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Diary Of A Hurt Bahamian

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Sharon Turner

I STRUGGLED to decide on how to approach this week’s column. Writing for me comes very easily, but this week it was a challenge.

It was a challenge because this week, more so than others in recent months, the weight of the hurt I feel as a young Bahamian watching my country slide down the slopes it has been set upon is a bit much.

In many ways, this train called The Bahamas has come to a screeching halt, with many passengers who were unable to brace for impact.

When I walked into the voting booth last year, I didn’t walk in as a zombie led by a red, yellow or green remote control. I walked in as a 36-year-old educated, independently minded Bahamian who fully understood the critical importance of my vote and of my right to vote. I don’t do foolishness with my one vote. I cannot be bought. I am beholden to no one, and a politician is no more worthy of respect and regard than the man on the street corner to me, therefore I am truly free to vote in a free and fair election – because I am free where it matters most: in the mind.

When I voted, I voted for my country to get better. I voted for progress. I voted for what I both believed and knew was the best option of the options presented, for a better Bahamas. I made my choice, and tens of thousands of other Bahamians who voted, made theirs.

Now I look around me and in just a few short months, where there was order, there is chaos. Where there was certainty, there is confusion. Where there was confidence, there is fear. Where there was pride there is disgust. Where there was relative calm, there is a powder keg brewing. And where there was a leader who was vilified for having a handle on everything, there is a leader who repeatedly and boldly insists to his country that he is never aware of anything.

People in life want many things. Some want power. Some want money. Some want praise and recognition. Some want followers. Some want slackness. Me? All I wanted for my country on Election Day 2012 was better. That is not happening. The exact opposite is happening – and it hurts. These are the pages from the diary of a hurt Bahamian.

I look at my cousin and her son, my godson. She has been displaced to two islands in the past few months in unsuccessful attempts at finding a job. She is facing homelessness soon again, and I can’t help her. I can’t help her primarily because the employment situation in the country is so bad right now. But I also cannot help her because now we live in a Bahamas where your political affiliation once again could mean the difference between your being able to get a job or not.

Persons who she would ordinarily be able to get a character reference from she is afraid to do so, because they are known FNMs, and she is afraid that a potential employer may recognise their name and decide not to hire her anymore. Do you understand how much that hurts?

Do you understand the fear of a mother with a young child who is uncertain of where she and her child may sleep in a few days? Do you understand how sickening it is to not only have to deal with the problem of unemployment in and of itself, but also to have added to it the fear of being shut out of work because of “who your people are” or who someone thinks you may have supported politically?

And then there are friends of mine, industrious young people who don’t have the issue of politics as a stumbling block, but simply are continuing to struggle to find gainful employment. I hurt for them. I wish I could help them all so that they can stop worrying about how they will feed and take care of themselves and their families. They are in my heart and mind every day and night. I pray often for a breakthrough for them.

When the police have to come to the public and announce that they are unable to control the serious crime of armed robbery in New Providence, it is an indication among other things, that criminals on the island are becoming more reckless, bolder and of course, more fearless.

As Bahamians, we have to do the best we can to try to protect and defend ourselves from criminals who will literally shoot an elderly woman in cold blood in broad daylight and not bat an eye. We need to know that the authorities are doing everything possible to deal with these hardened criminals.

So with all the dying and crying out here in these streets, how would any right- thinking Bahamian be expected to feel when for the second time in nine months, the Minister of National Security tours Fox Hill Prison, after which time he emerges saying “give the criminals bail” and bemoaning the living conditions of inmates?

When he first became Minister, BJ Nottage toured the prison and met with convicted criminals – not persons on remand who have not yet been proven guilty, but convicts. He then told the press he agreed with their complaints that the former government’s ant-crime laws passed were too tough, and said his government may have to look into lightening the prison sentences for certain crimes.

If you were a criminal and heard a government Minister say these things on national television, tell me what message you are likely to receive from his words? You are breaking the law and breaking hearts and spirits along with it, and “the man” is telling you he is with you and he hears and agrees with your cries. So what about our cries, the victims of the crimes committed by these convicts who have managed to find favour in the government’s eyes? As a Bahamian, is this not supposed to be a hurtful thing to hear and see?

Watching or reading the news these days is a chore. Every day, there is a story of something in government that used to be running right, but is now running very, very wrong – and with no plausible explanation or no explanation at all from the powers that be.

If you are a person who just sails through life and doesn’t care much about what happens in your country, things like this would not matter. But nothing is more frustrating than a society of chaos, where nothing seems to be operating as it should, everybody seems to be on autopilot and critical things that we take for granted in the running of a country are being left undone.

What kind of life are we living now for instance, where when the Commissioner of Police gets on television to speak, there is a chorus of “suk teets” in the homes of people watching what he has to say because people no longer believe what he has to say? Take crime reports as one example. In the past, if the Force says there were 100 murders in a particular year then fine, there were 100 murders. The public didn’t question it and neither did the media.

