INSIDE: Vote No Bahamas Inverse Legacy: The Obama Presidency The Death of Adonai Where the VAT Money Gone? Hello Irene . . . I Mean Matthew
CONTENTS POLITIC S Vote No Bahamas ................................................ 3 The Wrong Conversation ................................ 9 The Man Who Would Be King ............................. 14 WORLD Inverse Legacy: The Obama Presidency ............... 19 ECONOMY Where the VAT Money Gone? ........................... 28 SOCIETY The Bahamas After College ................................ 31 On Sterilisations ................................................. 37 LIFE Reflections on Imara .......................................... 41 The Death of Adonai ......................................... 45 From Bahamas to Beijing .................................... 51 INSPIRATION The Journey ...................................................... 73 Hello Irene . . . I Mean Matthew ......................... 75
Cover Photo: "Clay on French Leave Beach" by Latasha Strachan
CEIBA MAGAZINE Faithfully Telling the Bahamian Story. The absence of the things we need to make our lives rich and meaningful is sometimes a gift, granting us the opportunity to create those very things. So it is with Ceiba Magazine. It is based on a simple premise and that premise is that Bahamian lives are every bit as amazing, as inspiring, as heroic, as complex, as valuable as any others in the world and those lives deserve to be chronicled. Chronicled with care and with excellence. IAN STRACHAN EDITOR
Whether you read the riveting reflections of students at Doris Johnson High School, who struggle to come to grips with tragedy or the heart's desires of a new father, we hope these stories will give you a sense of the depth of the Bahamian experience. Here you will find bold thinkers, like Gilbert Morris who gives a one of a kind assessment of the US' first black President and Nicole Burrows, who offers a blunt admonition on the career prospects of the next generation of college-educated Bahamians. You may not agree with everything you read here but I'm sure you won't soon forget. In these pages I hope you will find fine writing; writing by people whose world views reflect and maybe sometimes challenge your own. In these pages I hope you'll find inspiration and encouragement.
The Constitution of The Bahamas
amendments a reality. Both the Progressive appears impossible to change. This is a Liberal Party and the Free National hard fact for some to swallow but there's Movement (whether governing or in little reason to form any other opinion. The opposition at the time) were officially in n Bahamian people have twice been invited favor of the amendments in as much as they to amend their constitution and have twice voted to pass them in Parliament. Both rejected every single amendment proposed times. And both times the voting public by the government of the time; first in 2002 rejected the amendments soundly. and now in 2016. What is more, they have Understanding the rejection on Tuesday rejected these constitutional amendments June 7, 2016, of what were called â€œThe after overwhelming parliamentary Gender Equality Billsâ€? will inevitably majorities have passed bills to make the lead us to a consideration of the failed
February 2002 Constitutional Referendum and of the rejected non-binding referendum on gambling held in January of 2013. As we shall see the factors at play run the gamut: from political opportunism, deeply ingrained misogyny, xenophobia, and homophobia to outright public displeasure?
Listeners' attention was captured by the conservative and anti-government voices of Steve Mckinney, Rodney Moncur, and others. More listeners were also prepared to trust the negative and conservative views of vocal lawyers (especially male ones) and loud commentator/activists (principally male ones). They were less prepared to What's a Constitution Again? trust the positive and progressive views of The first unpleasant truth is that most the female lawyers or advocates who spoke Bahamians are alienated about the necessity of these from, or intimidated and changes. This is about In the absence of gender roles but it is also confused by their Constitution and have had a lot to do with the this common value powerful and contradictory general mood in the system, the majority feelings of reverence and country; more on this later. mistrust for the men and cannot "speak" a It is important to note here women seen as the keepers that the school systems of of that Constitution and all common democratic the country do not really laws: lawyers. After 12 language give citizens a strong years of formal education grounding in democratic most Bahamians leave ideals and values; values school having never read a like equality, human rights, single clause of the country's most essential freedom, fairness, justice. In the absence of governing instrument. They were no more this common value system, the majority inclined to read it because there was a cannot “speak” a common democratic Constitutional Referendum in their near language and instead speak from and are future. The effect was that the majority of moved by religious convictions, cultural the voting public was prepared to hear norms, class antagonisms, racial or ethnic second hand what the Constitution allowed, prejudice, and partisan loyalty: all of which and what could be done with or without a divide the nation rather than unify it. This referendum. lack of familiarity with and understanding Progressive theologian, Omar Archer has of the Constitution among the populace is attributed the defeat of the Bills, to a something Keisha Ellis, who teaches privileging of the oral over the scribal: to Political Science at the University of The the people wanting to hear from their Bahamas, is seeking to address in a unique leaders, be spoken to; they didn't want to go way. She has written what she calls “a away and read and form their own layman's translation” of the Constitution. conclusions. This is why the radio talk “The constitution exists in order to ensure shows were shaping public opinion so 4
that the country is governed in a way that protects the people,” says Ellis. “It sets the standard for how the country functions and outlines the obligations of those we vote into positions of power. More than this, however, the Constitution defines the basic rights of all people in the country. Because it is written in legalease, however, it is difficult for people to claim the ownership that we actually have over our government. By translating this vital document into a format that is easy to read, I hope that people are encouraged to claim their rightful place as active participants in our democracy. We cannot continue to rely on the government to explain our rights to us, when many times, they benefit from our ignorance.”
election campaign, Christie pretended he really didn't care how the public voted on gambling; he simply wanted to raise the issue; and he promised he would abide by the results. He insisted he “had no horse in the race.” But when the church ran a more effective campaign against legalization than the numbers lobby ran for it, and nearly 50% of eligible voters stayed home, the answer was a resounding No. In what has become a trend in national affairs, Bahamians were more animated and mobilized to reject the agenda of those in power than to affirm it.
Christie later reneged and decided he was privy to information that made it absolutely necessary to legalize gambling anyway (something about money laundering). Gambling Referendum Jinx Parliament voted to legalize numbers on September 15, 2014. Predictably, voters The lack of public understanding of the had not forgiven that breach of trust by the mechanics of constitutional reform and the time 2016 rolled around. Many now have relationship between laws and the constitthe impression that no matter what the ution was exacerbated by the Gambling people decide in a referendum the governReferendum of January 28, 2013. The ment has the power to do whatever it wants Christie regime was afraid to step out on its anyway. It also caused some people to own and legalize the numbers racket for confuse matters that required changes to fear of alienating church-going voters; so legislation with those that required they sought the cover of a plebiscite. The constitutional change. effort had all the trappings of a constitutional referendum but it wasn't one. The Some opponents of the Gender Bills constitution did not need to be changed to insisted that the government could rectify legalize numbers nor was it necessary to the inequities created in the constitution allow Bahamians to gamble in casinos; it with respect to gender merely by altering existing legislation. This was not untrue. simply required a change to the 1969 What had less resonance was the fact that Lotteries and Gaming Act, as the Consubsequent governments could choose to stitutional Commission Report of 2013 repeal those rights granted in Parliament by noted. their predecessors. Enshrinement in the Despite street knowledge that the numbers constitution would grant greater security of men heavily financed the PLP's 2012
of rights and send a much stronger signal to the watching world that the country was serious about equality. Nonetheless, the notion that the existing powers of the Minister under the Nationality Act or further amendments to that Act could address problems some faced due to gender inequities regarding citizenship in the constitution, struck a chord with many who didn't appreciate the games Christie played in 2013 over gambling and also highlighted the failings of the men and women in Parliament, who seem to fear doing the right thing without cover of public consensus. Some even wondered whether the opening statements in Chapter 15 of the Constitution which speak to fundamental rights, already guaranteed protection against discrimination on the basis of sex. However, (and here legal expertise is beneficial) rulings to date have determined that those statements are merely a preamble rather than binding law. In any event, alerted by activists like Louby Georges, and esteemed legal practitioners like Maurice Glinton and Dame Joan Sawyer, people started to smell rotten fish, whether phantom or real. Maybe it was 3 year old rotten fish they smelt, but the rest is history. There were enough contradictory legal opinions about the necessity of the constitutional amendments in the first place and enough skepticism among some about the outcome being binding to shake the population's confidence in the efficacy of the entire project. Two Wrongs Make it Right This brings us to the matter of political
After voting for the amendments in the House in 2002, the Perry Christieled PLP campaigned against constitutional reforms revenge and opportunism. There is no question that the Free National Movement sought payback for the PLP's 2002 betrayal of the very same constitutional amendments it was bringing to the people in 2016. After voting for the amendments in the House in 2002, the Perry Christie-led PLP campaigned against constitutional reforms in a politically opportunistic move to discredit the FNM, whom they accused of conducting a rushed process that lacked broad consultation. They were backed in this position by high-ranking pro-PLP clergy. Then Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham sealed the fate of the bills when he declared that the party that â€œwonâ€? the referendum would also win the coming general election. The current FNM leader, Dr. Hubert Minnis said he was in support of the 2016 Gender Bills, and in fact recommended to the Constitutional Commission and to Prime Minister Christie that constitutional reform should begin with the issue of gender 6
equality. But the unofficial agenda of the FNM is quite clear. It did not formally campaign against the reforms but it didn't campaign for them either. MP Loretta Butler Turner and a few determined FNM women, like Theresa Moxey Ingraham, Lynn Holowesko and Heather Hunt worked to bring about the change but the Opposition Leader and all of the other MPs (all male) never raised their voices in a concerted fashion to persuade voters. Then the real dirty work was done by partisan talk show hosts and pastors, who campaigned vociferously against the amendments. Men like Rodney Moncur in particular, painted pictures of the social and moral decay that would ensue should the amendments be made and appealed to deep seated fears of the foreigner. The Rev. Kevin Harris used the airwaves everyday to insist that Amendment 4 was a thinly veiled attempt by the government to legalize gay marriage, and that it was being done to appease foreign powers. Harris and the other clergymen of the Save Our Bahamas pressure group may indeed feel genuine moral repugnance at the changes these amendments would introduce but it seems some of them were equally as intent on giving Christie's government a black eye. Though not all known FNM partisans, they had another strong motive. A casual comparison between the group of pastors who mobilized to fight the legalization of the numbers racket in 2013 and those who formed Saved Our Bahamas in 2016 will reveal they are almost identical: Rev. Mario Moxey, Rev. Lyall Bethel, Rev. Kevin Harris, Rev. Alfred
Stewart, Rev. Cedric Moss, Rev. Ranford Patterson were front line in both battles. There's no doubt that those pastors felt double crossed by Christie when he broke his word and legalized gambling despite the outcome of the referendum. The official Opposition and vocal Christian fundamentalists were not the only ones seizing the opportunity to paint the PLP as giving away the country to foreign men and unleashing the sissy apocalypse. A number of first time parliamentarians who found themselves estranged from the PLP seized the opportunity to oppose one or all of the bills: namely Greg Moss, Andre Rollins and Renward Wells. And the smaller Opposition parties as well, took the stance that the Gender Bills were not in the national interest, most notably the Democratic National Alliance led by Branville McCartney. Interviewed after he cast his vote, McCartney said he voted No to all four bills. He said he voted No to the first three because he felt legislation could be passed to address these problems and he voted No to the fourth because he felt the wording was â€œunclearâ€?. (More on the wording of Amendment 4 in a moment). Even the female leader of the Bahamas Constitution Party, Ms. Ali McIntosh (the only woman to head a political party in the history of the nation) campaigned against all four bills and voted against them. But before we heap too much blame on Opposition forces, it must be stated unequivocally that the PLP's rank hypocrisy doomed the 2016 constitutional reform effort. Many of the arguments used against the 2016 campaign are identical to the ones
of concern regarding citizenship was already in Parliament's power to address, making a Constitutional amendment unnecessary. “The constitution in Article 13 now gives the power to Parliament, a Parliament in which the FNM has the vast majority of votes, the right to make anyone a citizen that it wishes,” he declared. When asked about his change of view Mitchell was quoted in a daily as saying “I don’t respond to foolishness... Those who are circulating that old speech need to go get a life and while doing so vote ‘yes’ to the four questions as I shall be doing . . . The asinine trolls on social media can take the hindmost.” Foreign Take-Over Discourse about Amendment 2 that would have allowed a Bahamian woman to pass on citizenship to her foreign spouse just as a Bahamian man has the right to do so for his spouse, revealed just how far we have not come in terms of our attitudes towards women and toward immigration. Opponents raised the specter of foreign take-over, of Bahamian women being duped into the PLP used to help scuttle the 2002 marriages with foreign men, who, when reform effort. The PLP never owned up to armed with citizenship, would proceed to how disingenuous they were during the first displace Bahamian men, taking their jobs, reform exercise and were hostile to even entering politics. The ultimate attempts to remind them. Parts of a nightmare scenario raised was that one of February 2002 speech given by Fred them could become Prime Minister (it is Mitchell (now Minister of Foreign Affairs) already possible in law for a woman of were shared and re-shared on social media foreign birth married to Bahamian man to sites. Mitchell claimed in 2002 that the do so but that didn't raise concerns). entire Referendum was a ploy to distract No stranger to making sexist, intolerant and the population from FNM corruption generally offensive statements, PLP back scandals. He insisted Article 15 ensured men and women were “already equal in (Continued on Page 57) law.” And he further argued that any matter 8
The Wrong Conversation Alicia Wallace
In July 2014, the Christie administration tabled four bills intended to enshrine gender equality into the Constitution of The Bahamas. The four bills were sought to allow Bahamian women married to nonBahamian men to pass on citizenship to their children born outside of The Bahamas, allow non-Bahamian spouses of Bahamian women to apply for citizenship, allow Bahamian men to pass on citizenship to their children born out of wedlock to nonBahamian women, and prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex. A referendum on the bills was set for November 2014, but was postponed multiple times. For almost two years, public discussion centered around the bills in bursts as one referendum date after another approached. The Constitutional Commission was mandated to conduct a public education campaign on the “gender equality bills” as they were dubbed.
sometimes as a package and sometimes individually. Each bill was quickly redefined by “Vote No” proponents, coloring the perspective of the general public. The first three bills were reframed as the potential to open the floodgates to migrants and the increased risk of unsuspecting Bahamian women being duped by non-Bahamians seeking Bahamian citizenship. The last bill became known as the vehicle by which same-sex marriage could be made legal. This portrayal of the bills made for a swift departure from the issues currently faced by Bahamians by putting the focus on unproven — often disproven — outcomes the general public fears. They depended on misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, and a particular brand of Christianity to dissuade the electorate from fully participating in the gender equality discussion, creating entirely different conversations that centered on fear of a fictional future, sidelining equality.
