By ROCHELLE R DEAN
THE Bahamas is a nation of 700 islands and cays. While it is in close proximity to the United States of America, a developed nation, the Bahamas itself suffers from an identity crisis.
It is a crisis of development, not culture. The Bahamas must recognise that it is not a developed country. While its closeness to the Americas allows for the country to enjoy the leisures and even some of the cultural aspects of the United States, the Bahamas should not compare itself to its giant of a neighbour.
The Bahamas must recognise that it is a nation that has many advantages but that its state of development is on par with countries like Uganda, Tanzania and others.
Our proximity and grouping with the Caribbean region gives us an incorrect analysis of our developmental state.
While many Caribbean countries have gone through the same recourse, countries like Brazil and Barbados are now in the stages of reform. The Bahamas must now do the same by looking at itself outside being a part of the Caribbean. While the economy had made the Bahamas one of the best economies in the region, it still does not place the country in the pool of developed nations.
The Bahamas must emerge from the disillusionment that it is a wealthy nation. Its leaders must see America as a nation to emulate, not one of comparison. The country’s leaders must take a look at the policies implemented by the US and see how they apply to and affect the country. The Bahamas should not implement policies and legislation conducive for a developed country, not pass laws that are not fitting for the country’s economic growth.
The Bahamas must take a look at its history outside politics. We must research our neighbours and determine what were the policies that made them great. The Bahamas should no longer seek to come on board with policies and/or global agendas that do not help or strengthen the country’s development. The Bahamas must look into the early stages of countries that have become great nations and determine their growth.
The Bahamas must go back and determine how it can make a solid trade agreement to export our farming and fisheries. A country that has the perfect environment to cultivate agricultural goods and fisheries should not continue to waste its resources due to a less than zealous desire to correct and/or expand its global presence and state of development beyond its Gross Domestic Product.
How can a nation promote services and not fully maximise its potential in the industrial field? With the country’s national average at a decline, there seems to be a disconnect with the promotion of services over more industrious professions.
The Bahamas has the resources, tools and labour force to reduce the unemployment rate, but lacks the vision and ambition to do so.
The Bahamas must demand its leaders to go back into history and retrace its steps - to colonial days and the days of Woodes Rogers. We must take a look at his tenure in the country, his exit or exile and his return. Is the country synonymous with this type of behaviour? Does The Bahamas reject excellence only to have to have it come right back to assist in breathing an environment of discontent, revenge and lack of zeal to see the proper development of the country? These are questions that we must ask on our way to being a developed nation.
The country must realise that it is geographically in a position to learn from the United States, enjoy the benefits of first world living while making steps toward its development.
The country must question its leadership and demand leaders who are not only competent but have a sensible approach to the development framework and the growth of its people.
The Bahamas can no longer continue with the same approach as it needs to begin to take a serious look at sustainability and the type of nation its citizens are working to build.
The Bahamas must recognise that it can become a fully developed nation by navigating through the right channels to development. Poverty alleviation begins with a history lesson.
Rochelle R Dean is a Bahamian scholar, research fellow and peer-reviewer and a theory writer of economics presently completing a Bachelors of Science dual degree in economics and public administration with Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia.