When I was much younger, there was a saying about “holdin’ on ter ya ma gown tail”. In more demeaning tones, it was said “under ya ma gown tail”. I knew what it meant then, and I wonder how many of us would understand that bit of Bahamianism today.
Since this country’s independence, nearly half a century ago, it seems that there is still a pervasive mentality of being attached to that colonial past; gown tail.
Sometimes I might say that we appear to be dragging “‘ol massa’s slippers”, but loose footwear like those may slip off, however unintentionally. No, being under the gown tail of ol’ misses seems more apt. It might be cool under there, or sometimes hot, but for sure there’s no light under those circumstances. So, the consecutive leaderships of this country for more than 40 years appear too blind to see or do things in an “independent” way.
Please don’t see this humble opinion as a mad criticism. Rather, please consider it as a poignant, objective observation.
When a four-feet-tall, fully-grown adult in this society is referred to as short, it should not be considered a criticism, but merely an observation of fact.
Examples abound, but my supporting arguments will take the route of brevity. Either you see the point, or you don’t. Either way, The Bahamas is not likely to change overnight. Accustomed to the dark, some of us are likely to shun the light. So, before there is that 100th anniversary of independence, enough changes should have taken place to have a real cause for true celebrations.
Here are a few questions that may appear to be rhetorical, but are oh so real. Your considered answers may or may not reach me. However, they might be shared with others who could be a part of that momentum for some positive changes.
What use is the governor general to the governance of this country? In fact, what real purpose does the Senate serve? Has there ever been a time in the long history of proclaimed parliamentary democracy that the Senate refused to pass a bill forwarded from the House?
Should general elections be mandated for a particular time, say March every five years, instead of at the whim of the prime minister? Could the system be designed to have a specific number of ministers instead of fluctuating numbers?
Is it possible to have “the best person for the job”, rather than a random member of Parliament whether that individual has an inkling about those portfolios or not?
In my earnest efforts to be brief, here are just a few more:
Will the country ever outgrow that particular building at Bay Street and Parliament Street for the steering of the directions of The Bahamas?
Would members of Parliament actually be required to reside in their constituencies? And, is it anywhere in the imagination of any elected official to consider the development of a new city, somewhere outside of New Providence, as did some foreigners in the establishment of Freeport?
At this point, we can go on with business as usual, ad infinitum — Queen’s Highway here, Queen’s Highway there; the spectacle of big, grown black men and women parading around in their li’l white wigs for judicial pomp and pageantry can continue on.
Then what about that crew still scurrying about behind the scenes trying to get one of those titles (sir/dame) from Her Majesty, even though the queen wouldn’t know them from the man in the moon?
We might take a peek from under those colonial gown tails, and see what we can see. A good buddy of mine used to say, “See what ya lookin’ at.” I will close this bit with one of my own sayings: You can have foresight, insight, hindsight, no sight; you choose.
In this global dynamics today of ever-increasing turbulent seas, we may choose to stay where we jumped off the boat, treading water, or use some singular good sense and swim to shore. That seems simple enough. Still, metaphors aside, I will admit to not having all, even most, of the answers. But I believe that I have a few of the really important questions that The Bahama should be finding answers to at this time in its independence observations.