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By ALESHA CADET
Tribune Features Writer
Wenly and Bea Fowler have always been drawn to the artistic expressions of God, through nature, design, thought and patterns.
But it was not until recently, when they finally gave in to the demands of family and friends to share their talents, that the couple decided to hold their first art exhibition.
On Wednesday August 4- Friday August 6th, Wenly and Bea Fowler hosted an art exhibition under the theme, " Shades of Creation" at The National Centre for the Performing Arts on Shirley Street.
The creative couple had met on a college campus when they were studying education.
Since those early days, most of their artistic expressions were ...
EDITOR, The Tribune.
Firstly, I express sincere gratitude to the family of Rotary Clubs in The Bahamas on behalf of all disable persons who resided in and otherwise benefited from the existence of Cheshire Home, for having undertaken the establishment of that very much needed, disabled-friendly residential facility on Dolphin Drive, in the 1980s. Acknowledgment and gratitude are also extended to Sir Durward Knowles for the leading roll he played in seeing the home come into existence.
Gratitude and appreciation are also extended to members of the general public for having financially supported the various fund raising efforts by the Rotary Clubs, which resulted in the eventual construction o ...
By ERIKA RAHMING
VLAD Marinescu, personal assistant to Marius Vizer, president of the International Judo Federation (IJF), met with several high ranking Bahamian officials to discuss plans for the future of judo in the Bahamas and the Caribbean region.
Mr Marinescu was in town for the Bahamas Judo Open this past weekend.
Bahamas Judo Federation (BJF) president D'Arcy Rahming and Mr Marinescu met with Minister of Youth and Sports Charles Maynard to discuss the possibility of a regional judo training centre for the Caribbean within the sports complex currently being built here in New Providence.
The minister was enthusiastic and expressed interest in reviewing a more detailed plan.
EDITOR, The Tribune.
Teenage prostitution published by The Tribune on July 23 is a report about underage girls exchanging sexual pleasures commercially. The well reported article features primarily Dr Sandra Dean-Patterson, director of the Bahamas Crisis Centre, discussing the matter. Dr Dean-Patterson expresses that the problem of teen prostitution doesn't exist because individuals under the age of 16 cannot give consent to sex; therefore, they are not committing prostitution. She said the girls are being exploited.
On the Tribune's website (www.tribune242.com) some people opined under the article. They aired how much they disagreed with Dr Dean-Patterson's assertion that the kid ...
The Bahamian dance community is in mourning with the news of the loss of two dance icons.
Alexander and Violette Zybine died tragically from carbon monoxide poisoning in their home in Mexico early this week.
Though only spending a decade in The Bahamas, the pair managed to make a major impact on the cultural development of dance in the country.
In the late 1960s, Hubert Farrington met fellow performer Alexander Zybine at The Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Having established the Nassau Civic Ballet in Nassau, Farrington enlisted Zybine and his wife to travel to The Bahamas and look after the newly-formed company.
In 1970, the Ministry of Education offered him a teaching position at C.C. Sweeting Senior High School, where he worked for two years. When the abandoned Villa Doyle on West Hill Street (now the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas) was declared to be a center of cultural activity, Alexander and Violette began dance classes on the property while Kayla Lockhart-Edwards and Cederick Scott offered instruction in music and drama.
Out of this, Alexander formed a non-profit dedicated to dance. The New Breed Dancers accepted and taught any Bahamian student free of charge to promote the art of dance in the community.
This group made a huge impact locally and internationally, taking part in the annual Goombay Summer Folkloric Show in Nassau in the 1970s, dancing as part of the Inaugural Independence Celebration in 1973, and performing successful shows regionally, in major U.S. cities, in Mexico, and even in Europe.
Part of Alexander's brilliance as a dancer is that he used classical ballet techniques in an innovative way to expresss folk traditions. He was known for using local music for his choreography. In fact, when his dance group traveled to the Cultural Olympics as part of the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico to perform as a representative for The Bahamas, they performed "Sammie Swain", originally choreographed by Alexander as a ballet.
Through the pair's efforts, they managed to form many successful classical dancers, including Lawrence Carroll, Christina Johnson, Paula Knowles, Ednol Wright and Victoria McIntosh.
As teachers, the pair's opposite personalities meshed well to form dancers both serious and joyful about their craft. Violette's no-nonsense approach, pushing her students' boundaries to get their very best, was offset by Alexander's kind encouragement, giving their fledgling Bahamian dancers a sense of empowerment in their talents that few teachers had ever encouraged before.
"Who I am now has so much to do with what Mr. Zybine did for me," says his ex-student and an extraordinary dance teacher, Christina Johnson.
"I felt like I wasn't always the brightest, but he made you feel like the best. When I look at my life and my achievements, it's all thanks to him. He always told us, 'Never stop moving.'"
"We were all like family," she continues, remembering their many hours of practice together as the New Breed Dancers every evening after school. "We were his family; we were his life."
Indeed, the Zybines kept in touch with every person they came across, especially students, even if only for a brief time. Though they moved to Mexico in the mid-1970s where they continued to inspire countless lives with the power of dance, they sent frequent e-mails to the community of dancers they formed in The Bahamas, becoming lifelong teachers and family members to many Bahamians.
During each visit to Nassau - once in 1994 and again in 2007, where the New Breed Dancers threw a celebration in their honor - the pair continued to teach, offering guest instruction and inspiration to local institutions of dance like the Nassau Dance Company.
Indeed, the ripple effects of their short times in Nassau are still being felt in the country today, making them true icons in The Bahamas.
Like many cultural icons, however, their presence unfortunately remains unknown by the larger population. It's all the more reason to continue honoring their memory locally, says Robert Bain of Dance Bahamas, who was encouraged by the Zybines during one of their visits to continue to lift up dance in the community.
"It's a sad day for dance," says Bain. "Whatever we have achieved in dance in this country is partially responsible to Alex and we shouldn't forget that. We shouldn't forget him."
By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
TOURISM executives expressed optimism yesterday that within the next two months Vision Airlines' performance in Grand Bahama will improve, the tourism director-general telling Tribune Business that "there can be no tourism sector in Grand Bahama without a robust airlift program".
Vision Airlines began flights to Grand Bahama on November 11, providing direct non-stop service from five US cities and, with its competitive low fares, was expected to bring an additional 100,000 seats annually to Grand Bahama in its first phase of operations.
In an earlier interview with Tribune Business, though, David Johnso ...
July means many things to Bahamians -- summer vacation, Independence holiday celebrations, hurricane season -- but for writers,
July signals the beginning of the four-week long cultural event for budding and established Bahamian writers to come together
to create and discuss great Caribbean literature.
The Bahamas Writers Summer Institute (BWSI) is launching their third summer program on July 2nd with an opening night at the
National Art Gallery of The Bahamas under the theme "Memory, desire and community interconnectedness," chosen by co-creators
and local established writers Helen Klonaris and Marion Bethel.
"I think Marion was really feeling memory and desire and I was speaking with her and I said I really wanted to have something
with community and interconnectedness," explains Helen. "One of the goals of BWSI is to strengthen our connection with the
rest of the Caribbean countries and to be a really significant part of that literary Caribbean tradition, but that interconnectedness
is nothing without memory and desire."
What will follow is four intensive weeks of evening classes by established local writers in either poetry (taught by Obediah
Michael Smith), fiction (Lelawattee Manoo-Rahming), playwriting (Dr. Ian Strachan), screenwriting (Maria Govan) or memoir
(Helen Klonaris). Participants will also take two extra classes that will root their chosen literary genre in the community
and history of local and Caribbean literary traditions through the examination and critical discussions of relevant texts:
Critical Theory (taught by Dr. Krista Walkes) and The Caribbean Literary Imagination (taught by Dr. Toni Francis).
Adding to this group of teachers is guest writer and lecturer George Lamming, a giant in the Caribbean literary world who
has published acclaimed books of fiction ("In the Castle of My Skin") and critical theory in his "Conversations" books ("Sovereignity
of the Imagination, Language and the Politics of Ethnicity"). He will not only give a special lecture under the chosen theme
of the institute which is free and open to the public, but will also teach a master fiction and a master poetry class, which
is also open to the public for a small fee.
"He said he completely resonated with our theme," says Marion. "I certainly hope he will speak to the issue of island nations
in the Caribbean being tied together in our past and present and future, and what that means in terms of our literary imaginations
and how we manifest as individual islands in an island community."
Also special about this year is the visiting writer in the community, who is Haitian novelist, painter and journalist Pierre
Clitandre. It is the co-creators' hope that he will address, though this year's theme, the importance of Haitian-Bahamian
relations as it pertains to the literary arts.
"We knew we wanted to do something that had special relevance to Haiti, after their earthquake disaster," explains Marion.
"So we really wanted to pay attention to what happened to Haiti and what continues to happen with Haiti and sort of talk about
Caribbean integration, Caribbean relationships within the Caribbean."
Another very special event open to the public this year is a writing workshop Pierre will lead with guest teacher Nina Schnall
for creole/English-speaking writers. The event is so important because it gives space and voice to the often overlooked
to Haitian-Bahamian stories that are a part of the Bahamian literary tradition.
"One of the things really central to Helen and I talking about Pierre and Nina is for them to connect with the Haitian-Bahamian
community here, because there have been several Bahamians of Haitian descent in our workshops the past two years, and I think
that's significant and important," explains Marion. "So we hope Pierre in particular has resonance with Haitian-Bahamian
writers here, those who came to our workshop and those who are out there thinking about writing. So we're making a special
effort right now to connect to the Haitian-Bahamian community of writers here."
