Diplomatic Notes

Bahamas at 50 – name changes

We are now officially in the year of our 50th anniversary as an independent nation. Fifty years is relatively young compared to many other nations of the world, but it is still a long time of independence. It is long enough for us to grow and mature and to think differently than we have in the past.

We were birthed out of a colonial past and psychologically we are still victims of the mentality of subservience. If we are honest, we would admit that we were birthed out of trauma and pain, and reluctance on the part of our former masters to allow us to become what we were destined to be. The royal family and heirs once ruled most of the world, and they genuinely at some point felt it was their destiny. I recall as a youth singing “Born to rule over us” in singing the national anthem of the United Kingdom. Perhaps we sang it for so long that we actually believed it subconsciously or perhaps even consciously.

After 1973, we have evolved and grown and with that evolution, our thinking has shifted. We once revered Christopher Columbus, the queen, the king and governors of The Bahamas. The realization of atrocities by Columbus has changed our views and his place in our history is being revisited appropriately. Along with Columbus, we have to review the place of the United Kingdom in our history and what that means going into our 50th year.

Should we still give preference to the United Kingdom who were colonial masters who, to date, have done very little favors for us? It is clear that some longstanding issues have not been clarified like reparations for the grievous harm inflicted on our nation. These may take more time and negotiations to resolve but there are some things within our power that we can address during this year of 50th anniversary.

The first of these I believe is to look at the names of our streets, prominent buildings and national parks and start changing names. Why is our hospital still named Princess Margaret Hospital? I mean no ill toward the princess but after 50 years, do we not have prominent Bahamians who deserve preference over a colonial master? Every nation names their landmarks after their own – there are no streets named after Bahamians in the United Kingdom. I believe we should address these respectfully and not intentionally offend the British but simply indicate that we are in a new phase and are doing what any country should and would do. Is it still true what Jesus stated that a prophet is without honor in his own hometown?

As we take a look at name changes – we have names like Oakes Field, Princess Margaret Hospital, Carmichael Road, John F. Kennedy drive and clothes that should be changed to honor Bahamian nation builders. We have done a good job with changing the names of our schools but streets and some other prominent buildings are slow to change. I recall when the question was raised to change the name of Carmichael Road or at least a part of it to Myles Munroe Boulevard or highway, the issue of Mr. Carmichael’s contribution to The Bahamas was raised. Even if we decided to retain the name Carmichael, could we not have shared the road name with a Bahamian who re-established the name and honor of The Bahamas on a global scale?

Thankfully, we have a Lynden Pindling International Airport and Sir Milo Butler Highway but what about A.D. Hanna? No street, no prominent building or institution, just a boat that many will never see! I believe it is time to start changing names and appropriately honoring our heroes and legends. Perhaps a committee could be established to accomplish this during our golden jubilee to address this issue and right the wrongs of the past by lifting our heroes to their rightful status.

• Pastor Dave Burrows is senior pastor at Bahamas Faith Ministries International. Feel free to email comments, whether you agree or disagree, to pastordaveburrows@hotmail.com. I appreciate your input and dialogue. We become better when we discuss, examine and exchange. 

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