Prime Minister Remarks at Official Launch of 40th Anniversary Independence Celebrations
Mar 12, 2013 - 11:33:31 PM
Prime Minister of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas at the official launch of the 40th Anniversary Independence Celebrations for The Bahamas on March 12th. Photo: Azaleta Ishmael-Newry
The Hon. Perry G. Christie
The Official Launch
Of 40th Anniversary Independence Celebrations
Tuesday, 12th March 2013
Today we officially launch the 40th Anniversary Independence Celebrations for The Bahamas. It is a momentous occasion for our country and it is an important one. The theme for the year of celebrations is “The Bridge to the Future… The Journey Continues”. This theme suggests a transition, a crossing over and a progression and a connection to our past. It is forward looking, but acknowledges that we are continuing a great work.
Throughout The Bahamas and the world, Bahamians should treasure this milestone, acknowledge the journey that brought us here and celebrate. Perhaps now, more than ever, Timothy Gibson’s words should resonate with us.
Pledge to excel through love and unity.
Pressing onwards, march together to a common loftier goal; This celebration is for all Bahamians and it calls on us, not only to remember the journey that brought us here, but to work together to continue to achieve worthy goals for our country and ourselves.
As a proud member of the generation that ushered in our country’s Independence on July 10th, 1973, I truly feel that while we cross the bridge to the future, we must see the bridge as a connection to those of the Independence Generation. Truly, the significance of celebrating the 40th Anniversary is that this is the last time that both generations will be able to work side by side in marking this pivotal event in our country’s history.
This is the last time that we will be able to hear the voices of the Independence Generation and I implore you to listen. Nationally, personally, locally, in neighbourhoods and classrooms, seek out the Independence Generation. We must have them tell us their stories. It may simply be a retelling of a grandmother’s Independence morning experience; it may be the airing of the complete Portraits series; it may be an interview with a member of the Women’s Suffragette Movement, however we do it, it must be done.
Charles Carter and Prime Minister of The Bahamas, the Rt Hon Perry G. Christie Photo: Azaleta Ishmael-Newry
The bridge to the future also foreshadows the work that must be done. Great things, great ideas, great changes require planning, and no small amount of it. As we pause to celebrate this 40th Anniversary, to recognise the people and history that brought us to this point, we must begin to build the foundation for the 50th Anniversary of our Independence. We need imagine what we want The Bahamas to be then, and begin now to lay the foundations for that reality.
I believe that part of what is right for our country, on this Independence journey, is to record, preserve and honour our history and culture. We have been, in many respects, negligent of our heroes and our history. It is vital that every Bahamian, of every background know their history. Every Bahamian student should be able to tell the story of Majority Rule and Independence. We must give the proper attention to these things. Our Bahamian heroes must have permanence in the Bahamian Story. We must write it well, so that even after death they live.
In my last term as Prime Minister I appointed the National Cultural Development Commission with the mission to organize and formulate a wide range of policies and positions on cultural matters. The framework for a National Honours system was passed and this year, we will honour deserving Bahamians with our own award. This public honouring will not only draw the necessary attention to these individuals, it will be the best way that a grateful nation can say thank you.
The National Independence Committee is also working with The College of The Bahamas on hosting the 40th Anniversary Independence Conference. This conference, which will be held June 12th – 14th, 2013 and is open to the public, will do much help further educate us and examine what the future of The Bahamas can be. The aim of the conference is to examine the context and construction of the Bahamian nation; investigate the challenges emerging in the post-independence period; discuss contemporary social, cultural, economic and political issues that have emerged since 1973; and explore future prospects for nation building and development.
Winners of the logo competition for the Bahamas' 40th Independence Celebrations are: Addis Huyler, left and Kishan Munroe, second from right, posing with Dame Marguerite Pindling, widow of the country's first Prime Minister, Sir Lynden Pindling, center, and Rev. Philip Rahming, right, who wrote the National Pledge of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas. Photo by Azaleta Ishmael-Newry.
In planning the celebrations for the Anniversary, the committee felt it was critical to host events that will showcase our arts and culture. I have said before that it is important to the development of our national identity and to the deepening of our Bahamian culture that our artists have a high level of support. We often enjoy and celebrate what other nations in the world have offered us and we forget that we have produced many cultural icons who have influenced them.
Already we have recognised Sir Sidney Poitier for his contributions. In recognizing him, we helped to sensitize and educate a new generation of Bahamian youth who were unaware of his national and global significance. This year, and beyond, we must also lift up the names of Joseph Spence, Roxie Roker, Bert Williams and others.
40 years is a long time. The world has changed and so have The Bahamas and Bahamians. Our little Nassau has grown; filled with greater numbers of people and in its topography. Over the last 40 years we have achieved a lot as a nation, but there is much more that we must work toward. Our journey continues and I am proud to say that I believe we are headed in the right direction. This year, we will pause and as a united people, celebrate 40 years of being independent Bahamians. What makes this special is that we will celebrate with those who worked feverishly to usher in Independence. We must see the gift in this. Rev. Philip Rahming wrote in the Pledge of Allegiance that we are “one people united in love and service.” I truly hope that this year, as we cross the bridge to the future we cross is as one Bahamas.
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