In fact, there are several events that are free and open to the public, such as "The Writing Life" panels that cover subjects
such as "Sustaining the writing life", "Writing for the screen" and "Publishing at home"; conversations with featured writers;
a book launch; a book-binding workshop; and of course the closing night ceremonies where writers share the work they've created
over the course of four weeks.
That many of the event's activities are open to the public displays a commitment by the institute to develop a love and appreciation
for and celebration of the art of writing in the wider community of The Bahamas, which has been a motivating factor for the
co-creators from the program's very inception.
"My hope is that because of what we're doing, creating together a community of writers, we are validating each other, and
we are telling each other through our community and through our classes that being a writer is a valid way of the world,"
says Helen, whose own experience growing up was one that limited writing as an opportunity for exploration in her life.
"My hope is that the ripple effect will be that there will be young people in The Bahamas right now who will grow up and not
be able to think twice about whether they can be writers, that writers are not a only way in the world but are fiercely important,
that because we have words we can make meaning and we can define for ourselves who we are," she continues. "And that too
is something I hope will be a ripple effect for us too, as a community and as a society, that we value our writers and honor
their visions, that we won't have to be stuck in old stories of who we are, but we are open to who we can be."
In fact, three years ago when they launched their first summer session, the ideas for such an event had been put into motion
many years before, and came out of a craving for one thing: community.
Admittedly, writers, like many artists, are strange people -- they crave solidarity, yet at the same time, need a community
to share with and to validate and place them in a wider literary tradition. But writers and a writing community are vital
parts of the creative society -- they are the uninhibited historians, they are the voice of the marginalized and the voice
of change and the voice of possibility. They remind us that our stories matter, especially the stories of a specific community
-- something incredibly important in the postcolonial Bahamas and wider Caribbean.
But only until recently, hardly any spaces were created or available to Caribbean writers. There was the Caribbean Writers
Summer Institute which operated for five years out of Miami, and the CARIFESTA, but few local opportunities, even for publishing
or reading salons. Yet there was the desire for one -- the journal WomanSpeak, which Helen and her friend Lynn Sweeting co-founded
in that time to provide a space for women writers to be published, is evidence of that.
"In that time it broke open to us the possibility of having literary community together," remembers Helen. "I absolutely
believe BWSI grew out of that time -- out of the conversations, the literary salons, meeting at each other's houses, trying
to find a space where we could honor words and language. It was a long and arduous journey to find that space and celebrate
By the time Helen reached the CARIFESTA X in Guyana in 2008 -- what she describes as a major influence in her decision to begin
planing for BWSI -- that unrest and desire for community could be felt across the region.
"I remember a young man on one of these panels saying that we needed space for memory, we needed concrete actual institutions
that can be homes, houses, sanctuaries, not only for our memories but the stories we're creating today and for our future,"
she remembers. "And it really resonated with me; I wanted that same thing for us, where writers can read to each other and
be witnesses to each other and teach because I really believed that there were generations coming up who were excited about
words and writing."
From there, she sought out Marion to help her. The pair had been involved in many writing and feminist-related groups and
movements before, and had a long friendship and creative kinship and love for the arts.
"She said to me 'Marion, I think it's time for us to do this thing' and I said 'Fantastic'," remembers Marion. "She and
I had both been to the CWSI in Miami in the mid-nineties and we just kept thinking all of us as emerging writers go away for
writing workshops, we go to New York, we go to Pennsylvania, and we thought this is the time for us to bring home these workshops
to ourselves and to emerging writers in The Bahamas. So we just made it happen."
"I think whatever you can imagine that can be done at home in your own space and time and resources, it has to affect the
way you feel about yourself, because if you feel you have to go abroad to do something, it's a different sort of mental space.
But if you think you can do what you want right here, but you can also go abroad, that's a really wonderful synthesis," Marion
Marion and Helen point out, however, that "making it happen" was never difficult -- but finances were. They're eternally grateful
to the organizations who have invested in them and the future of writing, which include the National Endowment for the Performing
Arts, the Inter-American Development Bank, Cable Cares, and for the Windham resort for hosting George Lamming and the Grand
Central hotel for hosting Pierre Clitandre. Such an investment is also an investment in developing the existing community
of writers at home.
Indeed, the ripple effects of the workshop has been realized in many of its participants, who have gone on to publish in established
Caribbean literary journals, study in writing programs abroad, and even publish books.
For one such participant, Christi Cartwright, who attended the first ever session of BWSI, the program altered her life.
Now the official Program Coordinator for BWSI, Christi comes from a background of finance and business. Writing had provided
her with a sense of fulfillment she'd never found elsewhere.
"I always liked to read. I didn't start writing until my MBA because I wasn't getting fulfilled, so I had to think about
getting to a place where I felt comfortable. When I finished a book, I could really feel something, and when I write, that's
how I feel. It was always enjoyable," she says. "I had already decided I was going to try and be a writer. I didn't exactly
know what that really meant, but I figured I couldn't lose anything. So I thought, I'm just going to give this a go."
BWSI cracked open a world of possibilities in the field of writing for her.
Looking at her teachers, she says, and how they
chose to either pursue writing full-time by teaching it, or how they demonstrated that they could have a non-writing-related
job as well as writing career, altered her own ideas of how writing could function in her life.
"It gave me such a strong outline for what I could do. It made my ideal more than an ideal; it made it a goal," she says.
"It gave me a point of reference at the time. I had a support system that gave me structure. The community gave me guidelines.
I feel like I can still ask people in my group to look at my work.
I am confident I can get support from them, and that's
something I think that we have all sustained."
That bond she forged with the writers in her fiction class have lasted to this day. In two years, Christi's writing career
has taken off -- she began publishing her fiction in local and wider established literary magazines, published her first book,
"Surfer's Choice" with Poinciana Paper Press, and is set to leave in a month's time for the University of Syracuse to begin
her MFA in Creative Writing -- a selective program where she will be one out of only six fiction writers chosen out of a pool
"I didn't know this would happen, but its what I wanted to happen," she says. "The one thing that sustained my hope was
the community, the positive reinforcement through the validation of getting my book published, and seeing other writers in
their own way work towards their goals. "
Her story is one of many testimonials of writers who have participated in -- and continue to attend -- the institute. Such
effects and instituting that desire to create beyond the four-week program were exactly Helen and Marion's hope when they
"I really believe in my soul that this is a major historical intervention," says Marion. "The major impacts and benefits
of it is, in my view, already being felt. The fact that several persons who have been to our workshops have been published
in Caribbean journals after workshops, I think BWSI has helped with that. People certainly have their own impulses and drive,
but what I think BWSI did is provide people with a sense of community, a sense of possibility."
Indeed, the literary world of the Caribbean is more alive today then ever.
More journals are being created and resurrected,
workshops such as BWSI are cropping up (even the CWSI is planning to make a comeback) and Trinidad just finished hosting the
very first Bocas Literary Festival, something which promises to become a major literary tradition. It's an exciting time
for Caribbean writers and thinkers, and BWSI helps us enter into this pivotal conversation.
"I totally believe that we are all influencing each other; that there's this hum underground that we're all tuning into and
bursting out with our own expressions. Once one person catches a fire, everyone else starts to as well," says Helen. "I'm
looking forward to the energy that is stirred up when this happens. When people come together and create energy together
and transform each other because o their energy together, that is alchemy, that is what I'm looking forward to."
BWSI is still accepting applications up until its opening night next Saturday. For application information, contact them
at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out their Facebook page. For information about the exciting public events during the next four
July 4th, 7-9 pm:Opening Night at The National Art Gallery of the Bahamas: "Memory, Desire and Community: Interconnect-edness in the Caribbean Literary
July 7th, 7-9 pm:Writers in Community Series at Buy the Book. Conversation with Patricia Glinton Meicholas. Free and open to the public.
July 11th, 7-9 pm:The Writing Life at The Hub art gallery. Theme: "Publishing at Home". A conversation with Sonia Farmer, Nicolette Bethel, Patricia Glinton
Meicholas and Obediah Michael Smith. Free and open to the public.
July 14th, 7-9 pm:Guest Lecture with George Lamming at the Harry C. Moore Library, College of The Bahamas, on the theme "Memory, Desire and Community: Interconnec-tedness
in the Caribbean Literary Imagination." Free and open to the public.
July 16th, 10 am-1 pm:Fiction Master Class with George Lamming at the College of the Bahamas. NOTE: $30; open to the public. To register, contact email@example.com.
July 16th, 7-9 pm:Writers in Community Series at Chapter One Books, College of the Bahamas. Reading and conversation with George Lamming. Free and open to the public.
July 17th, 10 am-1 pm:Poetry Master Class with George Lamming at College of The Bahamas. NOTE: $30; open to the public. To register, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
July 18th, 7-9 pm:The Writing Life at The Hub art gallery. Theme: "Writing for the Screen". Filmmakers Maria Govan, Kareem Mortimer, and Travolta Cooper explore
the world of screenwriting. Free and open to the public.
July 22nd, 6-9 pm:Transformative Creative Writing Workshop (for Kreyol/English speakers and writers) with Pierre Clitandre and Nina Schnall at the College of The Bahamas. NOTE: $30;
open to the public (scholarships are available for this workshop; no one will be turned away for lack of funds). To register,
July 23rd, 10 am-1 pm:The Landscape of Memory: Book-Binding Workshop with Sonia Farmer
at The Hub art gallery. Learn how to make your own books by hand. NOTE: $30; open to the public.
July 23rd, 7-9 pm:Writers in Community Series at The Hub art gallery. Reading and conversation with Pierre Clitandre. Free and open to the public.
July 25th, 7-9 pm: The Writing Life The Hub art gallery. Theme: "Sustaining the Writing Life". A conversation with Marion Bethel, Helen Klonaris and Nina Schnall.
