Pamela Burnside: National Heroes Day – The good, the bad, and the ugly
By Pamela Burnside
Oct 13, 2020 - 9:51:51 AM
On This National Heroes Day, as we remain locked down in our homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is an ideal time to reflect on the meaning of this holiday that was, for so many years, avidly fought for by S. Sebastian Campbell and his National Heroes Committee.
In a recent letter to the press, Campbell highlighted six points as he respectfully advocated for more Bahamian awareness, education, and adherence to their original plan, particularly with regard to the bestowing of National Honours. These were envisioned to replace the British Honours and fully celebrate the achievements of Bahamian heroes throughout our archipelago with pride for their contributions to national development. This, unfortunately, has not happened and the National Honours remain overshadowed by an apparent reluctance to release the shackles of colonial bondage.
Recently, Columbus’ statue atop Government House sparked public conversations and controversy that many found difficult to embrace, and even though the country finally changed the name of this holiday to better reflect where we stand in an independent 21st century Bahamas, what do the overall actions of the ‘powers that be’ as well as those of we, the people, really demonstrate for us as a nation, 47 years after Independence? Are we bold enough to believe in ourselves first, and admit that ‘foreign’ is not always superior? Do we feel secure enough to claim our ignorance and invest in our own? Are we willing to truthfully identify those attributes in our society that can be labeled – the good, the bad, and the ugly? And are we prepared to work together to truly celebrate the good, and actively correct the bad and the ugly?
Only an honest and respectful two-way dialogue of listening and communicating will take us to a better place. If we are content to retain the status quo obtained from the use of the same old models, and are too ignorant and lazy to be creative enough to achieve a more effective outcome, then we will remain shackled, living in a dual reality that we, as a people, do not recognize nor fully understand because we cannot ‘see what we lookin’ at’ that is staring us right in the face, clearly delineated in the riveting words inscribed by our Bahamian framers for the occasion of our Independence in 1973:
THE COAT OF ARMS MOTTO: “Forward Upward Onward Together”
THE NATIONAL FLAG: “Black, a strong colour, represents the vigour and force of a united people; the triangle pointing represents the enterprise and determination of the Bahamian people to develop and process the rich resources of land and sea, symbolised by gold and aquamarine, respectively.”
THE PLEDGE: “I Pledge my allegiance to…. the Commonwealth of The Bahamas
One people, united in love and service”
THE NATIONAL ANTHEM: “Lift up your head to the rising sun, Bahamaland
March on to glory, your bright banners waving high
See how the world marks the manner of our bearing
Pledge to excel through love and unity
Pressing onwards, march together to a common loftier goal…”
There is much work still to be done. I would, therefore, like to encourage us all to open our eyes and focus on what national, independence and unity truly means by using these powerful words as our shining guide as we attempt to manoeuvre through this strange and daunting environment that has resulted from the dual disasters of Dorian and COVID-19. By reaching back into our history we can be guided by the resilience of our ancestors, whose fortitude to survive, united as a community, was continually achieved through their ingenuity and common sense.
Everything in Nature requires balance for survival. Our strengths as Bahamians reside within the power of our unique culture and creativity with which we have been blessed. Now, more than ever, we need to invest in our people first, and concentrate on developing these abilities as a community of a family of islands for our benefit, whilst fiercely protecting our sustainable resources for the benefit of generations to come. All of us must press forward, upward, onward together. Our future depends on it!
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private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of
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