Why sit we here until we die?

Dear Editor,

The book of 2 Kings Chapter 7 tells the story of four lepers who were faced with three choices during a famine: “Now there were four men with leprosy at the entrance of the city gate. They said to each other, “Why stay here until we die? If we say, ‘We’ll go into the city’ – the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here, we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.”

My Bahamian people, all signs are pointing to a coming famine. Things are going to get worse and what is the point of having a lot of money but no food to buy?

Are we going to continue on the seat of do nothing or are we going to continue to look to politicians to save us? Or, better yet, are we going to utilize our God-given brains, talents and ingenuity to deliver ourselves from what is obviously coming – a drastic shortage of food?

Successive governments have been singing, “We can feed ourselves,” ad nauseam, yet the fields lie fallow and Bahamians struggle to feed themselves.

The recent tragedies of Hurricane Dorian, the COVID-19 pandemic and now the Russia-Ukraine war have significantly impacted our nation’s breadbasket. But this is not the first time an international event has pointed to our need as a nation to plough the fields and feed ourselves.

In 2001, when the World Trade Center was attacked on September 11, an event we now remember as 9/11, planes were grounded and boats did not sail for weeks thereby cutting off our nation’s supply of imported food. Our tourism product was severely impacted.

Our nation was threatened by this world event because we so heavily depend on others to feed us.

During this time, Dr. Bernard Nottage stood in the House of Assembly and warned the government and the people of The Bahamas of our need to take agriculture seriously. But did we heed this alarm and move our nation toward food security? No, we did not.

Israel is growing food in the desert, yet we cannot garner the political and national will to grow our own food. Shame on us!

So, why sit we here until we die?

It was so hopeful when the former administration asked for Bahamians to put their heads together to produce ideas on how we could rebuild our economy during the height of the pandemic when our nation’s only breadbasket, tourism, was shut down.

The former prime minister promised to release the full report a month or so later. I waited with high expectation fully believing that we finally got the message this international tragedy was sending us.

Do you know what was finally decided? That our nation would invest in medicinal marijuana to create income.

Weed? Having not yet addressed the addictive habits that are destroying our young men, you want to now legalize weed?

We have yet to explore the healing powers of our bush medicine but the answer is to grow weed?

Most importantly, our socially distanced islands with sparse populations and minimal COVID cases were strategically positioned to invest in agriculture right then but our leaders’ only response was to grow weed.

So, now, I want to take this moment to address my Bahamian people.

Do you now see that the time has come whereby we must make a decision for ourselves? We must stop being driven by world events and politicians who are grappling for solutions.

We must feed ourselves!

We must galvanize our families and pool our resources to prepare for what is obviously coming.

Remember Joseph? Families with generation land in the Family Islands need to pool resources of land, money and expertise to grow food to feed their own families, to reduce national imports and even provide food for export. We must have a vision for our future and the future of our nation or we shall all likewise perish.

Oh, by the way, remember those four lepers? They made a decision for themselves.

At dusk, they got up and went to the camp of the Arameans. When they reached the edge of the camp, no one was there, for the Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots, horses and a great army, so that they said to one another, “Look, the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!”

So, they got up and fled in the dusk and abandoned their tents, horses and donkeys. They left the camp as it was and ran for their lives.

The men who had leprosy reached the edge of the camp, entered one of the tents and ate and drank. Then, they took silver, gold and clothes, and went off and hid them.

The moral of the story: God really does help those who choose to help themselves.

Alicia Brennen-Brathwaite

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