Free and open to the public.
July 29th, 6-9 pm: Closing Night at The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. Student readings. Free and open to the public.
July 30th, 2-5 pm:Book Launch of "Immortelle and Bhandaaraa Poems" by Lelawattee Manoo-Rahming at Chapter One Books. Free and open to the public.
The Art and Design Unit of the Department of Education hosted the 14th Visual Arts Exhibition Awards Ceremony on Thursday, February 16, 2012 at the Mall at Marathon.
Junior and senior high school students from both government and private schools showcased their competencies in the areas of art and design under the theme "All Things Bahamian". Among the items on display were paintings, sketches, jewelry, handbags, decorative mirrors and souvenir items made from various indigenous items such as jumbey pods, thatch and coconut straw, sand and shells.
Present to welcome attendees to the ceremony was Tanya McCartney, managing director RBC Finco. RBC Royal Bank and RBC Finco have sponsored the Visual Arts Exhibition for the past six years. McCartney expressed her delight at viewing the inspiring, exceptional artwork produced by the students. She pointed out the benefits of art education, which include its ability to enhance other subjects, promote individuality, bolster self-confidence and foster better attitudes towards school. McCartney also thanked administrators, teachers and parents for supporting the students in their endeavours.
Cornelius Clyde, vice principal at the S.C. McPherson Junior High School and former business studies and art and design teacher was the guest speaker for the occasion. Clyde shared his passion for the area of art and design and encouraged the students to use their God-given talent to the fullest potential. He challenged the students to embrace the artistic spirit within and produce their own style and designs.
Clyde admonished the students to constantly practice and perfect their work in the various media because the market for Bahamian artwork is open now more than ever. He advised the students to become knowledgeable of ways to market their artwork locally and internationally as a means to become gainfully employed upon leaving school. Clyde congratulated the teachers and encouraged them to keep up the good work that they are doing with their students. He reminded them that artists must be developed in the classroom for country and world recognition.
Trophies and cheques were awarded to winning schools in each category of the competition. Abaco Central High School was the winner of the Family Island Division. The Harbour Island All Age School won second place and the Mangrove Cay High School won third place. T. A Thompson Junior High School emerged as the winners in the Junior High Division, with C.H. Reeves Junior High School winning second place and Queen's College winning third place. In the Senior High Division, Government High School won first place, while Doris Johnson Senior High School was second and C.C. Sweeting Senior High School won third place.
Performances at the event were done by Woodline Joseph of T.A. Thompson Junior High School, the R.M. Bailey High School Band, the Government High School Dance Troupe and Alex Ulys of Abaco Central High School, who caused quite a stir with his mouth-to-hands blowing medley rendition of "My Heart Will Go On" and "I Will Always Love You".
The government will issue a series of contracts for the construction of roads, a parking lot and bathroom blocks as part of Kerzner International's recently unveiled $2 million redevelopment of Montagu Beach.
During a ceremony yesterday, representatives from both the public and private sector hailed the end result of the four-month project as "something Bahamians have not seen here in many years".
The revitalization of Montagu Beach, now 50 feet wide, has already had an impact on tour operators, tourism agencies and the general public, according Neko Grant, the minister of public works and transport.
"I want to express my gratitude to Kerzner International. As a result of all the work being done, there will be many more people using the beach," he said. "In short order we will commence paving of the driving area and the parking lots. We will also issue contracts for two toilet blocks so that the many Bahamians enjoying the beach will have the facilities."
The budget for these projects, in addition to the $2 million spent by Kerzner, will be announced at the time of the contract signings.
"There has been considerable congestion at the boat ramp. We're doing work there now in the parking lot and other work to provide a clean environment for venders selling fresh food," he explained.
The refurbishment involved the shipping in of major deposits of sand.
Grant also mentioned a pending contract to improve traffic flow at Village Road and Shirley Street. Earl Deveaux, the minister of the environment, pointed out
that substantial vegetation and trees, all indigenous to The Bahamas, were also planted to help the beach to hold the sand in place.
Ed Fields, senior vice president of public affairs at Kerzner International, said the community outreach program by the company is designed to enhance the quality of life for Bahamians. Paradise Island employs around 8,000 people, and the hope is these employees will enjoy a venue located close to work.
He said Montagu Beach "has a lot of meaning for a lot of people", particularly as one of the original outposts that defended Nassau during the colonial era.
In addition to the awarding of the contracts ongoing work will occur on Montagu Beach, including further landscaping and the installation of fences, benches, picnic tables and other seating facilities.
One small business comparing itself to David is out for the Goliath of its sector, looking to the National Job Readiness and Training Programme (NJRP) to load its sling with trained young Bahamians.
On Friday May 20th , 2011 a group of Bahamian and Haitian-Bahamian artists, hosted an art exhibit and mini musical concert in Nassau at Jacaranda House, called "Nostrum Fabula" (Latin for "Our Story"). The event was under the patronage of the Bahamian Governor General and the Haitian Ambassador to The Bahamas; the Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture also attended. Leading broadcast journalist, Jerome Sawyer, served as the master of ceremonies. It featured Bahamian folk musical artists like the Region Bells and the disc jockey alternated between Kompa and Goombay music.
An untitled art piece by Bernard Petit-Homme, a 26 year old Bahamian born of Haitian immigrant parents, served as the cover art for invitations and promotional material for the event. The image features the Bahamian and Haitian flags. The flags make up the torso of a man who is both black and white; he is silhouetted by the orange and yellow sun; his arms stretch across blue waters of the sea. In the painting Petit-Homme seeks to reconcile his Haitian and Bahamian selves and acknowledge the mixed bloodlines of many as a consequence of slavery. He crafts a celebratory message of unity and brotherhood; a message that ran like a thread throughout the entire event, at which the Bahamian and Haitian national anthems were played.
However, the spirit of unity, tolerance, mutual understanding and respect expressed at the exhibit are not shared by everyone in The Bahamas. Indeed, it is safe to say, that despite their proximity, their many shared cultural practices and a long history of relations between Haiti and The Bahamas, the attitudes of most Bahamians towards Haitians is one of resentment, suspicion or outright hostility.
The Haitian "problem" in The Bahamas is shaped by a number of factors. Haitian migrants are a crucial source of cheap, reliable, motivated labor, particularly in the agricultural sector. Increasingly, however, as the middle class shrinks and the ranks of the Bahamian working poor swell, there is growing resentment toward Haitian immigrants and their children because they are now competing for jobs deemed above their social station. Where once a Haitain only worked as a gardener, farmer, grounds keeper or "handyman"--work young Bahamian men have looked down on for the past forty years--they are now working at gas stations, in hardware stores, and gaining employment as masons and carpenters, jobs Bahamian men have dominated. Many a Bahamian contractor prefers Haitian immigrant labor to Bahamian, not simply because it is cheaper, but because it is better.
There is also the real and perceived strain on national services, such as education and health care, created by the immigrant influx. And there are national security concerns, fed by the fear of Haitian immigrants "violent" people. Added to this are Bahamians' fears of cultural erasure, and political/economic displacement due to the perception of Haitians as a lurking enemy intent on "taking over." All of these factors make the Haitian-Bahamian encounter a vexed one; one that reveals class, color and ethnic fault lines.
The often bigoted public discourse in newspapers, on radio and television speak to the volatility of the situation. For a time I would cut out the more virulent letters to the editor I came across in the papers. One of the most memorable was entitled "Haitians Attract Flies." The most recent was blaming the devastating quake in Haiti on devil worship. I grew up with certain received notions about the Haitian people; they have been the butt of jokes my whole life. There was no greater insult among us as children than to be called Highshun. There is a stigma attached to Haitian origins; a social/ethnic blemish that many young people try to hide because of the stinging ridicule and contempt heaped on them through no fault of their own. I remember a young man at COB who insisted on Anglicizing his name in my class and others who tolerated all sorts of mispronunciations because they at least didn't sound French.
In this uneasy climate, many Bahamian artists attempt to resist the stereotyping of the Haitian people. Artists such as John Cox, John Beadle, Jackson Petit-Homme, Maxwell Taylor, and Eric Ellis, and writers such as myself, Telcine Turner-Rolle, Patricia Glinton-Meicholas, Keith Russell, Nicolette Bethel and others have attempted to prick the conscience of Bahamian society. My play "Diary of Souls" was a fictional treatment of a true event; the tragic death of Haitian refugees at sea in the Exumas in 1990. Sadly, these tragedies have been happening for a very, very long time and still happen.
At stake is the very notion of what it means to be a Bahamian. Haitian immigration challenges the core values/ideals of the Bahamian state, putting the people and the nation on trial, and calling international attention to the question of just how committed The Bahamas is to freedom, equality and justice for all.
But we are an itsy bitsy country. We cannot possibly be expected to have an open door policy. We have the right to protect our borders from illegal entry. We are not the continental United States or Canada; we are specs on the world map. And even in a nation the size of the US, illegal immigration from Mexico and further south is the source of heated debate and conflict.
But though we may protect our borders, Haitian immigrants and those of Haitian descent are here to stay. We may not all want them here but all need them here. We need them, as we have always needed immigrants, to help build our country by doing the things we can't or won't do. It makes no sense to drive a wedge between them and us, to create a hated, disenfranchised underclass.
The reality is that our citizenship laws ensure the imperilment, not the protection, of The Bahamas. Disenfranchising a person for 18 years or more, while they await entry into the exclusive club of Bahamian citizenship, creates frustration, shame, anger, alienation and bitterness in the hearts thousands of young people who know, have, and want no other home but this one. It's simply inhumane, short sighted and stupid.