The national dialogue was stilted, spanning television, talk radio, churches, salons and While conversations about misogyny often barber shops, offices, social media — focus on men, it cannot be ignored that it especially Facebook — and street corners. has permeated the lives of people of all Everyone had an opinion on the four bills,
genders through patriarchal systems and practices. Women are not immune to it, having learned to accept and participate in its practice. Patriarchy manifests itself everywhere including the government, workplace, home, media, and public space. Law enforcement tells women it is their responsibility to keep themselves safe by making decisions — from wardrobe to mode of transportation — based on the understanding that men are incapable of controlling themselves. The job market reserves top-level positions for men, relegating women to frontline and customer service positions. The teachings of the church convince women that God wants them to complement and serve men — their husbands — who are to be heads of their households. These are parts of the reality that shape the thought and behavior of many Bahamian women, particularly those who were vocally opposed to the proposed constitutional amendment bills and the movement toward gender equality.
households. Wives would still be able to submit to their husbands, and all Bahamians would be protected from sexbased discrimination. The fact that both these circumstances could exist in The Bahamas was largely ignored, due in part to the belief that women have “enough rights.” Agitators pointed to the high school graduation and college enrollment statistics and the visual of more women than men bank tellers. These arguments conveniently excluded data on salary differentials, top-tier management and executive positions, sources of funding for education, and other inalienable factors contributing — and related — to these circumstances. The intent of vote no proponents was not to educate or enlighten, but to play on the emotions of people who are already preoccupied with male fragility.
"Vote No" proponents rejected the argument that rights exist to protect everyone
The conflation of church and state have made it difficult to uphold, much less expand, the rights of marginalized people. “Vote No” proponents rejected the argument that rights exist to protect everyone and do not prevent people from making their own decisions in exercising those rights. Prohibition of sex-based discrimination would not affect the way individuals and families run their
Women are taught to make the world a comfortable place for men. They do this in a variety of ways, many of them affirming masculinity. On a daily basis, many women call on men to perform tasks assumed to require strength, or to offer protection which could be as simple as physical presence. In conversations about domestic violence, women are often blamed for acts perpetrated against them with the suggestion that they are trying to “be the man.” The subtext is that women are responsible for protecting the male ego, 10
regardless of the personal cost. The constitutional amendment bills were a threat to this gendered system built and maintained to protect men.
potentially opening the door the same-sex marriage.
The referendum results do not reflect selfhatred, but devout commitment to the “Leave and cleave” — an instruction to values we have known, lived, and left women to follow the lead of their husbands unnamed for all of our lives. With the and take up residence in their countries of referendum over and perceived risks origin — was a common refrain in the averted, the time has come to talk about lead-up to the referendum. It essentially long-avoided issues. Patriarchy, misogyny, tells Bahamian women married to nonhomophobia, and religious fundamentalism Bahamian men that they no longer belong cannot continue to run The Bahamas. In in The Bahamas, as though marrying a order to take them all down, we must learn non-Bahamian is an act of treason. The to recognize them in all of their Bible is used to justify this segregative act, manifestations and call them by name. This and many women who voted no did so not gender equality referendum was only the only to protect Bahamian men, but to save beginning of the conversation. The Bahamas from damnation by keeping its laws in line with what they perceive to be the law of God. If asked, many women who voted no would not agree that they voted against themselves. They voted their conscience — largely a result of lifelong conditioning by a system that has not been sufficiently spoken of or challenged. Bahamians chose, in June 2016, to ignore the plight of their family members, friends, colleagues, and estranged Bahamians, extending their sentence in a prison built by circumstances commonly referred to as “their own decisions.” They deemed it fair and just for a child’s paternity and place of birth to determine whether or not they — and their families — have the ability to live and work in The Bahamas like the rest of us. They have decided that discriminatory laws would be better than protecting Bahamians at the risk of damaging the male ego or
Alicia Wallace is a Bahamian writer, blogger, and social and political commentator. Alicia is the Director of Hollaback! Bahamas. She tweets as @_AliciaAudrey and produces a monthly newsletter http://eepurl.com/bXBfQT
East Street Blues: The Man Who Would Be King Ian Strachan
As the 2017 election looms, there are two principal combatants, as usual, vying for power: the Progressive Liberal Party and the Free National Movement. Given the miscues the PLP has had since 2012â€”such as presiding over the collapse of Baha Mar, the biggest tourism project in Bahamian history--the outcome of the 2017 elections should be easy to predict. It should be time for another swing of the pendulum and another loss by the incumbent. Dr. Hubert Alexander Minnis should be sworn in as the fourth Prime Minister of The Bahamas by the end of May 2017. SHOULD BE.
the last 20 years. Every time they make a change the public does so expecting their lives to get better as a result. It hasn't always worked out that way. Will the pattern hold this time around?
To put it simply, there doesn't yet appear to be a compelling enough alternative to the scandal-prone Christie regime. For all its faults the PLP is looking like the choice for stability if not prosperity. And that has a lot to do with the tensions between the Free National Movement establishment (who admittedly control a lot of editorial space in the dailies) and Dr. Hubert Minnis, who has The country has switched parties every five alienated most of that bloc, and thousands years, three straight times: 2002, 2007, FNM voters, over the course of his four 2012. In fact, the trend of rejecting years as leader of the party. whomever is in power goes back to 1992. Minnis and his associates would have us It took two elections to end Lynden Pindling's career, so 1992 and 1997 can be believe all the trouble aboard the SS FNM is because of the Eastern Road Old Guard. counted as one effort to shift the direction This Old Guard doesn't want to be of the country. With that being the case, Bahamians have voted out those perceived displaced, so the story goes; they want to as the treacherous rulers, every election for maintain the pro-Eastern Road status quo. (The economic status quo stays the same no matter who's in charge, but that's another
matter). On the other hand, the FNM MPs who threatened to register a vote of no confidence in Dr. Hubert Minnis's leadership with the Governor General and effectively fire him as Leader of the Opposition, would argue he has been largely uninspiring and incompetent as an Opposition Leader, thereby harming the Party. It was Minnis' political amateurism that caused the “establishment”--without whose blessing he could not have become leader in the first place-- to try to get rid of him before he snatches defeat from the jaws of victory.
will find that point of view implausible or better yet, a case of blaming the symptom rather than the disease. No, Minnis and the FNM are in danger of losing because Minnis may be unable to deliver a message 75,000 FNMs, angry PLPs and swing voters want to hear or can even sit through. In 4 years that ability has eluded him. He will not discover it in the next 5 months.
Interestingly, Christie also was a weak Opposition Leader in 2002. Christie did not enjoy the respect of the wider population. He earned the nickname "Vomit" because he abandoned a corrupt PLP prior to the 1987 election and then enthusiastically returned in All of this came to a head with 1990, no doubt after being the FNM's forced convention promised the top post. He in July 2016, in which the returned like a dog to vomit-more charismatic Loretta he was the one who described Butler-Turner mounted a it that way. (Apparently the bitterly unsuccessful attempt corruption of Pindling and to oust Dr. Minnis from the leadership—for others was no longer a concern for him). the second time. (I happen to be one of those conspiracy theorists who also Christie's weaknesses were overcome believed former FNM leader Hubert because the PLP's brand is stronger, its base Ingraham was attempting a return and is more loyal, it has twice as many safe Butler-Turner was just a canary in a mine seats as the FNM, and Christie chose a shaft, but I'll leave that theory for another charismatic and authentic Deputy in day). In the end, four years on the ground Cynthia Pratt (who made up for his proved more than enough for Dr. Minnis to deficiencies). A magnetic, sincere, humble, crush any challenger--Ingraham included. educator Pratt essentially sanitized Christie's image as an unprincipled The problem is, now that Dr. Hubert opportunist and a bull skater. (Now he's Minnis has settled the leadership question just seen as a bull skater). The people in the FNM for the foreseeable future, it voted Ingraham out in 2002. Indeed, they might not be a matter of IF the FNM loses voted against Ingraham more than for to the PLP in 2017 but WHEN. There will Christie. Christie seemed surprised he be those who will blame Minnis' "elitist" actually won. (I can also entertain the opponents for such an outcome. History
Christie also was a weak Opposition Leader in 2002
explanation that his former law partner and all great to have but they are not essential. the godfather of his child, Hubert Ingraham Without a winning personality and tanked the FNM's campaign.) eloquence you can rarely succeed in front line politics in a democracy. Unlike Cynthia Pratt, Peter Turnquest does not make up for all Minnis' deficiencies; What do I mean by a winning personality? rather he duplicates some of them. Minnis We live in a media-driven world. The will likely fail. And he will be to blame first masses hear your voice, evaluate your hair, and foremost. The delegates will be to nose, forehead; they see you twitch, blame. And the bogus process that passes evaluate your smile, scrutinize the way you itself off as our "democratic" party system dress, decide whether they like or hate your will be to blame. The same bogus corrupt laugh, size up your wife and decide whether system that keeps Perry Christie leader after she's a wholesome girl next door or a everyone has tired of him. Nothing will heartless stuck up bitch. It's unavoidable. change. This is not emotionalism or The democratic process is about popularity haterism. Minnis is a likeable man one on and it's awfully hard to gain power in this one. His life is a wonderful success story. country without charisma. You must also But his skill set make him a better dictator be able to pull off all the backdoor machinthan a democrat. He's not the first; he won't ations necessary to gain the support of the be the last. If he fails, it will be because he party power brokers. However, winning has failed for 5 years to mobilize and the party is one thing; winning the nation is inspire the Bahamian people. Yes, in recent an entirely different prospect. Minnis has months he's added some umph! to his ticket managed to secure power without the with candidates like D'Aguilar and Lloyd support of the FNM establishment, who's and he's let the more articulate and sureconfidence he's lost. It remains to be seen footed Turnquest do more of the talking. if he can win an election without them. My But his own silence is conspicuous. The suspicion is that the establishment is an FNM proved you could hide a Deputy "establishment" for a reason and if his quest Leader and still win. Can they hide a fails, the party will be returned to its real Leader during a campaign and win? owners. (Of course, Izmirlian's campaign A front line politician's success depends on money could go a long way to buying his/her possession of two essential Minnis power.) attributes: a winning personality and You have to convince the electorate that the eloquence. Now, this latter attribute can choice they are making is like choosing come in more than one form. You can between night and day; you must convince speak dialect and achieve eloquence, for them that choosing you or your opponent is example. You don't have to be hard a crucial choice that will determine whether working. You don't have to be honest. You they have 5 years of better or more 5 years don't have to have vision. You don't have to of bad to worse. This may not be reality have great organizational skills. These are but this is what you must sell. If you can't
you've lost your hope of winning, largely because people will conclude that what they have ain't that bad or worse yet, they'll conclude who wins is totally irrelevant. Minnis has yet to convince Bahamians he is a clear cut alternative to Perry Christie. In fact, he has achieved just the opposite: his policy pronouncements, the Leslie Miller endorsement and his campaign against Butler-Turner position him as someone who is trying to out-PLP the PLP. His bizarre decision to dance at the FNM convention further underscore his bad judgement: he wants to outdo Christie at Christie's game rather than show the nation just how tiresome that game actually is. Reflecting on Minnis' ruthless and straightfaced dismantling of the Butler-Turner leadership bid, veteran journalist Nicki Kelly wrote in The Punch on August 8, 2016 that â€œDr. Minnis may be a lousy leader, but when it comes to cunning and duplicity, he is truly Machiavellian.â€? I would alter Kelly's assessment slightly; his cunning and duplicity make him excellent at gaining party power; he is also probably never going to be defeated as an MP in Killarney, so he has that level of politics down pat. Where he struggles is mass politics; striking the iron when it's hot on the biggest stage; turning the right phrase, hitting the right note, knowing how to stand in the House and push his foot up his adversaries' backside rather than pushing it in his own mouth; standing in an auditorium or at a rally and speaking succinctly and powerfully to the needs, dreams, aspirations, even fears and anxieties of the people. There is no other
way to put it: he does not convey the moral authority, confidence, competence, mastery he needs to if he is to succeed. But why does so much rest on him, you may ask? Why isn't it about his team? The FNM lacks the brand credibility of the social revolution-crafting, nation-building PLP. It lacks that brand power and it always will. Based on its history since 1972 it needs a strong, charismatic, unifying leader. One who can win the trust of a sizeable amount of the urban working class while holding on to the FNMs middle class and Family Island base. At his best, Ingraham got immigrant votes, working class votes, black middle class votes, white votes of all classes, Family Island votes, youth votes, swing votes. How many of those can Minnis count on? Some may feel I am being unfair to the man. That I am focusing too much on style and not enough on substance. There is little difference in this case. His decision16
making as Leader of the Opposition has been painful to observe. The leaked May 31st letter by frustrated FNM MPs to the Central Council tells the tale. The letter to the FNM Central Council bemoaned "the tremendously hypersensitive culture of insecurity that permeat[es] the organization. To put it simply, any colleague who trie[s] to demonstrate strength, initiative, political and policy creativity [is] viewed as 'trying to overshadow the Leader'."
No matter how discombobulated the party. Once the FNM fields enough candidates, they will vote the PLP out. That could happen. They could hold their noses and mark an X next to the Torch out of sheer defiance. Minnisites are counting on it.
What's more likely in my view, is that opposition forces in the country will remain hopelessly splintered and will confuse and divide opposition voters. DNAs will get more support than 2012 and every vote they get is a vote the FNM will need. Other groupings (there seem too many right now The Toggie and Bobo debacle, which seemto mention) will get votes. Many FNMs ed to have caught all his MPs by surprise, who preferred Loretta Butler-Turner or has yet to be fully explained or explored. Hubert Ingraham to Dr. Minnis will stay He was much more involved than he lets home and boycott the ballot. And the PLP on, insiders say. I maintain that in a more will win again. That's more likely. serious country, Minnis would have had to resign immediately, as would Brave Davis, And that likelihood only increases if the based on what was revealed and alleged. PLP sits Christie down at last and replaces This is to say nothing of Minnis' forgettable him with a fresh face with even a modicum stance on the Baha Mar collapse; his of credibility. Alfred Sears has more than a consistent under performance in debates; modicum of credibility. His announcement and his poor choices in terms of candidates that he would challenge Christie at the PLP for the 2017 election. Minnis is certainly convention (if and when that happens) got remaking the FNM in his image. The even some FNMs excited. Can he beat problem is much of the nation doesn't seem Christie? No. Should he? Of course. If to recognize it or like it very much. party politics in this country was actually built on fairness and openness, Sears Now, there's a possibility this assessment is would win. But this is The BaHAMas. It's totally off. The Bahamian people could be built on corruption. so fed up with the PLP, so sick and tired of listening to Perry Christie's bloviations, so Minnis may surprise us. He may stun us in fact. He may finally do what he's failed to sick and tired of being broke, so sick and do up to this point: listen to constructive tried of being scared, so sick and tired of being jobless, of some new scandal involv- criticism and change. He may finally accept a realistic coalition with the DNA. ing waste and mismanagement, of the Will it make any difference at all to our unapologetic blandishments of PLP MPs, that they mark an X for the Torch no matter quality of life if he ends up being Prime what. No matter how lackluster the leader. Minister? I doubt it.
The University of The Bahamas is born, November 10, 2016. Go UB!
Inverse Legacy: The Obama Presidency Gilbert NMO Morris PART I: The Moment Graceful is how all descriptions of him should begin - in bearing, in speech and writing (most of all), even in daring - Mr. Barack Hussein Obama - President of the United States of America - is a graceful man. Such a quality is not to be discounted or dismissed, as its possession says about whomever exhibits it, that by their very manner they bring to every act or endeavour, every thing said or even things observed, a certain discipline, luminosity and prestige.
