‘We were supposed to chart a different course’
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: Jan 09, 2017
January 10, 1967 was filled with excitement as people throughout The Bahamas awaited the final results of the general election, Dr. Elwood Donaldson recalled.
“The crowds were in the streets and the streets were blocked,” said Donaldson in an interview with The Nassau Guardian.
“It was a feeling we had accomplished something.”
Donaldson was among the 18 elected Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) members who helped to usher in Majority Rule.
After years of advocacy and struggle, the back of the old oligarchy was finally broken, and for the first time in Bahamian history true democracy prevailed.
It has now been 50 years since that fateful day and, according to Donaldson, the country is stuck in survival mode.
“Majority Rule was, in fact, not just for the majority to rule,” he said, “but to have the reins of government in our hand for us to shape a course for The Bahamas that was entirely different than was being shaped by the minority.
“We were supposed to chart a different course, which would have been a benefit to Bahamians.
“…This 50-year jubilee should have been a jubilee, but what and where is the jubilee?
“What is it that we have from 1967 to now, to go out and celebrate as an achievement?
“We never achieved a planned objective, and we are almost on the verge of losing our country without any concrete plan of how to keep it or retrieve what we have lost.”
A series of events or developments preceded Majority Rule. Among them were the Burma Road Riot, Black Tuesday and the Women’s Suffrage Movement.
Donaldson said 50 years ago, the objective was to prove to the world that black people were capable of managing a country successfully like anybody else.
He is one of four who are still alive today, who were among the 18 PLPs elected in 1967.
Maurice Moore, Arthur Hanna and Arthur Foulkes are also still alive.
The other 14 elected PLPs were Lynden Pindling, Preston Albury, Clarence Bain, Milo Butler, Clifford Darling, Carlton Francis, Warren Levarity, Curtis MacMillan, Uriah McPhee, Edmund Moxey, Jimmy Shepherd, George Thompson, Jeffrey Thompson and Cecil Wallace-Whitfield.
The Labour candidate, Randol Fawkes, was also successful in the election. Both he and independent candidate Alvin Braynen threw their support behind the PLP, with Braynen accepting the position of speaker of the House of Assembly.
Donaldson said in the years since Majority Rule, the country seems to still be floundering.
“Even after 50 years there is no path we are pursuing,” he said.
“If it is, it is not transmitted to the populous at large.
“[There is no] path that we are pursuing, a goal that this is what we want The Bahamas to be, this is our vision.
“I don’t believe we have a path. I think we are making it up as we go.”
Donaldson said the country has somehow lost its “Bahamianese” through immigration, foreign influences and the unstable economy.
George Smith, one of the signatories of the Bahamian constitution, said that even though The Bahamas has come a long way independently, the people themselves still have a long way to go in “de-slaving” themselves from mental slavery and a sense of inferiority to foreigners, with a need to feel dependent on them to create jobs.
He touted independence, infrastructural improvements, and advancement in education, health service and entrepreneurship as just a few great strides the country has made in the past 50 years.
“You have to appreciate the depths to which we have come,” Smith said.
“Great strides, but not nearly as sufficient to satisfy how far we would wish to go.
“...We have got yet many miles to go.
“That is why we must find the ways of reuniting our people so that we can live up to the motto, forward, upward, onward, together.
“We have to begin to like one another again.
“We have to repose more confidence in Bahamian professionals and see them as equals in skills to any professional in the world.”
Donaldson, meanwhile, said this milestone is an opportunity to stop and plan the way forward, to create a path that is sustainable for the country and its people.
“We have reached 50 years and we are not satisfied with this position,” Donaldson said.