On January 10th, 1967, a new Bahamas was born. Majority rule was achieved and for the first time in our history since slavery, the elected body of government was representative of its people. Some political chess moves were made as Sir Randol Fawkes and Sir Alfred Braynen joined the PLP in the house of assembly, enabling The Rt. Honorable Sir Lynden Pindling to become the first black prime minister of the Bahamas.
There must have been a sense of pride amongst Bahamians because for the first time a black man was about to lead the Bahamas. There also must have been a sense of fear because some Bahamians might have been wandering if a Black Bahamian could run the affairs of the country.
But Sir Lynden did. He had a vision for the Bahamas and sought to put it into action. Under his visionary leadership we saw the formation of the Central Bank of the Bahamas, the National Insurance Board, The Royal Bahamas Defense Force and a host of other major programs still in operation today. Sir Lynden sought to provide the means for Bahamians to become educated and most importantly he was hell bent on ensuring that Bahamians could secure jobs. You see in the late 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, it was all about securing jobs for Bahamians. And this is what Pindling ensured happened.
I know detractors might look at this scenario differently and speak about the padding of workers at government corporations, the neglect of the Family Islands and a host of other things that occurred under Sir Lynden’s watch. But for his time, Sir Lynden ensured that Bahamians at the least could feed themselves. If we remember, he even disallowed the selling of property to foreigners, a despicable act that is allowed by our governments today. Sir Lynden was more favorable to his countryman becoming wealthy as opposed to foreigners reaping the rewards for contracts Bahamians are capable of performing.
The Bahamas of today in my view is and has been suffering from a severe case of a lack of vision. In 1992, Pindling lost the general elections to Hubert Alexander Ingraham. One of the reasons why Pindling lost was because he had no future clear vision for the country. He had taken the Bahamas as far as he could and the people knew it.
The King James Version of the Holy Bible says in Proverbs chapter 29, verse 18 that “Where there is no vision the people perish”. The writer of this script knew that vision was more important than who is leading. In fact vision should always outlive leaders. Visions are supposed to transcend generations.
In 1992, Ingraham ushered in a new ray of hope for Bahamians. One of his infamous remarks in the 92 general elections was, “We will create a Bahamas for all Bahamians, and not some”. In my view, this was Ingraham’s vision. He sought to employ Bahamians, no matter their political affiliation in top positions in the country. No one can dispute the dedicated and hard worker that Ingraham is. I vividly remember when he challenged old customs by demanding that past government ministers make arrangements to pay their hefty bills at the Bahamas Electricity Corporation, the Water and Sewerage Corporation and Batelco.
Ingraham started to put infrastructure in the Family islands on a scale that had never been accomplished or attempted before or since in the Bahamas. He had done something where Pindling had only scratched the surface.
In 2002, Tommy Turnquest lost the general elections to Perry Christie, even though pundits will say that Ingraham was the reason for the loss. Christie ushered in a new era of seeming prosperity for the Bahamas as the economy seemed to be on the up climb. There was much talk of anchor projects and today, a few of the projects that were initiated under Christie’s watch have come to fruition.
Christie lost in 2007 to Ingraham. The last Ingraham administration faced a mammoth task of keeping our economy afloat, partly due to the world economic depression of 2008. Since then, the manifestations of our non visionary leadership have come to fruition. Looking back specifically at the last 10 years in hindsight, it is evident that the Bahamas is on a one way trip to destruction. Our national debt has soared, our crime rate has in some cases quadrupled, we are selling Bahamians out and we are not providing true economic growth for our citizenry.
Pindling’s vision was to secure Bahamian jobs. The vision of Christie and Ingraham was to secure Bahamian jobs. Certainly, the Bahamian of today needs more from his country. Something is clearly wrong with this picture. We need ownership of our country. I am flabbergasted at how our leaders continue to brag about the jobs that will be created for Bahamians when in fact, we should be creating ownership opportunities.
Someone once said that “In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is King”. And I do believe that a lot of Bahamians are still fast asleep and continue to be in dreamland. Our leaders are seeing through one eye and we have continued to inexplicably blind ourselves. We too have made a contribution to our current state of affairs.
Bahamians are now in peril, mainly because its leadership core consistently lacks a proper vision for our country. We have been in a leadership crisis over the last 10 years. Education, crime, the public bus system and our financial state are just a few examples where this is manifested. Many Bahamians can’t adequately provide for their families, personal debt is accumulating and they are living below the misery index.
The outlook is still bleak, but it can change. We have enough land to feed ourselves and we have an untapped and underutilized intellectual capacity in many of our citizenry who are eager put great ideas in motion. Leaders don’t have all the answers, but in their wisdom, they must make decisions for the advancement of its citizens and lead the way. A bad decision today, can adversely affect the next generation.
That’s why we need leaders with a vision who will act, something very lacking in this great Bahamas.