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During royal visit, Hanna-Martin praises Bahamians’ dogged determination in surviving ‘ravages of history’

Addressing the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during their visit to Sybil Strachan Primary School on Friday, Minister of Education Glenys Hanna-Martin highlighted the historic plight of Bahamians during the pre-majority rule era, particularly those who were refused a basic education.

Her comments came amid regional controversy over the royals’ Caribbean tour to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee.

Quoting Marcus Garvey, Hanna-Martin, said, “A people without knowledge of their past history, origin and culture, is like a tree without roots.”

“It is important to note that while the journey of our people has been most difficult, we celebrate that it has been and continues to be the strength, the resilience, and the excellence, and dogged determination of successive generations which has allowed us not only to endure the painful ravages of history, but to emerge as a new people crafting our own sacred destiny,” she said from the podium, as students, government officials and the duke and duchess sat in the audience.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge plant a tree to commemorate their visit to the Sybil Strachan Primary School on Friday.

“Key to this emergence is the education of our people. While pre-1967, access to education for the masses was restricted and, in most instances, inaccessible, where there being only one public secondary school in the country to service the entire population, today, there is universal free access to education at scores of schools nationwide.

“… As I have stated, as a people, our journey has not been without difficulty or challenge, but our resolve is invincible and, with God’s grace, we will be victorious in all fronts in every way.

“And so, today, in the brilliance of a beautiful Bahamian liquid sunshine, we again welcome you.”

The Caribbean tour, which came on the heels of Barbados’ decision to become a republic and remove the queen as its head of state, has stirred discussion throughout the region over its shared history of colonialism and various countries’ efforts to move past it.

In Belize, the first stop of the tour, the duke and duchess canceled a schedule trip to a village after residents protested against it.

On Wednesday, Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness told the duke and duchess that Jamaica will be moving on to become a republic.

Hanna-Martin’s comments on Friday came as Rastafarians protesting outside the school with anti-colonialism placards were turned away by police.

However, the group of roughly 25 continued demonstrating farther away from the school, even in a downpour of rain.

The Rastafarians are known for advocating for reparations for slavery and colonialism, as well as compensation for repatriation to Africa.

On Friday, Priest Rithmond McKinney, head of the Ethiopia Africa Black International Congress Bahamas branch, echoed those demands.

“We want compensation,” he said.

“We want a return. We want full dialogue with the British Crown.”

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Rachel Scott

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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