|Posted by kymado on November 11, 2012 at 10:15 AM||comments (1)|
As a young Bahamian, I must admit that I was highly offended by your recent comments printed in the editorial dated October 24th, 2012. In this editorial entitled, “Both Political Parties in a State of Unrest”, you briefly reviewed the internal disputes that are occurring within the two major political parties amidst a myriad of issues in the Bahamas. You concluded your editorial saying that:
With both political parties in disarray, the Treasury broke and unwelcome signs of economic meltdown looming, we suggest that Mr Ingraham get a well-earned rest and prepare for the day — when like General Charles de Gaulle during the Algerian crisis in the fifties — he is recalled from retirement to right the ship of state.
I find your solution to our problems to be very disconcerting. With all due respect, we are no longer in the 1950s and any attempt to return to the past reflects your tunnel vision and overwhelmingly negative views of Bahamian youth. Sadly, your insistence on reliving the past demonstrates your disconnect with young people throughout this archipelago. I fear that your coverage of the youth crisis has blinded you from seeing the great potential that lies in my generation.
There are many things that the former Prime Minister could do to help us get back on course. A much better idea would be to encourage Mr Ingraham to dedicate his retirement to training and moulding the future political and civic leaders of the Bahamas. This is what our elder statesmen should be doing to ensure that their legacy lives on long after they are gone and buried.
As a young nation, we should heed the words of the Greek proverb that says, “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in”.
There is a sizeable group of young Bahamians who work extremely hard in their studies so that one day they can contribute to the development of the modern Bahamas that mighty men and women like Mr Ingraham helped to shape.
I encourage you and others who share your view to please reconsider your call for the former Prime Minister to return to frontline politics. Instead, see to it that when young Bahamians like myself return home and are ready and willing to serve, we are provided with a supportive environment of seasoned political and civic leaders. This is just an appeal from a young Bahamian that wants to make positive contributions to a country he calls home and to a people he calls family.
Kyle M Dorsett
|Posted by O'Niel Bain on August 28, 2012 at 12:55 AM||comments (0)|
Life in Nassau makes one a witness to many disturbing things; however, there is one thing at the root of many of this society’s problems that is so vexing it leaves those with eyes to see it with upset stomachs, each and every day.
This thing is mediocrity – mediocrity as accepted, absorbed, and reproduced by countless Bahamians in every sector of society.
In a short essay on this very same “cult of mediocrity” that has formed and engrained itself into Bahamian society, noted Bahamian scholar Nicolette Bethel highlights some of the same points I would like make note of here. Firstly, that many Bahamians have no problem with settling for far less than the best in effort, either from themselves or from others. In truth, the passable, the only barely tolerable, the very least that one can get away with, is what many people seem to choose in this country, when given the opportunity of choice. Give them no mention of hard work or accountability; they just want to be “okay”.
The most frightening aspect of this trait, I would have to say, is its insidiousness. Every time Bahamians allow someone to get away with a disservice, as they are wont to do, they make this problem greater. Mediocrity has been allowed to slowly work its way into the very culture of the Bahamas, so much so that it is impossible to go a day without some vendor’s expectation that one will accept his or her subpar service, some student hoping only for a D in a class, or some administrator who has found his or her sinecure in life, saying, “come back next week,” for something he or she could have, and should have, had done a month ago.
What is largely behind this problem is a refusal, on the part of many, to critique boldly that which they know to be wrong. I find that too often many Bahamians make excuses for every instance of mediocrity that arises, in the fashion of, “Our murder count for the year is 79 (and not nearly enough of these cases are even close to being solved), but we must continue to praise the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the Minister of National Security for their ‘hard work.’” Yes, they may be working hard, but if their tactics are grossly ineffective, are we still to sing their praises? We must be careful, for these excuses themselves are quite dangerous; their utterance can be seen as a more contemptible act than the actions they endorse, because they say to people, “we don’t care what you do and that you’re mediocre, we will applaud you anyway”. For, you see, when a people continue to not acknowledge what is good and what is bad, they begin to forget what these words mean, and how they apply to real life.
