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Despite national challenges many Bahamians still proud

As Bahamians across the country celebrate the 46th year of independence, some admit that their sense of national pride is dwindling.

Frequent power outages, a high crime rate and the high cost of living are just some of the issues that Bahamians have to contend with.

But 48-year-old Deborah Gibbs, who is an entrepreneur, said those issues are a part of the country’s growing pains.

She was one of many Bahamians who agreed that while there is a lot of work to do to improve the state of the country, there is even more to be proud of.

But single mother Tiffany Davis, 38, was less optimistic.

Asked what makes her proud to be Bahamian, Davis said, “At this moment, absolutely nothing.”

“Our country is definitely not what it used to be. Time and time again leaders have made decisions to better themselves and their families while the people struggle. This is not what a country so rich in resources should be like.

“The Bahamas is supposed to be for Bahamians, meanwhile, it mostly benefits foreigners. So, I speak for myself, a single Bahamian mother, who used to be a very proud Bahamian, there is nothing for me to be proud of anymore.”

College student Summer Russell, 28, agreed.

“After personal reflection, I have taken a step back and realized how much my Bahamian pride has dwindled over the years,” she said.

“In comparison to my younger years, I am not as proud as I used to be.”

Russell said the country is not living up to its national motto, “Forward, Upward, Onward Together”.

But Sarah Parker, 76, noted that Bahamians have accomplished a lot over the years.

She added that the people of The Bahamas are among the country’s greatest treasures.

“The raw talent [has resulted] in world-class performances in track and field; the arts, Sir Sidney [Poitier] and Craig Pinder to name two; singers and artists like Amos Ferguson and Brent Malone and our very own Junkanoo; world-class sailors like Olympian gold medalists Sir Durward Knowles and Sunfish World Champion Donnie Martinborough; and the immediate past president of Rotary International Barry Rassin, just for a start,” said Parker, a real estate agent.

“We really have so much to be proud of and we really need to be more positive about our amazingly wonderful little country. We can fix it.”

Father of three Yohancy Kemp, 39, shared similar sentiments. He also heralded Bahamians’ enduring spirit.

“The reason I am proud to be Bahamian is because of our innate ability to always be independent,” he said.

“We are self-contained. We protect our interests. We understand that the environment is our greatest resource. We understand our old-school values. We understand what it means to be good people.”

He continued: “We are very unique to the Caribbean because we don’t follow anyone else’s guidelines or rules. We are uniquely who we are and that makes us beautiful.”

Like Parker, some Bahamians say their proudest moments were recorded when they watched Bahamians compete against the best in the world. Over the years, The Bahamas has made its mark in the global sports arena, among other areas. That tradition carries on today. Bahamians have competed in world-class sporting events such as the Olympics, world championships and other events such as CARIFTA and the Commonwealth Games.

“When I think about it, I think about how fast we run when we compete against other countries. We have something to offer the world,” a 12-year-old Yellow Elder Gardens resident said.

Former Speaker of the House of Assembly and former Member of Parliament (MP) for Garden Hills Dr. Kendal Major said, “Despite our relative size, God has blessed our people with the overwhelming capacity to compete with the best and become the best.”

The former aide to former Prime Minister Perry Christie, Latrae Rahming, insisted that there is so much more that Bahamians can do. He argued that Bahamians are not living up to the independence pledge.

He said we must continue to tell the story of who we are as a people.

Rahming added, “Our source of pride should extend beyond the rhythm of the goatskin drums or the hallow shaking of the cowbells. It should begin with our perseverance to move against the uncertainty of human times and the tied garment of emboldened nationalism.”

MP for Exuma and Ragged Island Chester Cooper said he is proud of Bahamians’ ability to persevere.

Pointing to his own personal story, he said, “As a proud Bahamian, I had the opportunity to rise from poverty and the very humble circumstances of Forbes Hill, Little Exuma, to become a successful businessman and national leader.

“Through hard work, confidence, education and a nurturing family, all things are possible irrespective of class, color or creed. Many other Bahamians from humble places like Long Bay Cay, Pompey Bay and Duncan Town can proudly boast similar stories.”

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