On November 5th 2008, when Barack Obama was declared the winner of the US Presidential Elections, I was with my sons; then, 7 and 9 years old respectively. The boys asked about the meaning of the entire affair and given my professional experience, I had to speak clearly, telling them: “In the sense in which Mr. Obama’s presidency is most meaningful to you, it cannot be meaningful to the world, and in that sense in which it is meaningful to the world, it can prove only interesting to you” (poor boys). Insofar as we categorise humans by race, Mr. Obama is not the first “Black
President” of the United Sates. He is the first explicitly ‘mixed race’ president and certainly, the first “African- American" to hold the presidency. In the first sense, that a “person of colour” in our arduous parlance - became president was certainly a cultural and political event. It meant that a majority of those Americans who are White (with some ease), voted for a man who in their thinking was Black. Given the history of the United States, such an act of yearning magnanimity was in itself restorative. I told my sons that in reality, there was no sense in which Mr. Obama could be a “restorative president”, who would, during his presidency, put matters right even in obvious instances, as he insisted upon avoiding the prospect of being seen as a “black president.” Amongst other priorities, putting matters right would have included, restoring the losses of the Tulsa Race Riots (1921) or restoring every Black or non-white soldier who served in America’s wars, but never were recognised nor shared in the benefits the nation offered, (such as the GI Bill, 1944). It would have included settling the claims of Black Americans who were put at a disadvantage by deliberate - government supported - “redlining” in which, they were
denied housing under the National Housing Act (1934); about which a recent elegant case was made by Mr. Ta-Neshisi Coates (The Case for Reparations, Atlantic Monthly, June 2014). I explained to them, (now sleepy and probably bewildered), that the office of President is concerned with the projection, advancement and maintenance of American dominance. Moreover, that the President in 2009 inherited a set of circumstances in which - were he not successful - there would be no America in which to put matters right for Blacks or anyone else. Therefore, prioritising “black issues” – which ought really to be seen as “American issues” - I told them, could not enter the equation of the presidency; particularly since Mr. Obama himself cultivated a style that became the substance of his public persona, in which he refused studiously, to stretch himself, comfortably - either emotionally or culturally - into the presidency, for fear of the accusation of being or acting like an “angry Black man”.
more profoundly, because of its inevitable extended social impacts within the Black community; a sentiment espoused touchingly by the illustrious icon, First Lady, Mrs. Michelle Obama at the 2016 National Democratic Convention. The Obamas and by extension, we, were now part of the historical record, I told them, with access and reasonable ambition to enter every civic sanctuary of this nation. And the social life extending from the White House through schools, friends and varieties of communities is bound to leave a more indelible mark on the lives of Black peoples than the presidency. As a person, Mr. Obama is very like his hero Abraham Lincoln - 16th President of the United States. He is a chameleon, and people project onto him what they want to believe. He seems a thoughtful husband, a loving father, and in every sense, a human being possessed of enormous intellectual gifts, patience and inner resolve.
PART II: The Man There are several proclivities that may offer We are left, I told my sons, with a second insights into Mr. Obama’s own self-undersense of significance, which was a more standing, which informs his decisionpersonal gratification in Obama’s presimaking as president: First, the fact that Mr. dency. This could be found in holding to Obama is of mixed racial heritage is the fact that slaves built the White House, crucial, as it fell to him - as he intimated in and brilliant men - who were Black - like his Race Speech in 2008 - to manage the Benjamin Banneker (1731- 1806), relations between the two sides of his contributed to the development of family- one black, the other white, yet to Washington DC. Whilst, at the same time show love for both. This, I think, provides a reflecting that the first family taking key both to his personality and his unassailresidence in that same White House on able confidence in his oratorical gifts. inauguration day - an experience that would Structurally, it meant that he was never the become a permanent part of their issue of conflict. His position was almost biographies – that should register with us always risk-free, to mediate between 20
siding with neither black or white; since, to which was demonstrated early in his be credible, he had to maintain the presidency, in ordering the “kill shot" to confidence if not affection, of both sides. free Captain Phillips in 2009. By those lights, a 'lonely boy’, who is nonetheless Second, the most powerful lance in this exceedingly bright and talented, develops early Obama arsenal was his developing an inner resolve aimed at showing those capacity for eloquence, to frame issues, and who overlooked him that he is not merely to maintain an ingratiating placidity. From their equal, but dreams of dominating his his first landmark speech in 2004 - at the opponents - ironically - without Democratic National Convention, to his confrontation. About this psychological great Cairo speech, to his brilliant race scheme, there is nothing essentially speech aforementioned, and his magnificent devious, save that under this spirit, the speech again at the 2016 Democratic “lonely boy” becomes capable of National Convention, Mr. Obama seems to uncharacteristic ruthlessness merely to believe and comes to feel literally, that make a point, all done with pragmatic when speaking, he is actually changing the aplomb. world. This ‘ruthlessness’ is not pressed Third, Mr. Obama has a lonely boy’s necessarily against his opponents, nor the penchant for sudden daring, as can be seen worst of his enemies. More often it is in a variety of his actions, not least of
revealed in the bloodless cool by which he acts to disappoint his fervent supporters. He justifies this surprising tendency by claiming: it is the way the "game is played”, which stands often in unremitting contrast to his actual inability to play the game.
By any measure, most of Mr. Obama’s accomplishments are of the piecemeal variety, the lasting prospects of which are doubted easily. Nonetheless, there are accomplishments of note and finality, which whilst they may not be rude Unfortunately, in his presidency, Mr. innovations, they will speak in the Obama has reinforced this confusion about historical record, saying, above all, that his his stance, his actions or worse his inactions was a steady hand that held together an on a variety of issues; twisting America that had ripened to the point of unperturbedly between those who are collapse. induced to opposing him, and those whose support is rendered tepid or divided, just because - even - they cannot be certain concerning his commitments. OBAMA'S ACCOMPLISHMENTS Men such as this do not inspire loyalty, 2009 - Revised Bush’s Torture policies save within a small group of persons. That 2009 – Saved General Motors is because loyalty requires more than 2009 - Saved the US Banking system personality. 2009 – Saved AIG It requires a cause that is scalable to 2010 – Passed Affordable Care Act millions, under the thrall of which, 2011 – Killed Osama bin Laden multitudes may gather to grant allegiance to 2011 – Drew Down Troops in Iraq a leader resolved to that cause. By contrast, Mr. Obama believes in himself above any 2011 – Ended “Don’t ask; Don’t tell” particular thing. I say this not for insult. It 2012 – Drew Down Troops in Afghanistan is in the nature of this highly intelligent and 2014 – Cut America off Imported Oil talented type, who never managed a large 2014 – Stock Market Tripled in Value organisation, and so never commanded 2015 – Deficit cut by 3 quarters others to an end beyond himself. 2016 – Unemployment below 5% 2016 – Opening of Cuba The Obama presidency was a reactionary pragmatist, relatively ‘scandal-free’, two 2016 – 71 months of Economic Expansion term presidency. It is always difficult to 2016 – Sealed Nuclear Deal with Iran know which policies are the greatest of any administration, during that administration. But the one for which he paid the heaviest price, was the Affordable Care Act or 22
There are dozens of additional accomplishments from marriage equality, to reduction of emissions standards, to tripling alternative energy usage, which are Mr. Obama’s to claim. However, there is no single great achievement, that will put America on a road to full economic recovery, or to restore justice for past government supported or sponsored injustices, nor a policy likely to marshal America toward a Digital-Green Energy Industrial Revolution.
Here we are speaking of a type who sees the world first as it is, then as it might be, then – with an iron grip on his principles sets out to achieve his ends, paying in most respects a heavy price to blend opponents into his vision or bend them to his will.
There are three main episodes, which for me, prevented or withheld a “greatness” from the Obama’s Presidency consistent with his rhetoric. First, Mr. Obama entered office intending to gain a cheap easy victory, almost immediately. With the Beyond that, I think any fair assessment of Republicans certain of their political Mr. Obama’s presidency will show that – extinction, wanting to show magnanimity, whilst his personal grace in office is Mr. Obama, ignored tradition and visited unprecedented - it was well within his power to achieve more, but he was limited the Republican Caucus on Capitol Hill, by a reactionary pragmatism and believed, three days after entering the White House egregiously, in the notion that a wellto offer them a deal. But these Republicans crafted speech, was an existential act, decided already to oppose him on every which had kinesthetic impacts in the world. front. He was rebuffed thoroughly. Look at what was lost: To Republicans a man at PART III: His Method Cardinal Richelieu - the devious Prime over 60% in the polls, appeared weak Minister of France (1607-1624), under suddenly. To Democrats he appeared both Louis XIII - was heard to say, a man in naive and weak. And as simple as that, he high office must: ‘either save his country lost his advantage. and send his soul to hell, or save his soul and send his country to hell’. Richelieu Mr. Obama’s fans will say the Republicans famously chose the first path by every were wicked. But here is the lesson he may device of wickedness available. In every sense, one could say the same for Lincoln, have learned were he not always seeking to Theodore Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson and “split the difference”: With the Republicans Richard Nixon. Here we are not speaking of near death, the right power play was to law-breaking or secret prisons, or any of the shove them over the edge, until those piteous shenanigans of the Bush-Cheney prepared to work appealed for mercy. I am administration, driven by moody patriotism, no political supporter of Mr. Obama’s festooned with men who loved to command much as I admire him - as such this has not the very military in which they avoided to do with preferring him over Republicans. serving. This is about the exercise of power.
Had Obama used his popularity to marauder the then sniffling Republicans, he would have bought himself a chance at greatness at the expense of a party already rejected at the polls. This means he would have a chance at change or to “do big things”. Mr. Obama’s second confusing move was to approach the Affordable Care Act. Seeking a cynical advantage, he permitted Nancy Pelosi - (D) - US Congress and Senator Harry Reid - (D) - US Senate - and various committees to draft the first round of the Bill. This was a grave mistake, which I wrote at the time. Mr. Obama calculated that if Pelosi and Reid failed, they would bear the blame, but if successful, he could
claim credit. It was not to be. As Republican reaction spiraled out of control in the Summer of 2009, Obama sat mute. Groups began to instigate violence at the town meetings on healthcare, drawing in and giving standing to the Tea Party, already animated by the bank bailouts. On one fateful day Sarah Palin - the former Governor of Alaska - in a moment of scatological derangement that passes for speech-making, asserted that the Affordable Care Act made provisions for “Death Panels”, upon which, “all hell broke loose” and with that, Mr. Obama’s 60% rating had now lost every ounce of its persuasive potency. 24
Stumbling into view after so much damage was done, Mr. Obama muttered that the outrage was ‘ginned up’, and he was right. But (Alea iacta est) the “die was cast”. In a moment when opportunity met fake outrage to cultivate a political advantage, Mr. Obama’s words, shorn of context, gave rebirth to the Tea Party, which brought with it a racial imperative, visible today in the Trump phenomenon; perhaps now, even central to it.
Reid, demanding a bi-partisan effort to complete a law the people demanded. Instead to gain his Affordable Care Act, he spent large amounts of his time singing lullabies to Senator (R) Olympia Snow, his sole Republican supporter in order to drag Obamacare over the line, under the pretence of bipartisanship.
In the third iteration of Mr. Obama’s lack of a Machiavellian impulse, Senator (D) Edward (Ted) As result of his cynical Kennedy died in August 2009. scheme with the Bill, Obama Mr. Obama’s This meant that his senate seat was forced to convene a - held for 40 years by a fans will claim “White House Summit” on Democrat - was up for healthcare. It was disastrous, that it was election. At stake was Mr. acutely so. The President of Obama’s 60-40 filibuster racism that proof majority in the US the United States was on live television, being interrupted derailed his Senate, sorely needed to bring by young upstarts. Mr. Obama the healthcare law into being. greatness. - now assured of losing the In an act of political mid-term elections, and so his malpractice, astoundingly, Mr. control of both houses - was Obama simply ignored the forced to use the final drop of his political campaign in Massachusetts, until a 30-point capital, not to gain an advantage, but to lead in the polls evaporated in the final save face. He spent two days doing what week. Scott Brown - a novice - ended up powerful men never do, explaining himself beating the Democrat 52+ to 47+, taking in public, crucially, with no control over with him, Mr. Obama’s majority and set events or the capacity to guarantee the Mr. Obama on a course from which no exercise would result as he wished, and greatness in his presidency could now only to have the Republicans tell him, again emerge. publicly, he would not have their support. PART IV: Misjudgments Had Mr. Obama not tried to ride train Mr. Obama’s fans will claim that it was ‘Pelosi-Reid’, and had done instead what he racism that derailed his greatness. They will promised, which was to lead a series of say that the Republicans colluded to oppose meetings around the country, identifying him, even when he proposed their own the four or 5 options the people actually policies to them. It is not so. And these wanted. He would have built a public claims are little more than galloping coalition and could then turn to Pelosinonsense. He never had a plan in any
measure likely to advance great initiatives. Mr. Obama took to browbeating his Republican opponents to “do their jobs”, as if speaking thus was an exercise of actual power. However, it was his job - given the power of his office - to MAKE it irresistible for them do their jobs. In Mr. Obama emerged another habit - for instance after Sandyhook - he implored politicians to do what is “right” in standing up to the Gun Lobby. But matters are not so simple. Such entreaties are laughable, nearly sophomoric, and certainly unbecoming of the most powerful office on earth. When one occupies the Oval Office, in a general sense - acting within the law - there is no right or wrong. There is only what the occupant of the Oval Office can influence. Every initiative issuing from a president’s decision - without being right or wrong will redistribute billions from one group to another. Those who perceive themselves as losing, will spend tens of millions to oppose a president. He must be a master of his brief. He must know how to make his opponents pay a price for opposing him, for political reasons. Nowhere has Mr. Obama’s “lonely boy” penchant for specific, “safe” aggression, his overconfidence or his assertive petulance been more visible than in his Russia policy. Mr. Obama’s tethering to Russia or with Vladimir Putin runs to August 2008, when in the midst of the American presidential campaign, Putin decided to discipline the former Soviet province Georgia, by invading South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Amusing-
ly, Mr. Mikheil Saakachvili - the President of Georgia - suffering from the very same Obama petulance, insisted that the world must do “what is right”. Make no mistake, doing what is right is always good policy principle. But in international affairs, it means often doing the near opposite to get at what is right. That is, the very reason that one pays a price for greatness in international affairs is because what is right and what is practical often oppose each other. Mr. Putin is the wiliest, most deliberate political leader on the global scene today. But his instincts are historical. Since the rise of Russia (The Rus) in the 10th century, Russia has felt vulnerable in its territory; exposed as it is to both India, China and Europe. In modern times, Russia has managed to hold in place a “Baltic Belt” of countries around its borders as a ‘buffer zone’, for its protection. There is a false notion of Soviet/Russian aggression purveyed by bogus Cold War thinking or lack thereof. It argues - drawn mostly from an essay “The Sources of Soviet Conduct 1947” by American diplomat, George Kennan - that Russia is expansionist. But this is not only barking nonsense, it was used to justify a false narrative that drove the Cold War; a narrative to justify US intervention in the “third world” on the basis that the Russians were coming! Enter into this matrix, not only Mr. Obama - with his do ‘what is right’ mantra - but National Security Advisor, Susan Rice and Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland. Together - as the evidence shows they fomented political activism in Ukraine, (Continued on Page 67) 26
Where the VAT Money Gone? Quincy Parker
Citizens of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas have long been accustomed to not seeing the taxes they pay, aside from those at the borders. In fact, they have long been accustomed to not considering them “taxes” at all. That changed on January 1, 2015, when the government of The Bahamas implemented a value-added tax (VAT). There were two areas in which the new tax had critical implications: government revenue, and a sort of social engineering. The tax was not only a matter of boosting government revenue, but a complete rethink of how the citizen and the government interact on the fiscal and policy level.
though, was the sales pitch. Consequently, the first notable thing about the life of the value-added tax in The Bahamas was the pivot executed by the second Christie Administration over what the tax would be used for.