If we cannot bring ourselves to make citizenship automatic upon one's birth for all those born here, we should at least amend the constitution to lower the eligibility date. Why not 10 years old instead of 18? Avoid creating frustrated stateless teens that can't get scholarships, can't fully participate in national life.
Of course, there's always the other option. While picking up my son from school, a gentleman who was also waiting for a child, told me he had the solution to the Haitian problem. "I would blow their boats right out of the water when we find them." And then he proceeded to carefully lovingly take a child's hand and lead her out of the school yard.
IAN STRACHAN is Associate Professor at the College of The Bahamas.
A key U.S. delegate that took part in last month's oil disaster preparedness forum says "very frank and practical" discussions have taken place with Cuba ahead of its drilling program.
With the country's first rig arriving from China, and other players in the region eyeing their own oil drilling industries, concerns have been raised over the ability to react appropriately to a spill that would likely impact multiple coastlines.
Alex Sokoloff, who also serves as the chief political and economics officer at the U.S. Embassy, told Guardian Business that all nations, including Cuba, expressed a willingness to work together.
"Oil spill mitigation must be put into place and points of contact established for dispersements and dealing with the technical aspects of a disaster," he said. "I thought the discussions were very frank and practical. There was a common interest in really addressing the issue. These are the first steps now to put in place in terms of mechanisms and what the appropriate protocols are."
Sokoloff added that poor relations between the U.S. and Cuba, while historically documented, are now somewhat of a "misnomer".
He told Guardian Business their respective coast guards work together as well as their transportation security agencies.
The U.S. imposed an embargo on Cuba in the early 1960s following the Cuban Revolution. Analysts say that the embargo could seriously hamper any U.S.-based participation in a regional oil disaster, with ocean and air currents sharing a spill with Cuba's neighbors.
Cuba is not alone in its pursuit of riches through oil drilling. The Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) is just one of several in the region exploring the possibilities of rich hydrocarbon deposits under the seabed.
"I think it's a fact of life oil drilling will happen throughout the region," he said.
"Cuba is moving forward. Jamaica is looking at it and so is The Bahamas. There are good economic reasons, but there are also good environmental reasons for it to be done with a lot of caution."
In the case of a spill, Sokoloff insisted that all regional players must work together and "act quickly".
According to a recent environmental impact report submitted by BPC to the local government, a disaster in Bahamian waters would likely result in much of the oil being pushed away from its shores.
The first oil disaster preparedness forum, held in Nassau last December, involved delegates from the U.S., Mexico, Jamaica, Cuba and The Bahamas.
Coming out of those discussions was the development of a preliminary matrix addressing oil-spill prevention, protocols, preparedness and communication that was circulated to all member states. They will each be taking that matrix back to their respective agencies to "tweak", making submissions about how to improve it.
Sokoloff said a follow-up meeting is being planned for next month, although the location has yet to be finalized.
The Marathon Bahamas race weekend generated more than 3,000 hotel room nights during a traditionally weak tourism period, said event organizer and founder Franklyn Wilson.
Wilson, chairman of Arawak Homes Ltd., said participants from over 20 countries came to New Providence to take part in Marathon Bahamas and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
He said the races, while raising money and awareness for cancer research, also served to bolster the tourism sector during the January lull.
"What started as Marathon Bahamas is now an event, which is targeted at encouraging people to come and spend four nights (in The Bahamas)," Wilson said on the sidelines of the marathon's finish line at Arawak Cay yesterday.
"We are pretty certain this year we would have generated over 3,000 room nights in tourism, we're pretty confident about that. The Ministry of Tourism encouraged us to move this event to the middle of January, specifically to try and provide an anchor to try and turn around what is historically been a slow period for The Bahamas in tourism. Mid-January is not a busy period for hotels generally.
"So the idea is to use an event like Marathon Bahamas to become the catalyst to hopefully change that whole pattern and the potential is there. We work on this thing hard enough, long enough and we can do that. Mid-January can go from being a slow period to a very busy period."
While he could not give specific numbers on turnout for Marathon Bahamas and Saturday's Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Wilson said the registration numbers for both events surpassed last year's figures.
As the event, now in its third year, continues to grow Wilson is focused on attracting more international corporate sponsors and partners.
Representatives from Bank of Nova Scotia and UPS have already expressed interest in expanding their involvement in the race, he said.
"This year more and more businesses thought of the idea of not just sponsoring this event from their local budget, but going to their international affiliates or distributors and saying 'listen here's an opportunity for you to build your brand, not just in The Bahamas but through The Bahamas," said Wilson.
In addition to raising money and awareness, Wilson said organizers plan to use the funds raised to purchase a state-of-the-art mammogram machine for the Princess Margaret Hospital.
"It's more than just cancer research. It's useful for the public to understand it's very difficult to build a word-class hospital only with government support. The private sector has to help make a good hospital a great hospital. It has been brought to our attention that the mammogram machine at Princess Margaret Hospital, it works, (but) is it state-of-the-art? No. There's an opportunity to do something there, we are focused on seeing to what extent this whole thing can cause that to change."
The race weekend began with a roundtable discussion at the Cancer Society of the Bahamas headquarters on Friday, the Susan G. Komen race on Saturday and culminated with yesterday's marathon.
During the roundtable discussion, it was revealed that the researchers who are part of an ongoing study into breast cancer prevalence in The Bahamas found three additional gene mutations.
As a result of their study, researchers have found nine gene mutations in the women they have screened.
The Bahamas has a high incidence of breast cancer.
A U.S. Embassy official claimed in a cable penned in 2003 that Bishop Neil C. Ellis -- who is repeatedly described in diplomatic documents as Perry Christie's spiritual adviser -- remarked that the then prime minister was not a "true man of God" although he was trying to be religious.
The American also wrote that at a meeting with Ellis at his Mount Tabor Baptist Church, he also remarked that Hubert Ingraham, at the time former prime minister, was definitely "not a man of God" even if he does attend church.
When we sat down with Ellis a few days ago at Mount Tabor to discuss the cables that mentioned his name, Ellis denied most of the claims documented by U.S. diplomats.
But it is the claim regarding his purported comment on Christie and Ingraham's spirituality that he seemed most taken aback by.
"I don't qualify to determine who is a man of God and who is not a man of God," he told The Nassau Guardian.
"...For me to say I think Christie is a pretender would be very hypocritical of me because I've always said publicly and I would say again, I believe Perry Christie is one of the greatest humanitarians I've ever met."
A read of at least two cables shows that while Ellis was growing his church, American diplomats were placing the spotlight on him and his relationship with Christie in a major way.
"Quite a bit of it surprises me," said Ellis, when asked about what his general impression was of what the Americans attributed to him.
According to the cables, obtained by The Nassau Guardian through WikiLeaks, despite not being a member of the government, Ellis wielded considerable influence in the Christie administration, as did businessman Franklyn Wilson.
One of the cables, which was classified by then Deputy Chief of Mission Robert Witajewksi, said, "Ellis openly uses his pulpit in one of Nassau's largest and fastest growing churches to advance the PLP's political agenda, and by allying himself so closely with Christie, has surpassed many of his more established (and perhaps more respectable) religious brethren in influence."
The name at the end of that particular cable is Richard Blankenship, who at the time was United States ambassador to The Bahamas.
Ellis told The Guardian he was not well liked by Blankenship because he had made a statement about the involvement of diplomats in the local affairs of a country.
He said it arouses curiosity that the Americans want to know everything that is happening on every level in the Bahamas.
'A CONTROVERSIAL FIGURE'
The Americans documented two meetings they say they had with Ellis at his church in Pinewood Gardens.
Ellis told The Nassau Guardian he recalled at least one of those meetings, but he remembered it being very informal with no detailed discussion about Christie or Ingraham.
According to one of the cables, on December 2, 2003, a U.S. diplomat paid a courtesy call on Ellis, described as "hard to pin down" and "charismatic".
"During the nearly two-hour meeting, Ellis described the enterprise his parish has become," the cable said.
"He also outlined his role as the local Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, of Bahamian politics -- the one visit that all aspiring politicians must make in order to confirm their legitimacy."
Ellis totally dismissed this claim when he spoke with The Nassau Guardian.
"Why would any sensible, logically thinking person make a statement like that?" he asked
The cable added: "Ellis has come far, from a humble background, mentored and supported by prominent businessman Frankie Wilson, with whom he maintains a close personal and business relationship."
The American diplomat wrote in 2003 that conventional wisdom holds that Ingraham had sealed his fate by displaying arrogance toward the religious leadership while he was prime minister.
"The electorate of the Bahamas is devout, and the church leaders refused to remain silent after the former PM had expressed views antithetical to religious conservatives, such as welcoming to port a cruise liner catering to gay clientele and advocating for constitutional reform targeted toward improving women's rights," the diplomat also wrote.
According to the diplomat who wrote the cable on the heels of the December 2, 2002 meeting, Ellis described "a strange ritual" whereby Christie had sought a meeting with him over a several week period as he was gearing up for the 2002 election campaign.
The cable said: "Ellis kept rebuffing [Christie's] request, offering him only a 10 minute slot.
"Finally, however, Ellis offered [Christie] the opportunity to travel with him on a religious speaking tour in the U.S., promising that if [Christie] attended three of his sermons, he would be available to counsel [Christie] throughout the tour.
"Thus, the two men spent many intense hours together, during which time Ellis looked into [Christie's] soul and concluded that [Christie] has religious inclinations, but is 'not yet there'."
But Ellis said this could not be further from the truth.
"I can't look into a person's soul," he told The Nassau Guardian. "I'm not the savior of the world. Jesus is."
The cable said though Christie was not one of Ellis' regular parishioners, since the 2002 election, he had attended from time to time, as did all but three cabinet ministers.
