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Happy independence to our beloved Bahamaland

ARINTHIA S. KOMOLAFE

Published: Jul 09, 2013

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Aquamarine, gold and black, the distinct and beautiful colors of the Bahamian flag, the most notable and recognizable symbol of The Bahamas.  Our flag distinguishes us from any other nation in the world never to be mistaken or confused with another.  On the eve of the 40th anniversary of our political independence, it has been heart warming to behold the magnificent display of patriotism by many Bahamians who have not only draped their vehicles, homes and business establishments with our national colors but have also renewed their allegiance to our commonwealth.  Indeed this independence celebration like no other calls for love, unity and a recommitment to the service of our nation and toward one another.

As we commemorate the first 40 years of independence, the advent of the next 40 approaches.  This new beginning must bring about a rebirth of the institutions, foundations, morals and values that have brought us to where we are.  When the Bahamian flag is hoisted tomorrow reliving that fateful day on July 10, 1973, it is imperative that this symbolic act ushers our nation into a renaissance era.

Israel’s familiar journey

It can be argued that The Bahamas’ journey can be likened to the famous Bible story on the Israelites exodus out of Egypt and voyage into the wilderness, which lasted 40 years.  For the Israelites, this period was a time of trials and testing in the aftermath of their emancipation from the yoke of bondage.  At this juncture in the Israelites’ history, they were coming to terms with their newfound freedom of governing themselves, fighting their own wars, establishing a new form of government while abiding by newly established laws, morals and values.

In the same manner, The Bahamas has done a good job in establishing itself over the past 40 years.  We have proven that we are well able to govern ourselves and chart our own course in the best interest of the Bahamian people.  We have had the privilege of being served by three unique leaders, who were first among their equals – the story of one man as mentor and two of his most notable protégés who together have served our nation for almost half a century is as intriguing as any great political story anywhere in the world.

The four legs of the journey

It is fitting that the theme of this year’s celebration is “Bridge to the Future”.  It is also ironic that Prime Minister Perry Christie has consistently indicated that he sees himself in this vein.  As a bridge to the future, Christie is charged with the task of passing the baton on to the next generation.  The typical relay in the world of sports which entails four legs provides a useful analogy of our journey as a nation and Christie stands on the brink of history as he ends the third leg and paves the way for the commencement of the fourth leg of the journey.

The first leg of the journey commenced in this writer’s opinion with the abolition of slavery dating as far back as 1833 when we were no longer seen as property and forced into labor, but were all declared to be free to take charge of our own destiny.  In spite of emancipation from slavery, a major opportunity to properly govern the majority arose in 1967 on the attainment of majority rule where the voice of the majority was no longer stifled to the benefit of a minority.

This feat laid a definite foundation for the attainment of economic independence.  This marked the second leg of the voyage.

There is no doubt that crucial to the attainment of economic independence by the populace is the desire and need for political independence, and so it was, The Bahamas would achieve this milestone in 1973.  The leaders of that time in their wisdom determined that the time for independence had come and their estimation proved accurate.  The transition from colonial status to political independence effectively completed the third leg of the journey.  The fourth leg is the journey to economic independence by our people.

The need for economic independence

Our country continues to experience casualties both at the social and economic levels.  Socially, crime has increased to unbearable levels that more often than not lead to the loss of lives, particularly among our male youth.

Economically, The Bahamas continues to suffer setbacks from external shocks that our economic model was not designed to bear.  Politically, it appears that the nation grapples with a frustrated and equally divided electorate.  More than anything else, the average Bahamian feels socially and economically disenfranchised in a Bahamas that breathes prosperity for the stranger over and above the native.  In this sense, we must not be seen to be “shooting ourselves in the foot” by maintaining the status quo.  We must remember that the more the gap between the rich and the poor and the “haves” and the “have nots” widens, the more social and economic degradation we will experience.

Economic independence and the renaissance era

And so it is, Christie and his government have declared that the journey continues.  Economic independence has become the mantra of the new generation and will be the motto of the renaissance era.  We are unified in our assertion that economic independence must be achieved for the majority, but more importantly, the majority clearly understands that the time is now.

During this era of rebirth, we must return to the old landmark – back to the morals and values that have shaped us as a nation.  Like the new generation of Israelites who sought to possess the Promised Land, we must teach our hands how to war for this chapter of our existence.  Our strategy to the attainment of economic independence must be clear, articulate, accessible and adoptive so that those who see and hear it are able to run with the vision.

Tribute to our leaders – past and present

There is no time like the present and central to the attainment of the feat of the fourth leg of the journey is the will of the political leadership to implement progressive policies and deliver the right relief to the masses.  The leadership of today must be willing to act and speak with the same boldness and courage of yesterday’s leaders if the wonders that were performed in the past are to be duplicated and surpassed.

Today’s leadership and renaissance era leaders must always realize and never forget that they are called to serve the people above all else.  In this sense, humility is important and an open ear to the thoughts of the people is required.

Today 40 years after independence, we pay tribute to our forefathers and foremothers who have gone before us to lay the foundation for what we now enjoy.  Many suffered victimization for standing up for what they believed in, others made sacrifices in their family lives, education and professional advancement.  However, there remains many heroes and heroines, some sung but much more unsung.  As we celebrate 40 years of independence, let us put aside our political differences and all the earthly things that divide us, but instead embrace the spirit of our nation’s motto crafted 40 years ago ‘forward, upward, onward together’ and move toward a common loftier goal.  God bless the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and long live our beloved Bahamaland.  Happy independence!

• Arinthia S. Komolafe is an attorney-at-law.  Comments can be directed at commentary@komolafelaw.com.


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