Before the implementation of the tax,
In 2013, State Minister for Finance Michael Halkitis said the administration’s intention
The Sales Pitch The tax was promoted as a way to restore fiscal balance and improve revenue buoyancy, with special emphasis placed on government debt, and on national debt reduction in particular. The message was clear: the VAT revenue would be used to reduce the debt.
for VAT was to ensure economic growth and sustainability through diversifying revenue collection. And indeed, the government’s VAT website argues that tax reform – of which the VAT is a central plank – is necessary primarily to return the public finances to a sustainable and prudent state.
In his 2015 New Year’s address, immediately following on the implementation of the tax, Christie spoke to the inability of the traditional sources of public revenue to fund the government’s obligations to engage in capital works. “VAT, therefore, is a necessary improvement and one that is destined, I am convinced, to bring brighter skies and clearer days for our country and its finances,” the prime minister said.
Both Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s – two of the leading international credit ratings agencies – cited the successful The Prime implementation of VAT as a tool for fiscal reform, and a Minister linked possible step along the path to the tax to raising The Bahamas’ creditworthiness. building
Thus, after the tax became the law of the land, instead of projecting how VAT would reduce deficits and shore up government revenue, the hospitals and Prime Minister linked the tax In his budget communication in May 2014, Prime Minister to building hospitals and schools and Minister of Finance Perry schools, funding support for Christie said VAT was electricity, water and sewerage designed to “secure the desired and infrastructure, providing relief to the elderly necessary enhancement in the revenue yield and indigent, and to meeting the costs of of our revenue system.” VAT was supposed Family Island development and the public to be part of a mix of measures that would service bureaucracy. allow the government to eliminate the It could be that the Administration intended “untenable structural imbalance between for the tax revenue to so reduce government recurrent expenditure and revenue by the debt and so increase revenue that the capital 2015/16 fiscal year, to sharply reduce the works of which the Prime Minister spoke GFS deficit by 2016/17; and to arrest the would be that much easier to finance. growth in the government debt burden and However, in a press release proclaiming the move it onto a steady downward path to successful implementation of the tax, more sustainable levels.” Halkitis also struck a tone somewhat apart However, a distinct shift in tone took place, from the debt connection. with Prime Minister Christie touting the “Our priority is economic growth and tax as a way to help the government “meet increasing the quality of life for Bahamians. the social and infrastructural needs of the The implementation of VAT will ensure Bahamian people, now and well into the that the government is better equipped to future”. 28
deliver quality services to all Bahamians,” he said, reiterating that VAT was part of a set of broader reforms to ensure that the government “will have enough funds for the current and future needs of all Bahamians to improve quality of life and sustain economic growth.”
budget has been achieved – the VAT money will go directly to debt servicing. Still, despite that very reasonable explanation, the question persisted.
Balance of influence Meanwhile, the process of consultation over implementation of the VAT was Overperforming something Christie hailed as a triumph of The initial projections for the amount of public/private partnership, and whetted the revenue to be collected through the VAT appetite of civil society for direct interwere for $150 million over six months, and vention in government policy. The govern$300 million over the full fiscal year. The ment engaged private sector bodies – even International Monetary Fund reported, ad hoc bodies – far and wide on the tax, though, that The Bahamas secured $536 and the private sector credits itself with million in VAT revenue in the first 12 influencing the administration to reduce the months of its operation. taxation rate from 15 percent to 7.5 percent. Armed with the influence and access gained Where the VAT Money Gone? during the VAT roll out, civil society All of this is wrapped up in the confusion Bahamas will likely seek to wield that the populace has expressed over how the influence on every major public policy government is using the hundreds of issue. The tone of the discussion millions it has collected in VAT revenue, surrounding the potential implementation of and it is summed up in the persistent a universal healthcare (UHC) scheme, for question, “Where the VAT money gone?” instance, is one that doubtless took the Halkitis and Christie have repeatedly political directorate aback. It can be argued answered the question from the floor of the that regardless, therefore, of the outcome of House of Assembly, in private interviews the tax itself, the process by which it was and in other arenas and forums. Their engineered, debated, consulted and apologists and spokespersons have done eventually implemented – in particular, the likewise. But the strength of the debt level of scrutiny brought to bear by the reduction sales pitch was so great that the private sector on public sector doings – has continued climbing of the national debt and irrevocably altered the social structure of the malaise afflicting the economy The Bahamas. combined to feed a general dissatisfaction with the perfectly reasonable and logical answers given: the VAT money goes into the Consolidated Fund, and allows the government to have to borrow less and less money, accounting for the decline in the Quincy Parker is Business Editor at The Nassau Guardian. deficit. Eventually – once a balanced
Jonico Pratt stars as OD in Ian Strachan's drama about crime and violence Gun Boys Rhapsody. The Ceiba Arts production was a highlight of the 2016 arts scene.
30 Yu Ngyuyen Photography
The Bahamas After College = Professional Suicide Nicole Burrows As one school year has ended and another school year begins, here is my advice to prospective or recent Bahamian college students and graduates. If you’re graduating soon, if you’re in the middle of your college studies, if you’re just beginning your college studies, or if you’re planning for college, this applies to you.
one of higher learning. The college aims to be better and more modern, but still struggles to manage issues which have plagued it since I left the institution decades ago. Nevertheless, as long as you actually get to take your classes, in a reasonable timeframe, the quality of academics/ education you will obtain at COB is still very good, and, in many instances, better than the quality of education you may obtain at some North American universities.
If you must return to The Bahamas, these are the professions in which you will, in all probability, always be able to find employment, if finding employment is your end goal: Law; Accounting/ Finance; Medicine. If you are not academically prepared, financially prepared, socially or mentally They are the traditional ‘white collar’ matured, and responsible enough to go professions. And given all the corruption abroad, live on your own and be selfand criminal activity in our country, there sustaining, whether you or your parents will always be a need for these specialties. decide this, COB is a good place to start Now, the College of The Bahamas (COB), your post-secondary education. Use the in spite of its university status aspirations, opportunity to take many different subjects still has a long way to go to being an to see or confirm where your academic and efficiently-operated institution, especially professional interests really lie. First published in The Tribune June 9, 2015
If, for example, you think you want to study business, take some science and art courses, too, and vice versa. The most important thing about what you study is to be sufficiently well-rounded that you can perform in diverse environments once you graduate. You may go in thinking you have it all figured out, but when you see and experience the content of a degree program, you might realize that you’re really not interested in and/ or you’re not good at what you thought would be your college major. If you can handle the work load and possibly the extra finances, take on a minor, or a dual degree program. There are even some colleges (beyond COB) which allow you to design your own major. Again, the more diverse your knowledge and academic exposure, the more useful it is to the world you live in and the more opportunities you will create for yourself – and others.
affordable. Most people will not be honest with you about this, but, it is more important, you will learn soon enough, to work in a field in which you find profound gratification from the work and not (only) the earnings. You may choose a career path which you believe will be more lucrative, but the problem with doing this exclusively is that, at some point in the future, you will be or feel compromised by the demands of work into which your heart is no longer and perhaps never was invested.
When it comes to choosing your major, choose first what you’re most passionate about
To study something for two to four-plus years in a degree program will require you to be diligent and interested. And the better you are at something, the more interested you are likely to be in it and the more successful you can be at it. So, when it comes to choosing your major, choose first what you’re most passionate about, then what is practical and/ or
When you don’t enjoy what you do for a living, you will grow to dislike your work, and, by the time you realize it, you may have children, a family, a vehicle, a mortgage, or any number of other personal financial obligations which cannot be easily abandoned. And you will find yourself stuck, unable and/ or afraid to change your circumstances, embittered by your earlier choices and filled with regret about what you could have been or what you might have done differently. Many people will tell you, if you choose any college major/ career outside of the top three I listed previously, that “you can’t do anything with that degree.” And in a way they have a point. The Bahamas and the people who live here do not recognize professionals in many areas of expertise, not beyond those they are 32
accustomed to hearing about, nor are there opportunities for professionals in non-traditional fields to be gainfully and respectably employed. But that doesn’t mean you should discard your dream automatically, especially if you can realize your dream somewhere else in the world. Follow the dream as long as you can find the path and you have a plan. If you choose an unrecognized or lesser-known area of study or profession, when you return to The Bahamas after college, be sure you already have a plan that goes beyond simply getting a job. In fact, long before you start college, you should not train yourself to be thinking about just getting a job, you should be thinking about what you can do differently to help make your country and your world a better place to live. And let that dictate any employment decision you make, whether you are self-employed or
employed by someone else. You may have to blaze a new trail or a few. In fact, all the better for you if you can blaze a new trail… think, create, innovate. Don’t become a part of a homogenous society of job-seekers with limited vision, which is, in all honesty, what we have become as a country. Education is more than a certificate. It’s more than subject matter. It is a way of thinking… the ability to reason and rationalize. And when you come through your education you’ll realize that mass numbers of Bahamians simply cannot reason or rationalize and that exemplifies the need for (further) education, and the failures of education in The Bahamas to date. If you have a non-traditional degree, training, or professional interests, get your experience
abroad, because you won’t get it in The Bahamas. Get all your further academic qualifications abroad, so that your standard of achievement is an international standard respected by the world, not just your country. Also, between the time you attend high school and the time you begin university, try to earn and save as much money as you can, even if your parents have money to fund your studies, or if you have scholarships.
In fact, a Finance course that teaches you about the time value of money (TVM) is useful for any college major and students should feel encouraged to take this course. Also, with respect to finances, make sure you find out which universities offer funding, whether full funding or partial tuition assistance, for you as an international student.
Taking on a small job or employment while in school is a good thing
If you attend COB, or even if you go directly abroad to university, it would be good to take a job and earn a few dollars. If you have the opportunity to go to college, this is the only time that you really need to be looking only for a job to pay your bills, as this is not the way to operate as an adult, especially after college, because you will set yourself up for failure in a never-ending cycle of working to pay bills.
Taking on a small job or employment while in school is a good thing, because not only can it help to pay some portion of tuition or other expenses, but it teaches you the real value of money, and of labor, and the sooner you learn the responsibility of paying your own bills, even if you only pay for your food, books, and transportation, the better.
Once you’ve obtained all of your qualifications, when you’ve attained a decent level of income in your field of work, and you’re well-versed in your profession, then you can start to consider returning to The Bahamas. But don’t return just yet. Consider one last thing.
Make sure, before you return to The Bahamas to live, that you have enough money saved to survive for the few years it is likely to take you to settle into an environment that can very easily burn out all of your hopes and dreams. And make sure you have enough money to start and maintain a business, creating a new enterprise for yourself, when every employer thinks you are over-qualified, which many if not most of them will. Don’t return to The Bahamas, if you have no money or little money. Don’t return to The Bahamas, if you are not done with education or have an 34
ongoing thirst for greater knowledge, because once you leave academia it is increasingly difficult to return to it with every passing year, and your thirst will never really be quenched if you lock yourself into The Bahamas, accidentally or intentionally. If you do return to The Bahamas with little or no money, or before you are done with your education, you will regret it sooner or later.
If you are a ball player, put together a team of your colleagues and introduce an annual sports camp to a family island. There are so many ways you can contribute to the improvement of The Bahamas, if you live and work outside of The Bahamas, and you really mean to contribute.
Of course this absolutely means I am encouraging you to live and work broad. Yes, I absolutely am, particularly if your professional passion is in an area which Bahamians do not understand or respect. But, as long as you live abroad, find ways toontribute to the development of The Bahamas, because every good citizen should at least try to contribute to their country at some point in their lifetime. If you are an engineer, come back every summer and offer a camp for young engineers. Or, create a scholarship fund for young women or at-risk youth who want to be engineers. If youâ€™re a doctor, come back once per month, quarter, or year and offer a one-day, weekend, or weeklong clinic for the elderly or the poor. Or, teach pre-med students a course from your own medical curriculum, perhaps even giving them some allowable hands-on training in the field, even if they operate as volunteers to the wider community. If you are a musician, donate some musical instruments.
Nicole Burrows is a weekly columnist for The Tribune.
On Sterlisations Ian Bethell-Bennett
On July 28 2016, during the Free National Movement convention, Richard Lightbourne, MP for Montagu made a controversial speech calling for the sterilisation of working class mothers with multuple children out of wedlock. This caused a firestorm of criticism and the MP quickly apologised. Ian Bethell-Bennett's piece is a response to Lightbourne.
Progress is often sold as a package that takes something from someone else. In the creation of a penal colony in Australia, progress meant the denial of rights and land from the Aboriginal people. What does it mean today? In the 1970s in Puerto Rico, women were being sterilised without their informed consent. In Apartheid-era South Africa black women were often sterilised without their knowledge or consent. In the United States and Canada some First Peoples were sterilised without their consent. In the US some women who were considered ‘undesirable’ were sterilised so that they could not carry on their traits and so threaten the greater good. In the Bosnia Croatia war, women were raped by their neighbours in order to destroy ethnic groups. The almost daily shooting of young, black males in the United States almost continues the same thrust towards ethnic cleansing.
Yet we do not connect the dots. However, today we wish to focus on the abuse of women’s bodies by the state. In the Puerto Rico case, it was widely used. In Puerto Rico, it was common to have the operation. La Operación, a documentary by Ana María García sheds light on this epoch. Sponsored by a grant from US AID, sterilisation was free for all women in the island and there was a campaign afoot to ensure that as many women as possible were sterilised in order to control population growth and promote prosperity. While the Puerto Rican case was general and did not seek to rid the island of one particular group, its aim was wider and more universal, sterilizing over one third of Puerto Rican women. Many other programmes built on a similar philosophy, however, do have a particularly narrow agenda and focus.