I think, therefore, that this is the point where we need to begin. Each and every individual in this country must question what it is that he or she finds to be right, using all of his or her rational faculties. Each person must create a standard from which to judge any and every action, and not only those of others, but of him or herself as well. Once this judgment can be made, acknowledged, and voiced, there should be less room for mediocrity to rear its ugly head.
[ O'Niel Bain is currently enrolled as an undergraduate student at the College of the Bahamas majoring in English. He has intentions of pursuing a career in academia upon completion of his graduate studies. ]
|Posted by Schin Nguyen on April 28, 2012 at 2:20 PM||comments (1)|
Zombies are the last of the monsters we are allowed to hate. It has been generations since it was even tolerable discriminate against the Other in the monster genre. Every villianous creature has been made sympathetic...except for the zombie; the last of overt prejudices encouraged in film, games and literature. We should ask ourselves, "what has the zombie community ever done to us as humans?" I cant think of anything except for being black
...oh yea, zombies are black, all of them.
At the very least they are the vestige of years of repressed racial and social prejudice precipitated through the medium of motion picture. I suppose that it is unfair for me to quell the innocent fun of just killing dumb animals on screen just because it offends me
...oh yea, it isnt.
These aren't just (PETA forgive me), dumb animals. These are humans shot in the head, decapitated, and depending on which zombie franchise, lynched all because of the fear of miscegenation. Yea, you see where this is going. They, i.e. the humans, are afraid to be like the zombies.They think zombies are savage, brutal and stupid; if a zombie bites you, you're going to end up just like them!
It is then necessary to avoid them at all cost; do as you must, because zombies aren't humans any way, not really at least. They're inferior in every way. Damn it all we need is a polygenesis theory and boat leaving West Africa and the picture would be complete!! Why are zombies typically mute, i.e. without a voice to tell their story or give their perspective?*
Why is it okay to portray these images repeatedly? Is it because it is an outlet for the deep seceded prejudices that burns within humans needing some release in a PC culture? In some of the more recent zombie sympathetic films where humans and zombies can live side by side in peace, we are given monsters capable of menial task …how noble of the humans to let zombies slave for them.
You really don't see any parallels?
(Warning:Angry College Black Man Rant)
Let us stop and look at the linguistic construct of the term that we have come to fear.
The word zombie is often traced to the Haitian tradition of zonbi, or the West African tradition of znumbe, a person/reanimated corpse, that is somewhere between dead and alive, incapable of speech and used as a slave, achieved by some dark voodoo magic. Of course if we look a little deeper we'll see another meaning; zombi, is a secondary name of the Damballah,the primary deity of the Vodou religion.
In fact the the word nzambi means god in some West African languages. What has happen is the slave meaning of the word has been reproduced so much that it has replaced and all but erased the divine meaning of the word from our minds. We have forgotten that zombi is the spirit of man, the soul that returns to God after the death of humans and that the creation of a zombi slave, is infact an interruption of this process. They--them damned humans have taken the black man's God and made him perpetually a monster that we should loathe and fear!!!
Okay, okay…I'm being a little harsh, lol. Not every Zombie movie director is a racist, just Terrintino, still though, why do we have to hate on the zombies so hard king?
*I Am Legend doesn't count, those are vampires.
|Posted by Schin Nguyen on April 20, 2012 at 7:40 PM||comments (0)|
I might get kick off this blog for saying this but still...she dead stupid.
She always on her LifeTime movie run, looking for a Prince Charming to save her, but watch her and dis reverse back feminist logic. Every day she always talking about, “all dese niggas dem ain't into nothing, who ain't a criminal, is cheat on you or on the down low or they selfish...” den after she describe the litany of problems with every man she ever meet, a brand new nigga come walking down the street, dis time he is evrything she say a good man is:
You know what she ga do...go right back to the same nigga that been screwing her over, literally and metaphorically.