But then the Force, whether by government edict or by decision of the Commissioner of Police, decided to change the way serious crimes are to be calculated and reported to the nation. What also seemed to change was the Force’s ability to classify obvious murders (like a person found dead in the bushes wrapped in a sheet with a gunshot wound) as murders. All of this leads to the public distrusting the crime statistics given by police, such that now Bahamians are starting to keep their own murder count. Some media houses for the first time, began doing the same thing, because they no longer trusted the information coming from the Force.

If I cannot trust the Force and the head of the Force, what kind of quality of life am I experiencing as a Bahamian?

Watching Parliament is like watching a horror movie – upside down. The intellectual bar in the Parliament is so low you would have to limbo to get past it, save and except for just a few members in the Upper and Lower House.

The Speaker doesn’t know the rules of parliament, most of the MPs do not know the rules either, those who know do not seem to care, and altogether Parliament has become the rubber room of Bay Street. What is the benefit of having elder statesmen in the Parliament if they do not lead the way in bringing context, depth, propriety and maturity to it?

Some MPs cannot even read their own prepared “debate” contributions. Their reading and pronunciation abilities are atrocious, as is their content, such that schools should really be given advisories on when not to take their students on field trips to House sittings. It is just that bad.

We herald politicians as being the best and the brightest in the country. If I turn on the television and see an elected official who cannot even articulate a decent point of view, or who otherwise does not know how to communicate without being unproductively loud or boisterous – is that not supposed to be a hurtful thing to see as a young, educated Bahamian?

If my television when on channel 40 now spends more time on mute than anything else because the mephitic fumes of the oratory of many MPs require a mad dash for oxygen, is that not supposed to be a discouraging and yay, a hurtful thing?

As goes the head, so goes the body – and to the extent that is true is the extent to which I am an exceedingly hurt Bahamian today. Our Prime Minister has demonstrated such an either ignominious inability or incomprehensible unwillingness to lead, that I often ask myself where in the world is this country going to end up soon.

I honestly have to wonder and worry about the state of mind of a leader who has no problem telling his country that he is almost never aware of anything that happens in his Cabinet or his country.

Take the College of The Bahamas as the most recent example. For weeks, there have been media reports and then public demonstrations and even a march on the Minister’s office by COB students about proposed budget cuts to the College’s subventions.

The Minister previously announced that though there would be cuts, those cuts in his view, would not harm the viability of the College. Then here comes the Prime Minister, who this week while on COB’s campus, told reporters he was not aware of budget cuts for COB.

Say what? The Minister of Finance, and head of the Cabinet from which one of his ministers already announced this budget cut, is unaware of the cuts? Persons who know the Prime Minister better than the general public can advise on whether these constant “I am not aware” statements by him are untruths or not. Either way, it is a living, breathing disaster for The Bahamas to have such a leader in the chair.

Forget about politics – this is common sense. If the person in charge on your job is not competent, strong and properly in control of his or her responsibilities, you tell me what kind of work environment that creates for you. If a parent is not the parent in the home, what kind of home environment does that create for the children? If your pastor is contrary, what is the state of the congregation?

So if the head of our country almost never knows anything, and what he claims to know about he has repeatedly been caught in contradicting public statements on – is this not expected to be not only a hurtful thing for the nation generally, but for individual Bahamians like you and me, who care about our country and worry about what our future will look like with a leader who routinely advises us that he is not really leading?

Anyway, that’s all for today, dear diary. These realities have become altogether exhausting. It’s a couple hundred words short of the usual, but this will have to do for now. A bit of rest and I’ll be back to normal, though the uncertainties for now remain. And as much as I hate to admit it, I know it will only be but a short matter of time before I have to add more pages to this, my diary of a hurt Bahamian.

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Comments

Honeybun 1 year, 4 months ago

Excellent editorial! Sad to say 'that's what you get when you tired of what you gat'... this is what the people voted for excluding myself of course. This is the government that is about "putting Bahamians first", my a%#. Say what you want about the Rt. Hon. Hubert Alexander Ingraham but at least he was taking this country in the right direction amidst hard economic times. Now we are moving backwards instead of forward. This is only the beginning folks stay tune there's a lot more havoc to come in these longggggg years with the PLP reigning. A bunch of clowns and fakers in Parliament acting ridiculous and out of order. Lord help us!

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TalRussell 1 year, 4 months ago

Oh my, my. Reading this sounds like Hubert is really plotting he return?

I think most if not all Tribune readers know this woman's presentation of her being an independent voter do not themselves imply da whole truth on her part when she claims to have weighed how she came to vote on Decision Day 2012?

Comrades just in case the Comrade Sister "Shar-run" done has forget and trying to run from her past it was none other than her boss man Hubert's regime, who she so aggressively propagandized on behalf of, who was kicked the hell out of office by the Bahamian majority?

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annaht 1 year, 4 months ago

if only we had this unbiased commentary between 2007-2012. would have loved to read such vviews then. this is hilarious. if this is a unbiased column, i would love to see a biased one so I ccould distinguish between the two. Not to say that I dont agree with alot that has been written, bbut lets be real, this is not unbiased

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nationbuilder 1 year, 4 months ago

Wow, truth, truth and more truth mrs. turner!!