The wider context
controlled reproduction. Gender and development are never separated. The Projects such as the forced sterilisation of Puerto Rican paradigm, much like the women because of their socio-economic Tuskegee Experiments promised progress, and/or marital status are often used by but at the expense of those being experidespotic governments to control through mented on, those seen as expendable. They medical intervention. A great movie comes were chosen specifically because they to mind when we think about mental represented what was seen as the dregs of control: One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest humanity. explores the use of shock therapy to ‘dumb down’ patients. The film exposes life in an The list of these types of experiments goes insane asylum and how destructive it on and does not exclude the British colonial becomes through reliance on drugs and exercise in Australia where thousands of electroshock therapy to alter people’s Aboriginal youth were removed from their minds and so render them malleable. In the families and sent to ‘centres’ to be educated 1970s, shock treatment was used as a and ‘civilised’ so they could serve the regular form of therapy for many patients, Europeans and stamp out the ‘native’. The especially women who were seen to be film The Rabbit Proof Fence is a moving hysterical or those experiencing postpartum story about this practice. depression. Medical science was still Many of these young girls were impregcatching up and learning how to deal with nated by their European ‘employers’ and so the female body. As time marches on so the process became two pronged. The does medicine. However, policies towards exploitation and eradication of indigenous women in some countries tend to remain cultures was similar in Chile, Argentina, very antiquated and draconian. For examBrazil and other Latin American countries ple, in Puerto Rico, many large where rightwing dictatorships that sought pharmaceutical companies experimented similar results through various strategies with birth control pills on women without functioned freely. Shock treatment was warning them of any undue side effects. widespread. Another benefit to this In Puerto Rico, the American way of life exploitation and ultimate eradication of the provided sufficient justification for the native would be the free and complete use mass sterilizations. It was seen as the better of the land and resources. So, while way to go and would ultimately mean the women’s productivity was being used to avoidance of poverty. Much like the create wealth for the empire, their repropromise posed by Operation Bootstrap in ductivity was being controlled by the Puerto Rico at the same time, where many empire in an an effort to destroy their were sold golden dreams of lives of racial and ethnic group. This is what employment and the American Dream Galtung calls cultural violence. This type where they could work in factories for of structural violence used to control and Hanes and Fruit of the Loom, this required destroy and to have a predetermined 38
outcome meant that an entire culture would increasingly uneducated and so unable to be destroyed, what we now refer to as challenge what is afoot. Weapons are not genocide. Yet the colonial powers were limited to guns and knives, they can be never charged with genocide. There is prescription drugs, words, policies and language for the kind of cultural violence surgical interventions that achieve partithat allows these things to happen. These cular outcomes. We have decided as a kinds of policies are no different from the culture that women can be slapped around policies currently in place in some parts of and that they are worth less than men. the State of Texas where women are Poor, black youth are worth less than rich categorically denied access youth; womenâ€™s to birth control because of reproductivity can be Weapons are not controlled by the state. a strong fundamentalist push to control womenâ€™s limited to guns and morality. The only knives, they can be The talk these days, apparent difference is how though, has become they look on the surface. prescription drugs, reminiscent of an Local Governance words, policies and extremely retrograde, classist, sexist, misogynist, Over the last few years, surgical interventions colonialist discussion government has been less around whether women can that achieve than exemplary in the way choose to reproduce or be they have dealt with gender particular outcomes. told how to live. and racial/ethnic as well as Ironically, so many of the class-based matters. In big wigs scapegoat these fact, they have often made extremely young women and men who they determine inflammatory, racially- and sexuallyto be less civilised for their own charged statements about women and what proclivities, (this too is frequently they need and how they should be treated as documented in history). well as about young, working-class males from inner city areas. They have repeatedly When we say that women must be slapped made reference to the native quarter, the around and controlled by their owners and need for special policing to control the we argue that they have fewer rights than uncontrollably violent, dangerous, negro men, we also say that women are incapable youth and the need for women to be of self-determination and so the state must controlled by the state because of alarming take control of their bodies. As under rates of children being born out of wedlock slavery, during which enslaved and into fatherless households. contracted workersâ€™ bodies were owned/ We are living something that seems to be controlled by the master or the company akin to the deployment of weapons of con- they were contracted to, these women are trol and destruction for a population that is now controlled by husbands, leaders or
class inequality are a very small part of the project to disempower that we have allowed A Better, Stronger Bahamas, Gender to develop. How do we wish to control that and Development Economics: project now? To be sure, unwanted child Frantz Fanon illuminated the dangers of the birth and unsupervised childrearing are Native Quarter and the devastation that serious concerns, but education and resulted from its creation; he also examined awareness offer better ways to deal with the racist and classist policies that allowed these than state-controlled surgical bodies to be savagely policed and used as interventions. chattel, especially within that quarter. Slavery may have ended, the 1970s may be in the last century, and so we are better now, but the Dirty War in Argentina and the shock treatment used to control the population there and elsewhere show that these are always easily deployed. Peter is no better than Paul, sadly, and the use of fundamentalist theology to imprison and destroy an entire population on a tiny island, is not new. In fact, this is an old weapon being retooled and reused in the 21 century in the guise of a different kind of shock. The Neoliberal, Adam SmithFriedrick von Hayek-style economics with a Milton Freidman style implementation is dangerously alive today. It is beyond troubling that such degrading and paternalistic discourse can be so easily used from all parties included in the political mix, but even more so the justification of the exploitation and then control of bodies and the sell off of a country to FDI because we need them to develop us. Yes, it is unacceptable to allow public figures to use such base language and inflammatory remarks and to argue that they will employ such strategies in their political policies, but we seem to be missing so much more than we are actually criticising. Gender and
Ian Bethell-Bennet is Dean of Liberal and Fine Arts at The University of The Bahamas.
Reflections on Imara Omar Archer
My daughter clenches her fists, stomps her feet, pushes her chest out and up, looks me directly in the eyes, and with pursed lips makes her demands. She does not tolerate resistance. A steady stream of negations does not diminish her desire to play with my road-ridden shoes. She ignores my “NO! Now listen lil’ girl!” and stubbornly proceeds, raising my shoe in the air as if she is holding a trophy. She is triumphant in this battle. There goes my daughter, jeering as she continues to play with the forbidden object. How many toys have I invested in, yet this girl only wants what belongs to me or other prohibited things? What manner of child is this?
She communicates her desires without fear of retaliation or discipline. With no sense of limitations, she walks through our home and our lives like, “I’m here, this is my domain.” She is a daring one. What can give a child so much authority/ confidence? Is it in the name she bears? The name Imara means ‘strong’ and ‘resolute’ in Swahili, the tribal language spoken by more than 130 million people living in the continent of Africa. My daughter is indeed strong in temperament and resolute by nature. My wife and I were determined to select a name which denotes persistence and endurance. Should we expect anything else from our daughter than fortitude?
On one hand Imara is demanding and somewhat stubborn; on the other, in moments of tenderness, she displays affection exuberantly, with wet kisses and hugs. Imara Nyah, our first born child, introduced us to parenthood. She teaches me so much about myself, about life’s intricacies, about unconditional love; lessons that can only come through the experience of having a child. I never knew a love like this could exist: so pure, so selfless; as I wonder, hope, and ensure that her daily needs are met. I ask myself at times; what kind of woman will she grow up to be? I meticulously deliver daily lessons in an attempt to shape her character, knowing she will see love firstly through me. I am her first encounter with love and I must cautiously navigate parenthood. Imara increases my capacity to love and to be loved. The ability to love her in the process of her development as a child has helped me to become a more loving father, husband and person. She seems to challenge my levels of patience to see how far she can go, and when in doubt she runs towards me and gives me a big hug and a kiss. I don’t see her behaviour as manipulative because she’s still ‘becoming’ who she will be, so her childhood innocence creates tolerance.
Imara increases my capacity to love and be loved.
will be tall. Imara’s stubbornness, which she got from me, is being revealed more and more each day. Some of the greatest leaders in the world were stubborn and hard-headed people. Every day with my daughter is a wonderful reminder of the blessed responsibility of parenting and fatherhood; not to mention, an opportunity to prepare a human being to serve the world.
Growing up as a kid my parents believed in talking once and if or when you disobeyed they would punish you. Punishment came in the form of slaps, whippings and beatings with the ‘eagle’ belt. In my approach to parenting I spend more time explaining to Imara why and how what she did was wrong. Also, I expose her to certain educational and animated programs that have assisted in her development as a child. On June 20, 2016 Imara turned 2 years old. Hearing it from educational children shows I could not believe that my baby was on PBS, Disney and Treehouse TV has beginning to grow up. For the first time in been helpful. her life I began to notice her physical growth spurts. My daughter looks like she 42
It is a reminder that good parenting requires partnerships in the ongoing challenges with raising children. Unfortunately, my brothers and sisters never got cable television until we were in high school.
cooking, changing diapers and cleaning a house. He has had his fair share of issues which have led him in and out of the marital home. His love for his children has always kept him coming back. As a father, I am learning to offer the same love and Imara has a promising future in the dedication to my child(ren). My father’s Bahamas. I believe her spirit of selflove for his grandchildren has also been determination, love and openness will inspiring. It has forced him to embrace prepare her to embrace the Bahamas we communication technology and use apps like WhatsApp to communicate with his have always dreamed could exist. Imara’s exposure to the world through traveling on grandchildren in Jamaica and Atlanta. My planes and surfing the web will help cement father was the old-fashioned protector and provider. He reminded you of the practical her hospitality and appreciation of other benefits of him being peoples, cultures and physically present. It ideas. I am proud of the seems that even as a human being Imara is moderate person and a being and becoming. I progressive man I still have strong suspicions value the importance of that Imara will be a being a supportive father feminist. She seems to to Imara – emotionally, value disrupting physically, spiritually, traditional views, claims financially – and in other and ethics. Most of all, ways. My father helped the fighter within her leads me to believe my understanding of parenting and that she will also be an activist for change. fatherhood in significantly respectful ways. It is an honour to raise a Bahamian leader for another generation.
I have a strong suspicion Imara will be a feminist.
My wife and I share all responsibilities with respect to raising Imara that are biologically conceivable. The only thing I have not done is breastfeed Imara. When parents share the responsibilities of child-rearing and development children are taught the value of partnerships and working together as a team. My father has always been in my life. My father was the first man to introduce me to
Omar Archer is a Doctoral Candidate in Systematic Theology at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica. His work is on the intersection of religion, gender and politics.
The Death of Adonai Erin Knowles
On December 9th, 2015 16 year old Adonai Wilson, a Doris Johnson Senior High School 12th grade student was stabbed multiple times and killed shortly after 2pm while walking on Prince Charles Drive. Three Doris Johnson male students were arrested in connection with this matter. Adonai was my student. The boys accused of killing him are also my students.
the look of horror on your childrenâ€™s faces as they are handcuffed and led into the courts to be charged with murder. Some things a teacher can never fathom. School will never be the same. I look in the faces of my students and there exists a new fear, a fear that never materialized until December 9th, 2015. I too am afraid. Iâ€™m afraid to lose them.
In truth, there is very little anyone can do to prepare a teacher for the feelings associated with loss: deep, sickening, painful defeat. The loss of a student, a child, a beautiful person, leaves a ghastly knot in the center of your stomach that can't be untied. You don't embark on this journey expecting to say goodbye forever to someone that you knew could make a big difference to their friends, their community, and to the nation. You donâ€™t enter this profession anticipating
"When I found out my true friend was gone, I cried like never before. I have to say brother, I wish I could've seen you so you could give me good advice one last time. You know people tell me 'life goes on' but I still miss you. I don't know what they killed you for.... Jah knows it hurt me so much to see you gone. The other day was your birthday and I remember we sat down and had a drink and some laughs. Trust me, when I pass the spot where you was killed . . .it is hard and the memories are all
in my head. Those good times still make me laugh. I don't know what they killed you for...trust me Jah knows you will always be remembered in my heart brother, I will never forsake nor forget you."---D. Carroll
ever come out, I want you to be the young man I use to know from the beginning and I hope you happy now."---G. Hanna
Death is by no means a new experience for many of our youth, but this kind of death is. Ordinarily, children are confused and The second day of the new term and I am frightened and have no idea what to do. In standing in front of his class with tears in my eyes . . . I feel helpless and hopeless, for this case, it seems easier to pretend that it the first time Miss Knowles does not have never happened. But eventually you are forced to face that harrowing truth square in the answer. The best I can offer is an the eyes, we are gradually embrace that ends in even accepting that it did happen. more tears, because we all Our classmate is gone want our classmates back. forever and we are only now All of them. There are days able to talk about him in the when I sit alone with my past tense. thoughts of Adonai, Durante, Rohan and Donavon. Words are my only comfort, a comfort I extended to my students.
There is no teacher versus student when we talk about death and loss.
â€œThe first time I'd talked to him was the beginning of the term, I was walking to class and he walked pass me and I said hello. It wasn't anything "First of all, I want to let you big, but it felt real. He asked me how I was know that you're really missed. There's doing and it wasn't like everyone else none realer than you. It destroyed me would, he seemed to really care. We didn't seeing you go down that road. But hey, that's life. Day and night I cried because I talk much after that but we smiled at each other once in a while and to be honest most knew that what you did wasn't right and I know it wasn't in your heart to do that. You days that made my day. How do you kill took a life. How could you??? I pray every someone like that? My heart is heavy just thinking of this.â€?---B. Rolle night that this open up your eyes to show you that some things you're supposed to There is no teacher versus student when we talk about death and loss. Some days it just walk away from. Life is worth too much. I hope that someday you realize who feels easier; other days it feels like the weight of the world is gently pressing on your true friends and family are cause your chest and images of Adonai lying in a people don't love like that no more. If you pool of blood in the Marlins jacket flood 46
my mind. I knew it was him because of the jacket, I didn’t even have to see his face, I just knew. There are only three of those jackets in circulation since they stopped printing those years ago, I have one, Adonai had one and a former student has the other. There was no doubt in my mind that it was Adonai. You don’t just unsee something like that. Imagine being there, coming to school and Miss Knowles is wearing the other jacket, JUST like it.
I never imagined a child, let alone any of my students, being capable of an act like this
“No matter what we called you, you was never no killer. None of you. I miss my best friend. I can't imagine how guilty you feel for taking someone life, but I know that's not you. We spent hours and hours hanging out, talking about all the people taken from you. I know how much pain that caused you so I don't think you meant to take someone from their parents. Miss Knowles ask me to write this and I know she must be confused because she cared for all of you. I don't think she hate you though. I remember when you give her that watch, it had a crack on it but she smiled so big and wore it almost every day. She is call everyone her child. Imagine how it feels one of her children killed another one. I hurting. I still love you. Stop now before I cry.” ---L. Rolle
lunch just to be sure no one went hungry, I never felt threatened; I never considered it possible, that they could cause harm. They look out for me and I look out for them. I remember the passion for basketball in them and the desire to do well in my classes; not an inclination to spill blood. Of course you’d say “Well you don’t know what they’re up to when you’re not around.” That’s true; we can never swear for anyone, but I can remember the kind young men that carried my bags, brought me gifts, reminded me how beautiful I am…and still a life was lost and for that I am sorry, I am heartbroken.
