Yesterday was observed as Majority Rule Day in The Bahamas.
Historically, the day represents the emergence of a local, black Bahamian government, with the responsibility of helping Bahamians govern their own affairs and their future, as The Bahamas began its trek to independence.
Majority Rule Day continues to be observed as a day that honors those who contributed to The Bahamas we know today. However, mention the words “Majority Rule Day” to the average Bahamian and ask what it is about and more than 85 percent will likely look at you like a deer staring into headlights.
Ask the average young person (between the ages of 15 and 25) and more than 90 percent will likely think you’re speaking a foreign language.
Not enough Bahamian history is being taught. Many Bahamians don’t know their history, and for the most part, many could care less.
Many see no connection between important dates like January 10, 1967 and today. They do not understand the relevance of historical events in shaping the kind of country we have today or in adding meaning to our national way of life.
As far as celebrating Majority Rule Day is concerned, some feel it is pointless, considering the fact that The Bahamas finds itself in a contradiction from a socio-economic point of view. We live in a society where the minority rules the majority.
The rich minority controls and dictates the lifestyle of the majority of the poor Bahamians. We live in a society where “the rich get richer” and the poor remain poor.
In addition, the idea of “government for and by the people” is not based in reality.
The Bahamian Parliament, which is supposed to represent and fight for the rights of Bahamians, seemingly passes laws that burden the average Bahamian and gives more power to the wealthy among us.
Majority rule is a concept that has long been lost in the everyday Bahamian way of life.
One of the great Bahamians who helped usher in majority rule, former Governor General Arthur D. Hanna, noted that majority rule was an uphill battle “in that we couldn’t get a level playing field.
“The government of the day (United Bahamian Party – UBP) wanted to hold on to power, therefore, they had all kinds of tricks. One was how they dealt with constituencies.”
In 2013, Sir Arthur Foulkes, who also played a significant role in the campaign for majority rule, observed that the event removed the last psychological shackles from the minds of many; it shattered false notions of superiority or inferiority; it initiated the fulfillment of the promise of universal access to education; it created the foundation upon which to build a society with opportunity for all; it unleashed the hitherto brutally-suppressed but powerful entrepreneurial instincts of a people; it freed many Bahamians from the fear of one another because of differences of color or ethnic origin; it opened the possibility of fully sharing and nationalizing a rich and diverse cultural heritage; and it held forth the promise of a new kind of political culture in which no Bahamian would ever again be made to suffer for exercising his or her right to free association.
While majority rule in 1967 laid the foundation for a more equal society, The Bahamas, in many ways, has failed to achieve the dreams of the men and women who fought for a better country in which future generations of Bahamians could enjoy social harmony and economic parity.
The concept, which our forefathers fought for, does not hold the same significance today. So, we celebrate a day that has somehow lost its meaning and its focus, which is the Bahamian people.
We celebrate a day where the majority does not rule, but rather where the minority rules the majority.