Historic ceremony to usher in new holidays
ROYSTON JONES JR.
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: Oct 12, 2013
For the first time in the history of The Bahamas, legislation was yesterday signed into law in public.
Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes signed off on the National Heroes Act and the Majority Rule Act in front of a crowd at Government House.
The Majority Rule Act makes January 10 a national holiday celebrating the original day, which occurred in 1967.
The National Heroes Act makes the second Monday in October National Heroes Day, a public holiday which will replace Discovery Day starting Monday.
In an interview with The Nassau Guardian following the ceremony, Foulkes said he spoke to Prime Minister Perry Christie several months ago about the possibility of a public signing.
“At the time, we talked about the Majority Rule Bill because I was always an advocate that we should dramatize this event and get our young people to know the importance of it,” he said.
“And as the prime minister said today, a lot of people are not fully appreciative of the significance of that change. It was very significant.”
Foulkes explained that for more than a century after emancipation from slavery in 1834, blacks were still disadvantaged and second-class citizens in The Bahamas.
He said majority rule had a transformative social, economic, educational and psychological impact on this country.
During the ceremony, the prime minister said the majority rule liberalized black and white Bahamians.
He said it also brought about much more than a change in the political regime.
“It opened up, instead, a new door of opportunity and equality for all,” Christie said.
“But it was a liberating experience for white Bahamians too because it freed them from a morally corrupt ideology based on race and privilege.
“By holding out the promise of a truly democratic society that was color-blind and dedicated to the principle of equality, our white brothers and sisters were liberated from a psychologically debilitating and morally unsustainable construct.”
Christie thanked the 32 men and women, including the late Sir Randol Fawkes and A.R. Braynen, who were not Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) candidates, for their role in that revolution.
He said the National Heroes Act will act as a first step in bringing about the selection and recognition process of national heroes, the highest rank of honor in The Bahamas, which shall carry the title
“This particular honor will be reserved for the greatest of the great, be they living or dead,” he said.
Christie added that the Advisory Committee of the Order of National Heroes will soon recommend names for appointment to the order.