I never imagined a child, let alone any of my students, being capable of an act like this. We have memories: when I picked them up at all hours of the morning to make sure they got home safe, or packed an extra
Everything change. Miss Knowles don't even smile as much as she used to. But I understand. It really happen. Like for real for real. When I come to school tomorrow he ain guh be here. Not today, not
tomorrow, not the day after. Neither my boys. Ain't none of them coming back. ---L. Major Reading what my children wrote was unbearable. I knew they felt the hurt, but I didn't realize how much they noticed my hurt. I don't like pretending that I'm OK, but I know how difficult it is at home for many of them. They shouldn't have to come to school and experience a morbid environment. I tried to be the best actor imaginable for them. Until they told me it was and is OK to mourn. When I asked them to write, they saw the pain in my eyes and told me, â€œJust let it out.â€? The secret to coping in a system that is so
hostile toward vulnerability and individuality is to defy the rules, forget the handbook and mourn together. I had changed. I was afraid to love as freely as I once did because....who would be next? One day that thought etched itself in my mind and I ended up vomiting. The one time I knew they needed me, I was afraid to love. Until she hugged me. I have a daughter with the most beautiful eyes and kindhearted personality. She hugged me and forced me to feel the emotions I was afraid to show again. I am a teacher in mourning. A feeling of emptiness I never knew could exist has gripped the very core of my being. 48
Shock first. Grief second. Heartbreak third. Loss fourth. This is not easy. Empty chairs in my room where he sat, where he laughed and most of all where he embraced his girlfriend . . . is all I have left. I am a teacher in mourning. I mourn the loss of a young man that had the influence to change a young gangster chick with a nonchalant attitude into a determined young woman focused on achieving so much. They were supposed to do it together. I am a teacher in mourning. We have lost a genuine, beautiful, intelligent, strong young man that was making a difference. I am a teacher in mourning and all I have left are memories and empty chairs. Just the other day we had an awards assembly. Mr. Adonai Wilson was to receive an Honor Roll Certificate and a Subject Award. It felt like a scene out of a movie Iâ€™d never want to watch again. The moment of silence was pierced by a heart wrenching scream from his mother and nephew as a chair with his sash was held in the air by his classmates. I could hold it in no longer . . .
me off. I am a teacher in mourning, but I do not mourn alone. I mourn with Abiyah, Shanice, Denzell, Brendon, Latovia, Trekhara, Gabriel, Donisha, Tatianna, Avesha, Shanaiah, and every being whose life has been moved by Adonai, Durante, Rohan and Donavon.
I cried. I cried. I cried. I cried until I couldnâ€™t stand it any longer and my children had to hold me up and lead
Erin Knowles is an English Teacher at Doris Johnson Senior High School. She has worked there since she graduated from The College of The Bahamas in 2013.
Available at Chapter One Bookstore, Thompson Blvd
FROM BAHAMAS TO BEIJING: A BAHAMIAN IN CHINA TAMEKA LUNDY
I did it. Standing atop one of the
had made, way back when there was no clear-cut path, when stepping stones were absent and only the jagged terrain beckoned. Another Bahamian atop The Great Wall of China, one of Chinaâ€™s most recognizable cultural symbols.
marvels of the world, taking in that breathtaking, panoramic view of the scenery below, even as I was being jostled by passersby, was unreal. In that moment words failed me. Emotions, just emotions bubbled to the surface. 'How did I get here?' Life is like that sometimes. Even when there That was the only thought that crept is no clearly identified path to travel, no road through my awe-induced haze. signs and no maps, one is still compelled to press forward; to boldly venture into the By Chairman Mao Zedong's standards I had unknown. Standing still or turning back are attained the status of greatness; I was a hero simply not options. In many daunting ways, and I had the gold medal to prove it. A this had been the story of my life. central figure in modern Chinese history Nassau to New Territory and culture, Mao was Chairman of the Six weeks earlier I had taken a giant leap of Comm-unist Party of China and therefore faith off a steep cliff. But the result could Chinaâ€™s leader from 1949 until his death in hardly be branded as free fall. It had started 1976. Slowly, painstakingly I had traced the with a feeling of uneasiness, a yearning. Then laborious ascent that many more before me
came that tiny voice inside and finally a distinct nudge, as unassuming as sitting on a thumb-tac. When a working professional, a wife and mother of three decides to pursue a university degree in another country, it's a big deal. When that country is many thousands of miles away, has a different time zone and is on the other side of the world, it defies logic on some levels. It's an expedition of faith, an adventure that I was ready for.
How would I bridge the cultural differences?" I wondered. At the outset I resolved that I would manage my own expectations; no unfair comparisons to past experiences, no myopic daydreams about the modern conventions of western civilization. No turning back now.
The rigours of four-hour classes, demands of research writing, fieldwork and the steady stream of seminars, conferences It had been 18 years since I and workshops were not for was last in the classroom. the faint of heart. Add to Returning to life as a student that Chinese language and on September 21st 2015, I had culture classes and no idea what lay ahead. I knew adjusting to a whole new that a one-year, accelerated Masterâ€™s environment and way of life and one can Degree programme in International begin to grasp the depth of the adventure. Communication at the Communication But all of these things contributed to a University of China would be no walk in robust learning experience. Further, the the park. But I was determined to give more transmission of knowledge that happened than 100 percent in order to master the among my class of 17 persons from competencies of my academic discipline continental Africa, Europe and the and represent myself and The Bahamas Caribbean enhanced my expedition of with distinction. I had been selected as a learning and left an indelible mark. One is recipient of a Chinese Ministry of rarely exposed to such experiences where in Commerce scholarship, an opportunity that addition to learning from accomplished I considered an honour. scholars and researchers, you are also able to access intimate knowledge about In leaving my life behind in Nassau and different cultures, ethnicities, customs and relocating to Chaoyang, Beijing, I value systems. suspected that the transition would be unlike anything that I had ever experienced. Sino-Bahamas Relations "Was I mentally prepared for the unknown? For all intents and purposes, I was among How would I navigate the language barrier? hundreds of Bahamians living in Beijing as
It had been 18 years since I was last in the classroom.
people between the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and the People's Republic of China (PRC) is not an unfathomable notion. Historically, Chinese nationals are documented to have emigrated to The Bahamas in the 1870s according to a histor-ical narrative by Michael Craton and Dr. Gail Saunders (1998). Since then, the Chinese community in The Bahamas has achieved significance in industry and commerce and Bahamians of Chinese descent have made invaluable contributions to civic and philanthropic development. Add to the mix Chinaâ€™s own public diplomacy initiatives and its aggressive pursuit of friendships with developing countries in the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region, and the result is intriguing. At the first Ministerial Meeting of the Chinaas working professionals and university students, citizens who had taken advantage CELAC Forum held in January 2015 in Beijing, the Chinese government announcof scholarships and professional development opportunities. These were individuals ed that it would fund 6,000 full scholarships, 6,000 short-term training courses and determined to become proficient in the 400 one-year masterâ€™s degree scholarships Mandarin Chinese language to improve their marketability and increase their global for Latin American and Caribbean countrexposure and other brave souls who simply ies during the 2015-2019 period. Over the past seven years, approximately 330 wanted to explore the intricacies of an Bahamian officials, managers, technicians ancient civilization. They, like others and students have been granted Chinese around the world, were drawn to the fascinating history, dynamic economy and government scholarships, short-term training opportunities and one-year masterâ€™s mystique of a socaiety that had only programmes scholarships in China recently opened itself up to the world. (Government of The Bahamas, 2015). And considering this current age of Intrigue and Innovations technological marvels and shrinking As a new transplant in a famously transient boundaries, an increasing movement of
city, I marveled at how different Beijing was from western civilization: the city where I was born, Nassau, and the US, where I was a frequent traveler and had earned a BA. There was the obvious population difference; consider The Bahamas’ meagre population of 400,000 compared to China’s population of almost two billion people, an archipelago of approximately 13,939 square kilometers (5,382 square miles) that stretches across the North Atlantic Ocean on the one hand and a huge landmass of some 9.6 million square kilometers (3,123 miles) across East Asia on the other; and a democratic versus a socialist system of governance. I soon discovered that China, or more specifically Beijing, appeared to be a land of intrigue, innovations and contradictions. There was the rugged landscape of places like Pingyao, in China’s central Shanxi province, and Chengde, in Hebei province, territories laced with vestiges of an ancient and noble civilization. Then there were cities like Beijing and Shanghai where an explosion in technology and e-commerce attested to an industrious spirit, inspiring innovations and modern living. The indulgences and proclivities of the young were in stark contrast to the quiet, strong-willed reserve of the elderly. For instance, grandparents who walked or biked their young grandchildren to and from school every day and families spending time at local parks were common scenes
Beijing, appeared to be a land of intrigue, innovations and contradictions along the streets of the Chaoyang District. Elsewhere, on subway cars it was not unusual to see virtually everyone on their mobile devices, giving credence to label of the “head down generation”. But beyond this veneer was an often uncelebrated story of Chinese resiliency, industriousness and sustainability. Though a lightning rod for controversy, China’s restricted access to applications that I had become accustomed to as a civilian in the western hemisphere – Google, Facebook, YouTube – had presented an opportunity for the PRC to build its own e-commerce empires. The local enterprises of Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent had become the cornerstones of economic rejuvenation and diversification. For the second largest economy in the world, evolutions in its economic engines have been catalysts for growth. This year, China's top legislature approved 165 major projects covering technological innovation, industrial upgrades, infrastructure construction, environmental protection and 54
improving people's living conditions, according to China Radio International (CRI). The news agency reported that the projects will be implemented over a fiveyear period starting in 2016 and will include a poverty relief program covering 55.75 million rural residents and the world's first quantum communication satellite.
cation; how it enables its participants to become active contributors to nation building, how it encourages a deeper level of intellect and fuels creativity and innovation. But on a more basic level (and I couldn’t help but hold on to this thought for a fleeting moment as I stood on the stage) I wanted three of the persons whom I love most in this world, my children, to consider the world as their campus, to stoke the flames of an unquenchable desire to know more and learn more.
A Dream Fulfilled On Thursday, June 30th, 2016 I walked across the stage to receive my master’s degree in International Communication from the Communication University of Chairman Mao certainly had his standard China. Among the 4,000 members of the for greatness; but committing oneself to a 2016 Class I was the only Bahamian. lifetime of engaged learning is mine. For me it was so much more than the conclusion of an academic journey. It was the fulfilment of a dream which I’d hoped Tameka Lundy is Director of University would have an enduring impact. I’ve Relations at The University of The Bahamas. always believed in the power of higher edu-
(Cont'd from Page 8) bencher Leslie Miller sent the first shot across the bow of his own party in August of 2014 when he declared that â€œIf my sister marries a foreigner, I expect for that foreigner to take her home to his country and support her. What they bringing him here for? Don't come to my country and take a job from one of my Bahamian brothers.â€? Although Miller later declared he would support all the Bills, his chauvinist and xenophobic sentiments resonated. There is a lovehate relationship with the for-eign among Bahamians and widespread hostility toward women who defy traditional gender roles.
The foreign man is seen as competition. The foreign woman is not, however; she is a prized status symbol for the working class and well-to-do alike. Miller's paternalistic views were echoed by Harvey Tynes and Rodney Moncur. These men paint a picture of Bahamian women as simple minded, in need of protection from them-selves, and essentially not responsible enough to choose whomever they like as a spouse. This infantilization of Bahamian women was never really challenged. Thanks to conservative Judeo-Christian doctrine and a patriarchal culture, women are seen as junior citizens, who don't need and shouldn't want the same powers and privileges as men and who are essentially betraying their country by bringing foreign husbands in.
Many Bahamian men (particularly working class men) feel they are losing too much ground to women
Many Bahamians feel under siege, pressed in from above and below; denied the commanding heights of the economy by a system that favors the foreign investor and alarmed by the growing confidence of poorer immigrants whose work ethic and cheaper labor allow them to not only gain menial work Bahamians have looked down on over the last 40 years but to now compete for skilled jobs once reserved for Bahamians. Bahamian anxiety about being exposed to competition was perhaps most strongly visible during the bid to make The Bahamas join the Caribbean Single Market and Economy, an effort that was ditched in 2005 because of concerns about the Bahamian dollar's ongoing parity with the US dollar and opposition to the free movement of people.
Many Bahamian men (particularly working class men) feel they are losing too much ground to women and they see sexual relations and marriage as the last bastion of masculine dominance. This drove much of the outcry against the proposed Marital Rape Amendment to the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Act in 2009 and the backlash against citizenship for foreign male spouses as embodied in Amendment Bill 2.
Journalist and talk show host Rogan Smith feels first hand the limitations of the constitution with respect to women's rights in this regard and was repeatedly
confronted with Leslie Miller-esque arguments in the run-up to the vote. “I have the right to live in The Bahamas, if I choose – and I do…and my husband has a right to be here right at my side,” says Smith, who is married to a US citizen. “I am a college educated woman and my husband is a college educated man, wellrespected in his career. One would think that The Bahamas would want to benefit from our collective expertise, rather than shipping us off to the United States for that country to benefit.” As for take-over fears, she finds them ridiculous. “Take over what? What are they? Transformers? My husband and I have been married for 10 years now, and he hasn’t unveiled any Dr. Evil plan to “take over” just yet . . . unless he’s saving that for our 20 anniversary. Do we not know that foreigners currently live among us? They are employees and employers. Some are productive and some are unproductive. Clearly the individuals who fear a “takeover” are of the mindset that all foreigners are wealthy and in a position to “take over.” They are not. They just want the opportunity to live in this country with their loved ones. In fact, a lot of times it is the Bahamian who insists on living here. It was in my case.” th
Xenophobia is certainly not unique to Bahamian society and fear of the impact of immigration on national life is a volatile political issue all over the world, including Europe and North America. The Bahamas is a far more diverse place than most citizens acknowledge but the country does not embrace a view or narrative of itself in which this diversity is
celebrated and seen as a strength. Rather, there is an idealized, imagined history to which all true-true Bahamians are believed to belong that involves descending from slaves on a Loyalist plantation (and even the slavery part is shadowy) and migrating from a Family Island settlement to New Providence. The whole story is far more complex. “I maintain that Bahamians are all children of foreigners,” says Smith. “If we read and knew our history, we wouldn’t make silly pronouncements.” The Sissy Apocalypse Few things raise quite as much knee-jerk alarm among Bahamians as gay marriage. Many Christians sincerely believe that to legalize same sex marriage in this country would be tantamount to turning the nation into a modern day Sodom and the attendant punishment of God (fire from the sky or some similar calamity) would undoubtedly ensue. It was predictable therefore, that opponents of the PLP and opponents of women's equality would raise the issue of gay marriage at some point during the course of the national discussion about the Gender Bills. Eliminating discrimination on the basis of sex was depicted as a gateway reform, one that would inevitably lead to a demand for gay marriage to be recognized. No less a luminary than Chief Justice Hartman Longley submitted that it was impossible to rule out the possibly of such a sequence of events, as “sex” could indeed be interpreted as referring to sexuality. Unintentionally, Longley bolstered the Vote No campaigners' position. On January 13 , 2016 at the opening of th
the legal year, Chief Justice Longley posited that it was “unfair [for] . . . Bahamian women and those who support them . . .[to be] asked, in some cases, by their opponents to either guarantee or prove beyond reasonable doubt that the proposed constitutional changes would not lead to the recognition or validation of same sex marriages before they support the bills. No one can give that assurance or guarantee. Anyone who has traversed constitutional law would know that the legal landscape is littered with examples of language in a constitution when construed broadly and purposively as constitutions are construed, leading to unintended consequences becoming the law, although it may not necessarily lead to them.” The sissy apocalypse scare tactic proved one of the most effective strategies in opposition to the proposed Marital Rape amendment. It was effective then and it was effective in 2016.
of any open, unapologetic declaration of alternative sexuality. Thousands of Bahamians sitting at home watching the evening news nearly choked on their supper. They were deeply disturbed by the images of gays, bisexuals and transgenders calling for equal rights, demanding to be a part of the conversation, demanding to be seen, recognized and heard. Conservatives seized on this, now having compelling visuals to match their threats of national moral collapse.
