Backbenchers Disillusioned By Govt - Moxey

THERE are those today who are convinced that if Ed Moxey's dream of a cultural community centre in the heartland of the Grove had been allowed to grow, the shipwrecked state over which we mourn today would not have had a chance to develop. Jumbey Village was conceived by Mr Moxey as a cultural centre to unite a people as they struggled to improve their lot -- socially, culturally and economically. It was envisioned as a centre to be built by the people for themselves. They would have their school, library, social centre, clinics, sports, music, and arts and crafts from which they could sell their own creations. And, of course, they would be surrounded by music -- their own music. Mr Moxey, himself a musician, the son of the well known pianist, the late George "God Bless" Moxey, and his group would be one of the many participants. It was through the Jumbey Village movement that Timothy Gibson, the author of the Bahamas' national anthem, came into his own. On Sunday, March 11, the showing of a documentary on Ed Moxey and the birth and death of Jumbey Village was premiered at the Performing Arts Theatre at the College of the Bahamas. It was the 26th anniversary of the destruction of Jumbey Village. "The Price of being a man" is the story of Ed Moxey, Jumbey Village and the "quiet revolution." "This then," said the commentator, "is the story of what might have been, and what in fact turned out to be Edmund Spencer Moxey's greatest triumph as well as his biggest disappointment, the creation of a place called Jumbey Village, and his struggle to secure the ideals that would have guaranteed the progress first envisioned as part of the quiet revolution. It is told as seen through his eyes, those who reported on it and in some instances, those who were involved in facilitating its creation and ultimately watching its destruction." According to Mr Moxey "shortly after the 1967 election, many of the PLP, especially the backbenchers already had concerns about the direction in which the new government was heading." He said their first Speech from the Throne in the House of Assembly appeared to be a "continuation of the same old policies of the United Bahamian Party (UBP)." Of course, there was the exception of Sir Stafford's commission of a development plan for New Providence that "would have transformed over the hill, in particular the Grants Town community." That plan, designed by Columbia University's School of Architecture, was completed and delivered shortly after the UBP was replaced by the PLP as the government of the Bahamas. Each member of the House at that time was given a copy. It is questionable whether any member ever looked at it. It was a golden opportunity lost for community development in New Providence. Very shortly after the election, said Mr Moxey, he "became concerned about whether or not the Bahamian people would see the social, cultural and economic liberation promised by the PLP's 1967 victory at the polls." Mr Moxey was so concerned that they would not that in June 1967 he called a meeting at his home for the PLP backbenchers. He did so, he said, because nothing had been said by their leaders about "educating the masses about how government worked and protecting their well being" or "cultivating and nurturing our cultural heritage and only some vague representation of social programmes." According to Mr Moxey "the backbenchers to a man, all expressed disgruntlement with what they considered a deviation from the original goal of social, cultural and economic upliftment of the people, with ministers building little kingdoms unto themselves." It was then that Mr Moxey predicted that the "country would end up on the rocks, or with very serious challenges." Said the commentator: "There is no smoking gun, just a paper trail 21 miles long and 7 miles wide, stretching all the way back to 1969. A trail that exposes betrayals, pettiness, internecine warfare and what has been called deception of the highest order. It shows a government backtracking or just plain ignoring its own stated policy that 'community development must play a vital role in the development of this nation, specifically mentioned in the White Paper for Independence that 'community development centres will be progressively and systematically established in densely populated areas to cater for pre-natal and post-natal needs, Child Day-Care needs and the recreational needs of the people." * Next we shall tell the brief, but tragic story of the birth and death of Jumbey Village.


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