pieces of memorabilia from the lives and legacies of Shirley Hall-Bass, Paul Meeres and Hubert Farrington who not only made waves internationally but also formed a culture of dance at home through teaching many generations of Bahamians.
"Shirley Hall-Bass - though she's not a Bahamian - taught me and my mother, so that's already two generations of Bahamians who have been influenced by her," says Orchid.
"Hubert Farrington taught a ton of Bahamians. Paul Meeres too, and brought Peanuts Taylor, Chippy Chipman, The Count--they all came up in his theater and learned how to be performers," she explains. "So Bahamian entertainment kind of came out of all these people."
Indeed, when the exhibition opened earlier this month, Bahamians of all generations came together to celebrate the memories of these three irreplaceable figures. Such a gathering is already a tribute to their legacies, however just as last year, the community came together once more to contribute their own pieces of memorabilia to the exhibition.
"That was the great thing, because even though I was technically the curator of the show, it's like the whole community is the curator," says Orchid.
It means that "The Spirit of the Dance" will continue to change and grow as more information is collected and synthesized, the gathering itself another testament to the effect of these three dancers on the creative and wider community.
The great thing about The Jackson Burnside Annual Conversations on Culture is that any exhibition they hold will continue beyond their time on Doongalik's walls, for the committee plans to digitize and store all information they receive at the Jackson L. Burnside Research and Design Library, which is slated to open early next year.
It is Orchid, though, who is leading the way in this initiative. Her time hunting and synthesizing memorabilia from many international sources has shown her how important it is to have such information all in one place at home where Bahamians can access easily to learn more about these cultural icons.
"When these people make it big outside of The Bahamas as they often do, other people take notice and they build collections, not us," she points out.
"In a way it's kind of disheartening that we don't even have here a copy of pictures of our heroes. We have to go elsewhere to find them, but at least it's a consolation that the information still exists."
True to its inaugural effort, this Annual Conversation will launch its community conversations and lectures in January, bringing together ex-students and current legends in their own right to speak to the memories of Hall-Bass, Meeres and Farrington and their greatness. They will also be showing three documentaries--one on each dancer--in the New Year.
Indeed, viewers are encouraged to revisit the exhibition as it will continue to grow and change with new memorabilia, books and film. As it is free and open to the public, there is no excuse not to pay a visit and your respects to those who blazed a path for us at home and abroad.
"There is so much more than what you can put up on a wall, so much more to the story," says Orchid.
"We don't charge so people can participate in their own culture because it doesn't just belong here, it belongs to all of us."
"The Spirit of Dance" is on display at Doongalik Studios on Village Road from Mondays to Fridays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will close in mid-February. For more information about the show and news about upcoming lectures, visit www.doongalik.com.
He was excited to say the least. The real catalyst behind The Bahamas having a significant, joint sports/tourism presence at the National Soccer Coaches Association of American Convention was Tyrone Sawyer.
Sawyer is the Ministry of Tourism's Sports Director. He is largely responsible for the big statement now being made by the Ministry of Tourism regarding the two industries. The tourism and sports industries have entered (in the words of Bahamas Football Association Vice President/Secretary General Fred Lunn) into a marriage. Never was this state of affairs more evident than at the convention, hosted by the city of Indianapolis in Indiana.
The five days spent in Indianapolis saw soccer as the major source of interest for Sawyer, but always with an "eye" and an "ear" for maximizing the opportunity of enhancing the national sports program through tourism. In fact, as was to be expected, he laid down the framework for future joint efforts with the BFA to boost room figures in 2013 and beyond.
"This is a wonderful experience. This is my first time and it is important that there was a solid representation at the convention. I have a great deal of appreciation for Fred Lunn and Trevor Rolle of the Bahamas Football Association (BFA). I was thrilled and pleasantly surprised at the number of top soccer individuals from the United States and elsewhere who came up to Rolle. He has a wide circle of contacts. This is huge and an added dimension for the soccer program.
"I noted with satisfaction, the eagerness of coaches and other soccer experts to network with Lunn and Rolle who were wearing outfits of the national colors. Our uniforms are enticing and our group was very much, in a number of instances, the center of attraction. It became clear to me from the very first day that we have an opportunity to do something very
special. Our partnership with soccer is an ideal sports tourism item," said Sawyer.
In particular, Sawyer was extremely impressed with Phil Rose, the president of PALS International Soccer Academy and also the chief director of youth soccer in Florida. Rose, when asked for ideas to maintain a solid senior soccer product in The Bahamas while the BFA focuses on the youth program, came up with an option that delighted Sawyer.
He spoke passionately about the possibility of a senior soccer men's invitational-base partnering concern, involving The Bahamas and Florida. Rose presented the idea of the BFA working to get a bounce for the senior program by interacting with the clubs that play soccer in Florida, most of them, with a strong Caribbean flavor.
