Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie announcing plans to honour legendary Bahamian actor, Academy Award winner Sir Sidney Poitier, during the launching of The Bahamas’ 40th Independence Anniversary celebrations on November 2, 2012. Pictured from left are Dr. Nicolette Bethel, co-chair Independence Committee; Prime Minister Christie; Charles Carter, co-chair Independence Committee; the Hon. Philip Davis, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works & Urban Development; and architect Michael Foster. (BIS Photo/Peter Ramsay)
NASSAU, The Bahamas - The
Bahamas’ 40th Independence Anniversary celebrations
will kick off on November 2, 2012 with a star-studded concert at the
Atlantis resort on Paradise Island honouring legendary Bahamian
actor, Academy Award winner Sir Sidney Poitier.
The announcement was made during a press conference
at Cabinet Office on Tuesday, October 9, during which the events were
endorsed by the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie, Prime Minister. Also present
were co-chairs of the Independence Committee Dr Nicolette Bethel and
The celebrations start November 2 – 3 “a
weekend of dedication and celebration” highlighting the best
in Bahamian talent combined with a special concert by Academy and Golden
Globe awards winner Jennifer Hudson, who will pay a special tribute
to Sir Sidney, the first black American to win an Oscar. The gospel
group the Region Bells are on the list of Bahamian talent to perform.
The efforts to celebrate Bahamian culture at its
highest level is in keeping with the Progressive Liberal Party Charter
for Governance which outlines the Government’s plans to have Bahamians
“fully understand and appreciate the culture and heritage of their
language, music, expressions, food, religion, and myths”.
“We are going to use the 40th Anniversary
as a catalyst to create this higher level of awareness about the importance
of developing, properly, the ethos of country and being able to connect
this island destination in a very special way through all of the components
that make up this country and the characteristic spirit that makes us
all Bahamians,” the Prime Minister said.
The Government also plans to rename the National
Centre for the Performing Arts after Sir Sidney Poitier, and the Atlantis
to name the bridge in his honour as well.
Sir Sidney was born on February 20, 1927 in Miami
to Bahamian parents, but grew up in Cat Island. In 1963 he became the
first black man to win an Academy Award for his role as Homer Smith
in Lilies of the Field. He served as Bahamas Non-resident Ambassador
to Japan and to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
The Prime Minister confirmed that Atlantis has agreed
to rename the bridge in honour of Sir Sidney. And, the national
arts centre in his honour, the same as the national stadium named after
Bahamian athlete Tommy A Robinson.
Architect Michael Foster has been asked to submit
plans for the redevelopment of the national arts threatre for the renaming
The Prime Minister said he was happy that the Independence
Committee chose to honour Sir Sidney - although there have been
a lot of debate on that.
“Sir Sidney not only has an incredible story, but
in his later years he made significant contributions in the field of
diplomacy to The Bahamas.”
The Prime Minister said it was a pleasure for him
to speak with Sir Sidney and have him invite whom he wishes, to attend
the weekend of celebrations in The Bahamas.
“Hopefully this would symbolise to The Bahamas
at large that we are now beginning a process that is intended to unite
us, intended to bring focus to what really keeps us together and to
minimise what divides us,” the Prime Minister said.
As to how much the Government plans to spend on the
celebrations, the Prime Minister agreed that it is priceless.
“From the point of view of what dollars we spent,
we will account for them. What I do know is that I will spear no efforts
to catch up with history that is escaping us now and every time one
of these great ones die, they bury a part of our history with them,”
Mr. Carter referred to Sir Sidney as “the most
famous Bahamian of our time.”
He said the celebration is the beginning of the joining
of two generations - from the generation that brought in Independence
on July 10, 1973.
“At that time the population was 180,000, it has
doubled since then. That generation is a diminishing one, we are on
our way out and it would be sad if we did not pass the baton to the
next generation,” he said. “It is going to be a wonderful opportunity
for us to reclaim our history and our heritage.”
Mr. Carter will also travel the islands to solicit
responses from Bahamians to find out what they like or not like about
The Bahamas, and what they would like the country to be.
Ms Bethel, who was a child during the 1973 Independence
celebration, said that it is never too expensive to celebrate the culture
of a nation. She too regards the 40th anniversary as the
catalyst toward celebrating the 50th
“It is never too expensive to celebrate one’s
nationhood, that is an investment that country’s need to be making.
We all need to step up and create the new Bahamas,” she said.
Other plans to celebrate the 40th Independence
Anniversary will be announced later.