INSIGHT: Ambitions unfulfilled and no sign things will get better any time soon

By Malcolm Strachan

THE countdown clock has begun to the celebrations for Bahamian Independence – but as we reach that 49th anniversary, how is our nation faring?

On the face of it, we would seem to still be facing a host of problems – some of which have dogged our nation for generations.

As we mark the occasion when we took power for ourselves, for example, it seems we still cannot generate power – with BPL continuing to have to explain a series of widespread outages. Worse, as we sit in the dark waiting for the power to come back on, we do so in the knowledge we may soon have to pay more for the electricity we’re not getting! The rise in fuel costs is going to reach our pockets sooner or later, no matter how much government officials dance around the issue.

Then this week a new failure in basic supplies – water. Apparently a simple lightning strike, plus a power surge, was enough to disrupt water production at the Water & Sewerage Corporation’s Blue Hills plant. Customers in central, south and east New Providence saw a drop in water pressure as a result.

Drive the roads and you won’t need to be told how many potholes there are – so, power problems, water problems, road problems – our infrastructure seems to be creaking at the seams, same as it has for many years.

But what about our politics? Well, successive governments have been failing to go anywhere fast with reform of marijuana laws – the latest effort, we hear, despite the proposals moving at the speed of an iceberg, haven’t found time to properly consult the Rastafarian community. Then there’s the efforts to tackle issues such as marital rape, which have spent so long tiptoeing around the Christian Council I’ll be amazed if it ever amounts to anything. The Christian Council now apparently is open to protection against rape for spouses in the period between legal separation and divorce. But not, it would seem, for the period before separation – so if the husband rapes his wife repeatedly to the point that she finally flees the home, it’s only after she steps outside that door that she deserves protection, according to the council.

If all that seems as if we are paralysed in the structure of our nation and paralysed in moving forward with legislation that brings us into the same century as others around us, perhaps it’s because that’s the case.

What about our independence itself? Well, we’ve only recently had a visit from members of the Royal Family, in which we spruced up the roads our visitors would be driving on and put on fancy threads in which to bow.

The visit prompted the most minor of discussions about whether The Bahamas was ready to go all the way and become a republic.

The trouble is, too many people seem to like it the way it is. Government can always kick the thorniest of problems up to the Privy Council then shrug and say its hands are tied.

Even Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell seems resigned to the status quo these days. Back in December, as Barbados removed the Queen as head of state, he said he was still committed to a republic, but seemed to admit defeat. He said: “It is my life’s work toward deepening our democracy, but try as I might over my lifetime I have been unable to fire up the succeeding generations on this issue. Perhaps they have more important things to do.”

He couldn’t even convince his own administration’s press secretary, it seems – with Clint Watson saying soon after that becoming a republic was not on the agenda of this government.

Noting Mr Mitchell’s comments, he said: “You’ve heard a member of the Cabinet speak about his push to see it happen personally as an individual. It’s a conversation we haven’t heard a lot about in recent years until we heard what happened in Barbados. But it’s obviously in the hands of the Bahamian people to decide.

“It’s not on our agenda right now. However, the Bahamian people can change that if they determine this is what they want to do. It would have to be something the Bahamian people request and put on the government’s agenda.”

If the press secretary can so roundly dismiss the PLP chairman’s comments, how far do you think requests from the rest of the Bahamian people will go?

Look around Bahamian society and you’ll see plenty of people touting the honours they’ve received from the Queen – from knighthoods to MBEs, while honours bestowed by Bahamians come a distant second. There seems little desire for a change to that.

So with 49 years of age fast approaching, where are we? We’re not moving forward in terms of greater independence, and we’re facing the same old problems over and over again. How will we be any different in a year’s time, when we hit 50?

Will we be any richer? Any wiser? Will we be any more independent? Will our laws and finances be more transparent? Will our people have greater power to get answers from government?

What, at this stage in our country’s development, is our lofty goal? What is our ambition?

As we lift up our heads on Independence Day this year, maybe that is what we should be asking ourselves – where do we go next?

After all, the motto on our coat of arms says “Forward Upward Onward Together”. How are we living up to that goal?


birdiestrachan 1 year, 5 months ago

MR Strachan it will be difficult if the husband and wife are living in the same house will they go to court dressed a like it is not a simple matter the Bahamas is

Not perfect but we press on imagine for a Moment how far the Bahamas would be if I it were not for the Two Huberts


Sickened 1 year, 5 months ago

Without the great Sir Lynden our economy would be similar to Barbados and Jamaica. Thankfully drug running and money laundering were allowed to flourish and all walks of life benefited from the easy money. I am not joking. Sir Lynden was bold and we all prospered. Of course some serious problems also arose but I think they would have happened anyway with a poor economy. Mr. Ingraham did his best to keep the economy on track while the whole world was trying to shut us down. He did a decent job. After him we have had nothing but failures in leadership. Benefiting from Political and government positions became top priority and government turned into a complete sham where less that 10% of revenue actually benefited the people at large.


bahamianson 1 year, 5 months ago

Seriously? Read the tea leaves. This place is a dump.....don't tell the tourist.


Alan1 1 year, 5 months ago

We should be proud of our longstanding association with The Crown. The stability of our Constitutional Monarchy with its finely balanced system of a freely elected Parliament, a sound British-based legal system and an impartial Bahamian Governor-General guarantees our freedom. It is the best basis to attract much needed international investment. The world is full of failed third world republics where politicians take total control and the whole system crashes. Why should we join that club? Barbados was no example of how to become a republic. It was a rushed move with no public consultation and no referendum to seek the voters' approval. P.M. Mia Mottley completely ignored those opposing her move including two opinion polls indicating the public would vote against her republic. Even the ceremony initiating it was closed to the public. Sadly Communist China has been increasing its influence in Barbados to an alarming extent.


LastManStanding 1 year, 5 months ago

Quite frankly, independence was a horrible mistake and it is showing. Our government would have been dissolved by the British a while back (like what happened in Turks) had we remained a dependency. Unfortunately, the parasitical politicians running amok in this country have no one to check them thanks to us being a "sovereign" nation.


sheeprunner12 1 year, 5 months ago

Our 242 citizens have been dumbed down to such a low point by Pindling's education system, de-cultured, and bamboozled by the tourism plantation economy, that they are just trying to survive each day, much less aware of changing the Head of State.


moncurcool 1 year, 5 months ago

Does anyone realized that Independence was purely tied to politics? Pindling tied the election to independence. If people wanted independence vote for the PLP. If not vote the UBP. Now tell me, after majority rule had just come in, do you see the dilemma blacks were in with voting in that election?


Sickened 1 year, 5 months ago

The blacks wanted power in order to become EXACTLY like the white man in power. Thankfully they treated the white Bahamian better than the white politicians treated the black Bahamians. Unfortunately we still don't like the thought of having a white man as PM - even though most white Bahamians would never consider getting into politics for various reasons.


JKnowles2022 1 year, 5 months ago

Independence was good for this country. Unfortunately, only Politicians, their families, friends, and lovers move Forward, Upward, and Onward, together. Regular citizens talk, talk, talk, then change governments and the cycle continues. Hoping the new generation does better or we are doomed.


JokeyJack 1 year, 5 months ago

Anyone who comes out to celebrate on July 10th is a genuine (censored).


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