I mean real talk... I ain't trying to be petty right, but she done gat two baby daddies. (They swing her with color ya see, one red, he is a dj and the next one yellow, he is a dancer.)
None a dem is take care a her children like dat! Flicken, they is borrow money from her, now she broke and talking bout she hungry.
Mussie in the pass 10 years they prolly give her 4 t-shirt between the two a dem
Instead she say, “lemme look out for my child” after all that complaining she ga go right back there to one a dem same niggas that only trying to screw her, literally and metaphorically.
So when she start crying bout she getting treat bad and ain' no good man I is don't even listen king. She ain't wan' try a next man or do nothing for herself so she get exactly what she looking for...
DIS TIME SHE ISA BIG GROWN RUSTY GYAL FLICKEN 39 YEARS OLD!!!!
so you see what I saying, The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is like a stupid woman that watches nothing but Life Time.
A parable about the state of the Bahamian Political Economy
|Posted by O'Niel Bain on March 3, 2012 at 11:50 AM||comments (0)|
There is a kind of writing that is extraordinary. It is unexpected; it makes people uncomfortable; it does not cater to the status quo. This kind of writing is revolutionary in nature.
Revolutionary writing is writing that will invoke change in the social and political landscapes of our country. Bahamian writer, Lynn Sweeting, aptly describes this kind of writing in her essay, “Art and Writing as Revolution,” stating that revolutionary writing comes from “the story that has never been told” and “the voice that has never spoken before.” In a country where so much of the power is held by a small elite group, there is a countless number of persons who are left out, and who are thus made voiceless in our society. It is by giving voice to these forgotten people that our work as writers becomes significant.
Revolutionary writing is writing that brings these voiceless people to the forefront. It tells their stories; it makes them important; it humanizes them. We cannot progress as a country until we fully understand the important role that each and every one of these people plays in our future. We cannot continue to discriminate and disenfranchise our own people on the bases of gender, race, income, political affiliation, religion and sexuality. It is through the use of these designations that the fundamental rights of the individual are glossed over time and time again. For change to occur there must be people who speak out against oppression and complacency through tireless social critique, no matter how dangerous an act this may be. It is through the work of writers, like those of this very website, that the seeds of revolution are planted and begin to grow in people’s minds.
Thus, revolutionary writing is subversive, much like the style of children’s literature defined and praised by critic Alison Lurie. Subversive children’s books are not tools of indoctrination – their protagonists reverse the common role that children play in literature. These books foster individuality and freedom of thought in children and seek to empower them. In the context of Bahamian society, the ‘children’ might be seen as those who have been placed at the bottom of the totem pole—those who have been made subordinate. To empower them we must continue to promote liberty and call for individuality. By sharing our words, we help to widen minds, minds that will realize their full potential and help to tear down the current holders of power and the entitlement they feel to that power.
In a country, where victimization is rampant and sometimes blatant, to speak out against corruption and discrimination is risky business, but revolutionary writing must take these risks. From last year to now, the world has experienced several waves of activism that have sought to eliminate what people felt were gross levels of financial and social inequality. The influence and importance of these movements should not be downplayed, but what can not be forgotten is what in many instances leads to them and what their sustenance can be throughout. It is often through the work of fearless writers that the framework for revolution is set long before it moves into the physical realm.
[ O'Niel Bain is currently enrolled as an undergraduate student at the College of the Bahamas majoring in English. He has intentions of pursuing a career in academia upon completion of his graduate studies. ]
|Posted by joeybahamas on January 21, 2012 at 1:45 PM||comments (0)|
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that it’s election season in the Bahamas. If the motorcades didn’t clue you in, the catty back-and-forth in the various newspapers should’ve made it clear. Whatever the signs popping up around you at home, people are gearing up for a nasty and unpredictable political battle amidst a terrible economy, growing criminal brutality and crumbling infrastructure. And, while Bahamian politics is usually an in-house affair—rarely ever garnering any attention from outside of the Bahamas—it has been a very political 12 months for the rest of the Caribbean.
