Sun, Aug 31st 2014, 11:51 PM
I heard the interview that Wayne Munroe, attorney-at-law, gave to the media on the issue of women's rights and the referendum.
I understood him to say that women in this country did not need further protection because women in The Bahamas already had the benefit/protection of, 1) the Married Women's Property Act of 1884, 2) female children can go to school here freely, whereas this was not the case in some muslim countries, and 3) men cannot freely divorce women as can happen in muslim countries.
I do hope I misunderstood Munroe.
A look at Amnesty International's web pages shows that nine of its 25 current human rights abuse cases are in muslim countries. The abuse of human rights in muslim countries against women, Christians and other minorities has reached a new brutal and ruthless level.
Is Munroe really saying, that since our record of treatment of women is better than some of the worst countries on the planet, we should be satisfied?
Using the worst benchmarks as points of comparison, we cannot fail to look good.
But we will fail to do any better. Surely this is not what Munroe wants for his country.
- Leandra Esfakis
Sun, Aug 31st 2014, 11:27 PM
As we observed in this column earlier this month, summer marks the travel period, with many Bahamians visiting near and far-flung venues, although recently more Bahamians are traveling to the Family Islands. In the first two installments of this series on the islands of The Bahamas, we featured the islands of Andros and Abaco. This week, we would like to continue to Consider This... what is the lure for Bahamians to explore our Family Islands?
Geography and demographics
The Exuma islands are a 150-mile-long chain with over 365 islands and cays scattered in a long line extending north toward New Providence from Great Exuma. The Exuma Cays, with approximately 100 square miles of land and, according to the 2010 census, a population of 7,314, are some of the most exotic of the Bahamian Family Islands, a collection of tiny jewels set in the aquamarine and sapphire of the most beautiful water imaginable.
The capital and largest town, George Town, located on Great Exuma, was founded in 1793. Great Exuma, which is 37 miles in length, is joined to Little Exuma by a small bridge, and has an area of 61 square miles while Little Exuma has an area of 11 square miles.
The area is so unique and its reefs and island environments so pristine that The Bahamas government set aside a 176-square-mile section as the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, the world's first and most successfully preserved marine park.
Exuma was settled around 1783 by American Loyalists following the Revolutionary War. They brought a cotton plantation economy to the islands and named George Town in honor of King George III, to whom they remained loyal.
Lucayan natives made Great and Little Exuma their historic home until they were taken away as slaves in the 16th century, leaving the islands uninhabited until the 18th century. In the intervening period, Exuma provided many hideouts for pirates. Elizabeth Harbour was a favorite lair of Captain Kidd and the Exuma Cays were a favorite hangout for Captain Norman, hence Norman's Cay.
John Rolle, the first Baron Rolle, a major figure in the islands' history, was an absentee land-owner. At his death in 1842, he left his significant Exuma land-holdings for the exclusive use of his slaves. As a result, two settlements on Great Exuma were named after him, Rolleville and Rolle Town.
Exuma is also well-known for the slave revolt led by Pompey which started in early 1830 when, with only three days' notice, a group of 77 of Lord Rolle's slaves were told that they would be sent to Cat Island. With Pompey leading them, many of the slaves involved hid in the bush for five weeks until exhausting their provisions. At that point, 44 of them, representing nine families and three single slaves, stole Lord Rolle's salt boat and sailed to Nassau in an effort to personally put their case to the Governor, Sir James Carmichael Smyth.
Sadly, the slaves were taken into custody and thrown into the workhouse before seeing the governor. The adult slaves were tried immediately as runaways and most of them, including five women - two of whom were nursing babies - were sentenced to be flogged.
When the governor, known for his sympathy towards slaves, found out, he was furious, immediately firing the police magistrate and the two justices of the peace involved in the case. He also ordered Pompey and his group of rebels to be returned to Exuma.
Pompey's rebellion created the precedent that Bahamian slaves could not be moved without their consent, a major achievement in beginning to establish that slaves should be regarded as people who had some civil rights.
Exuma, with a wide variety of resorts and hotels that range from five-star resorts such as the Grand Isle Resort & Spa and the luxuriously elegant all-inclusive Sandals Resort, to condo-resorts and locally-owned fishing lodges, offers an amazing assortment of vacation possibilities. Tourism is important to the Exuma chain which is full of dream destinations for boaters, fishermen (flats, reef and offshore), divers, snorkelers and kayakers. The private islands and cays are custom-designed for those seeking the ultimate escape, and the new levels of luxury available offer perfect spots for an island wedding or honeymoon.
The islands are a popular spot for yachting, sailing, diving, and coral reef and cave exploring. Some of the islands on which there are permanent residents and resorts include Norman's Cay, Wax Cay, Fowl Cay, Staniel Cay, Black Point, Farmer's Cay, Musha Cay and Barraterre. Thunderball Grotto, located just a few hundred yards from Staniel Cay, is where the James Bond movie "Thunderball" was filmed. Sandy Cay, just a short boat ride from Little Exuma, was the location used for "The Pirates of the Caribbean". The novel Wind from the Carolinas was set in Great Exuma, and featured the ancestors of today's prominent Exumians.
