One Nation. Our Legacy. Our Future.
A “Year of Bahamian Theatre” in honor of the 50th anniversary of our independence was announced by Shakespeare in Paradise and the Dundas Centre for the Performing Arts last October.
In December, “Fun Run, Walk, Cycle” races around the country marked the beginning of the countdown to July 10, 2023.
On Wednesday past, the premiere screening of a documentary marking the 69th anniversary of the Family Island Regatta was fittingly screened in our anniversary year.
The next evening, the logo and theme for the 50th anniversary celebrations was launched in Rawson Square. The Royal Bahamas Police Force Band, the National Youth Choir and the One Family Junkanoo Group enthralled live and TV audiences with energetic performances as did the fireworks display that followed the unveiling.
Unfortunately, the attempt to play a video recording of the speech given by the independence prime minister, Lynden Pindling, on the night of July 10, 1973, was inexplicably lost in a muffle.
And the presentation of the winning design for the logo and theme, the hyped highlight of the evening, left it to the audience to determine whether a finalist in a competition had actually won or whether elements from the submissions from three finalists were incorporated into a final design by the committee.
Designs by committee seldom satisfy. Within 24 hours of the unveiling, complaints surfaced on social media from some who found the design too similar to that of a logo for another golden jubilee anniversary celebration in a neighboring country.
We thought the crowd in the square was not as large as it might have been had the general public understood that they were welcomed.
We opined in this column previously that we enter our 50th anniversary year with a mixed bag. While we glory in the cultural displays so magnificently exhibited last week, the government’s performance continues to feed our reservations.
Prime Minister Philip Davis has recently advised that his government is prioritizing growing the economy and fighting inflation, empowering the youth of the nation through education and training, and fighting crime.
How the government aims to achieve any of its set goals is not clear. In practice, the prime minister continues to spend an inordinate amount of time outside of the country and it remains difficult to find his handprint on any significant developments in the country.
Unemployment remains stubbornly high, notwithstanding forecasts of resurging tourism and resilient financial services. The prime minister speaks to dire economic conditions he met on coming to office, absent any recognition of the consequences of two years of the pandemic.
Things now moving the economy forward were largely in train prior to his government coming to office. Indeed, the one notable groundbreaking attributable to his administration, the construction site of the FTX campus, fizzled spectacularly. And efforts to find the right purchaser for the Grand Lucayan resort have similarly eluded his government.
Meanwhile, food store retailers, pharmacies and gas station operators struggle to cover costs in the face of international inflation and supply challenges made even more difficult by government-imposed price controls that place jobs in jeopardy.
Great fanfare surrounded the repair to government schools after a two-year pandemic-imposed hiatus, but the post-COVID-19 goal of having 95 percent of students return to classes by December of 2022 has not been achieved with dire consequences for the economy.
Crime remains unacceptably high, with nine murders recorded within the first 18 days of the new year.
Still, there is no commitment to or implementation of the kind of a holistic crime-fighting plan encompassing crime prevention, detection, apprehension, prosecution, conviction and rehabilitation needed to seriously tackle the problem.
The continued arrival of undocumented persons exacerbates the housing shortage and creates unplanned demands on health and education infrastructure; still, the government appears paralyzed to address the problem.
July 10th is fast approaching. It is not our nationhood or our legacy that worry us. Rather, it is moving into a future with underdeveloped prospects that give reason for pause.