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Brand new holiday

FR. SEBASTIAN CAMPBELL

Published: May 09, 2013

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January 10 is the new holiday, to be written in law, to be first observed in 2014. It’s done, albeit long in coming. It’s most unfortunate that we live in a culture of sloth and tardiness. Our prayer must always be, God, Lord deliver us.

With the spirit of nationalism burning in our souls, the very idea should ignite great pride and cause every true-blooded Bahamian to dance for joy. How can politicians, members of Parliament, muddy the waters at such a pragmatic moment by advancing that there are too many holidays on the annual calendar. How, as representatives in a Christian nation, can a suggestion be advanced to eliminate a Christian holiday?

These politicians, in part, claim to be the mouth piece for the business community. True or false is not important. The time comes to an evolving country to stand up against naysayers, advance its nationalist flag of identity and show the world its priority. Economics cannot forever be an overriding influence that dictates who we are and what we should do. Representatives in Parliament are elected to be the keepers of the flame of our spirit of nationalism. Or is it, again, petty, political mischief in an unending quest to score cheap brownie-points. No one can disagree that January 10, 1967, is a singular defining movement in our march to nationhood. It’s shameful that it has taken 46 years, three prime ministers and two political parties to finally do that which was inevitable.

Anyone could have done it, but kudos to our present day prime minister for advancing this nationalistic fervor. It goes now to his legacy along with a litany of other cultural and national advancements that are being enacted into law. Among them, the Randol Fawkes Labour Day, the national honors and heroes legislation, heroes day and national heroes park, among many others with a national cultural commission as an engine to keep this train going.

The National Heroes Committee has been in place for approximately 20 years, preaching this same one message of nationalism as we made demands on our Bahamian people and government to run with the ball and be radical enough to do these inevitable things. It has been painful, during the recent debate, on Majority Rule Day, to hear members of Parliament negating the struggle of our campaign. It is nonsense to talk of too many holidays or converting an existing holiday. Many who contributed were shallow in their presentation. I did not feel the power of the struggle coming from the belly of these representatives. Many didn’t live it — neither was the research evident. Some could have done a much better job.

The English colonialist did an excellent job in their indoctrination of our people, almost to the extent where many of us can hardly think outside the proverbial box. We were so brainwashed that many do not want any changes at all to anything, they want to stay in their mental Egypt of enslavement. Others would compromise and try to be both colonial and independent at the same time. As long as our history is not taught, entrenched and celebrated, we cannot advance. A recent experience taught me that there are students at The College of The Bahamas and journalists in our media houses who do not know one iota about majority rule.  The holiday will correct this. It gives the opportunity to be a teaching moment for all times to come.

I cannot join the chorus of too many holidays. There are political detractors. Why would they use Barbados and Jamaica as measuring rods. Why not go to Trinidad and experience how liberal they are with holidays as a teaching tool, or use Barbados and discover a national heroes day and an Errol Barrow day were added without conversion. I came into the National Heroes Committee at the time when founding members Fred Mitchell and Loretta Butler Turner were demanding a holiday for national hero Milo B. Butler, without sacrificing any present day holidays.

I still believe Butler deserves a day or until such time we embed him in the National Heroes Day Holiday celebrated in October. But I do seriously believe Lynden Oscar Pindling, father of the nation, like Errol Barrow, father of Barbados, ought to have a holiday named in his honor. Surely Fawkes and Pindling ought to be memorialized this way. Both changed the destiny of our country. They are at the pinnacle of the chart on national heroes. At Sir Lynden’s death, then Prime Minster Ingraham said, “Sir Lynden is the greatest Bahamian who has or who will ever live.” Now we must convert words into action.

It was ridiculous to consider sacrificing Whit Monday as that holiday for conversion as suggested by a member of Parliament? Is he crazy? This is a Christian nation. As such, we must know that Whit Monday celebrates a defining moment in the life of the church. In fact, it is the birthday of the church, on this day Christianity was born. We must teach it, not abandon it. The church must wake up when ignorance parades in garments of sheep’s clothing. We, the church, are failing in teaching the truth – the whole truth – about our faith. Take your hands off Whit Monday. It must not be converted!

Our cultural advance continues in this our year of celebration for the 40th anniversary of independence. Let us join the movement to re-designate colonial appendages, re-name streets, bridges, airports, docks and harbors. Let our islands, all name their heroes and celebrate them. Let us talk to our tradition bearers and write our history, before we lose all of it.  Let us look at “we–sef” and celebrate us, in this Bahamas without apology. Be proud to be Bahamian.

• Fr. Sebastian Campbell is rector at St. Gregory’s Anglican Church.


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