A crucial time in the nation’s history, January 10, 1967, Majority Rule Day, as one which left an indelible mark for many, leading up to the Commonwealth of The Bahamas gaining independence on July 10, 1973. Two former political leaders spoke to this daily on how this milestone not only affected them personally, but The Bahamas in general.
Enjoying the festivities held downtown Freeport on Monday, in recognition of Majority Rule Day 49th Anniversary, which, this year, fell on a Sunday, former Ambassadors of the Bahamas C. A. Smith and Maurice Moore shared what they remembered on the historic day and how, “life as we now know it has been transformed,” as well as what their hopes and dreams are now for the country of their birth.
According to Smith, it was important for him to be a part of the festivities on Monday celebrating the Majority Rule Day, which became a public holiday for the Commonwealth three years ago.
“The significance of this celebration here, today, is that it was because of Majority Rule that the freedom we enjoy today is a reality. Independence has been a byproduct of Majority Rule and therefore, we must remember to not only honor, but also respect those persons who have been responsible for bringing in majority rule and independence.
“Now that these two great forwards have been made, it is real time for us to move towards our next great challenge; that is the challenge to ensure that we have equal opportunity for all Bahamians. Our constitution still provides a discriminatory clause against our Bahamian women. That must be removed. It is going to take our young people to ensure that they take the ball and move it forward and remove that discriminatory practice in our country,” stated Smith.
The former Cabinet Minister under the Free National Movement, having served in the capacities of Minister of Education, Minister of Public Safety and Immigration, Minister of Tourism, and Minister of Transport and Local Government, shared his hopes for the future of the country of which he proudly represented as Ambassador to The Bahamas Embassy in Washington D. C. in 2007.
“I hope that the peace and prosperity that we fought for could be realized. We still have too much crime; we still have too many persons who are unable to find meaningful employment. We have too many people who find that access to a quality of life is not available to them. It is the social aspect of our country for which we must now begin to work on and to change.
“I think the festivities here, today, are great. Those that are responsible for planning it and putting it on have done a great job. I think that what we need to do is have more Bahamians become involved in it because too many Bahamians are staying away from this very important aspect of our history,” stated Smith.
Serving on both the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), under the leadership of Sir Lynden Pindling, followed by he and seven other members who went on to form what is widely known as the ‘Dissident Eight’ resulting in the formation of the FNM political party, Moore said, “This celebration is an indication of the people’s appreciation that after almost a half a century, people are beginning to understand what it is to be in control of their own destiny.
“This is what this is all about; there are many things that have taken place over the last, almost 50 years, which have made life easier for us. But, there are so many more things that need to be done; one of them that bothers me, is the satisfaction of our people, whether you are black, white, rich or poor, to be treated alike, that is one of the most important things that I see. There is too much political posturing that the government and to some extend by the opposition; the Bahamian people need to be equally treated, at every level of society. That is the one thing that I would like to see before I leave the scene”, said Moore.
Giving remarks during the event, the former Ambassador to the United Nations further expressed, “I call on the government and the leaders of our country to establish an ombudsman. An ombudsman is an individual that the country pays for, but he or she is appointed by Parliament and the problems that you hear from our brothers and sisters on the streets, who cannot afford an attorney, they will go to the ombudsman, and they will decide whether what they are saying is right or wrong, and what they deserve, particularly in the areas of labour and in government contracts.”
Having an extensive political career, which included being Member of Parliament for the former High Rock Constituency, Minister of Labour, Human Resources and Training, Minister of Social Development, Permanent Representative of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas to the United Nations, Moore added, “I want, for the next year that we celebrate this, for this to be a celebration all of the people, from every walk of life. I do not want any politics in it. I am pleased to say, so far, that Dr. Nesbitt and our great leader in this Dr. Cecil Thompson, I am proud of those two persons, they have done an excellent job trying to find the shoulders that held up the building of this great nation.”
In conclusion he said, “I do not want any government to carry on with this political nonsense that is going on, treating one person from a party one way and treating others from another party another way. That is not good for the building of a sound nation. I do not know why God has kept me this long, but, I am ready tomorrow, if need be, to let the country know, and let the political leaders know too, that it is time to give every Bahamian equal treatment.”
Published Thursday, January 14, 2016