In this post, I want to do something that is perhaps unoriginal. In fact, I’ve seen it done already a few times, but I want to do it differently. Specifically, I want to wonder out loud what, if anything, regional election trends might tell us about our own upcoming election.
The Bahamas is sharing some of the same woes as the rest of the Caribbean, maybe to a lesser degree, and our histories and contemporary contexts are similar to an extent. With this in mind, I think this can be an instructive exercise from which we may glean some insight about the issues that will likely give shape to Bahamian election results and what opportunities there are to change our political status quo. What I do not intend to do is read the electoral tea leaves to predict or even suggest which party will form the next Bahamian government.
In 2011, Jamaica, St. Lucia and Guyana all held elections. St. Lucia and Guyana actually made history in the Caribbean by calling their general elections on the very same day.
People’s National Party (PNP) leader, Portia Simpson-Miller, returned to power defeating Jamaica Labour Party incumbent (JLP), Andrew Holness. Similarly, in St. Lucia the incumbent United Workers Party (UWP), lead by Stephenson King, was defeated, giving the St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) lead by Dr. Kenny Anthony the voters’ mandate.
It makes sense to read this as an anti-incumbent wave sweeping across the region, and in some ways this might be true. Difficult times always breed contempt for the governing party. Economic worries plague the entire Caribbean, especially Jamaica as they begin to re-negotiate their bailout loans from the International Monetary Fund, totaling some $838.2 million.
In St. Lucia, the banana industry is in jeopardy from a plant disease discovered three years ago, leading the new Minister of Agriculture to assert that the islands food security is at risk. Prior to the election, the former Minister of Tourism believed that job opportunities and security would be one of the most important issues for St. Lucians going to the polls.
Upon closer inspection, however, there is a more complicated story to be told here. To say that this election season is the opposition’s to lose ignores Guyana. While the opposition parties did gain seats, the People’s Progressive Party retained its hold on the government.
Jamaica’s election wasn’t simply an electoral shift either. The JLP was marred in scandal as Holness’ predecessor, Bruce Golding, went through an embarrassing inquiry into the ‘Dudus’ Coke affair by a Commission of Enquiry and subsequently resigned. Elections were called just two short months after. And, whether the PNP win comes with a national mandate is arguable. Jamaican elections had “an unprecedented low turnout, below 50 percent, only the base of both parties turned up for the show…The reality is, about 25 percent of enumerated Jamaicans elected the PNP to power.”
These observations highlight two important issues: political scandal and voter turnout. The disciplinary problems the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) government faced during their term played no small part in their 2007 loss. Going into this election, it seems these scandals are still fresh in the minds of the Bahamian people. The current Free National Movement (FNM) government has had a few of its own scandals, including the Mona Vie incident, which has continued to haunt one of the Prime Minister’s closest members of parliament, Zhivargo Laing.
Perhaps more salient than scandals, the FNM government has also had to contend with some popular dissent on the sale of BaTelCo, road works and construction in Nassau, national debt and a growing crisis concerning the transfer of ownership of Atlantis. What is clear is that both parties have their fair share of scandal. How the Bahamian voter will weigh these scandals is unpredictable. In Guyana, the PPP/C held on to power despite repeated calls for an inquiry into connections with the now imprisoned Roger Khan because the administration refused to conduct an enquiry amidst public pressure and because of party loyalty.
In his column analyzing the voting patterns of the Jamaican election (linked above), Mark Wignall argues (partial to the JLP) that only the bases of each party turned out while the “thinking voter” stayed home. Predicting wrongly that the JLP would win, Wignall said, “I made assumptions that did not factor in the wholesale staying at home of 'issues voters' who have now, by their actions, concluded that it matters little which political party takes the reins.”