Even progressives reacted negatively, frightened that the boisterous support for a ban on sex-based discrimination by those who openly embraced alternative lifestyles would frighten Bahamians who might otherwise see this as a matter of women's rights, not gay rights. Progressives were pitted against one another,with feminists saying, “Be quiet, don't ruin this for us; we'll get it done and you'll benefit, you'll be protected;” while the LGBT vanguard The complexion of the public debate seemed to take the position that women's around the Gender Equality bills changed rights was a 60s struggle, today the world is still further, when members of the Gay ready to recognize Gay Rights and The Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender Bahamas needs to wake up and join the rest community assembled at Parliament Square of the modern, civilized world. on March 2 2016 to support the Gender In the end, the LGBT refusal to hide while Bills. There they stood, among other legislation with real import that would persons showing support for what the affect their lives was being voted on, raised Parliamentarians who sat inside the House the temperature of the debate and were about to do: pass the constitutional challenged the nation's notions of freedom, amendments bills, one of which equality and rights. A number of news (Amendment 4) would make it explicit that stories followed, focusing on the situation discrimination on the basis of sex was of transgenders in the country, as much illegal. It was a brave move in a country because it was sensational and would sell, like The Bahamas, where there may not be one suspects, as because it was news. brutal repression of gay people, but where These stories seemed to add fuel to the there is definitely hostility and abhorrence nd
alarmist social conservatives who wanted to “protect marriage.” The call to vote not just no but “Hell No” to Bill 4 was sounded by pastors, politicians and pundits alike. In the end the nation decided it was so afraid of gay marriage that it was prepared to continue oppressing women married to foreign men and children who ought to be entitled to automatic citizenship but aren't because of the gender biases of the Constitution. The Save Our Bahamas campaign essentially concluded that the single most dangerous threat to the survival of the Bahamian nation was adults of the same sex having spousal rights. This grouping of pastors has had no similar moral compulsion to address fiscal indiscipline, escalating crime, unjust treatment of the children of immigrants, political corruption, environmental hazards or the quality of public schools. However, there was nothing, in the opinion of respected human rights lawyers like Fred Smith and President of the Court of Appeal Dame Anita Allen, to prevent civil unions and marriage between people of the same sex today other than the existence of a couple willing to make the legal challenge. A constitutional amendment adding “Sex” to the language of Article 26 as proposed in Bill 4 is not necessary to advance gay marriage. Former Bar Association President Wayne Munroe, concurs. He was quoted in a daily just days after the referendum as saying “The fact that no one has challenged same-sex marriage before doesn't stop it from being challenged at any point.” Significantly, Dame Allen noted the following in her Distinguished Lecture
to the Dupuch Law School on June 14 : “the proposition that the provisions of the Matrimonial Causes Act declare that marriage is exclusively between a man and a woman is arguably unsustainable on a true construction of the relevant provisions.” th
The “compromise” advanced by the Christie government, in response to pressure from the church, was to define “Sex” as “male and female.” This was intended to silence all those who reasoned 60
that “sex” could also mean sexuality and hence to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex was to empower gays. But the PLP's compromise neither appeased nor silenced opponents. They wanted marriage defined in the constitution as being between a man and a woman as is the case in the Jamaican constitution. What the government's attempted compromise did do is cause Erin Greene, the most vocal and courageous LGBT rights advocate in the nation to campaign against this revised version of Bill 4.
important to some of them that the PLP failed as that gay marriage was prevented. The effect of events in the United States on the Bahamian mood must also be considered. In June of 2015 the US Supreme Court legalized gay marriage. Avid consumers of American news, Bahamians were easily convinced that Bill 4 was a capitulation to the wave of progressivism coming at them from the North. On the level of the street, a number of prominent members of the Christie government are believed to be gay or bisexual. Mr. Christie himself has taken the time to publicly deny accusations launched from random citizens about his own sexuality. True or false these perceptions influenced some to believe that when faced with pressure from our powerful neighbour to the north, the PLP government would be more inclined to capitulate than honor the views of the majority. Some found it plausible that there was a “secret gay agenda” at work in the amendment process, given their belief in rumors of the closeted lifestyles of some of the powerful.
Ironically then, a key member of the LGBT vanguard and the Christian fundamentalists found common ground in opposing Bill 4, albeit for entirely different reasons. Erin Greene called for Bahamians to oppose Bill 4 because defining “sex” as strictly male and female would deny the existence of intersex people. She was quoted as saying, “I want a Bahamas that ensures that no one can be discriminated against on the basis of sex, and all men and all women enjoy the same rights and privileges. I’m not willing to create that Bahamas on the backs of a small group of Bahamians, invisibilizing Ultimately Bahamians concluded that all intersex Bahamians - a group of people we are created equal but some people cannot should be protecting in this exercise.” access that equality unless they are straight Interestingly, the Save our Bahamas lobby males. They concluded that all are born never seemed to accept the warnings free but some are more free and should Constitutional Commissioner Sean remain so. It was also clear that Bahamian McWeeney gave them that blocking the voters, who are mostly women, were not effort to define sex as male and female in convinced there was an important right that constitution would do more to enable gay they and their daughters were being denied; marriage than actually help prevent it. a right that urgently needed to be granted They campaigned against Bill 4 them and could only be granted them nonetheless, giving further credence to the through a constitutional amendment. This argument that it was at least equally as brings us to the class dynamic at work
during this process and the overarching power of men in our culture.
of the working class, with no tertiary education. There are more women registered to vote than men. But the Yes Killing the Messengers Campaign failed to demonstrate to the One of the key challenges with the working class voter, especially working referendum effort was the fact that the Yes class women, that these amendments would Campaign itself struck the wrong note with correct some wrong that really mattered to the bulk of Bahamian voters. The public them. Citizenship for a foreign spouse is relations/marketing strategy didn't resonate. largely a middle class problem. Most Why was this? The voices of the Yes women who have the choice of marrying a Campaign were seen as affluent, privileged, foreigner have met that gentleman while out of touch, stuck up women and in some studying abroad. In fact, many of them cases, as loud mouthed lesbians, pushy might view marrying a foreign man as a bitches and man-haters. kind of rejection of one's origins. The foreign men most working class Bahamian The latter views are typical of our women would come into contact with misogynist society. But the issue of class regularly would be Haitian and social warrants further explanation. prejudices militate against such unions. The average Bahamian voter is a member 62
Unions between Bahamian women and It is also important to note the near total foreign tourists are just as rare. Bahamian absence of men from the Yes Campaign. women are also unlikely to feel any From the outset, the campaign was cast as sympathy for a Bahamian man who has a about women, for women and by women. child out of wedlock with a foreign woman The optics were set on March 2 when (addressed in Bill 3), as such a woman women Parliamentarians led the way into would be seen as an interloper, “teefin” a Parliament. It was further underlined when Bahamian man. An analysis of the polling Prime Minister Christie launched the Yes divisions and constituencies where the Campaign on April 10th 2016 and its Gender Bills garnered the most support leaders were Lynn Holowesko, Sharon from voters underscores the Wilson, Cheryl Bazard and correlation between class and Heather Hunt. Not a single Principles of support for more liberal male was in the leadership. fairness, equality citizenship laws. This approach backfired. We and social justice are a patriarchal society and The Yes Campaign needed most women are not only to emphasize the issue of have not been accustomed to men being “in discrimination on the basis ingrained through charge,” they actually prefer of sex broadly, beyond the it that way. The fact that the matter of citizenship, if they our educational Prime Minister, the Leader were to successfully of the Opposition, and the system mobilize working women. many male MPs who The slogan “For Our Sons claimed they were voting and Daughters” proved yes, were nowhere to be seen or heard almost meaningless. Tangible cases of throughout most of the campaign, sent its discrimination in terms of hiring, own kind of signal to the electorate. A promotion, remuneration, the granting of mostly female voting public that wanted to loans or business licenses, etc may have be told what to do by its male leaders got struck a chord, and drove home that what virtual silence. No talk show blitz, no door was at stake had real relevance to average to door campaigning, no town meetings in women. Again, principles of fairness, the constituencies chaired by the MP for the equality and social justice have not been area. Silence. The female politicians and ingrained through our educational system. spokespersons like Ruby Nottage therefore The society is a me first, mine second, you seemed isolated, out on a limb, without the and yours third society. It is difficult to support of the powerful. This too grievousanimate such a society to consider the ly harmed the campaign. Late in the game needs and rights of a minority. In light of former Governor Generals Sir Arthur this and all the other problems enumerated Foulkes and Sir Orville Turnquest lent their earlier, the absence of spokespersons and a names, faces and voices to the Yes message working class women could relate Campaign but it was too little too late. to was crucial. nd
Men did speak though. The pastors and pundits of the Save our Bahamas campaign and women voters got their message loud and clear.
Mar's total collapse and the attendant Moody downgrades, the total hoax of mortgage relief, record murder levels, record unemployment, increased taxes, the mishandling of the numbers legalization The Performance of the PLP effort, the cavalier approach to privatising There are other factors at play that we could the electricity corporation, the interminable explore such as the reaction of many delays in ending BTC cellular's monopoly, Bahamians of Haitian descent who felt that the carelessness involved in the BAMSI the country could not seriously be thinking fire, the insulting Junkanoo Carnival of addressing citizenship problems such as expenditures, the glaring examples of those outlined in Bills 1 through 3 without political interference in judicial affairs, or taking on the elephant in the room: the embarrassing defections from the party automatic citizenship for children born to of young MPs who were touted as the two immigrant parents. But we conclude future of the organization, the PLP came by addressing the far bigger issue: the fact out of the gates stumbling and haven't that the Progressive Liberal Party has righted themselves yet. performed poorly and the Bahamian people The referendum in my view came too late wanted to let them know about it through in the PLP's cycle of governance. It ought the June vote. to have used its fresh mandate early in its The record of the PLP since it came to term to organize constitutional reform and power in 2012 has been one of failure and it ought to have recognized that its own fumble heaped on flop. Whether it is Baha bad behaviour on the issue of gender 64
equality would not be forgotten. The PLP should have actually tried for some low hanging fruit and introduced reforms that the vast majority of people could easily support instead of issues that were so easy to subvert. Like what? Like reforms that would limit the powers of the Prime Minister. Top Down Blues In the end, we return to the beginning. The Constitution of The Bahamas appears impossible to change. The Gender Bills' failure aside, even amendments to the nation's highest laws that might on the surface seem destined for success, like limiting executive powers, could be sabotaged. And the reason is every effort thus far to change the Constitution has been a top-down affair. So long as these reforms can be depicted as the will of a single political party those in opposition have ample motivation to see the reforms fail. The attempts to cast the Gender Bills as a bi-partisan affair convinced no one. When people of all ages, all political persuasions, all races and all classes and genders, clog the streets of their own volition demanding constitutional reform; when leaders emerge who do not sit in Parliament but who come from the grassroots and speak a language higher than self interest, then politicians will stop winning at their usual games and reform will happen. Unfortunately, civil society in the Bahamas is stunted, midgitized, timid and compromised. And the people, in the thousands and tens of thousands, remain
divided, unpracticed in civil disobedience and bi-partisan activism. Even the people most deprived by our constitution--the children of immigrants--have not found the courage to take to the streets to protest. Fear, doubt and inexperience cripple progressive populism. Leaders are not emerging. And where they have emerged they fear radicalism; they prefer the security of the microphone to the dangers of civil disobedience. And so, we continue, indefinitely, with a failing constitution, until a generation of Bahamians discovers the will to change the course of history or a generation of parliamentarians bravely choose to use all the powers they possess under the existing constitution, to bring greater justice and fairness to our society.
(Cont'd from page 26) which led in part to the fall in 2014 of the hapless Russian sap Ukrainian Viktor Yuskchenko by coup d’état. The goal was to shoehorn Ukraine into the political ambit of the feckless, preternaturally weak European Union. The prancing stupidity of this policy and its approach cannot be overstated. Much like Mr. Obama’s attitude to Ted Kennedy’s senate seat, there appeared to be a vision known only to The President and his minuscule tribe of evangelists driv-en by sophomoric fervour, that brought them to the point of openly opposing and attacking Putin.
to pass his healthcare bill, so it was with this Russia fetish.
In Ukraine, Mr. Obama was antagonising Mr. Putin, without regard to the destabilisation of the region, at the time when Syria was collapsing, when he needed Mr. Putin’s support and assistance, in Syria, and in grander terms, which the Europeans too often forget, to be able to hold Turkey on side, to maintain control of the Bosphorus, for the protection of the Mediterranean. Let me be frank concerning what this means: God put Ukraine - as he did Tibet - in an unlovely place. It - together with other Baltic states - are just simply in the security Again, I make no case for the rightness of sphere of Russia. But Russia is not Putin’s actions. However, Putin’s worst Venezuela. The American President - and excesses were in reaction to the stark his fussy evangelists - cannot address the foolishness of the Obama administration. Russian leader on television calling him names and dismissing his country’s Mr. Obama answers for this compounding influence. The best means of securing the series of poor policy decisions by saying principle that all peoples deserve liberty in Putin is under pressure, his economy is Ukraine, is for the President of the United collapsing, his standing in the world is fall- States to maintain an intimate, backing...blah...blah...blah. This is very like the channel driven, diplomatic relationship chairman of IBM telling Pablo Escobar that with the Russian leader, as Angela Merkel– his stock price is falling and his reputation- the Chancellor of Germany–has attempted al capital has taken a hit. It exposes an utter to do. misunderstanding of both the person with whom one is dealing and the larger issues. Mr. Obama seems not to have arrived at a point in his thinking where he can divine Mr. Obama’s misguided sanctions orgy the differences between principles in against Russia has had no strategic impact, conception and strategy in practical action. yet strategic impacts must underscore any That is, to do what one thinks is right, one action to which a global power commits must often - at the presidential level itself. Again, in the same vein that Mr. appear to accommodate what is wrong Obama’s negligence is inexplicable, when because one must read the world as it is. in 2010, his inaction cost him not merely Taken together with his over-confidence– Ted Kennedy’s seat, but his filibuster proof in saying rather than doing–when it comes majority, at the time when he was seeking to great initiatives, these misjudgments
have led to embarrassing capitulations, which were induced by Mr. Obama’s own unfortunate tendencies. It is hard to understand that a man with such soaring rhetoric, and unconventional background could have so inert a reformative impulse. Let us be clear: this is not a question of unfitness for office. Mr. Obama was as well suited to the Presidency as any President, and closer to the better presidents in intellect, temperament and talent. However, it would have taken only a small effort to have touched the first rung on the ladder of that greatness to which all presidencies aspire. Namely: 1) Mr. Obama was in position to reconceive the “US economy” as the central processing unit of the global economy. The US borrows 80% of global savings, which means the world is facilitating jobs for Americans. That is, the new thinking must see America as the facilitating component for an integrated world. Understanding this, Obama could have asserted that there is no such thing as “the US economy” at certain levels. That would have destroyed the narratives about “bring our jobs back”, which is backward-looking buffoonery. It would have set the stage for the new thinking required for a “Digital Industrial Revolution”, to integrate ordinary citizen’s thinking about and their understanding of a networked world.