An embassy official said in another cable after reportedly meeting with Ellis in late May 2002 that the bishop had expressed his desire for closer relations with the embassy, bemoaned his treatment in the press and offered a fascinating, intimate account of how he came to publicly endorse Christie in the last election.
The official said that as Wilson did in a separate meeting, Ellis unconvincingly denied having or wanting any real influence. Both men were described as "powerbrokers" as it regards the PLP -- a claim Ellis laughed at as he denied it to the Guardian.
The embassy official described Ellis as one of the Bahamas' most controversial figures.
The cable said: "He publicly endorsed Perry Christie during the 2002 campaign and reportedly told his congregation from the pulpit during a religious service that they must support Christie if they wished to remain members of his church."
The diplomat also wrote that Ellis also held a huge religious revival featuring a renowned U.S. evangelist that was a magnet for criticism about the reported "greediness" of its fundraising appeal.
"Establishment religious figures now sometimes preface fund-raising remarks by noting that the funds 'will not be used to build a vacation house in Bimini' to distinguish themselves from the self-proclaimed bishop," the cable said.
"The press hounds him constantly about his flamboyant personal lifestyle and open political preferences.
"Ellis was another protégé of (the late former prime minister) Sir Lynden Pindling, who identified him as a promising young man growing up on the small island of Bimini and brought him to Nassau to complete his education."
The diplomat wrote that Ellis is affiliated with the Full Gospel Baptist Church headquartered in New Orleans, and is its "bishop" for international churches, theoretically having all Full Gospel Baptist churches in The Bahamas under his leadership.
"Prime Minister Christie has openly referred to Ellis as his spiritual adviser, and many Bahamians assume that his influence runs deep within the administration," the cable said.
In the cable that came out of the May 2002 meeting with Bishop Ellis, the diplomat goes into amazing details about what was allegedly observed.
For instance, the cable said the embassy official was met by the first of Ellis' personal assistants upon arrival, and was passed on to the second, who entertained him while Ellis finished a meeting with his seven associate pastors.
According to the cable, Ellis then received the official in his "nicely appointed, bordering on lavish, but not quite passing over into poor taste, office."
"He was dressed in a loud magenta clerical shirt with gold and diamond cufflinks, a thick gold chain, several large gold rings and a gold Rolex watch," the embassy official wrote.
"Ellis is a thin, energetic man of middling height, in his early 40s. He is married and has three adopted daughters." (Ellis said he does not have three adopted daughters).
Ellis also strongly denied the American diplomat's characterization of him.
In fact, he said he never owned a Rolex watch or diamond cufflinks in his life.
"Anybody who knows me knows that I am not given to much jewelry," added Ellis, now 50.
When The Guardian visited him, he was wearing his gold bishop's cross around his neck, his wedding band and a wristwatch (definitely not a Rolex).
In fact, Ellis said he shops for $10 watches at Bijoux Terner in the Atlanta airport and has one watch that is a little more expensive that was a gift from someone in the ministry.
Ellis said he wears his bishop's ring only at special services -- a fact later confirmed separately by his associate pastors and assistant who had not been privy to his earlier discussion with The Guardian.
They all said they have never seen the bishop with any Rolex watches and that he barely wears jewelry.
The cable alleges that Ellis described "the remarkable story about how he came to endorse Perry Christie in the 2002 elections."
The diplomat wrote: "According to Ellis, he barely knew Christie before the run up to the 2002 election.
"After that time, he says Christie began seeking an appointment with him, saying he needed to speak with him for several hours.
"Ellis says that he kept putting Christie off, both because he didn't have that time to spare and because he had a bad initial impression of him."
According to the cable, Ellis said this bad opinion dated from the PLP leadership battle between Christie and Dr. Bernard Nottage.
"Nottage was a friend and former congregation member of Ellis and harbored a lot of ill will toward Christie because of his loss," the diplomat wrote.
"Christie was persistent in his pursuit of Ellis, whose church membership has definite PLP leanings."
The cable added: "Finally, according to Ellis, he agreed to take Christie along with him on an evangelical trip to the U.S., promising that if Christie attended all the services he preached at, Ellis would give him the time in between to listen to his appeal.
"Ellis said that when given the opportunity, Christie and Ellis spoke for 13 hours straight, about both secular and spiritual matters and that Ellis progressively became more convinced that Christie had been 'sent by God' to lead the Bahamas.
"The meeting ended, according to Ellis, in a scene reminiscent of the Biblical story of Samuel's anointing of Saul, with Christie coming around the table they were seated at, going to his knees and requesting a blessing from Bishop Ellis.
"At the time, Ellis reported, the spirit came upon him and told him that he had to endorse Christie."
The cable also said: "Ellis, on the one hand, denied having or wanting any political influence with Christie, but on the other hand went to great lengths to explain how close their relationship is and how often Christie calls on him for spiritual guidance.
"For example, Ellis recounted that Christie had presented him with the names of his Cabinet nominees before they were announced and asked him to pray over them and give his opinion."
But Ellis told The Guardian that the official's characterization of these events is "totally false".
"First of all, I can't say I had a bad impression of Mr. Christie before I met him," Ellis said.
"But it is true I didn't know him that well (prior to 2002). All I knew of him was his public life.
"As it relates to Mr. Christie seeking my anointing, that is totally false. I don't remember him ever saying that to me and I don't remember saying that to anybody."
Ellis said it is true that Christie traveled with him more than once.
"The first trip he attended with me, he said he just wanted to talk with me and spend a little time with me," the bishop said.
"My office let him know what my schedule was and when they told him of a particular trip that was going on he asked if he could go and I had no objections because people go on trips with me from time to time.
"I did say to him since he was a politician that I would prefer him not to travel alone with me, so he brought two of his other colleagues with him."
Ellis said the trip was to Atlanta. He also recalled another occasion where Christie traveled with him to Baltimore, Maryland.
"I don't see that as an unusual situation," he said of the trips.
Ellis also suggested it was laughable to write that he spoke to Christie for 13 hours straight.
"Just think about that," he said.
"I do know that in the 2002 election, I was very up front with my support for Mr. Christie. I don't believe that if you have a conviction you have to be secretive about it.
"...I felt at that time this was the man to lead our country and I was proven to be right at the time.
"To say he was sent by God to lead the country, I don't know if any of us could be that bold."
Ellis also said he had no recollection of Christie ever getting on his knees to be anointed by him.
"If the person (the embassy official) wasn't even clear about what I was wearing, they were putting things on me that were not on my person, then I don't how much more attention to pay to anything that was said," he said.
According to the May 2002 cable, Ellis claimed that ever since Mount Tabor started to grow and he began to be seen as a successful pastor, he has come under attack by some people, including other pastors, who are jealous of his success.
As a result, Ellis claims he has been unfairly vilified in the press, particularly the scandal-mongering tabloid The Punch, the diplomat wrote.
"Ellis says that during one stretch The Punch printed negative articles about him in 95 consecutive editions.
"...In addition, Ellis has received heavy criticism for the large salary he draws (reportedly a tax-free $180,000 a year), and his penchant for luxurious living.
"Recently, attention has focused on the impressive house he is building for himself in one of Nassau's more exclusive neighborhoods, reportedly costing $1 million.
"Ellis claimed that the stories were exaggerated, but made no excuses for his lifestyle, implying it was only fitting for the pastor of such a large and thriving church."
Again rejecting how he was characterized by the diplomat, Ellis told The Nassau Guardian, "I understand the role I am in...I'm always up for public scrutiny.
"I try to take it gracefully. I've never responded to any attacks in the media...When you're in the public's eye and when you're in public life you have to be open to public scrutiny."
The diplomat wrote in 2002, "As a consequence of his ongoing bad press, Ellis has vowed not to respond to any of the allegations against him.
"Doing so, he said, just legitimizes those allegations and gives them more life. Many in his congregation, he says, have disagreed with this policy and urge him to publicly lash out at his critics, which he admits is tempting, but he continues to maintain his silence, preferring to let the criticism pass."
Ellis told the Guardian he has not collected a salary from Mount Tabor in 17 years.
"I give my services to Mount Tabor free of charge," he said.
He said he earns money from speaking engagements, books and other products he offers.
"If Mount Tabor was paying me $180,000 I wouldn't be going home," he said with a laugh.
He stressed also that he never told his congregation to vote PLP or leave the church.
Ellis insists that the recording to this effect is a compilation of several sermons he delivered that were doctored by critics and sent to the media.
He said Christie never asked him to be his spiritual adviser and he never regarded himself as such.
Asked by The Nassau Guardian if he would be prepared to endorse Christie in the next general election, Ellis said it was not something he wished to discuss publicly as yet.
"Mr. Christie and I shared a wonderful relationship leading up to the (2002) election and thereafter," he added.
"I don't claim to have been any closer to him than any others."
Ellis stressed that he has respect for all of the country's leaders and noted that he was a part of a group of pastors who met with Ingraham last year to discuss important matters.
The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Member of Parliament for Fox Hill Fred Mitchell gave a spirited contribution during the budget debate yesterday. He ended chanting "Bahamians first" as his opposition colleagues banged on the desks of the House of Assembly in support of him. Members of the governing Free National Movement (FNM) heckled from the other side.
During his contribution, Mitchell spent a lot of time addressing the United States diplomatic cables being published by The Nassau Guardian.
"Here we have a press that does not support the PLP. They oppose the PLP. They have now used their resources to get these so called cables. They do not get an independent panel to edit and release the information. Instead they arrogate to themselves the right to selectively choose what to release," said Mitchell of the cables obtained from WikiLeaks.
