Take a walk downtown and you’ll be far removed from the paradise idyll The Bahamas is famed for worldwide.
Look down side alleyways and you’ll find them clogged with trash and rubble.
Were you to come off a cruise ship and turn left rather than right as you leave Prince George Wharf, you’ll find a wealth of empty shops, and rundown buildings. There is even one building where part of one side has fallen off, revealing a toilet inside. A loo with a view, indeed.
The situation is improved if you turn right, but there’s still many a building that could do with a bit of sprucing up, and a good deal of making the place neater and tidier if we are to show off the gem that is our home.
In his national address this week, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has given a glimmer of hope.
He has directed tourism officials to come up with a short-term plan to clean up downtown.
At last, we say. About time, we cry. We’ve heard promises before about cleaning up downtown, we think.
Dr Minnis wants a plan “as soon as possible to begin to immediately beautify and clean up Bay Street” and says that many Bahamians are appalled by the state of downtown. Quite right, and he should be appalled too.
The Downtown Nassau Partnership should join the list of those who are appalled – though they seem to have been busily doing nothing about it for a long time now too. The same alleys are as crowded with rubbish now as they were under the PLP and under the FNM before them again.
So if we’re going to set about cleaning up downtown, and putting on our best face for both ourselves and the world, where do we look for inspiration?
Step forward Bain Town resident Debbie Ferguson.
Turn to page two today and you’ll read about the well-deserved award she has received for making her yard the pride and joy of her local community.
For the past 18 years, she has made sure her yard and corner are clean and tidy. The association presenting the award were impressed by how she cleans the whole street, weeding the grass, planting plants – even painting the wall at the end.
She says she can’t go out looking clean if where she’s coming from isn’t clean.
“Your home is your pride,” she says, “Just how you have pride in yourself, have pride in the environment.”
We have ample reason to be proud of Ms Ferguson – but as we applaud her let’s ask if we can’t do a little more on our own, like her, to make our country a better place.
Can we sweep out the street before our business as we clean up at the start or end of the day? Can we organise a litter pick to clear out those dirty alleyways or on local beaches? Is there a lick of paint we can add to a building whose glory might be faded?
Let’s do it by ourselves, let’s do it for our nation – but today? Let’s do it to make Debbie proud.