THE Ministry of Tourism has signed on as the host sponsor of the Caribbean Muzik Festival, which will commemorate a momentous milestone in the history of The Bahamas when it returns to Nassau at the end of this month.
The festival also marks the 30th anniversary of the Nassau Accord, hailed as the key step toward ending apartheid in South Africa and securing Nelson Mandela’s release from prison.
It was during the historic 1985 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in The Bahamas that the landmark Nassau Accord was established. The package of sanctions and inducements increased pressure on the South African government to dismantle its system of racial segregation.
On October 20, 1985, Commonwealth leaders gathered in Nassau to sign the accord. Sir Lynden Pindling, chairman of CHOGM at the time, led the charge and is credited with persuading the majority of heads of senior Commonwealth members to support the position.
Sir Lynden was appointed to the Eminent Persons Group, which was established by the CHOGM and which visited South Africa in 1986 to report on the situation there, reinforcing the call for sanctions against South Africa.
Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe said this amazing story is an important component of the country’s history, as well as its cultural heritage tourism offering. “This part of our history alone should make us proud to be Bahamians and cause people to want to come to Nassau just to see where this historic accord was signed. It is safe to say that the journey to Nelson Mandela’s freedom, and the beginning of a revolutionary shift in South Africa started right here in The Bahamas,” he said.
“We also want to take this opportunity to celebrate the spirit of freedom, equality, and friendship with our Commonwealth and Caribbean brothers and sisters. What better way to do that than through our music and our rich cultural expression?”
Caribbean Muzik Festival has dedicated the opening night of the four-day festival to the celebration of Bahamian history and culture. Organisers will also highlight The Bahamas’ ties to South Africa. Along with several talented Bahamian acts, the South African Soweto Gospel Choir will perform at the commemoration in Bay Street on October 28.
A Living Legend award also will be presented to South African musician Hugh Masekela. Other Living Legend awardees are Ronnie Butler (Bahamas), Jimmy Cliff (Jamaica), Omara Portuondo (Cuba), Emile Straker (Barbados), and McCartha “Calypso Rose” Sandy-Lewis (Trinidad and Tobago).
Several dignitaries from South Africa and other Commonwealth countries have been invited to attend the event. More details on the commemoration will follow.