Diplomatic Notes

Majority Rule lessons

January 10th is observed as Majority Rule Day in The Bahamas. This event was most significant and pivotal to the birth and future of the nation called The Bahamas. I was there as a young boy at the moment and was also involved in the transition on the periphery, as my family was an integral part of majority rule. My first cousin, the Honorable A.D. Hanna, my father, and Preston Albury were considered brothers at the time.

As a young boy, I was instructed to tear down UBP signs and banners by PLP operatives associated with my family and was paid with free soda and soft drinks. I was too young to understand the full significance of the events , but I do have memories of the celebrations when majority rule was accomplished. This date is a day to be recognized, revered and cherished as a special moment in our history.

While we celebrate, I believe there are some important lessons from our own history and from the histories and current day happenings of countries that were once oppressed by minorities and also achieved majority rule. One of the examples fresh in my mind is South Africa. They only achieved majority rule in 1994 and as I have been a frequent visitor, I have observed some things that The Bahamas can use as caution and motivation as we proceed into our 50th anniversary.

The first lesson is that there is a difference between achieving freedom and governing. If freedom is achieved without the proper understanding of governance, the freedom is diminished. On my last trip to South Africa, I once again visited the Apartheid Museum and had another accounting of the devastation of that atrocity. At the same time, there were power cuts every day, sometimes even for six or eight hours. South Africa is obviously a rich country, so I wondered how this could be happening.

I asked the question to a number of South Africans and I got the same response. They all felt betrayed by their deliverers. Some of them had been a part of the struggle and they all said that they were disappointed in the African National Congress (ANC) and the leaders after Mandela. They felt the current leaders promised to deliver them and bring in a new day – but there has been a continuing cycle of corruption and failure to follow up on the promises made at the time of majority rule.

Dr. Myles Munroe, in his book, “The Burden of Freedom”, repeated a phrase from the Bible that states, “Woe to a nation when a slave becomes king.” When you are the majority, there has to be a shift in thinking from oppression and disenfranchisement to governing. The oppressor can no longer be used as an excuse because you now have the power in your hands.

You might have had to fight for majority rule – but once you have achieved it, you have to deliver. The same energy used to bring about freedom is the energy that needs to be expended in governance. Countries that have been oppressed tend to remind the population of the past oppression to cloud the current day deficiencies. The shift must happen where the future becomes the focus and not the past. The past can be acknowledged but people need a vision for the future. Without a vision, people will perish.

This exercise is not to point the finger at this or previous administrations. It is to highlight for all Bahamians what is needed to validate the sacrifice of our forefathers who went through the struggle and achieved for us the opportunities we now have available. We must make the most of what has been achieved. I recall one of the early interviews of Bahamians after majority rule and the person said in essence, “I have to now make something significant of myself.” Majority rule is a long ago, historical fact that should have residual and perpetual impact on the proud Bahamians of today. Indeed, Bahamians all over the world are doing tremendous things and achieving what our forefathers foresaw.

We have a country facing serious challenges and we must remember where we came from and never lose sight of the sacrifice that got us to where we are. This should prevent us from “playing the fool” and spur us onto ever greater heights. There are simple principles that transcend party and governing agents. These include good governance, loyalty, accountability, integrity, industry, creativity, fairness and honesty. These are principles that create an atmosphere for a people to thrive in. Take these away and we are left with one form of oppression being replaced by another.

Our people must not think like slaves, but must possess an excellent work ethic, creativity, industry, spiritual values and character that will protect us in times of trouble. We have been in the majority for over half-a-century – is there evidence that we have grown and evolved into becoming leaders who have a vision for our future? I believe there is, but there is always a danger of complacency that causes people to revert to the past negative habits. Let’s be better, Bahamas.

• 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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