I’m not sure how the voter registry in the Bahamas is looking this election season but this, again, raises two issues. First, if democracy is to move beyond the whims of each party’s base, Bahamian independent, “issue voters” must be prepared to vote. Without the balance that these voters bring to the polls the winning party will simply be the party with the largest base. If I had to venture a guess that party would be the PLP.
Second, this election, parties have an opportunity—dare I say an obligation—to plainly show independent voters how they differ from each other. I have consistently argued that there is little, if any, ideological difference between the FNM and PLP, with the DNA following in this unfortunate political tradition. What the Jamaican case makes apparent is that if people believe it doesn’t matter who holds the reins of power they won’t bother voting.
Wignall wasn’t the only person who believed the JLP would squeak through with a close victory. After Simpson-Miller said publically that she would not discriminate against a homosexual when appointing cabinet ministers and that she was committed to a review of Jamaica’s centuries old “buggery” laws, many thought—given the culture of homophobia in Jamaica—that she would never win.
Aside from fostering anti-incumbent feelings, hard times also have a tendency to place social issues on the backburner for more material concerns. Despite various Bahamian religious leaders raising the specter of sexual immorality, porn and witchcraft (suspiciously in the middle of the election season), people are more concerned with putting food on the table. I imagine that for those outside of party voting blocs, the party with the most appealing economic proposals, the party that seems best prepared to help Bahamians weather the unpredictable global economic waters, will capture their vote.
This will be especially true for those on islands like Grand Bahama, who have been punished severely by the global economic down turn. Grand Bahama has featured heavily in the national news (for once) and there is a political battle looming for Grand Bahamian votes. Never mind that Grand Bahama is “FNM country,” Grand Bahamians would be wise to put down whatever party mantle they’ve carried in the past and look carefully at which party has the capability to fix the island’s economy—to see beyond the partisan finger pointing.
The lack of focus on social wedge issues also opens the door for those who are invested in advancing a more progressive agenda when it comes to both social and material concerns. It has been argued that what we are experiencing is the failure of a neo-liberal economic agenda foisted on us by the Euro-American alliance and accepted by our political leaders. I think people are ready, yearning for new ideas—for innovation and change. People are realizing that the way business as usual isn’t cutting it anymore and that we need something different.
I understand that there are historical, cultural and political differences that often make comparisons between Caribbean countries tricky, but the truth is, as little post-colonial countries we are pretty much in the same boat. And, while Bahamians have a tendency to ignore the similarities we share with out sister countries to the south, it is prudent to take a step back and learn something from them. Register to vote, look carefully at the options and demand that parties show how they are different from each other—maybe then we can go about choosing the best party to lead our Bahamas forward.
[Joey Gaskins is a graduate of Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY with a BA in Politics. He was born in Grand Bahama Island and is currently studying at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) where he has attained his MSc in Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies and has begun a Doctoral Degree in Sociology. You can reach him at email@example.com]
|Posted by Nikita Burrows on December 29, 2011 at 10:55 PM||comments (0)|
The new road works have sparked many conversations in the areas of politics, civics and engineering; but, one conversation that hasn’t been started to the extent it should have is the conversation of Cars and Energy Efficiency. Energy is a huge deal all over the world, not to mention the Bahamas which imports 100% of its fuel. This fuel (fossil fuel: oil) is negative from an economic stand point and an environmental standpoint. So, why not, along with the change in roads, change the cars we drive to electric vehicles?
The first argument some Bahamians may raise is that improving the conditions of public transportation is a better/easier idea than switching to electric cars- the use of public transportation also helps reduce energy consumption. They would argue that Electric cars simply transform energy consumption from one form to another.