"Now in a situation where there is support for the FNM why would anybody not be surprised that the PLP is the subject of these attacks with the same tendentious propaganda and slogans of the FNM now repeated in the mouths allegedly of U.S. diplomats."
The Nassau Guardian has no political affiliation. It has chosen to publish the diplomatic cables just as esteemed media companies -- the New York Times, The Guardian, La Pais, Der Spiegel and Le Monde -- around the world have.
In the region, The Gleaner in Jamaica has also obtained the cables on that country. The Gleaner is publishing the Jamaica cables as The Nassau Guardian publishes the cables on The Bahamas.
We did not write these cables. Officials from the U.S. Embassy in Nassau did. The Gleaner did not write the Jamaica cables. Officials from the U.S. Embassy in that country did. Mitchell and the PLP must accept this simple fact.
Let us be clear that the written words of the cables contain the words of embassy officials and their views, but mostly they echo the spoken words of the Bahamian persons then being interviewed.
All the words of Bahamian participants were freely given and must have reflected what those individuals thought and felt at that time even though those same persons may be somewhat embarrassed regarding those same words now.
The time period covered by the cables is an accident of history. The media simply has in its possession what was leaked. The Bahamas cables mostly cover the PLP's last term in office from 2002 to 2007. That's just how it is. If the cables mostly covered the FNM's period in office, the majority of the stories to be published would be about the FNM.
The Nassau Guardian has been responsible in how it has handled the cables. The stories written by our team of journalists have been measured and analytical, fitting with the overall style of the paper. We prefer substance to fluff; we prefer examination as opposed to titillation.
If the U.S. diplomats did not think highly of the PLP, the PLP should examine their critique. The Americans were not just reciting FNM propaganda. They worked closely with the last PLP administration for five years. The opinions they expressed in the cables are based on that interaction.
The PLP should be very concerned that senior diplomats from the most powerful and richest country in the world think that its leader, Perry Christie, "has a well-deserved reputation as a waffling, indecisive leader, who procrastinates and often fails to act altogether while awaiting an elusive consensus in his Cabinet," as was reported in a cable.
The Nassau Guardian thinks the Bahamian people should know what the U.S. thinks of Bahamian leaders. The majority of the tourists who visit our country come from the U.S. If the U.S. blocked its citizens from visiting this country, there would almost be no economy in The Bahamas.
Mitchell and the PLP should relax. The publishing of these cables, worldwide, is historic. Bahamians have been fascinated by the insight provided by our stories. Historians will use the cables, and the stories written on them, to write about this chapter of the human experience in The Bahamas.
There is no anti-PLP agenda or any pro-FNM agenda at The Nassau Guardian regarding this process. Such an assertion is silly. We have written about the FNM and non-political actors too and we will continue to do so. In fact, the PLP should be happy that a fair and balanced newspaper such as The Nassau Guardian had the initiative to obtain the cables. If certain other papers in The Bahamas had obtained them, the cables certainly would have been used to attack the PLP.
We are a responsible paper. We have made no such attempt, and we will make no such attempt. If Mitchell and the PLP are upset at what was said by the Americans, they should go see the Americans and have a chat. Attacking this newspaper, based on what was written and thought by U.S. officials, is illogical.
The word economy is thrown around a lot in society, but how the world thinks about economic possibility is undergoing a significant change. This Thursday, the multidisciplinary and collaborative network tmg* (the method group) will host their last of three discussions centered on business and design in The Bahamas. After discussing the design and business of producing and promoting "The Bahamian story" and exploring such branding through the case study of architecture, tmg* member Royann Dean brings together a panel of artists, creative entrepreneurs, critical thinkers, economists and politicians to explore how all of this comes together in the creative economy.
On June 16th at 6:30pm at The Hub, panelists John Cox, Jon Murray, Nicolette Bethel, Olivia Saunders and Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Charles Maynard will engage this very complex issue concerning the state of our economy and society.
The creative economy in a broad sense can encapsulate everything at the four-way intersection of art, business, culture and technology. If that sounds hard to pin down, that's because it is -- it's an offshoot of the knowledge economy, and like the knowledge economy, its effects can't entirely be tangibly measured like the imports and exports of other industries. But that doesn't mean it's less valuable or should be overlooked -- on the contrary, creative economy is an extremely important factor in the way a country efficiently and consistently brands itself and grows and thrives. Creative entrepreneurship by artists, nonprofits and businesses can produce goods and services that not only generate jobs and revenue in a country's economy, but also have far-reaching positive societal effects.
"One of the benefits that's been stated about the creative economy is, aside from the economic side of it, that you have social inclusion, because you don't necessarily need to have this division between trained people and less-trained people, because creativity can be reflected in all parts of generating economy," Royann Dean explains. "You have cultural diversity because at all levels people can create something based on culture or heritage and still generate income; and there's more social interaction because you have these people that are going to be bridging these divides to actually create something."
The concept of a creative economy is relatively new; the term began appearing sometime around the turn of the century and has become particularly relevant in the age ofglobalization and rapid modernization. Yet, Dean points out, as the rest of the Caribbean region and indeed world embraces this perspective by encouraging creative entrepreneurship initiatives, The Bahamasseems woefully out of touch with this worldwide shift.
She uses the example of the United Nations Conference of Trade and Development (UNCTAD)'s Creative Economy Report 2010, which analyzes and measures the state of creative economy worldwide. The Bahamas is hardly mentioned alongside varied case studies and efforts by other countries in the region such as Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago. We're essentially ten years behind in terms of creative economy development when we look at our neighbors, Dean points out.
This lack of quantifying our creative industries to gauge its economic benefits is worrying to panelist Jon Murray, who is an entrepreneur in this relatively new and underappreciated sector. He started Downtown Art Tours last year, giving locals and visitors alike a sampling of artistic spaces in our historic city, including the National Art Gallery, The D'Aguilar Foundation, New Providence Arts and Antiques and the murals the Love My Bahamas campaign.
"What's interesting about what I do is that it's service-based," he says. "I provide a service for this stuff that already preexists, so it's almost like a secondary industry where I'm not marketing or selling the works themselves; I have no ownership of the intellectual properties created, which is interesting because so much of creative economy is based on intellectual property."
"I think my business is a service business dependent on there actually being a creative economy," he continues. "Without the other institution and galleries functioning, I can't function appropriately. It shows a level of maturity in our industry if it were on paper."
But, he points out, it's not on paper -- in fact, there are hardly initiatives in place by any sector of society to measure the effects of creative industries and thus investment in potential exports for the country. This is unacceptable for many reasons, one being that our future potential as a destination in the globalized world hinges on culture and heritage -- not the same old sun, sand and sea.
Moderator Royann Dean hopes to also address this idea of "the experience economy" during the talk as it is important to the creative economy. After all, once tourists have their needs met, they seek an overall experience different from any other worldwide, and they are able to get that from culture and heritage.
"For tourism economy-based countries, that's a huge reason to have a good creative industry. This is the same thing Jackson Burnside was talking about 20 years ago -- we have the sun, sand and sea but people aren't going to be coming here for that anymore. Other countries have sun, sand and sea, plus they have mountains," Dean points out. "So the one thing we have going for us in terms of that is accessibility -- but Cuba is right there, and you can already use Euros in Cuba, so where is our experience? Where is our authentic experience? You can't really deliver an authentic experience unless you have something related to some sort of creative or cultural heritage, you can't."
Dean seems to be on point with the global perspective, for in the same UNCTAD Creative Economy 2010 report, their assessment for the region by the organization results in this advice: "In order for Jamaica and the Caribbean to survive in a globalized world, policymakers and stakeholders seeking economic growth and job creation must position the creative industries as the cornerstone of any serious development strategy."
Yet, points out fellow panelist Nicolette Bethel -- educator, anthropologist ,writer and former Director of Cultural Affairs -- we are lacking in that promotion through governmental policy.
"The Bahamas has absolutely no data because we don't think there is anything measurable about the creative economy," she says. "It's sad, but it is a measure of a) who we continue to elect into office and b) who they bring into civil service."
BRANDING & MARKETABILITY
In spite of this and recognizing the need for individuals to drive such change, working with the College of The Bahamas, Bethel has been producing measurable statistics about one of our main cultural industries that have export potential in terms of branding and marketability, and also potential to generate economy within the country: Junkanoo.
These surveys have uncovered quite a bit of information about the cost of Junkanoo, the Junkanoo participant, and also the Junkanoo consumer -- three parts of which can overall address how useful Junkanoo is to the economy, how it functions in branding and tourism, and how it can be used to generate economy in these sectors as well as become a viable source of income for its participants, making it a legitimate and measurable component of our creative economy. Bethel supposes that by making Junkanoo a major part of our creative economy, The Bahamas will see social improvements.
"Junkanoo is our major creative activity. One thing we are able to say is that Junkanoo involves thousands of people every year and many of these people are young men who are not necessarily hugely employable. Now, we have a major problem with unemployment and crime. What we haven't begun to measure is how much in man-hours each person was in the shack, how many hours that is, and just calculate the minimum wage, and thus the value of that particular commodity," she explains.
"If there was some way of generating revenue for some time that they were there -- I think that there are all kinds of ways to generate revenue -- then these people would be working, they'd have jobs. And they'd have jobs they'd generate their own money for that the government wouldn't have to do anything with. In Trinidad for example, this is a major part of their economy. The challenge to the Junkanoo community is how are we going to take all of these man-hours and make them profitable -- make them able to sustain some measure of employment for these guys?"