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Rontom 1 year, 4 months ago

A point of view growing in numbers. There must be a better way, nay, forgive me, a Third Path.

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242smt 1 year, 4 months ago

Excellent. If only more Bahamians would speak out about the ridiculous things going on in this country - things that go on unchecked regardless of whether PLP or FNM are in power.

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Nick 1 year, 4 months ago

Excellent comments Ms. turner, however, the significant proportion of persons you might be referring to as criminals are, in fact, your children. You needn't be the actual biological mother of them; but socially, they are the children that were born from you and me. The FNM came to power in 1992. I participated in the campaign leading to that faithful day of August, 19th, 1992. Some 21 years back then we viewed the criminal situation to be similar to what it is today. Admittedly, the numbers weren't as high but nonetheless, they were sufficiently alarming that we back then were calling the misguided youths of that time 'criminal' as well. It is now the month of March, 2013. Ms Turner I am sufficiently poised and can state that you, me, and for that fact, your adult readers cannot simply absolve ourselves from the social havoc of what we have created by thinking that calling our children 'criminals' would set some distance between the responsibility for chaos by calling them criminals. As a Nation, we can begin the turn around by first confessing the crime committed against Dorsey Ryan and his family. A passage of scriptue: II Samuel 21 shows that a Nation can still be ill-affected by a crime that it fais to give reparation. We as a Country have not offered to attone by expiation the wrongs done to this man ( Dorsey Ryan) and his family under the Leadership of Prime Minister Lynden Pindling and the then PLP government. We can begin there; otherwise, Sharon, kindly note that we are only the product of our fore-fathers and mothers. And apathy will not justify any us so don't say you had nothing to do with it.

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nationbuilder 1 year, 4 months ago

Errrr, the lady that wrote this column is a young Bahamian - the time period you are speaking about she couldnt even vote yet so no, no one would have been born from her that you're talking about????

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TalRussell 1 year, 4 months ago

Am I shocked that there are still some who will defend Comrade Sister "Shar'run's" bias political mutterings?" Not really considering these are the same red shirts who bought into the propaganda written by Hubert but published under the byline of "Shar'run," despite the hard to ignore evidence all across Bahamaland that the rest of the Bahamian people didn't do so well for the last five years of Hubert's running stronghold over his cabinet and House MP's.

You know what word is coming into me head right about now that anyone could possibly buy into anything this woman writes. "Ass'in'nine." Whatever happened to independent thought among the Bahamians who expect their opinions to be taken seriously?

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concernedcitizen 1 year, 4 months ago

as a nation when you are irresponsably sexually , 75% illegitimacy rate , men having children w/ four and five women and vice versa , you will have ever larger ghettos , proverty and crime . WE can not produce children faster than our gdp and expect not to end up like Haiti and Jaimaca ,,simple math, more mouths less dollars for everyone ,,,,,,,,,,our neighbors do the same tourism numbers as us they just got more people to split the dollars ,therefore a lower standard of living

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pablojay 1 year, 4 months ago

I must admit that i am quite impressed with Miss Turner's articles .There are many letter writers out the ,whose letters are just given a quick perusal by me at best ,or not at all ,letters written from both sides of the political divide, eg; Ivoine Ingraham, Ossie Brown,Forrester Carroll etc,because historically they are all just apologists for their political masters and in many cases written for political crumbs.Without glancing over Bahamas Press,another one of them, i wouldn't even khow who Sharon Turner is.It is obvious from her writings that she is an intelligent ,articulate and knowledgible your lady with a great concern for her country.I look forward to reading more of them!

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spoitier 1 year, 4 months ago

If you can see the bias in other people article and don't see it in this one, something have to be wrong with you. There is some sense in this article, however, most article have to drive in a point to make it look unbias. Both of these parties are doing foolishness.

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RUKiddingMe 1 year, 4 months ago

Once again we hear from the Village Idiot - TalRussell - SMT! Regardless of what your political affiliation is the fact remains that this country is headed down the toilet and it is largely due to the incompetence and greed of the incumbent party. We have learned nothing from the past by returning the PLP to power.

Sharon T (see how it is actually spelled TalRussell?) is correct in her critisism of the government and it's members. Additionally, concernedcitizen has hit the nail on the head. This country continues to accept promiscuity with little concern for the consequences all the while boasting of our christian values - until such time as we are willing to stand up and start taking responsibility for the lifestyles that we have chosen, we will continue to contribute to the social cesspool that The Bahamas has become.

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TalRussell 1 year, 4 months ago

Comrades I wonder if somehow Comrade Sister "Sha'run" let it slip her memory how the first train that was responsible for NOT delivering paychecks to many thousands of Bahamians actually came to a screeching halt under her former boss Hubert's regime with many families who were unable to brace for the impact of the many empty food store shopping buggies that became their hardships?

While "Shar'run and her misguided red shirts may have been too occupied "ridi'ng inside the Hubert gravy train" to have even noticed all the no paychecks hurt'in going on, on the outside that also destroyed many families across our Bahamaland, it still doesn't make that shameful reality a big lie.

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