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Independence celebrations in high gear


Published: Jun 20, 2013

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The celebrations are now in full gear. Bahamians are transitioning to the celebratory mood.

New Providence residents might still are asking, “Where?” I am glad you asked, remember the American song we reinvented, “This land is my land, this land is your land, from Grand Bahama to Inagua ...”? Yes, indeed this country is an archipelago where there is action somewhere every day as it pertains to the independence celebrations.

Ambitiously we set out for one full year to celebrate our 40th anniversary, however, the major and more direct events were all squeezed within the 40-day countdown.

Within this time span is the flag raising ceremony to be done; hopefully, on all inhabited landmass within the chain. This is overly ambitious but remember, nothing beats a try but a failure.

The flag raising ceremony is to me the epitome of all celebrations for this milestone anniversary. I was privileged to have been the commissioner, representing the secretariat, as the flag was taken to Inagua, Acklins and Crooked Island on Monday, June 10 and Wednesday, June 12 respectively. Commissioner Linda Moxey-Brown led the delegation to Long Island on Tuesday, June 11. On June 14, it was Rock Sound and Governor’s Harbour with Member of Parliament Damien Gomez leading the delegation.

In most respects, the flag raising ceremony will be the red letter day of celebration in our islands and a most fitting symbolic gesture to unite the hearts and spirits of our people in our ongoing quest to truly become one Bahamas.

This flag was the very one raised on July 10, 1973 at Clifford Park proclaiming The Bahamas a sovereign, free and independent country. Awesome, isn’t it just to imagine the power of such a symbolism?

Having failed to have San Salvador as the first in the series, due to the airline’s late departure, Inagua was the recipient of first place honor.

The official party was met at the aircraft by the official receiving party led by Senior Deputy Administrator Whelma Colebrooke. The ceremony was brief, yet profound. The 40th anniversary of independence prayer was led by Audrey Burrows.

Information on the symbolism was given by the administrator followed by the actual flag raising by Reverend Godfrey Bain. Representing the bridge to the future was student Humphrey Miller.

The choir of the Inagua All Age School kept the tempo flowing with national renditions which included the national anthem. Acklins was fewer in number, only natural, but the spirits were higher and there was a greater evidence of jubilation. Well, for us too, of the official party, it was my job as the only commissioner there.

I gave the official independence anniversary address. The Acklins islanders generously took pictures with all variety of cameras. It was a moment in time and they captured it.

Then it was on to Crooked Island. I agree with Elcott Coleby of Bahamas Information Services, a delegate on the voyage who in describing Crooked Island’s celebrations said, “Crooked Island’s flag raising ceremony was the best organized and most enthusiastic thus far. The huge crowd braved inclement weather to attend. We were all very impressed.”

Yes, they came out in their Sunday best, all ages in eager anticipation of their moment of heightened celebrations. They stood in the rain with umbrellas for shelter. I was impressed with officer Bain of the Royal Bahamas Police Force who has raised up a youth band. They stood at attention even in the rain. They entertained along with the school choir.

Administrator Samuel Miller (my primary school teacher) did an excellent job along with the local leaders in organization and execution.

The flag raising was done by Eleazar Scavella and a student of the high school. When the ceremony was over, it was party time – much food and drinks went into the celebrations. I was most impressed.

Then there was Deadman’s Cay, Long Island and South and Central Eleuthera already done. Then there is Mayaguana, San Salvador and Exuma, done on Monday, June 17; Cat Island, Ragged Island and Rum Cay on Tuesday, June 18 and much more. By now we should have the picture.

Yes indeed, much is happening in celebrations of our 40th anniversary. It’s not all about Nassau/New Providence, but all over the archipelago, celebrations are in high gear. It’s all being done at tremendous cost for those directly involved.

For those who care about The Bahamas with passion as a true native should, I invite you to get out the spectator stands and hear Dr. Off say to you, “Get involved, get involved.” We need community leaders to summon their neighborhoods to decorate by draping in the national colors.

Many are now coming on board, thank God. Vehicles are now flying the flags. Some churches, albeit few, are being decorated. I see a precious few observing Fridays as special celebratory days by dressing in independence T-shirts, etc. Congratulations! We’ve started, but let’s turn the heat up. More is expected.

Let every church dress up. Take the lead. You will be contagious to your parishioners. Government, your buildings are not draped; take the lead, man. Business places at the malls, downtown, etc. come on board; let’s get set and go. Drum up the spirit for this land is my land; this land is your land.

Now schools are closed. Next time we must discuss ideas to indoctrinate our children with the message of nationalism. Any ideas though? Please forward them to me so as to share with the wider Bahamian community. Before the year-long celebration is over I urge us to find an event for children.

Let us match the old-time Empire Day marches and celebrations. Only now our message will be tailored to the endless process of indoctrinating children in what it means to be a proud Bahamian.

For the remainder of our celebrations, I invite us all to pray daily our national prayer for these celebrations.

Leader: O come let us sing out to the Lord:

All: Let us shout in triumph to the rock of our salvation.

Leader: For the lord is a great God!

All: And a great King above all gods. (Ps. 95:1-3)

Let us pray: Almighty God, you created us in your own image and likeness. We thank you for all warriors in our history who have contended against evil and fought fearlessly for our freedom.

Help us to reverently use our freedom responsibly that justice, equality and fair play might be manifested and maintained in our Bahamas and within and among all nations.

We confess our failure, throughout these 40 years of nationhood, to fully reveal your image and likeness. Drugs, crime, violence and broken homes still lurk on every hand.

We confess our hatred and failure to show kindness, our injury of one another in thought, word and deed, our uncharitable thoughts, prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us. We beg you accept our repentance, Lord.

We thank you for abundant blessings of families, for our children and youth – the bridge to the future and all those who guide and nurture them, for daily food, for sun, sea and sand. Thank you for minds to think, for health and strength to work and play.

Guide, now, our leaders that they may protect our treasures well; create full and fulfilling employment and so direct our affairs in righteousness and peace.

Let us glorify the lord: Father Son, and Holy Spirit. Praise Him and highly exalt him forever for his wonderful gift of this archipelago of islands, The Bahamas, home to us. May we treasure one another, our independence and democracy for all times to come.

All: Accept our prayers and thanksgiving Lord we offer you, as one people united in love and service.

This prayer is recommended for personal, family and church use by all Bahamians during this independence season.

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

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