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Lynden Pindling: A Bahamian hero

GEORGE A. SMITH

Published: Sep 13, 2013

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On October 17, the official opening ceremony for Lynden Pindling International Airport will take place.  The new airport is a facility that the nation can justly take great pride in.  It is a testament of what can be achieved by way of strong and purposeful collaboration between a government and private sector interests.  This will also be an occasion when all Bahamians should be called upon to reflect on the life and contributions Lynden Pindling made in shaping our beloved Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

For those Bahamians who are too young to have any memories of Sir Lynden Pindling, it is a ripe time for our nation to erect a living memorial for his eminent stewardship of our nation-state during its formative years.  It is Sir Lynden’s pre-eminence which has earned him the honor to be hailed as the “father of the nation”.

As we reflect on the life and times of this great Bahamian son, I pause to salute him for his passionate and caring leadership, his pragmatic philosophy and his vision that guided the march to the “Quiet Revolution”.

Every nation has its heroes.  There is no nation that has attained greatness without recognizing the existence of some of its citizens whose life’s journey propelled them to trod the streets of greatness, of personal sacrifice for the good of the people, and who at great odds labored to usher in periods of transformation.  Greece has Socrates and Alexander; Rome, Caesar and Augustus; Germany has Bismarck and Adenauer; Britain, Alfred, Nelson and Churchill; India has Gandhi and Nehru; America, Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt and King.

The Bahamas has its list of heroes.  They are those whose names were given and should be given to schools, public buildings, airports, harbors, streets and parks.  They are those who have given of themselves for the greater good.  They are those who are admired for their selfless deeds and noble qualities.  They are those who are spoken about with pride.  And they are those whose life’s work has been the transformative spirit throughout our archipelago.

Our heroes are freedom fighters like Pompey, Walker, Butler and Darling; they were educators like Dillet, Young, Francis, Coakley and Bethel.  They were entertainers like Munnings, Taylor, Chipman and Butler; and, the list goes on.

Lynden Pindling is a worthy hero for Bahamians of every strata, social and economic.  He came from ordinary Bahamian stock and rose to the pinnacle of political dominance.  He was deeply involved in the people’s struggle for their rights and their liberation.  He was a part of the people’s extraordinary journey.  He led us to majority rule and heralded in the expansion of our economy.  He also ushered in an educational revolution that saw thousands of Bahamians obtain university degrees.

Sir Lynden understood the importance of tourism, so much so, he served as minister of tourism on two occasions.  He knew that it was from tourism the country would realize the additional funds to invest in increased educational opportunities, healthcare and vast infrastructural improvements.  He recognized the importance of the New Providence airport as the principal gateway to The Bahamas and brought about improvements to it.  He also saw the need to expand and build other airports in the country, in our remotest Family Islands.

Lynden Pindling supported the establishment of The College of The Bahamas, the Central Bank and national insurance and was passionate about extending benefits to the aged and the indigent.  He established the defence force to protect our borders and our rich marine resources.  He upgraded the police force into the fine organization it is today.

Sir Lynden was also an ardent supporter of the “Bahamianization policy”, implemented by Arthur Hanna. This policy is credited with unleashing the untapped potential of thousands of qualified Bahamians and it gave meaning and purpose to their training, enabling them to assist in the building of the modern Bahamas.

Lynden Pindling also believed that if we were to improve the quality of life for all Bahamians, then the structure of Bahamian society must change.  He stressed and saw the benefits and importance of remolding our society into a “Bahamian nation”.  He realized that only as an independent nation could we fulfill our destiny as a great people.

Sir Lynden challenged Bahamians to be greater or better than they were.  Sharing his ever-expanding “dream” of a Bahamas which would be envied, “a shining example to the world”, he encouraged us to fight for the changes we wish to see.  That was good advice then and it remains good advice today.  He knew The Bahamas suffers when its citizens are indifferent about the affairs of state.

Lynden Pindling’s leadership skills, which were shaped by his patriotism, character, discipline, intellect, courage, tolerance and timing, made the difference during several crucial periods in the country’s history.  He interacted with Bahamians and foreign personalities with grace.  He was not aloof or dismissive.  He was available to all and was responsive to their concerns.

I believe that in time all of his fellow citizens will come to appreciate that much of what we enjoy and take for granted, and all those things which make us proud to be Bahamians, are due in large measure to the intellect, stellar leadership, work and vision of the man who we acknowledge as the “father of our nation”.

We must continue the struggle to build a better, just, safe and fairer Bahamas; and, as we do so, all Bahamians can draw inspiration from Sir Lynden and all those noble Bahamian sons and daughters who have gone to harvest their eternal reward, and those heroes who are still with us.

I salute a grateful nation that shows appreciation and gratitude for the leadership of one of our “finest son”.

May God richly bless the multitudes who would pass through the airport named in honor of a great Bahamian, Lynden Pindling.  And, may God bless this country he served so well.

• George A. Smith is a former Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) member of Parliament and Cabinet minister.


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