The Bahamas has been on a rough economic, mental and societal roller coaster over the past several years. First, we had assorted storms and hurricanes, Dorian being the most destructive in many years. That hurricane wiped out parts of Abaco and Grand Bahama, almost like clock work. Many of the communities in those Family Islands are still in the recovery mode. It is believed that scores of persons, inclusive of Bahamians and members of the ‘foreign’ diaspora would have lost their lives during Dorian’s passage.
It is also a given that the effective shut down of the entire nation following the arrival of COVID-19 was a shock and very debilitating for national development and growth. The economic effects were devastating, perhaps even more so than Dorian. Businesses were obliged to close their doors or operate, were allowed by the now infamous Competent Authority, with limited hours and severe restrictions.
Hotels were mandated to close their doors and thousands of hospitality workers were sent home, with or without pay. All in all, we had a rough roller coaster type ride. Whether it was by divine providence or simply luck, the country started to gradually reopen for business and a semblance of normality is now in play. Thousands of Bahamians, it is said, experienced some type of mental stress and some may even have gone crazy in the process. It is certain that crime and the fear of crime went up. The relaxation of many of the COVID-19 restrictions and curfews may have contributed to the spike in crime, especially alleged homicides.
In 2020 and most of 2021 there was not much for the average Bahamian to be thankful for or to celebrate. The fabled ‘ghost’ of Christmas past haunted countless Bahamians while they holed up at their residences, if they had one, with bare pantries and nagging infants and children. The prospects of no succulent ham or even a stringy turkey faced many emotionally scarred Bahamians, especially in the major Family Islands. The doom and gloom were almost able to be literally sliced with the most rusty of knives. Even the houses of the Lord were closed down and many were unable to say ‘good bye’ properly to their deceased ones.
Over the past year and a half, under the enlightened administration of the Hon. Philip ‘Brave’ Davis, MP, KC, The Bahamas is back up and running. It is almost as if we would never have experienced the chilling effects of COVID and the lingering devastation of Dorian. The economy is now at par or in excess of the performance levels prior to the double blows of the hurricane and COVID-19. Almost any Tom, Dick and Harry are able to access at least one job and in some cases multiple choices. Despite inflation and the like, construction is back with a bang. Businesses are in the expansion mode despite the inordinate fears of the imposition of minimum wage.
That we are back was illustrated by the recent celebration of the American holiday….Thanksgiving. Most restaurants that cater to the locals here in New Providence and the major Family Islands hosted Thanksgiving lunches and dinners. In some cases here in Nassau it was almost impossible to source the same for less than twenty-five or more dollars. Establishments were packed and the lines were out the door. In fact, from a day before the celebrations, restaurants, dine in or take out had ceased taking telephone orders.
The so called Black Friday traditional sales started on Thursday and stores were crowded with customers apparently spending lavishly and with sheer abandonment. Happy times, I submit, are back again. I have little doubt that tens of thousands of pent up Bahamians will be travelling to foreign parts this coming Christmas season and into the New Year. I am in no position to suggest where this excess money may be coming from but Bahamians will once again shop until they drop.
I also do not know if former Prime Minister Minnis (FNM-Killarney) could be akin to Scrooge of old or if current Prime Minister the Honorable Philip ‘Brave’ Davis (PLP-Cat Island) is the latest version of Santa Claus but it is clear that this year Christmas is on its way home, again. No doubt, almost every household, where possible, will have a Christmas tree, fully decorated and a few gifts under the same. It is also a given that even more ham & turkey will be available or, at the very least, a scrawny chicken. In preparing to roll out 2022, however, let all sensible Bahamians continue to give thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ for He has brought us a mighty long way.
— -Ortland H. Bodie, Jr.