The anchor of the Exuma archipelago is Great Exuma, where one can enjoy a great selection of casual Bahamian restaurants and iconic resorts such as the Peace & Plenty Hotel, which was named after a ship bringing Loyalists and slaves to Exuma that was shipwrecked in George Town in 1818. Today it is a meeting place for friends of old, especially at the annual Exuma Regatta, where they cheer on the keen competition between sloops in Elizabeth Harbour.
Stocking Island features spectacular views from atop its high bluff and a series of idyllic beaches separated by limestone promontories. On the leeward side, the Chat & Chill is a classic beach bar which attracts boaters from near and far.
Exuma International Airport serves George Town directly from Nassau, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Atlanta and Toronto. Norman's Cay, Staniel Cay, Black Point and Farmer's Cay have government approved and operated airstrips.
Sandals at Emerald Bay
We recently stayed at Sandals at Emerald Bay in Exuma and were immensely impressed by the tremendous contribution that this resort makes to the Exuma economy. Its 250 ocean-view and ocean-front suites, some with exclusive butler service, its championship 18-hole golf course and a 150-slip deep-water marina have propelled Sandals to become the superlative resort on Great Exuma. The full-time employment of 600 persons has enormously and positively impacted Exuma's economy, as has the greatly enhanced and revitalized airlift resulting from direct jet service from Canada, a project initiated by Sandals' owner and chairman, Gordon "Butch" Stewart.
Sandals also has a substantial community outreach program, having established five computer centers on the island and is working on its sixth. In addition, there are many community activities to which Sandals contributes, like the Exuma Regatta, which exemplifies its robust commitment and astounding corporate citizenship to the island's community and future development.
The main island has been a haven for celebrities for years. Until recently, the tourist population on the island was minimal, allowing anonymity for anyone wanting to escape the spotlight. Frequent visitors included Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, who has stayed at Goat Cay, the late Jackie Onassis, and Jessica Tandy.
In light of the relatively reasonable cost and the relatively attractive Bahamian tax regime for non-Bahamians, a number of celebrities own luxuriously exclusive private islands and cays and palatial homes or resorts in the Exuma chain. These celebrities include the Aga Khan, Nicolas Cage, David Copperfield, Johnny Depp, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Ali Karimi, Eddie Murphy, Eddie Irvine, Butch Stewart and Tyler Perry.
The hub of the Exuma Cays is Staniel Cay, where boaters congregate at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club's bar and restaurant, and where a landing strip serves as the gateway to many of the other cays.
There are several urgent infrastructural enhancements required, principally on Great Exuma if the island is to continue on its successful trajectory. The Exuma International Airport is in urgent need of modernization and there is an equally urgent necessity to construct a new shipping port, which some have suggested should be erected at Barraterre, as much for revitalizing that and other surrounding communities as for being the most appropriate location because of its deep-water and sheltered harbour.
Exuma remains one of the best kept secrets of The Bahamas and will continue to emerge as one of the more sustained successes of the nation, as its prospects for continued growth and development are extremely bright. In the words of George A. Smith, who represented Exuma for 29 years in Parliament: "Over these islands and cays, the winds whisper endlessly; and the seas and beaches are of almost unbelievable colours of aquamarine and whiteness and of beauty."
We will continue our tour of other Islands of The Bahamas later in the year.
o Philip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis and Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic & Litigation Support Services. He served 15 years in parliament. Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sun, Aug 31st 2014, 11:15 PM
The decision to reappoint former embattled College of The Bahamas (COB) President Dr. Rodney Smith to the top post of the future University of The Bahamas will "come back to haunt the college", according to Dr. Roger Brown, the former COB registrar recently honored by the institution for his decades-long service.
We agree with Brown that the decision by the Cabinet of The Bahamas to accept the recommendation of the Presidential Advisory Search Committee was a bad signal.
While many have used the "second chances" argument to support his return as president, there is a more
important consideration, and that is whether the college
would be able to effectively implement its plagiarism policy against students, given that its president once committed this cardinal sin in academia.
"I think it was the wrong decision, and I think it is going to come back and haunt the college," said Brown, who served as registrar from 1976 to 1995, and was at times acting principal.
"I had to sign many letters expelling students for committing plagiarism and I, for the life of me, can't see how we can now say that it's okay. It's not too bad. I wonder what the new president and the council and faculty will say the first time there is a complaint from a faculty member that a student has committed plagiarism under this new regime? But we'll have to wait to see."
Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald has said there was widespread support for the reappointment of Rodney Smith, who resigned from the college in 2005 after a special panel found that he was guilty of plagiarism.
