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Columns : Opinions - Joye Ritchie Greene Last Updated: Feb 6, 2017 - 2:32:04 PM

Renter or Owner?
By Joye Ritchie-Greene
Apr 28, 2008 - 11:19:58 AM

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This whole notion of who we are and where we are headed once again came to mind after I read young Master Lancelot Darville’s speech in the Freeport News last week.   In this article, Mr. Darville spoke about the high incidence of violent crime committed by young men toward young men.   He asserted that the young men and women of this country need to “take back our country from crime.”

            While crime is a crucial factor plaguing our neighbourhoods, schools and homes, I believe knowing what it is we want to “get back to”, is even more important.   So when Mr. Darville opines that young people need to take back their country, one must ask what it is that they will be taking back.

            A generation usually spans 20 years; so the generation that precedes today’s teenagers, would be the individuals who are now in their late thirties and early forties.   These individuals would have been teenagers during the hay day of drug trafficking throughout many of these Bahama Islands.   And, it would have been the generation twice removed from today’s youth who profited from the illicit sale of drugs.

            During that time in our history, money was flowing through every orifice of both the public and private sectors, while morals and work ethic were falling rapidly in the toilet.   So while Mr. Darville yearns for a faux utopia of yesteryear, we need to open our eyes to the reality of what exists today.

            The two most populated islands in this country have become a melting pot of nationalities.   There are people from almost every continent residing on Grand Bahama and New Providence.   And, because of this blending of personalities, values, work ethics, and traditions, The Bahamas of yesteryear no longer exists.

            The unfortunate truth is that today, many young men and women who were born in this country are told that they are not Bahamian because of their parents’ nationality.   These young people live in the country, but have not been allowed to root themselves fully into the society.

            This kind of living situation can be compared to those persons who rent and those who own their property.   And, the sad truth is that too many of the people living in Grand Bahama and New Providence are renters and therefore do not have a vested interest in preserving the integrity and virtues of this Bahamaland.

            Consider for a moment the person who owns his own property.   He would usually see to it that his investment gains equity over time.   The reason people would paint their houses and manicure their yards is to exhibit their pride and connection to their environment; solidifying that this is where they belong.

            For a person who rents however, such a feeling of belonging and stability does not exist.   Renters are transitory and do not usually form any lasting attachments to their dwelling place.   The need to make lasting relationships with neighbours is not necessary since they will be moving on in short order.

            Consequently then, the young man who is told that he is not a Bahamian, even though he was born in this country, is in effect being told that he is a renter, and there is no guarantee that his lease has the option of rent to own.

            Therefore, if such an individual has very little chance of owning “piece of the rock,” why should he care what happens to it?   Lots of people talk about this violence that exists, but the root of the problem is that renters have not been have been allowed to plant their roots into the soil, therefore their seeds blow aimlessly from place to place.  

            While this problem with renters does not exist throughout The Bahamas, it does affect the majority of its citizens.   So, if others like young Master Darville wish to “take back” this country from crime, pressure must be placed on the government to create an environment of more owner occupied properties and stop forcing people to remain renter’s generation after generation.

About the author: Joye Ritchie-Greene is an Educational Consultant, Writer and Martial Arts Instructor. She is the owner/operator of The Bahamas Martial Arts Academy; president of Time-Out Productions; and is also a columnist for the Freeport News. She has a B.A. in English and an M.S. in Human Resources, resides in Freeport, Grand Bahama with her husband and enjoys playing tennis. Joye can be reached at joye_hel_ena@hotmail.com  

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