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Tribute to Sir Clement Maynard
By Sir Arthur Foulkes
Oct 13, 2009 - 10:16:21 AM

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Tribute to

Sir Clement Maynard


Sir Arthur Foulkes

Memorial Service

BFM Diplomatic Centre

10 October 2009

“If there is no struggle there is no progress. There are those who profess to favour freedom and yet deprecate agitation. They want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.”

We have come to mourn the loss of Clement Trevelyan Maynard but also to celebrate his life and service as one of the founders of our modern, stable, fully emancipated and democratic Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

He served his country for three decades in the highest echelons of our Government and contributed mightily to our economic, social, political and constitutional development.

I join with all Bahamians in expressing our gratitude for his long and excellent service to our country in the many ministerial portfolios he held with distinction over these years, including that of Minister of Tourism and Deputy Prime Minister.

But in my humble contribution to his memorialization this afternoon, I have chosen to say a few inadequate words about a friend, a brother and a comrade in the struggle for the second emancipation of the Bahamian people, the struggle that culminated in the dramatic and historic events of January 1967.

That is why I chose to begin with those wonderful words from Frederick Douglass, the brilliant American orator and abolitionist. They were among the words, ideas and example of other enlightened men and women, freedom lovers and emancipators that inspired Clement Maynard and his comrades in the Fifties and Sixties.

They were words that were acutely relevant to the unfinished struggle for complete equality for all Bahamians, not just white Bahamians or near-white Bahamians, but all Bahamians, black and white.

There are some things in life that lend themselves well to compromise; indeed, some things cry out for compromise. But there are some things that cannot, should not, be compromised.

Men and women of integrity cannot compromise their right to equality. Equality cannot be measured by a light meter, nor can it be administered one teaspoonful at a time.

So it was an uncompromising struggle for the full equality of all Bahamians regardless of race, colour, gender or ethnic origin. And it was an uncompromising struggle for the fundamental and unfettered right of the Bahamian people to choose their own leaders from among themselves.

It needs to be said as bluntly as that because there are always those who will attempt to misrepresent history, either out of ignorance, which is forgivable, or to suit some special agenda, which is not so easily tolerated.

The struggle was to fling wide open the doors that were then either tightly shut or barely ajar for a chosen few to pass through.

The struggle that Sir Clement and his comrades joined was against an economic system to which black Bahamians had only limited access, and then only by the sufferance of the entrenched powers of the day.

It was a system in which the law provided that Bahamian children were entitled to be educated in public schools only up to the age of 14. And only a few were able to go beyond that. That is if they could afford to go to a private school and if the colour of their skin was not so dark as to deny them admission.

Or if they were fortunate enough to qualify for the Government High School, an institution that had been grudgingly created in 1925 as the first secondary school open to black Bahamians. Fewer yet could dare to dream about tertiary education in the great institutions of Europe or North America.

The colonial approach to the education of blacks in The Bahamas had for generations constituted a grave injustice as described by Bahamian historian Gail Saunders:

“In general, Bahamian education was designed to provide minimal literacy and sound moral training rather than social mobility or even useful skills.”

In other words, black Bahamians were expected to be good, to be obedient and, above all, to stay in their place.

This policy was underlined by overt discrimination against black Bahamians in public places including restaurants, theatres and hotels. That odious practice crumbled in the face of a dramatic assault by Sir Etienne Dupuch in 1956.

So if a reasonably bright future was to be attained through education, then the vast majority of Bahamians could only look forward to rather bleak prospects.

We look back now so we might understand the nature of the grand enterprise to which Sir Clement Maynard and his comrades had committed themselves.

We look back so that we might understand what motivated this great Bahamian throughout his long years of public service.

And we look back not in anger over past injustices but in a spirit of joy and pride and thanksgiving that Sir Clement and his comrades were in the end victorious.

It was a difficult and demanding enterprise because, as Frederick Douglass had warned, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

Sir Clement was among those who boldly demanded equality and he was in the trenches with those who fought for the rights of the Bahamian people. He was not afraid to struggle, to plow, to agitate, to endure the thunder and lightning, and the awful roar of the ocean.

The struggle was against an unyielding and entrenched oligarchy, against a mighty colonial power, against an electoral system that had only a nodding acquaintance with the principles of democracy, and, alas, against the residual psychological effects of a dehumanizing slavery.

The scarring effects of generations of pernicious brainwashing and distorted history had to be confronted. The greater challenge was, as Sir Lynden Pindling once put it, not the shackles on our feet, but the shackles our minds.

In the face of such odds Sir Clement and his comrades had to make many sacrifices, endure years of disappointment, and spend countless days and nights of arduous toil.

At the same time they had to prepare themselves for the day when some of them would be called upon to represent their people.
They educated themselves and read everything remotely related to their quest.And they read some things they were not supposed to read.

In those days Lady Maynard was a very successful travel professional with British Overseas Airways Corporation so Sir Clement had more opportunities to travel than the rest of us. And whenever he did he took our shopping list of books that could not be found in The Bahamas but were readily available in the bookstores of London.

It had obviously been decided that it would be too dangerous to allow the natives to read certain books -- the same position taken with regard to Sidney Poitier’s movie No Way Out.

Among these were books written by brilliant West Indian intellectuals and revolutionaries who were shaking the foundations of the imperial powers; among them were C. L. R. James, Frantz Fanon and George Padmore.

I believe that Lady Maynard may be a relative of George Padmore, who became an adviser of President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and chief architect of his Pan African Movement.

The struggle was, and again I borrow from Frederick Douglass, “exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing.”

Clement Trevelyan Maynard was never one to do nothing. He was a freedom fighter and a passionate crusader for the political, social and economic emancipation of the Bahamian people.

My Dear Friends:

Bear with me a few more moments and forgive me for the personal references I am about to make.

Politics, that most noble of professions, can sometimes, unfortunately, descend into something approaching savagery. And it seems that there is no greater fury in the political arena as when colleagues turn on each other.

So it was when some of us who had been in the trenches together in the struggle for the second emancipation decided that we could better serve our country in a different political organization.

It was then that Sir Clement and I found ourselves on opposite sides of the political divide. But although we were no longer political colleagues, we remained good friends throughout the years.

I believe Sir Clement was as pleased as I am to see his daughter, Allyson, and my son, Dion, face each other across the table in the Senate, but still carrying on our families’ tradition of friendship.

Sir Clement did not give in to the temptation to punish and ostracize his former comrades for exercising the democratic rights for which he and they had fought so hard and sacrificed so much.

Indeed, on more than one occasion he demonstrated his concern for the welfare and professional advancement of members of my family.

Sir Clement was also capable of a gesture that is seldom seen in our political arena. I remember when he invited me to attend an event in connection with the development of Bahamasair. Having regard to the political climate in those days, just extending that invitation was notable enough.

But Sir Clement stunned the mostly civil service and partisan crowd in the room when he announced that he was following on with the dream that his friend Arthur Foulkes had earlier pursued about the development of a national airline.Such political generosity is rare indeed.

Now, as the curtain draws across the stage of our living memory and as those of us who were privileged to take part in the great drama disappear from the scene, one by one, we must leave the rest to history and, we hope, as a goodly inheritance for future generations of Bahamians.

Lady Maynard, I believe you know the depth of our sincerity when I tell you that Joan and I, and every member of my family, share in your loss and extend to you and all your family our heartfelt condolences.

My friend Clement Trevelyan Maynard was a freedom fighter, an accomplished parliamentarian, a nation builder and a great human being.

May he rest in peace.

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