Prior to the advent of majority rule in 1967, the status quo (United Bahamian Party) made it patently clear that black people could not govern themselves.
As fate would have it, in 1967, black governance became a reality. The black Bahamian populace let down their guard because they were so proud and happy that for the first time they had a government that looked like them and spoke like them.
Now do not misconstrue what I am promulgating.
I do believe that black people have the capacity to govern, but they must believe that they can govern themselves.
However, once the black government noted the confidence that the people had in them, they took on the persona of the white oligarchy and introduced another form of slavery —enslavement of the mind, which was far worse than physical bondage from which black Bahamians had been emancipated between 1834 and 1838.
Some of the new masters took on the task of thinking for the people because they (the black government) took the paternalistic approach to governance. This approach, by the new leaders in government, made it clear they knew what was best for the people whom they claimed to have liberated.
That liberation was ostensibly in the 20th Century. Bahamians are now in the first quarter of the 21st Century. But where are Bahamians in the scheme of things? They seem to be right where they started and perhaps considerably worse off.
Bahamians must now find their intestinal fortitude and determine the waters in which they want the ship of state to sail.
Bahamians must understand, once and for all, that they are an integral ingredient in the process of governing The Bahamas, which is not relegated to voting once every five years or when a by-election is called.
To ignore the integrity of their rightful place in the governance of The Bahamas is to sell their birthright for a mess of postage, thus proving the United Bahamian Party’s oligarchy correct: Black people could not govern themselves.
What a sad legacy to a wonderful story whose prologue could have told a different story.
Yes, the prologue, which is a work in progress, and it could have been different, thus far, if the words to the preamble of the Bahamian Constitution had been adhered to by the founding fathers and their political successors.
The preamble in part states as follows:
“Now know ye, therefore, we the inheritors of and successors to this Family of Islands, recognizing the supremacy of God and believing in the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, do hereby proclaim in solemn praise the establishment of a free and democratic sovereign nation founded on spiritual values and in which no man, woman or child shall ever be slave or bondsman to anyone or their labor exploited or their lives frustrated by deprivation, and do hereby provide by these articles for the indivisible unity and creation under God of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.”
If only greed and power had not gotten in the way, what a beautiful and prosperous Bahamas we would have had. We would have been able sing the words of the Bahamian anthem lustily and proudly,
“Lift up your head to the rising sun, Bahamaland; March on to glory your bright banners waving high. See how the world marks the manner of your bearing. Pledge to excel through love and unity. Pressing onward, march together to a common loftier goal; Steady sunward, tho’ the weather hide the wide and treacherous shoal. Lift up your head to the rising sun, Bahamaland, Til the road you’ve trod lead unto your God, March On, Bahamaland.”
I pray that the day will come when the words of the preamble to the constitution and the national anthem will be sung with meaning and will ring throughout the Bahamian archipelago heralding that the people of The Bahamas are truly free.
I pray that I am alive to see that day; and if I am dead when that day comes, the ants will bring the news to my grave.
God bless the people and the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
— Dr. Donald M. McCartney, DM-OL