Being proud of who we are

Dear Editor,

The sad state of affairs in the northern Bahamas relating to the lagging rebuilding effort almost two years post-Dorian has prompted this letter, along with virtually attending a UNESCO regional seminar last week on “Sustainable Urban Development: Tools for its implementation through heritage and creativity in Latin American and the Caribbean.”

I asked a question at the seminar about the importance of protecting and honoring one’s heritage by using traditional building methods in light of the recurring dangers associated with climate change, as well as the recent huge price increases in imported building supplies, particularly wood.

Here we are in hurricane season with grim storm predictions once again, and yet Bahamians are still living in tents whilst the hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in ridiculous domes and building supplies lie idle and exposed to the elements.

What a disgraceful and unconscionable state of affairs!

I have asked questions of the powers that be – particularly since inquiring minds wish to know who came up with the “bright” idea of spending all of the people’s money on a doomed domes solution. Obviously, due diligence was not followed when adding up the figures in the significant lines of expenditure, nor was thinking the situation through to a logical conclusion.

Now there is talk of insufficient funds after the fact, while supplies rot and the people suffer.

I also wrote some time ago about the importance of respecting and honoring the wisdom of our ancestors by bringing the amazing clapboard house back into focus as the traditional dwelling model of the country that it is; protecting, developing and replanting our local pine forests in order to use pine trees as a building resource for a burgeoning sustainable home grown industry; and educating and training persons in the traditional clapboard, as well as the native stone tabby building techniques of our ancestors.

These noble endeavors would not only bring much-needed jobs and skills to bear, but would also make us proud of our heritage and self sufficient in these essential community building areas with the ability to erect strong, sustainable, and economical shelters for ourselves that are perfectly suited to our climate and our needs.

Had such a basic project been properly designed, financed and implemented years ago, we would have been in a much better position than we are today.

Let me ask you, the readers: how many of you would regard living in a clapboard house embarrassing, and/or a social demotion? What have we become, Bahamians, when we shame to “be who we is”?

Therein lies some of the enormous barriers to development in this modern day Bahamas – the loss of knowledge and appreciation of our culture, and our misguided adherence to the falsehoods of superficial social status.

We are so intent on “being who we ain’t” that we cannot even recognize and embrace the “true true” treasures of our past.

Our ancestors “slaved” to make the best of the little that they had in order to learn how best to shelter, clothe and nourish generations of proud Bahamians.

They were a strong, hardworking, creative and inventive community of people whom we should be emulating respectfully today — rather than being, and being led by, a cadre of lazy, clueless, cowering copycats.

Be who you is!

Yours sincerely,

Pam Burnside

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