His plan is for Bahamian representatives (ideally, from sports tourism and the BFA) to arrange a meeting with leading soccer names in Florida to forge a joint agreement for the invitational tournaments. The structure of the tournaments (whether one-on-one or round-robin) would have to be ironed out, but the principle of invitational events struck home with Sawyer. While being careful not to make a commitment, it was clear that the idea put forth by Rose set his mind abuzz.
I was in Indianapolis for the convention as well, and confirm the enthusiastic environment. The convention helped mightily to put Bahamian sports tourism more firmly on the cutting edge. I say with conviction that just how BFA President Anton Sealey has put in place an administration template for others to follow, his organization is now poised to lead the way in sports tourism for this country.
Fortunately, at this time, there is a Minister of Tourism, who truly understands the awesome sports tourism potential in the land. Minister Obie Wilchcombe indicated as much when he was on hand to view the contest between The Bahamas and Jamaica on the occasion of the official opening of the BFA Beach Soccer Facility at the foot of the Sir Sidney Poitier Bridge late last year.
Indeed, there are good early signs for this Bahamas Football Association/Ministry of Tourism marriage.
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at email@example.com)
For many children, Christmas time conjures up images of a mountain of gifts under their Christmas tree with many toys and treats inside.
But for countless others, receiving even one gift on this special holiday is cause for joy and celebration.
Such is the thought behind the latest charity drive by the Kiwanis Club of Nassau A.M. - Toys for Tots - which aims to provide Christmas gifts to children in the Bain and Grants Town areas this holiday.
The brainchild of Natila Saunders, director and Young Children Priority One chairperson of the Kiwanis Club of Nassau A.M., Toys for Tots encourages members of the public to donate one unwrapped gift to touch the life of one less fortunate child in the community.
Many individual acts of kindness will go a long way collectively - in fact, Saunders hopes to reach as many as 500 families this year.
"I know it sounds ambitious, but I think it's very easy to do that and even more," she said. "We're trying to get as many donations as possible so we can give them the Christmas that they deserve."
As part of the service organization Kiwanis Club of Nassau A.M., Saunders has been involved with many programs that aim to provide food and clothing to those less fortunate, especially in the Bain and Grants Town areas.
Last year, when the organization undertook a major service project assisting two families, the reaction by the children to the toys they donated made an impression on Saunders and inspired her to establish Toys for Tots.
"You should have seen the joy on the children's faces - they were elated," she remembered. "So I just wanted to do something that could touch even more children."
Partnering up with Bank of The Bahamas is perfect for Kiwanis Club as an organization that gives back to the less fortunate. Bank of The Bahamas employees dedicate their time to causes that are close to their hearts and which change the lives of others - and this program is no different.
All Bank of The Bahamas branches will be gift drop-off points during weekday business hours, as well as on Saturdays at the Harrold Road and Village Road branches which are open from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
"I wasn't even expecting it to be this major but I'm really thankful because with Bank of The Bahamas as a partner, I'm sure it's going to have an even greater impact," said Saunders.
Once the drive closes on December 21, Bank of The Bahamas employees and Kiwanis members will sort the gifts and on Christmas Day will venture into the neighborhoods and provide them to the children and their families to make their holiday unforgettable.
Indeed, the drive taps into the true spirit of Christmas that encourages charity, selflessness and giving above receiving. Above all, it encourages the community to come together to uplift those who really need it during this time of year when disparity and lack become more apparent and difficult to handle.
"It shows the children that we actually care, to have complete strangers come into the neighborhood to do something for them," pointed out Saunders. "It's more special knowing that we go there on Christmas Day and they have something to look forward to on that special day."
They are appealing to the public to donate any gift at the Bank of The Bahamas branches until December 21, whether books, stuffed animals, board games, dolls, actions figures - anything will make a difference, insisted Saunders.
"We're asking for the public to respond to this very important project," she said. "It doesn't require much. No gift is too big or too small, and we'd appreciate anything because it will go a very, very long way."
Fired by Sir Lynden Pindling in October 1984, both Hubert Ingraham and Perry Christie eventually secured the job of the man who dismissed them from his Cabinet. Those events and the ensuing battle for the highest elected office in the land make for a sort of Shakespearian drama that is coming full circle with a likely denouement sometime after May 7.
The almost spectral-like presence of Sir Lynden at rallies for the PLP and the FNM via recordings of one of the Fathers of the Nation has made him something of a minor issue in the 2012 general election some 12 years after his death.
Most voters over a certain age have strong feelings about Sir Lynden. Some view him with unbridled enthusiasm while others equally view him with unbridled disdain. Many view his as a mixed legacy with extraordinary accomplishments though besmirched by a legacy that included mass corruption within his administrations and the victimization of opponents.