One way is to up our marketing of Junkanoo--and indeed, all cultural sectors -- to tourists, and this is where our government comes in. After all, they draft the policies that contribute to our branding. Yet this is the area in which Bethel -- and many participants in the creative and heritage sector in this country -- recognize our downfall. While elsewhere in the Caribbean, cultural festivals are seen as a viable source of tourism, employment generation and income, we seem to lack such perspective in The Bahamas, putting cultural events such as hosting CARIFESTA -- which twice we unsuccessfully attempted -- on the backburner.
It's shame because in the same UNCTAD report, they point out that "Heritage tourists are one of the highest-yield tourism groups; they stay longer and spend 38 percent more per day than traditional tourists. Therefore," they continue, " efficient heritage tourism policies and infrastructure at regional level can be an important approach to attract international travelers with special interest in heritage and the arts of the Caribbean region."
So why aren't we catching up to this fact? This is where the creative economy and how it is generated and promoted becomes a chicken-or-the-egg dance between government responsibility and responsibility by the creative community.
GOVERNMENT & POLICY-MAKING
Panelist Charles Maynard, the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, is hoping to add the perspective from the government and policy-making side. Though he agrees that the cultural economy is important and should be developed and structured, his solution lies in the ability by the creative sector to take charge and make the government take notice. He uses Junkanoo to illustrate his point as it's our main creative industry.
"Over a period time Junkanoo has become popular for the general public and the funding followed it. When you have a large sector of your population involved in something and trying to push it forward, those are the kind of things that usually get the attention of the policy-makers," he explains. "The commitment to culture region-wide is always driven by the cultural community itself. If you depend on any government to drive your cultural development in terms of cultural expression and cultural economy, it isn't going to get anywhere."
What Minister Maynard implies in this statement is something many artists already unfortunately -- that they only have each other. In the end, panelist John Cox points out, creative people just make the most of what they have, making connections within the field and with those who can fund them. As founder of Popop Studios -- which recently became an international center of visual arts with their new not-for-profit status, allowing them to invite international artists to work in The Bahamas -- Cox recognizes the power of collaboration and education and the need to move beyond the limited idea of what being an artist or even being creative entails.
"Students say 'I want to do art' but they never really know exactly what they want to do because it's kind of presented to them in these vague terms all throughout primary and secondary school. So they have this vague idea of what it means to be creative, and most of that comes from the idea of well, if they make a hundred paintings and they sell them for a hundred dollars each, that's a hundred thousands dollars, and that's a pretty good salary, right?" he explains. "So we have this kind of basic kind of lemonade stall mentality, which isn't really the way businesses sustain each other. Really the way businesses kind of sustain each other is by networking and partnering and being able to predict long-term relationships with people where you know you're going to be able to build and predict support and also be able to provide an audience for your product, spawning positive future potential and future potential relationships that can build sustainability."
We've already seen that kind of mentality change just in the past five years, for in fact, many artist-run collectives -- the Bahamas Art Collective and Creative Nassau, for example -- are doing just that: bringing together people from all sectors of the creative community to think about creating their own opportunities, self-empowerment and making Nassau a cultural center in the world. Already dissatisfaction about governmental support and a desire to improve the standing of The Bahamas in the creative sector have spawned events just in the past few years such as Shakespeare in Paradise, Carifringe, The Bahamas International Film Festival and the Bahamas Writer's Summer Institute. In the end, it seems artists are always on their own, although they may band together.
But why exactly is this so? And how is the government already investing in the art it sees as having proven itself -- would that be Junkanoo, with already a tremendous amount of untapped potential that we aren't recognizing? The question then seems to become: How do we change what we think is important and worth investing in? Minister Maynard offers the solution of instilling that indefinable "Bahamian spirit" found in Junkanoo in all aspects of the creative sector, but all that offers is more of the same kind of creativity and way of thinking, when creative economy is about reevaluation -- as Royann Dean puts it, "Nobody is looking for new ways to do things, they are looking for new ways to do the same old thing. We need to challenge things." Even Minister Maynard recognizes what's needed is an upheaval of the perception of creativity, even if it is within the perspective of the creative sector simply being responsible for themselves, which is only one dimension of this reality.
"We need to as a country appreciate some of these things we create, to have value for what's ours instead of importing it," he says. "It's cultural awareness, it's a collective thing to be able to team up and do as partners do, not sitting down and feeling sorry for yourself and saying the government isn't doing anything to get you any further in terms of where you want to go -- instead we need to say we need to be more focused not only from an individual standpoint but a collective vision standpoint, we need to have a collective vision."
This is something that panelist Olivia Saunders -- economist and educator -- is most concerned about when she thinks about the economic implications of the creative industry. For when we talk about the creative economy, we're not just talking about the arts -- we're talking about having a creative approach in general to our economy.
"I think I'll look from the perspective that we have to look beyond the boundaries we have set for ourselves in terms of what the economy is and what the economy is supposed to do for us or what the economy is supposed to be. We just have to be creative and think differently about our economy in The Bahamas," she says. "One side of it is how creative we are in this existing economy, whether we think the economy we have is creative. Does it lend itself to creativity, or are we to be considering a brand new kind of economy we can truly call creative? Once we do that, what ought it to mean for us then if we decide to design a sort of creative economy?"
Essentially, she points out, flaws in the systems of our everyday lives contribute to this mindset.
"It's a culture. If you look at our politics, it's not really creative. If you look at so many other aspects of our life, they're not creative," she says. "The economy is an extremely important part of it but it's just a part of how we just look at things, we really don't want too many things to be very different from what we know for sure, so at the very core there has to be people being sufficiently open to accept creativity."
In the end, it would seem it all comes down to how we value ourselves as a culture. After all, if we value intellectualism, if we value creativity, if we value our heritage and indeed ourselves, we become a society open to creative ways to engage and advance our economical structure. And that responsibility is not on any one group, but each group, and each individual, and certainly with response from an open-minded government.
However these only scratch the surface of what the creative economy even is and how to improve it -- the deeper we go, the more we come full circle or stare into an abyss. The first step, Royann Dean emphasis, is to educate yourself about options -- all creative thinkers, government employees, and even people who believe they are not affected by the creative industry, for if the creative economy operates as it should, it affects the entire society positively.
"The whole idea behind tmg* talks was to get the conversation started, to get the ball rolling and to let people know that listen, there are other people thinking the same things you are, asking the same questions and who have ideas. Things can happen," Dean says. "In that way, I'm happy with the result. The question is, what happens after? How do we put the insight that was gained from the talks in motion?"
Have some ideas? Collaboration is the first step, and everyone matters. The discussion begins at 6:30pm at The Hub on Colebrook Lane and East Bay Street and is free to the public though you are welcome to donate to the venue. For more information, visit the tmg* website at www.tmginnovates.com.
By ALISON LOWE
The Bahamas Real Estate Association's (BREA) president plans to write to the Government formally expressing industry concerns over changes in how Stamp Duty levied on property transactions is being assessed - a change she claims has the capacity to "kill sales" and "cause trouble in a market that already has trouble".
Patty Birch, who is presently out of the country, said she hopes to make the approach upon her return after June 27, having received "many calls" from concerned realtors over the "past two to three months".
They, along with their buyers and sellers, have been surprised to find the T ...
Cultures collided and centuries collapsed last night at The Ladder Gallery where sisters Mardia and Ashley Powell opened their
exhibition "Two Womanish."
True to its name, which is a wink and a nudge to the Bahamian colloquialism "too womanish", the show is a flurry of feminine
color, material, subjects, practices and desires. Mardia's textile pieces and Ashley's paintings and poetry hold a powerful
conversation together that would have been less effective had they exhibited apart, each half providing pieces that patch
together the ironic, humorous, limiting and defiant landscape of the feminine in popular and local cultures.
But the pair wouldn't have wanted it any other way, sharing a close bond that has seen them attend The Art Institute of Atlanta
in the U.S. for Graphic Design together, both slated to graduate sometime toward the end of 2012.
The body of work on display into the middle of July at The Ladder Gallery in the New Providence Community Center is a collection
the sisters had been working on from the time they arrived home for summer in April. They took different approaches to the
theme they had chosen yet both paid homage to childhood girly memories.
By piecing together fabric swatches into portraits and animals, Mardia tapped into the practice of sewing and quilting, a
tradition of feminine bonding. During quilting sessions, women would come together to preserve and share family and community
histories through oral storytelling as well as the stories they told through their creations. The practice took a while to
come to her, but after inspiration hit -- thanks in part to stumbling upon a fabric-centric piece by Caribbean artist Brianna
McCarthy -- Mardia's creations took off.
"I'm more like the homemaker. So I wanted to incorporate that into the work," she said. "I really loved it. That's what
I was feeling. I wasn't feeling I wanted to paint or draw because I wasn't really inspired to do that; I just wanted to sit
down and relax and sew. I hadn't really done that in a long time."
Yet her pieces are, in a way, a tribute to their mother, who taught them how to sew and laid the foundation for their artistic
"We learned how to sew because our mom used to teach us how to sew when we were small," said Ashley. "She wouldn't let us
use the sewing machine so we learned how to really sew and I thought that was so good to be able to recount this. Our mother
doesn't make this kind of art but we believe she has the ability.
But she taught us how to sew and now look at us. This
is really nice that Mardia could think of using this in this way, in terms of artwork, not making it just some type of vocation,
this can be put on display."
But any act of tradition is turned on its head in this space. In Mardia's pieces, hermit crabs, rooters and peacocks are
patched together seemingly haphazardly -- with loud fabrics next to louder fabrics, visibly uneven stitching straight onto
the canvas, and abstract swatch shapes, each pieces become a controlled chaos of beauty. The subversive act of such application
of fabric swatches underlie the defiant spirit of the body of work. The portrait piece "Mahogany" embodies this spirit, as
she applies swatches of neon pinks and blues to create a face with an unapologetic stare.