However, “Clean coal" can generate cleaner electricity for electric cars. Coal is the prime electricity source around the world. It is foreseeable that it will remain a supplier of electricity to electric cars for some time. But, as "clean coal" becomes the norm among the remaining coal plants around the world, coal-generated electricity will be significantly cleaner, and so its use in electric cars will be cleaner as well.
Electric cars will become more eco-friendly with advances in the technology for renewable sources of energy. This yields even greater reductions in Greenhouse Gases. Ultimately, there will be no cleaner car than an electric car using wind or solar generated electricity. In addition, the results that electric cars can have on the anthorpic-green house effect are reinforced by the regenerative braking system in the cars. Regenerative braking systems generate and store electricity from the action of braking a car. Instead of brake pads slowing a vehicle and converting the lost energy into kinetic heat energy, regenerative braking systems slow the car via a generator that converts momentum into electricity. This electricity can help re-charge the battery of an electric vehicle. These systems increase the energy efficiency of electric cars, which is very important to lowering emissions and fighting global warming.
Another issue plaguing the electric vehicle is the issue concerning its cost. Epic Batteries may be cost effective (according to the commercials); but, Bahamians still would prefer to “jump-start” a car than purchase a new battery. Some squabble that the batteries of electric cars are usually very expensive.
On the contrary, Electric vehicles are more resilient to price pressures. The abundance of coal makes the price of coal cheaper and more stable. This compares favorably against oil, which is entirely subject to international petroleum markets and the whims of OPEC. Also, Electric car maintenance costs have fallen according to the article "Learn Pros and Cons about the All Electric Car". Article’s Inspector - "the good news is that over the years the repair costs have significantly come down due to manufacturers’ better understanding the technology, and have become much more adept to building reliable parts."
Bahamians may further argue that they know for a fact (or, at least from American commercials), that it takes too long to recharge electric vehicles. It can take many hours to recharge an electric vehicle which is much less convenient than the quick refills that characterize gasoline engines. Nonetheless, we must look at this from a Bahamian perspective. Nassau is a reported 21 X 7 miles. Most electric vehicles travel an average of 40 miles which is enough to carry Bahamians on their regular commutes.
With the government’s new road improvement scheme let’s all group together to not only improve our roads, but also to improve our air, improve our energy situation and improve our attitudes by just making that simple switch.
|Posted by Jonelle Fox on December 22, 2011 at 8:50 AM||comments (0)|
I’ve thought about a considerable number of subjects to speak on for my first submission to The Nassau Liberal. After much thought, I reflected on one of my business lecture sessions at The College of the Bahamas. During this session there was a discussion about college students and their “investment” in the Bahamas. I’m not speaking in terms of monetary investments in bonds, stocks or T-bills, but a mental investment, one that empowers and informs the masses of our country. So this got me thinking, are we still subjects in our own country or are we shareholders and investors waiting on our returns on investment in The Bahamas? To clarify, a subject is one that is under domination, control or influence but a shareholder is one that sees the potential in investing. This person then owns a particular percentage of a company. In short a subject accepts change or is satisfied with the status quo but a shareholder is interested in potential growth and returns. In addition, shareholders in a country should realize that the purpose of education is to liberate. And that it is usually in the college setting that we form our ideals, perspectives and values that we live by.
Tertiary education should train us to be shareholders and investors in our country, however, has higher education fallen short of its purpose? The colleges and universities of today seem less interested in liberating the minds of their students and more interested in carving marionettes of the future.
Is the Bahamian tertiary education system only concerned about creating and recycling the same ideals and perspectives? Answers may vary across the board based on what you have been taught to value. You may want to ask yourself, is the purpose of my higher education to empower the disenfranchised and contribute towards a greater Bahamas, or is it about receiving the higher education and using it as a tool to create further segregation among Black Bahamians. It is a South African activist, Desmond Tutu, who says, “what is black empowerment when it seems to benefit not the vast majority but the elite that tends to be recycled?” So have the elite of the Bahamas become subjects or slaves to a system that can possibly guarantee a better life for a small few but in return sacrifices the opportunity to liberate the masses?