Obama had failed to note the coming collapse of Silicone pricing, because of dumping by the Chinese. Even if that was unforeseeable, his vision and focus should have come from another direction: He ought to have taken $1 billion dollars and broken it into 1000 prizes for the development of or improvements to technologies that reduce the costs of living, improve the quality of life, improve by making mobile education services delivery, improve by making mobile health services delivery, and improve transparency in government services. This prize system would have done more to drive America into the age of “mobile access to government”, than picking winners and losers by traditional means.
3) Since we know that jobs are never “coming back” because in an integrated global economy, they never really left, it was necessary to prepare Americans to participate competitively in a new futuredriven vision. In practical terms, there are nearly 2 million technical jobs available in the US currently, for which Americans are untrained or unqualified. Whilst Obama has acted recently to improve access to technical schools, what is required is the largest grant in the history of the United States (a second GI Bill, if you like), to turn Community Colleges into innovation centres, focusing on physics, computation, information systems, robotics, artificial 2) Mr. Obama - again as with the healthcare intelligence, medical device programming, operations and maintenance, engineering bill - hoping to achieve a swift advantage, science and financial management. through a means of sudden daring - gave financial assistance to a firm called 4) In an integrated world, at risk from nonSolyndra. The problem is - failure to state terrorism, there is a woeful lack of understand the integrated world - Mr. 68
consistency for state action in international law, which has led to confusion and slaughter in Syria and Libya, for instance. However, this is also true for the rules governing financial transactions between G-20 nations and the rest of the world, which is likely to lead to disasters. There is a need for an agreed set of conditions for legitimacy in international affairs. Obama had an opportunity to use his platform at the G-20 to establish new 21st century conditions of legitimacy. Had he acted to resolve these questions, whatever else he had done, would have paled in significance, since the impacts of this would be felt both in the perspective of Americans and the world for the next 100 years.
economy moving. I disagreed with it, but I saw its logic. Again, Mr. Obama’s fans claim that his failures were owing to racist hate against him. There is no doubt, that more than any president, specific racial hate against Mr. Obama has been disgraceful, shameless and unprecedented, but that is not what has limited his path to greatness. This was the result – despite his natural decency - of his own oleaginous inertness.
In the final analysis it has been race - after all - that has been the primary undernarrative defining so much of Mr. Obama’s choices. During his tenure, generals saw fit to give interviews with international magazines opposing the president’s policies. Members of Congress saw fit to CONCLUSION: insult him publicly on august occasions, Mr. Obama’s fans - and much of today’s and even members of the Democratic response to criticism - brands, even sincere caucus, seemed ambivalent, at times meaningful critics as “haters”. They take no running against the record of their sitting note of what is said, but that it is said at all president. Journalists interrupted him as he means one is a hater. For myself, I have no tried to answer their questions on live difficulty in saying I opposed the bailout of television. I put it to you, that these General Motors (GM). There, Mr. Obama impertinences were not owing to racism. was right and I was wrong. This is not the They are behaviours that arise in a vacuum; wrong that derives from lack of a vacuum created by Mr. Obama’s understanding. Obama concluded that the abdication of the full power cost of a GM bankruptcy, which I and of his office; which includes the power to others argued was necessary was too much barbecue politically, his more intractable to be borne by the economy in its state of political opponents who stand in the way of weakness in 2009. He was correct. I progress for no principled reason. Mastery opposed the Economic Stimulus Packages in handling such opponents is the essential in 2009. Here again, Mr. Obama was right. stuff of politics, to which a leader must I opposed the packages because he did not quicken without excuses, beyond which lies have a proper bailout strategy for the best chance at greatness. homeowners being foreclosed upon; as he Mr. Obama suborned or induced and (and Bush) did for banks. Stimulus was the certainly permitted these outrages because easiest “fall back position” to sure up he did not wish to seem like an “angry consumer demand, thus keeping the US
Sadly, the damage wrought by this attitude was not confined to Mr. Obama himself. Overzealous about not appearing too ready to be a restorative president, Obama leapt to conclusions about Ms. Shirley Sherrod on the strength of a bogus video, purporting to show her giving intemperate remarks. This exposed a particular imparticularity in Mr. Obama’s vaunted pragmatism, which once denuded, left only reactionarism in its place. That is to say, owing in part to his resistance to appearing racial at all costs, he is left susceptible either to causing injury to Blacks or in the case of Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. - being arrested at his home – Mr. Obama sensationalised the situation, without bringing enlightenment to it. More ominously, as Mr. Obama is an adherent of the Civil Rights Movement, anyone concerned with how the rationale of Civil Rights coheres with the exercise of ultimate power, will have to study Mr. Obama’s
choices closely. It seems inconceivable that a person, with such a pedigree could have failed to place a single banker in prison after the financial crisis; or that under his watch Black men are literally walking in a shooting gallery on the streets of some American cities – not least amongst which is a searing Chicago - or that such a person - who was a community organiser and now a Nobel Peace Prize recipient - could oversee and expand Cheney’s prison strategy and a drone programme - in which - as reported by Intercept - over 90% of the casualties and fatalities are innocent people. At the same time - with typical Obama style smoothness - Mr. Obama waited until the last year of his presidency to release those imprisoned under the explicitly racist Clinton “three strikes” laws; forcing them to sit in prison even after he was convinced they had no cause to be there. Yet, he will be known to history as the president who 70
released more than the previous eight presidents combined. The prison releases too, are a loner’s means of gaining full credit for a restorative spirit which is merely a tool for legacy rather than a principled commitment. The timing of the releases indicates a “blind-spot”, consistent with Mr. Obama’s exclusion or avoidance of those with a legacy or a compelling set of demands on race; having failed to engage Civil Rights giants like His Excellency Andrew Young Jr. That considered, it is impossible to understand Mr. Obama’s failure to engage scholars/activists of his own generation, such as the inspiring Bryan Stevenson, who together with Michelle Alexander and Ta-Neshisi Coates are creating a new realist narrative on race. Curiously, in 1993, Mr. Ellis Cose – in “Rage of a Privileged Class” - wrote about
an elite segment of the ‘Black community’ that pursued and achieved every success America could afford a prudent, intelligent and committed person. And yet, despite all their successes, Cose exposed a tension: this elite group suffers routine racial bias and worse, racial profiling on the one hand, whilst fighting a suspicion from the Black community in general, as to whether they are ‘authentic’ representatives of the “black experience”, however one perceives that. Mr. Obama is thought of by many Black people as a talisman for this question: Is he representative? Does he belong to the Civil Rights tradition or the struggle? This implies that his acceptability to the dominant culture limits his representation of the Black community; in spite of the community’s disposition toward and inclination to support him and those like him, if only as
an unremitting point of pride. It means, despite the complexity of Mr. Obama’s character, or the drivers of race, class, education, experience and personality that informed his decision-making, which cultivated his strengths and weaknesses – however one perceives them - it is almost certain that only a Black man with his reticence toward “seeming culturally Black” or being in any way restorative, could have been elected President of the United States.
experiences have been legitimate occupants in the White House. In the end, Mr. Obama is like a man in a suit who enters onto the basketball court, who proves he can play by taking a few successful shots. However, he refuses to sweat or get dirty, yet wants to be known and respected as a “baller”. Unfortunately, even under the best description, that’s just not the game.
I return to the point I made to my sons: The office of the presidency, even under a president taken to be Black, whilst it has many options for celebration as a historical fact, could not prioritise the lives of Blacks, even in a country with a history of racism; unless its occupant is prepared to risk his serene equipoise to achieve something substantial. Mr. Obama is a fine man and has been a good president, and is rightly loved, the world over. He was good for America, and whomever follows him is likely to be worse - insofar as comparisons will be made. However, he has not changed America - nor brought change to America by having been president. That requires another type of muscle and he was unwilling in every case to sweat for that. He has “moved the ball down the road” by the same unjust and expedient mechanisms and conventions he met in the presidency. We are proud of him and his beautiful family, because in many ways - inversely it means people who can relate to our
Gilbert NMO Morris is a leading expert on financial centres, was appointed Special Envoy from the Office of the Premier of Turks and Caicos to the House of Lords; was chairman Of the Turks and Caicos National Investment Agency & Bank and is co-author of The New York Times ranked bestseller "Rescue America". He lives wherever his plane lands and believes cigars are a vegetable.
The Journey: A Moment of Silence Latasha Strachan
Noise has changed in the 21st century thanks to technology. It’s subtle and constant and even ‘quiet’ in most instances. Noise is in the atmosphere; it’s the energy you can sense even when you can’t see or hear anything. Everywhere there is a running commentary on everything under the sun. Whether it’s the status feed on Facebook, the comments thread on Yahoo, or the Tweets, texts and Whatsapps. Everywhere there’s a conversation going on, except there’s often no real conversation, just people making statements into the air.
really listening anyway. How did we get to the place where we have all these platforms for talking, but did not build in any requirement for listening? Maybe there’s an app for that…hmmmm. Yes, I criticize it, but I can’t pretend as though I’m exempt. I pray daily that I’d be relevant in my generation, so I blog; I’m on Facebook and Whatsapp too. I am trying to keep pace, but in the midst of it, I am also trying to carve out time for listening, only listening, and I’ll admit that it’s getting harder to do.
So should we hang up our hats and kiss our You can be as ‘loud’ as you dare, and say Androids goodbye? Not exactly; I believe almost anything you want because no one is the Spirit can help us with this, as he does
with everything else, but first we have to stop talking.
One of the most fascinating things that Jesus ever said was that he did nothing on his own, but only spoke what the Father taught him (John 8:28). It’s a model for every believer, I know that in my heart. The Holy Spirit came to help us and to reveal truth to us, so all we need is to go inward and let the Spirit give us words to speak. God can and does speak in this age of technology, but only through those who will first listen.
can be like Jesus, hear the Spirit and then respond with The Answer. We are the light of the world.
He’s the same God. Throughout the Bible his pattern did not vary; he spoke to those who listened. Let’s stop long enough for the Spirit of God to tell us what we should be doing and saying. The Spirit is the one that keeps us truly connected to each other, not Facebook, not Twitter, not Instagram. There are problems that need solving, wounds that need binding, and people that need loving. They are out there and they are shouting at the top of their lungs with every device they own! Will you and I be the ones to listen? And then, will you and I be the ones to answer? The Bible tells us the there are many people ready for the Good News, but we lack those who will go out and share it (Luke 9:37). Jesus called Himself the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). He is the answer to every situation that ever was and ever will be. We are his hands and feet and his voice. My friends, let’s take a few extra moments this week to be silent and draw from the Spirit so that when the world speaks, we
Latasha Strachan is a writer, trained educator and homeschooling mother. She is also the founder and contributing editor for The Journey, a collaborative blog featuring Christian Caribbean women writers.
Hello Irene! . . . I Mean, Matthew! Ian & Latasha Strachan
Hurricanes are not strangers to us here in The Bahamas. They are a part of life, like the long days of summer, like the crabs in the rainy season, like the drums of Christmas night. The storms of summer can teach us a lot about life. About the destructive and creative nature of life. I am grateful for what the storm teaches. Even as I humbly accept the destruction it caused, gratefully accept that it took no life in these islands, sadly accept the displacement and pain it brought to many who are now homeless, I know that these storms are a part of the design, the order of things.
things that last in life require weightiness, and deep, deep, roots. The storm breaks what is unwilling to bend. We always hear people talk about how change is inevitable, but when change comes in the form of adversity, we stench. I like a good fight; if you push me I’m going to resist, even push back, but the magnificent, terrible power of life’s storms does not give us the option to resist. It’s the kind of pressure that is useful only when you yield to it. Not yielding is just a bad idea. It’s easier said than done, I know. How do you yield to unemployment, or to divorce? I don’t think it’s by rolling over and dying, that’s not yielding that’s giving up. Yielding is more like having to turning left when your plan was to turn right. You’re still moving forward, just not in the direction you had hoped.
The storm tears down what is weak. When faced with pressure, nothing falls as fast as something that has no spine, no grip. When you are carrying around a lot of loose stuff, a strong gust of trouble will strip you bare and leave you with only the things and people that The storm forces you to evaluate your life for are determined to go all the way with you. The what it really is. When you survey the end This article was first published in The Nassau Guardian September 1, 2011 as "Hello Irene"
result of a storm what you have is what you’ve got. Everything is laid out pretty plainly. It is then that you can begin to think clearly, and assess the impact. When I glanced out my back door and saw my fallen mango tree I thought about how much I’d miss those sweet mangoes, how much I’d miss the shade it gave me from the sun, and how much it would ultimately cost me to have that tree disposed of. But then my wife came over and all she saw was how much more space we had in the yard now that the tree was down. Both of us are right about what we saw and felt. I saw the loss, she saw the potential; both are truths that must be embraced before we can move ahead.
hardship, it does make you look around for people who love you. If you never needed love before, you need it when you are down. Just as we run to our physical houses and “batten up” with all that we hold dear during bad weather, we are wise to do the same when our figurative storms come. When I am with my family I feel that I have what matters most. A lot can go wrong, a whole lot, but I always feel that recovery is possible because of the people who love me. When hard times come, there should be someone you can turn to, who, without judgment, can help clean up the debris and help you put the house back in order.
There is beauty in the tropical cyclone, spinning counter clockwise, just as the The storm inspires you to rebuild; and earth spins, just as the galaxy spins. The experience teaches you to rebuild even storm is a beautiful terror. The old folks stronger. If you thought you had a strong say that God speaks in the thunder and we marriage, but then it is punched in the gut by betrayal, a life threatening illness, or the should be quiet, be still and listen. loss of a loved one you will quickly see and Everything must be still while He talks. I feel all the sore, vulnerable, weak spots that still believe that God speaks through the you did not know were there. However, if wind, the rising water, the crashing waves, you manage to survive the blow, and yield the breaking stone, the lightning strike and to the changes it brings, you will eventually the thunder. I know that He speaks during our greatest hurts as well. be inspired to rebuild. Perhaps not right away, but one day, and prayerfully you will As C. S. Lewis once wrote, “God whispers not forget how the storm caught you the last to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our time. You will use what you have lived conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His through to come back stronger. megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” The storm makes you go home, to your core, to the ones you love and care about the most. Whatever else can be said about 76
Junkanoo Boxing Day 2014 Photo by Ariel Garraway