But tongue-in-cheek is not lost here -- the portrait of a little girl is titled "You Tink You is Woman, Ay?" and her piece
of a peacock with a breathtaking patchwork of a tail is called "Nah Das a Real Man", as Mardia taps into the very contradictory
and humorous power dynamic inherent in the Bahamian gendered landscape of language and performance, placing Bahamian language
and mating rituals into the context of those in the animal kingdom.
As Mardia's choice of materials allude to a sense of preserving story through the practice of quilting, Ashley's pieces strive
to create a story where it traditionally never had a place. She retains childhood memories of watching Jane Austin's plots
unfold on TV screens in such films as "Sense and Sensibility" and "Pride and Prejudice," adoring the courtship traditions
and dynamics, and yet being keenly aware of the lack of black representation in such fairytale scenarios.
"I wanted to see it mixed with funky Africannness somehow," Ashley explained. "The whole concept behind my series is I wanted
to put myself in history, in my own history. I was thinking look at me. I'm not Elinor, with my hair in a pompadour. This
isn't me. But I just want it to be likeness in my history, my history in my likeness, there."
Her paintings insert this representation into her memories, flurries of brushstrokes creating such pieces as "Royal Black,"
where a young black woman is the subject of a traditional Victorian portrait, complete with a starched ruff collar. Such
signifiers of this white-dominated era cross wires with her modern interpretation and relate to her sisters work, as she paints
patchwork into the borders of such pieces and uses fearless applications of color to fly in the face of history's boundaries.
In another piece, "Possibilities", a royal crown pulls a young black girl's hair back. Not the traditional royal portrait,
she looks off to the side in a gaze of longing, painted patches framing her lingering hope that all little girls have instilled
in them from popular culture and Disney films: to be a princess.
This is perhaps Ashley's most poignant piece, offering a
portrait of both despair and defiance, yet stands as a testament to a girlhood desire that is vastly unrealized as girls grow
up across the board.
"At that time William and Kate were getting married, and I thought, could I never be a princess?" she said. "Just thinking
about these things, I thought, let me just put myself in it, let me just make it what I want it to look like. I'm really
going to use my artistic license. I'm going to break the rules with this license to just composite this together. Put the
crown on my head."
In other pieces, she inserts her story into the landscape of girlhood dreams by directly painting her own words onto the canvas
-- she's also a spoken word poet. In "Poinciana-Like", a stark black and white line drawing of a girl with a flower in her
hair stares out at the viewer, flashes of color drawn across her cheeks, and the words that begin "I am like the Poinciana
petals when summer has ended" scribbled alongside. Such words become the manifestation of the inner turmoil next to the tranquil
outside façade, and her patched frames are absent -- instead, language itself has become the patches with which to tell the
story, the material with which Ashley marches into an unwelcome world, fiercely making her own history.
Overall, the exhibition is all about this enduring spirit. Though girlish in its materials and uninhibited applications of
color, the cutenesss masks an underlying edginess, rawness, and darkness. Luckily, humor is not lost here, neither is joy,
as the pieces embody the very complex spirit of the feminine in all of its manifestations and archetypes--the spirit that can
only be described as "womanish."
The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) has added its support to a recent United Nations Human Rights Council resolution that
affirmed the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to choose their own sexual identity.
PLP leader Perry Christie indicated at a press conference this week that the opposition supports such "progressive policies."
"I think from our point of view we understand the sensitivity of this matter," said Christie, adding that the PLP has "always
been committed to progressive policies -- policies that emphasize our commitment to human rights."
Christie said the resolution, which calls for an end to discrimination against gays worldwide, is humane and therefore the
party is in favor of it.
Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette last week said that The Bahamas also supports the resolution "in principle."
The resolution, which narrowly passed in the council in Geneva, Switzerland, expressed "grave concern" about discrimination against gays throughout the world and affirmed that freedom to choose sexuality is a human right.
The Bahamas does not have a seat on the council.
The PLP has no difficulty agreeing with the government on the issue, Christie stated.
"The (PLP) is always committed to ensuring that our policies and our commitments are consistent with the obligations of international
agencies and most certainly respecting the rule of law," he said.
The resolution passed in the Human Rights Council also asked the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to conduct
a study by the end of the year that would point out "discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals
based on their sexual orientation and gender identity in all regions of the world."
Twenty-three countries on the Human Rights Council supported the resolution, 19 voted against it and three countries abstained.
The resolution was the first of its kind passed by the council. It was fiercely opposed by Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and
Nigeria, among other countries.
The United States supported the resolution, which also asked that the study be conducted before the end of the year to look
at how international laws can "be used to end violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and
The resolution also said that the council will form a panel once the study is completed to discuss "constructive, informed and transparent dialogue
on the issue of discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation
and gender identity."
Opposition Leader Perry Christie told a U.S. Embassy official that he planned to resign from the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) if the party was unsuccessful in its Election Court challenges that followed the 2007 poll, according to a diplomatic cable written in 2008.
The official wrote that Christie indicated that "he would stay on only as long as the PLP had a realistic chance of being named the victor in the contested seats."
It is unclear which embassy official wrote the cable, but then Ambassador Ned Siegel's name is at the end of the document.
Following the 2007 general election, the PLP through its defeated candidates challenged three seats: Pinewood, Marco City and Blue Hills.
It lost both the Pinewood and Marco City challenges. The Blue Hills challenge was dropped.
Leslie Miller, who ran for the PLP in Blue Hills, said he considered the challenge a waste of time, as elections are not won in court.
After the Pinewood loss, and Kenyatta Gibson's resignation from the PLP, the American diplomat speculated in the 2008 cable that Christie was about to step down.
"For the foreseeable future, the PLP will be distracted and consumed with its ongoing internal disarray and lack of direction," the official wrote.
"The party convention, if and when it is held, may not resolve even the leadership crisis....With this defection (Gibson) and the FNM victory in the first court challenge, it is likely that Christie will now step aside unless the factionalism is so strong that no consensus can be reached on a successor."
In the 2008 cable, the embassy official wrote, "Gibson's resignation is a big nail in Perry Christie's political coffin.
"It will intensify pressure for Christie to step aside for new leadership. It also eases political pressure on the FNM, which is expecting to win ongoing court challenges to three seats by the PLP."
The embassy official expressed the view that Gibson's "attack" on Christie after his resignation from the party was ironic given that he was one of the MPs involved in a high-profile fight in the Cabinet Office while the PLP was in office.
"Christie's unwillingness to replace Gibson fed the image of his indecisiveness as a leader, and of the PLP as a party without internal discipline," the cable said.
"Christie no doubt feels personally betrayed for having stood by Gibson only to have Gibson bite his hand."
The cable added: "The resignation has laid bare the fractional lines in the party, with the party's official website now being used to criticize other members, and those members in turn publicly criticizing the party's own website."
The embassy official wrote that Gibson's resignation undermined the PLP leadership's post-election strategy of contesting the three seats.
"The resignation, which was accompanied by a blistering exchange with the PLP leadership, is a blow to the embattled PLP leader, former Prime Minister Perry Christie."
The official opined at the time that Gibson's resignation was certain to reopen debate about Christie's record and the need for strategic changes following the PLP's "shock election defeat" in May 2007.
"The unexpected resignation has bared to the public the infighting and backstabbing that had plagued the PLP during its time in office and has only intensified following the PLP's loss," the cable said.
"The turnabout in parliamentary fortunes eases pressure on the FNM government as it struggles to deal with daunting challenges of crime and stagnating tourism numbers."
The U.S. Embassy official also wrote that Gibson's surprise resignation not only upset the PLP's post-election strategy, but further undermined the already "weak position of PLP leader Perry Christie who, like the rest of the party, was reportedly blindsided by the news."
The official noted in that 2008 cable that Gibson's resignation came only days after the PLP's spokesman on foreign affairs, Fred Mitchell, sought to downplay in a media statement the liklihood of any leadership challenges at the next PLP convention.
"On the contrary, Gibson's strategically timed announcement on the eve of the anniversary of the PLP's achievement of Majority Rule in 1967 added insult to injury by upstaging the party's commemoration," the official said.
"It has also intensified questions about Christie's viability as opposition leader."
But at the party's convention in 2009, Christie crushed his opponents, winning more than 80 percent of the votes cast for party leader.
RELIEF FOR EMBATTLED FNM
The 2008 cable characterized Kenyatta Gibson's resignation as a relief for the "embattled Free National Movement".
"Striking like a thunderbolt out of a clear blue sky, news of Gibson's resignation came just in time to become the top story on evening news broadcasts and morning newspaper headlines, pushing all other current affairs aside," the official wrote.
The cable added that the media splash handed the FNM a bit of unexpected relief after months of pressure from negative crime stories and unfavorable tourism numbers, coupled with stinging opposition attacks over both.
"The FNM's presumed courtship of another MP whose allegiance to the PLP may be shaky, Malcom Adderley, may also return to center stage," the official wrote.
"Speculation about Adderley's loyalties returned to the forefront recently after Prime Minister Ingraham reappointed him to a two-year position as chairman of the Gaming Board, the sole PLP member to hold on to such a position after the May 2007 elections.
"While the urgency of such an effort might wane, the prospects for another defection cannot be ruled out."
Adderley resigned from the PLP and Parliament in early 2010, triggering the Elizabeth by-election, which was won by the PLP's Ryan Pinder.
In a recent interview with The Nassau Guardian, Christie said some of what the American diplomats attributed to him was inaccurate, and their characterization of him as weak and indecisive was also wrong.
Christie said the leak of the cables is a lesson to public officials that they need to be more disciplined in how they deal with foreign diplomats.
Christie added that he had no concerns that the cables would negatively affect him politically.