EDITOR, The Tribune.
Blind Blake sang the eulogy; “Run Come See Jerusalem”, in memory of the more than one hundred souls who perished at sea during the great 1929 Hurricane. Here, in The Bahamas, almost a hundred years later, is there a single public memorial to mark that tragic occasion? Our former colonial overlords made no such effort, so we make no such effort. We’ll just have to wait and see if there is any official commemoration of that significant episode in Bahamian history come 2029. We may also note with interest whether or not there will be much pomp and pageantry that same year to mark 300 years of so-called Parliamentary Democracy in The Bahamas. In my opinion, this all begs the question: “Are we in dire need of a Ministry of Good Sense?”
With a Ministry of Good Sense, perhaps we could tackle a few issues which are long past overdue for some attention and positive actions. Maybe a Ministry of Good Sense could set about establishing publicly displayed, as well as electronic media versions, of meaningful tributes to the ill-fated “Mertyl”, “Ethel”, and “Pretoria”. Additionally, fitting memorials dedicated to the memories of those Bahamian heroes martyred with the sinking of the HMBS Flamingo could also be materialised. Any other noteworthy and deserving memorials may be erected to honour outstanding historic figures and events. It’s never too late to do the right thing, or at least that’s the way the saying goes.
I say that that’s the way the saying goes because we could wait for another devastating hurricane before we construct the first bona fide hurricane shelter here in The Bahamas. That might seem a bit odd to anyone with a little common sense, but with our new Ministry of Good Sense, no doubt that would be one of the first projects tackled and achieved. You would think that with a centuries-old history of encounters with hurricanes on an annual basis, proper hurricane shelters would be generously sprinkled across this archipelago. If you did think that, you would be oh so wrong. Wrong, not because the idea is not an exceedingly good one, but wrong because, when you search our 700 islands, rocks and cays, you won’t find even one. Ok, yes, there are church buildings, school buildings, lodge buildings, gymnasiums, a sports centre, clinics and a variety of makeshift facilities used in times of hurricane distress. But, a proper building site, specifically for public use in hurricanes or other major disasters is yet to see as much as a ground breaking ceremony.
Guess what? Our colonial government did not build any. Our 50-year-old Independent Bahamas government did not build any. So much for independent thinking. Dragging colonial baggage is another story. Ministry of Good Sense, where are you?
As a matter of full disclosure (not at all like the MPs’ annual obligations), I can’t say whether or not proposals have been made, and plans are in the offing for such shelters. But, no announcements have been forthcoming, despite a recent near brush with that major hurricane “Lee”, still out there in the Atlantic.
With other storms out there on the radar, a Ministry of Good Sense would have its work cut out for it ... on day one. Our new Ministry of Good Sense would be a harbinger of what a better Bahamas could provide for Bahamians, stormy weather or not. Ideally, a hurricane shelter building complex would be able to pay for itself --- Government contracts aside, and community volunteerism considered. The shelter complex could be used for any number of other worthwhile activities and functions to generate funds related to building costs and maintenance. Ministry of Good Sense, where are you?
Blind Blake also sang ... “Never mind the noise in the market, only mind the price of the fish ...”. Notwithstanding that the majestic blue marlin is on our coat-of-arms, and the Nassau grouper being perhaps most favorite on our menus, tourism appears to be the only fish in our sea these days. After 50 years as an Independent Bahamas, we are still hooked almost exclusively --- hook, line, and sinker --- on that tourism bait. Unarguably, Stafford Sands is most responsible for such a fixation on the tourism product. Then, ought not some token tribute, say, plaque at least be placed at each port-of-entry throughout The Bahamas in this regard? Otherwise, we can choose to take a one-eyed view of things and simply carry on smartly. Our new Ministry of Good Sense can either be objective or subjective, likewise be politically partisan or break with long-held tradition, ..... whatever makes good sense.
With a long history of reactively addressing problems, rather than proactively making decisions, plans and actions to avoid or limit problems, it might be wrong for any of us still to give up hope, thinking that that paradigm is the only card in our hands. Nevertheless, even though you will never find me wagering in any of our many gaming outlets, I am willing to otherwise bet that there is little chance of us seeing a Ministry of Good Sense, or the proactive initiatives it might have fostered in developing a better Bahamas.
In my sweet, short life I have seen incredible changes here in The Bahamas, as well as around the world (not to mention outside of this planet). At least every week, I am amazed by the wonders that were once fantasies, becoming more and more commonplace. Who knows, maybe, just maybe, we could all wake up one day soon and see a Bahamas that we knew was possible, but could not imagine it happening in our lifetimes. For the time being, though, without our Ministry of Good Sense, it is much easier to get a comfortable pillow and stretch out to have a good dream about such a Bahamas.
September 13, 2023.