I am writing this letter to you while looking at a picture that makes me so proud to be a mother, and a Bahamian. It is an image of my son with a bright, hopeful smile as he clutches his diploma from University of The Bahamas (UB), the same institution — under a different name back then — from which I graduated many years earlier.
My son is in grad school now, pursuing his PhD, and looks forward to holding another diploma soon.
While I look at this picture, I get an immense sense of pride. But I also realize that at this moment, I am also the most disillusioned and disappointed that I have ever been in the leadership of UB. And by leadership, I am referring specifically to the board of trustees.
The Bahamas is a country that has proven time and time again that it can hold its own in any boardroom, on any track, stage or platform on this planet.
This is because of the Bahamian brilliance that carries us forward; the men, women and young people birthed from our loins. We speak with our lips that we believe in our citizens, that we value them, that they are important and the key to a prosperous future. But is that the truth? Time and time again, our actions betray our words.
Are those in positions of power and authority showing not only in the words that they utter but by their decisions that Bahamians are capable of themselves, leading, driving, creating, envisioning and executing the paradigm shift and progressive transformation that this country so desperately needs? Have our Bahamian brothers and sisters even been given a real chance? I urge you to think deeply about it.
I am advised by an irrefutable source that the Board of Trustees of UB intends to announce soon that an expatriate male will become the next president of my beloved alma mater.
How can it be in 2021, some 48 years after we claimed our sovereignty, 45 years after the institution was formed and four years and 10 months after it transitioned to university, that we are about to proclaim to ourselves, our children and the world that there is not one Bahamian who is competent, qualified, visionary and astute enough to lead our only university?
The university where I learnt so much about friendship and loyalty, the place that taught me many lessons about strength and dignity, where my son entered naïve and inexperienced and left enlightened and hungry to become not only an engaged citizen of The Bahamas but a progressive citizen of the world.
When will we unloose the shackles of mental slavery and myopia that saddle our very psyche?
I am not advocating nor advancing a position of xenophobia or ethnocentrism. This is not about refusing to embrace diversity.
What I am referring to is a battle for the soul of our country, for Bahamians to have a chance to prove what we already know, for us to fight to exponentially create pathways for Bahamian excellence to burst through, throwing open the windows and doors to the light of our own extraordinary characteristics and offerings.
Surely the narrative that is being written about us can include a page that reflects selecting a capable and qualified Bahamian president to lead UB in 2021.
When it came into being in 1976, The College of The Bahamas carried the hopes, dreams and optimism of a nation; our nation, our people.
When he spoke at the official opening of the institution many years ago, the father of our nation, Lynden Pindling, foreshadowed the existence of UB.
I believe, given all that he stood for and worked so hard to create, almost five decades later, he would never have countenanced not one but the top two executive leadership positions at UB being held by non-Bahamians!
Is it really true that the entity whose mission is to support and drive national development must be led by those who are strangers to the hopes and dreams of the greatest nation on earth? My heart is grieved at the thought.
In July, when we observed Bahamian independence, cloaked in all our aquamarine, gold and black, we celebrated the indomitable Bahamian resilience and the excellence that is ours.
Now, two months later, we are preparing to tell ourselves and the world that that doesn’t apply to the presidency of UB; that we are good enough to be led but not to lead; that over yonder has the best knowledge, experience and capacity to make The Bahamas greater. Rubbish!
The picture of my son that I pass in the hallway every day is my reminder that we are not only good enough, but we are intelligent, industrious and passionate enough to dream, excel and lead.
— One Who Cares