He said support came from the Union of Tertiary Educators of The Bahamas (UTEB), The College of The Bahamas Union of Students (COBUS), the Public Service Union and alumni.
"These bodies went further and sent a joint letter to me indicating that they were in complete support of the council's recommendation," Fitzgerald said.
The college received the green light to negotiate a new contract with Smith.
According to then COB Council Chairman Franklyn Wilson, Smith was paid nearly $300,000 in 2005 as a part of his buyout arrangement with the council.
Speaking of the decision-makers who selected Smith, Brown said, "I don't know whether they were actually thinking about the institution as such and its future and the students of the institution".
He added: "When the minister said that he had discussed the matter with universities abroad, I question which ones he would have discussed the matter with.
"I might be mistaken, but I don't think there would be anybody at the University of the West Indies who would have indicated to him that it was good or it was OK.
"I don't think they would have discussed anything with the University of the West Indies. I don't think there was anybody there who would have indicated to him that it was a good idea.
"I'm just concerned about the future of the institution."
Brown was contacted by National Review for comment on the matter.
Previously, we also contacted retired Justice Joseph Strachan and retired Anglican Archbishop Drexel Gomez, who felt that the plagiarism blunder should not be held against Smith for the rest of his career.
Both Strachan and Gomez served on the 2005 panel that recommended Smith's termination.
In May 2005, Smith spoke at the COB Honours Convocation.
He used a portion of a speech given by New York University President Dr. John Sexton without providing attribution. That led to a firestorm that included a nasty public spat with the council.
Wilson, the former council chairman, said a few weeks ago the decision to reappoint Smith would be "a significant error for the country".
As he sought reappointment, Smith said he made "a serious mistake" in 2005 and added that he will never make such a mistake again.
In accepting the Presidential Advisory Search Committee's recommendation to reappoint Smith, Fitzgerald and his Cabinet colleagues missed an important opportunity to send a clear message of a commitment to best practices.
That signal would have been sent beyond the education arena.
We stated previously that Smith's reappointment could negatively impact the ability of COB professors to enforce the student policy against plagiarism.
Further, the next president of COB will lead the institution during one of the most defining periods of its history.
He will be the voice of the university in the local and international academic arenas.
That person must inspire trust and respect, and must advance the credibility of The University of The Bahamas.
While Smith's ability has never been called into question and his academic credentials are impressive, the fact that he is associated with the most egregious error in academia will haunt both him and the institution.
Sun, Aug 31st 2014, 11:08 PM
The year was 1970. Dr. Norman Gay was president of the Bahamas Olympic Association (now Committee-BOC) and the late Simeon Bowe was president of the Bahamas Football Association (BFA).
The Bahamas was represented by football (soccer), athletics and volleyball at the 1970 Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games, hosted in Panama City, Panama. Although there were high expectations for a medal in track from Kevin Johnson and top efforts by the soccer and volleyball squads, The Bahamas came away with just one medal. It was a high jump bronze, won by Lloyd Turnquest.
Johnson placed fourth, in both the finals of the 100 and 200 meters (m), prior to the high jump final. After Turnquest's event, the focus was on soccer and volleyball.
There were high hopes, as aforementioned, for soccer and volleyball. This was the case for soccer primarily because a young squad of quality players the likes of Sam Haven, Vincent Wallace-Whitfield and Van Bethel were afield for The Bahamas. Haven, around 17 at the time, had already established himself as a local star.
The Bahamas did less than expected in soccer and volleyball. In soccer, though, Haven was a bright spot. Undaunted by defenses, he gave valiant efforts in all of the matches. The leadership/fighting spirit that was to be accepted as a significant part of his character became obvious to all who observed Haven.
I recall his bold outlook. He fully recognized that the Cuban, Mexican, Haitian, Colombian and Venezuelan programs were superior to The Bahamas, but his view was that you had to go on the field and play. That he did. The Bahamas was not in the hunt for the medals.
Cuba won the gold followed by the Netherland Antilles with the silver and Colombia with the bronze.
Haven, however, cemented his status as a rising star of the region on that occasion. He established relationships with peers that served him well, particularly when he assumed the presidency of the BFA. Prior to undertaking administrative responsibilities in the BFA, he had a long and fruitful career as a player.
Leroy "Uncle Lee" Archer Sr., the best soccer player produced by The Bahamas, was fond of Haven.
"He was one of the really good ones, a top player in his day. My heart goes out to his family and friends," said Archer.
That is the general feeling of the soccer community in the country. BFA Secretary General Fred Lunn officially announced Haven's passing on Thursday and credited him with the "formation of the New Providence Football League and the introduction of the women's play into the league".
Haven was also a mainstay member of the Bahamas Anti-Doping Commission (BADC), serving in particular, as the deputy chairman beginning in 2012. The Bahamian sporting community has lost one of its finest.
May his soul forever rest in peace!
o To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at email@example.com.