EDITOR, The Tribune.
We hear more than enough, in my view, about “Majority Rule” and its advent in The Bahamas tagged to January 10th 1967.
I think that it is important for all people to understand that January 10th 1967 WAS NOT the first time that the majority black population voted in The Bahamas, but was simply the first time that a majority of House of Assembly Members were of African descent. Well, all but one.
“The African Diaspora to The Bahamas” by Larry Smith, (an extract from Bahamian historian Keith Tinker’s book) puts the date at 1832 when “people of colour” were granted the same rights, privileges and immunity” as white people (paraphrased). That included voting, but he goes on to say that the right to vote was not exercised until 1834.
The key take-away from that statement, is that “people of colour”, in The Bahamas, had been VOTING for 134 years prior to January 10th 1967. If one takes the view, as one must I think, that “Majority Rule” can only mean that the majority ethnic Bahamian population (people of colour) have elected members to the House of Assembly for a great many more years than fifty.
What is quite interesting also is that Keith Tinker also notes from his earlier publication The Migration of Peoples from the Caribbean to The Bahamas “Perhaps the greatest legacy of the migration of “West Indians of African descent” to The Bahamas was the achievement of majority rule in 1967, under the leadership of the son of a Jamaican policeman named Lynden Pindling.” So are we a nation of a majority of West Indians, Black American Loyalists, Black Bermudians or what?” The picture becomes quite blurred at this stage.
Strangely, perhaps because of his subsequent disenchantment with the Progressive Liberal Party, a far more significant, and less dubious breakthrough for the majority of Bahamians, was Sir Etienne Dupuch’s accomplishment in breaking down the barriers of racial discrimination that remained in The Bahamas in 1956. That single event, perhaps more important than even the emancipation of slaves, or yet the election of a majority of people of colour, to the House of Assembly, has benefitted black Bahamians far more than can anything else.
Another Government must seriously consider redefining this holiday (Majority Rule Day) into something that all Bahamians, of every Race, Creed, Sex, or Ethnicity can be proud of and fully partake in.
BRUCE G. RAINE
January 7, 2017.