In the public imagination Sir Lynden is not seen in the extraordinarily glowing terms of his more fervent admirers nor with the utter disdain of those who view him quite differently than these admirers.
For a new generation of voters, who may prove decisive in this election, Sir Lynden is known more from the history books than the daily headlines. These voters may be somewhat perplexed that both Perry Christie and Hubert Ingraham have invoked the memory of Sir Lynden.
Ultimately, though this is of greater interest to voters of a certain age than to younger voters, it serves as a reference point and as a backdrop to the final contest for the ultimate political prize between two of Sir Lynden's protégés.
When Sir Lynden gave his farewell address before the House of Assembly in July 1997 he acknowledged Christie and Ingraham. Yet, he saved his final praise for the latter whom he described as "the most illustrious protégé of mine thus far".
Sir Lynden's statement was not that of a father simply admiring a son for having done well as Sir Lynden would clearly have preferred to be in Ingraham's position. His was a recognition of the man who, along with the FNM, finally ousted him from office after a quarter century in power.
The young upstart whom Sir Lynden derided as a Delivery Boy not only wrested power from the great man in 1992. Ingraham went on to even more decisively beat the PLP in 1997 sweeping the Family Islands save that of Sir Lynden's seat of Kemps Bay. That year, the FNM won one of the highest popular votes ever in an independent Bahamas approximating the PLP's 1968 victory.
Looking at each other across the House floor, Sir Lynden and Ingraham recognized in each other similar qualities necessary to capture and retain the ultimate prize.
Whereas Sir Lynden had vanquished and destroyed many opponents over the decades, it was the man he ridiculed as the Rude Boy who had now earned the right to be called, his most "illustrious protégé". Ingraham had, after all, overcome the attempts of Sir Lynden and others to destroy him politically.
Now here was Ingraham the dissident, who joined forces with other famous dissidents to conquer the giant in a classic tale of the master being defeated by his protégé. The Rude Boy ended the entitlement, if not the entitlement mentality, of the highly favored courtiers in the Court of Sir Lynden.
Fast forward to 2007. Perry Christie, after securing the prime ministership in 2002 with a gussiemae majority including every seat in New Providence, save Montagu, is defending his long sought after ambition and parliamentary majority. With great confidence, similar to 1992, the PLP cannot envision a defeat at the polls.
Yet, once again, the man who defeated Sir Lynden, triumphs over elements of the PLP old guard and the new Christie acolytes. While these factions may have varying feelings about Sir Lynden and his legacy, they share a common - at times irrational - disdain for the man who knows the political culture of the PLP as well, or better than, these factions.
All of which continues to enrage many PLPs. The image of Sir Lynden appearing on screen at an FNM mass rally and on TV before tens of thousands of older and newer voters describing Hubert Ingraham as " the most illustrious protégé of mine thus far", is more than many PLPs can bear.
Unbearable also are Ingraham's visits Over-the-Hill, the supposed bedrock of PLP support, hence the overreaction of some, including Dr. B.J. Nottage who is generally respected across the political spectrum.
The front page photo of him angrily shaking his fist in the face of National Security Minister Tommy Turnquest may become an unfortunately iconic and negative image of Dr. Nottage. The photo also telegraphed a negative view of the PLP which many voters have of the party's sense of entitlement to the votes of Over-the-Hill residents.
What Hubert Ingraham and the FNM accomplished by joining forces was not only to secure the FNM as a majority party that can best the PLP. The base of the FNM has also been broadened and its appeal reaches into every strata of society.
There is also the fear by some PLPs that Hubert Ingraham may begin to rival the popularity of Sir Lynden and that given another term, he may even have more significant accomplishments in various areas of national life.
Next week's general election is not only a contest between the FNM and the PLP. It will also likely be the last battle between two of Sir Lynden's protégés, confirming which one may indeed be the more illustrious in the minds and hearts of Bahamians.
While Sir Lynden's memory has some resonance in 2012, the vast majority of voters are not concerned about his legacy. They are decidedly more interested in how either Perry Christie or Hubert Ingraham will, if returned as prime minister, burnish a legacy of advancing the needs of a 21st century Bahamas.
History assigns greatness not just by the individual measure of a leader, but more fully by what he or she achieved - and by what could have been achieved were it not for the clay feet and/or Achilles heel which have caused many a leader to stumble or fall before achieving true greatness and not simply the adulation of contemporaries.
By next week this time we should know whether Hubert Ingraham or Perry Christie will be afforded the opportunity to add crowning accomplishments to their public service and political careers. To be a historic figure's protégé is one thing. But to be a historic figure in one's own right is the thing which separates the greater figures in history from the lesser ones.