By Canon S Sebastian Campbell
AT the 114th session of Synod of the Anglican Diocese of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands held this week in Nassau, Bishop Laish Boyd lamented the way the 50th anniversary of Majority Rule was celebrated. I join in this lament. I advance that it could have been solved if the Church had only provided leadership.
Where is the Church in leading the way?
Majority Rule is the singular most important event in Bahamian history since the emancipation of slaves on August 1, 1834. The shackles were taken from the hands and feet of our African ancestors as they entered into a four-year apprenticeship. This came only after some 300 of cruel, inhumane, debilitating and ungodly enslavement. Totally unjustifiable by any extent of human decency.
August 1, 1834 started the long road to mental liberation to remove the shackles from the minds of our forebearers. They yearned for total liberation, so the struggle continued almost solely on racial lines. Racial superiority was real and should never be covered up. It is a historical reality. It’s a fact that the 15 per cent white was lauding itself over its governance over the 85 percent black. Blacks were considered as nobodies, incapable of providing leadership. In the United States, in similar prevailing circumstances, the Lord raised up the late Dr Martin Luther King Jr to cry out, “I have a dream, that one day my four little children will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
The content of the character of our black brothers and sisters was surfacing in our national life, unrecognised by the white lords.
The Lord, all along the route from August 1, 1834, to January 10, 1967, was establishing pillars of achievement as monuments of hope to a dejected people. All along the way, the Lord too was raising up fierce leaders, like Moses of old, to lead our people out of our racial, political and economic bondage. (Maybe in another article we will address the milestones of incremental achievement on the road to Majority Rule).
It is a given and accepted fact of history that Lynden Oscar Pindling was raised up as a modern-day Moses to finally take a mentally enslaved people into our Promised Land of enlightenment and hope.
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said at the death of Sir Lynden, “He was the greatest Bahamian who has or will ever live.” In 1953, the Lord raised up the Progressive Liberal Party as his vehicle of deliverance. Liberation theology bears witness to the fact that God at all times raises up instruments of deliverance. Read the book of Exodus closely and this motif jumps out at you.
January 10, 1967, came into its fullness four days later when Pindling, leader of the PLP, finally won over Randol Fawkes and Alvin R Braynen to join his party in a coalition against the white United Bahamian Party.
Majority Rule, rightly celebrated, is a moment of liberation for both black and white Bahamians. It liberated the blacks from an inferiority complex, gave them the knowledge that they were not ‘nobodies’, but ‘somebodies’ who were able for the very first time to govern themselves. It liberated the whites from a superiority complex where they believed that only because of the colour of their skin they were given the God-given right to rule supreme over the blacks. From this position every single Bahamian with common decency and a Christian spirit ought to celebrate as one united people.
There is a vacuum in leadership in projecting this reality and simultaneously holding all our people together in a new Bahamas.
Overall, we made a complete mess out of celebrations as we lifted up 50 years of Majority Rule. Sick minds even tried to dumb down the importance of so transformative a historical event.
The one fraternity commissioned by God to give non-political leadership is the church. The immaturity of our people in this our national youthfulness demands that the church to exert itself and hold our people together in our evolution.
The “We March” people only threw a wrench in our journey towards national unity and awareness. The chairman of the PLP should not have been the one to announce and organise a march on Majority Rule Day. It is to our shame that we had two marches on Majority Rule Day 2017. The unions are ever so hopeless in providing any semblance of unity. Even on Labour Day we cannot have a united march for labour. Where is the Church in all this? Our failure as a Church to rise up must be equally condemned.
As an Anglican priest it was my good fortune to have provided leadership for more than 20 years during which our country made cultural advances in establishing the Majority Rule and National Heroes Day holidays, among many other things. Now that our National Heroes Committee has successfully championed the cause, it is difficult to accept that we have been sidelined. We thought by now a National Cultural Commission would have been established to continue to give leadership in these areas.
The Majority Rule celebration had some sentiments echoed from its platform at the 50th anniversary celebration. The question is, “Were they appropriate to the celebrations and did they bear true witness to the intent of those who navigated us to this holiday?
I suggest we be challenged by these missteps we have made thus far. Go back to the drawing board and rework it. Above all, I call on the Church to stop getting in the way but lead the way in our ongoing national development.