“At the apex of most of these institutions, at the culmination of most of these processes, sits the Office of Governor General, an office that is a source and symbol of unity and stability, an office that is above the necessarily contentious arena of partisan politics, a high office I have had the privilege of occupying for the last four years.” — H. E. Sir Arthur Foulkes, former governor general, at his demission of office on July 8, 2014
Since independence, The Bahamas has had 12 governors general, more than any other major Caribbean state. What has contributed to this phenomenon?
We hope this series on governors general will inspire our readers to honestly question and critically examine whether this important role has been abused and perverted by successive prime ministers since our independence on July 10, 1973.
In Part I of this series, we examined some of the qualities we should expect to find in the holder of the high office of our governor general.
Part II reviewed the individuals who served and their tenure in this office from independence to 1992, including our first five governors general: Sir John Paul, Sir Milo Butler, Sir Gerald Cash, Sir Henry Taylor, and Sir Clifford Darling.
Prime Minister Lynden Pindling, recommended all these men to the high office of governor general.
Last week, in Part III, we reviewed the tenure of governors general from 1995 with Sir Orville Turnquest, who served from January 3, 1995, to November 30, 2001, to Sir Arthur Foulkes, whose term lasted from April 14, 2010, to July 8, 2014. Both statesmen were appointed during the administration of Hubert A. Ingraham.
This week, we will Consider This … who were our 10th and 11th governors general, and what unique qualifications did they bring to the office?
Dame Marguerite Pindling
Dame Marguerite Pindling, widow of the first prime minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and one of the fathers of the nation, Sir Lynden Pindling, was sworn in as the 10th governor general of The Bahamas on July 8, 2014.
Prime Minister Perry Christie recommended her for this appointment.
Dame Marguerite played a pivotal role as one of Sir Lynden’s and the Progressive Liberal Party’s most ardent campaigners in two of the most arduous journeys the nation has endured, first to Majority Rule on January 10, 1967, and then to independence on July 10, 1973.
She served as chairperson of the Fundraising Committee of The Bahamas Red Cross Society between 1976 and 1991 and significantly contributed to that organization’s unprecedented success.
Dame Marguerite has unfailingly demonstrated a consistent interest in the young and disabled people of The Bahamas. She has personally solicited funds for, and participated in fundraising efforts on behalf of the Children’s Emergency Hostel, the Ranfurly Home for Children and Abilities Unlimited.
She has also served as chairperson and official spokesman of the Texaco National Library Project, resulting in that company collecting 30,000 books for libraries in Elizabeth Estates, South Beach, and Carmichael Road.
Dame Marguerite was honored by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on March 21, 2007 for her contributions, receiving the honor of Dame Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (DCMG) for community service as well as her charitable work and contribution to Bahamian politics.
Dame Marguerite demitted office on June 28, 2019.
Sir Cornelius A. Smith
Sir Cornelius A. Smith, the 11th governor general in an independent Bahamas, was sworn in as governor general of The Bahamas on June 28, 2019. He was recommended for this appointment by Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis.
Although he was not at the forefront of the march to Majority Rule in 1967, Sir Cornelius was one of the founding members of the Free National Movement in the early 1970s. He served in the legislature representing the Marco City constituency in Grand Bahama, beginning in 1982. He was reelected three times.
Smith served as the minister of education from 1992 to 1995, minister of public safety and immigration from 1995 to 1997, minister of tourism from 1997 to 2000, and minister of transport and local government from 2000 to 2002.
He also served as ambassador to the United States, beginning in September 2007, as well as ambassador/permanent representative to the Organization of American States, and non-resident Ambassador to Mexico, Malaysia, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
Sir Cornelius demitted office on August 31, 2023, paving the way for the ascension of Cynthia Pratt as the 12th governor general of The Bahamas on September 1, 2023.