By Rev. Canon S. Sebastian Campbell
LET us cut to the chase; the average Bahamian is brainwashed and/or mis-educated when referring to this time of the year simply as “Thanksgiving”.
This is not America; we’ve had a cultural invasion and are ignorant to it.
Our Ministry of Education schools do a whole lot of mental damage this time of the year, that if not checked will be a lever in the continued transplanting of our Bahamian cultural heritage.
I have sat through many a school assembly and endured teachers pontificating on the Pilgrim Fathers and then to reinforce this with our impressionable children doing skits and songs on the “First Thanksgiving” and its ongoing development and influence on life as though all this is a part of our Bahamian history, which they assert we should justifiably celebrate. We have a case here of the blind leading the blind.
Do our Bahamian people realise they are being used as pawns on the American chess board? Our Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture is totally impotent or acts that way in the face of the cultural intimidating giant to the north.
The cultural onslaught invades further at the level of our stomach.
Check the menu out. It is in our schools; after these Thanksgiving assemblies teachers barricade themselves to gobble down the American dishes of ham, turkey, pumpkin pie, etc. this behaviour is an insult to our cultural heritage and to our good and gracious God who has made us uniquely Bahamian.
We are a peculiar people with peculiar blessings, a peculiar heritage and thus a peculiar history. Next to no leadership comes from anywhere in this cultural onslaught. This is but a spark to get the fire going, thus we have the American franchises slamming out everything Bahamian.
How can we be quiet having Wendys as the dominant restaurant at the Lynden Pindling International Airport?
How is it possible that at the Bahamas Games Burger King is the official sandwich?
Why at regattas is reggae more dominant than any Bahamian music?
Look at the corner of Carmichael & Blue Hill Road, the American entities have trumped many things Bahamian.
So then why allow the hypocrisy to surface in us when our sons wear pants below their hips or put earrings in their ears.
Why cry out when our younger generation covers their body with tattoos or our young girls inject holes for rings all over the ears, in the nipples, in the navel and God knows where else.
In the midst of all this many learn to speak the American accent or English, for that matter, so as to be grasping at a higher state of existence, or so they think. Our national mindset is warped; we are confused.
We Bahamians must show our thankfulness to God for his blessings on us as Bahamians.
We must count our blessings. We are no celebrants of ham and turkey, this is American. Stop trying to be that which we are not. God has blessed us with Long Island mutton, wild boar from Inagua, Andros crab, grouper and conch from our water. Can we show appreciation for Cat Island flour cake and Eleuthera pineapple, even when turned upside down?
Yes, and good old peas soup n’ dough seasoned with dry conch and salt beef. Oh yes, by now we have the message. We wash all that down with good old switcher or sky juice. Depending on our religious background we can spice up these drinks even further.
Oh the ignorance to things Bahamian. Much of the above cuisine has never been taught in home economics, indeed if any at all. There appears to be no rescue plan from either the Ministry of Culture or Education or the church or civic organisations. Tradition bearers are allowed to die and carry with them the uniqueness of our culture and that peculiarity that stamps us as Bahamian.
This time of the year properly understood is Harvest Thanksgiving.
This has been demanded by God all the way back to the Old Testament.
Read Deuteronomy 26, “…each of you must place in a basket the first part of each crop that you harvest and you must take it with you to the one place of worship. Go to the priest in charge at that time and say to him, ‘I now acknowledge to the Lord my God that I have entered the land that he promised to our ancestor to give us…’ be grateful for the good things that the Lord your God has given you and your family…”
Appropriately we celebrate Harvest Thanksgiving at the end of the liturgical (Church’s) year, which is always the end of November and therefore the collision with American Thanksgiving.
But we must not be sucked into any confusion. It is then most appropriate, at the end of the year, to give our great God thanks for his blessings within that given year. Our Harvest services, luncheons and socials etc are all ways to say thanks to God for his blessings on us a peculiar people. Let us stop the confusion and the affront to God.
We Bahamians must be careful even in our hymns and music.
How can we Bahamians say, “He sends the snow in winter” or, “The purple headed mountain” or “er the winter storms begin.”
We must get to work, write our own literature be the architects of our own services, celebrate our history and within all this God will be glorified!
Here is a taste of where we should be:
“We plough the fields and scatter
The good seed on the land
But it is fed and watered
By God’s almighty hand.
The onions & tomatoes
The lemons lime & cane
Cassava and potatoes
And all the sweet corn grain.”
“The waters round our islands
Are brimming full with food
Grouper, and crab and lobster
That do our bodies good.”