It is Frantz Fanon the Martinican psychiatrist, who is well known and very influential in the field of post-colonial studies, that stated that the purpose of education is to liberate . This liberation of the mind allows us to not be marionettes to a cookie cutter system that recycles the same ideals, and it should make us realise that it is our duty or mandate to empower the masses. You see colonialism has damaged much of our psyche; it has planted a seed of dependency within the minds of many West Indians. While we may have been physically liberated much of our thinking has remained stagnant. George Lamming, the Barbadian novelist and poet, in "An Occasion for Speaking", believes that colonialism is the basis of our cultural awareness . It is this basis that creates a reluctance to stand on our own because we have been taught to be subjects, to be cradled and treated as infants. You see, Lamming believes the only way to get rid of this dependency is to change the way we think. So the challenge and burden is on the thinkers, shakers and movers of the country to destroy this seed of colonialism. However, this task is never an easy one. How do you challenge a foe that you cannot identify?
Many of us may not believe that colonialism is still alive and that much of our lives are dictated for us like subjects. It is our dependency culture that inhibits us from being shareholders in our country. It is up to those that have been liberated by education to teach the masses that we no longer have to be dominated, controlled or influenced. By claiming our titles as shareholders in this country we must take on the risk of investment into an equal and progressive future for all. The burden is on us to use education as a tool to liberate. So are you a shareholder willing to risk your investment in the future of the country, or are you content with being a cookie cutter subject?
 BBC NEWS. “Tutu Warns of Poverty'powder Keg’”. BBC News - Home. 23 Nov. 2004. Web. 13 Dec. 2011.<http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4035809.stm>.
 Fanon, Franz. The Wretched of the Earth. Trans.Constance Farrington. New York: Grove Press, 1968.
 Lamming, George. “An Occasionfor Speaking.” The Pleasures of Exile. Michigan: U of Michigan Press, 1992.
[Jonelle is a student at the College of the Bahamas. She has obtained her AA in Law and Criminal Justice and is currently pursuing her BA in Business Admin in Management with a minor in Caribbean and Bahamian Literature. She hopes to use both her degree and her community service efforts as a means to empower and to give back to her country.]
|Posted by Lynden McIntosh on December 12, 2011 at 11:40 PM||comments (1)|
The title of this article is not meant to evoke protest on the streets of Downtown New Providence; but, if one considers the appalling and scandalous state of poverty and inequality in the Bahamas, it begs the question: Why not occupy Nassau? The Occupy Wall Street movement has been well publicized in the American mainstream media as an organic, grassroots movement towards fixing what they see as gross inequality- where the “99%” rally against the “top 1%” income earners of America who hold almost 40% of the wealth (Domhoff, 2011). These people are also concerned with the level of distress being experienced by many Americans. Bahamians have even more reasons for concern. The level of poverty, inequality and distress in the Bahamas is extremely high and shamefully blatant; however, these are issues completely ignored in the Bahamas as we rally behind movements that address the whims of the present day politics.
Poverty is a significant and disturbing problem in the Bahamas. 9.3% of Bahamians are measured to be in poverty by the Department of Statistics of The Bahamas (Statistics, 2005). For a person to be considered poor by the department, he or she must currently have an income of less than $2,863 a year. In a more useful term, this person makes less than $55.06 a week. This means if an individual is making more than this amount he or she isn’t considered poor. The rate of persons on the Family Island (all islands except New Providence and Grand Bahama) who live below the poverty line is 15.4%. There are approximately 25,049 persons in New Providence and Grand Bahama alone who are living below the poverty line- making less than $55 dollars a week. Even worse, the average poor person makes $873 less than the poverty line a year. Minors, that is, persons under the age of 18 account for 60% of the poor population.
To some, 9.3% seems low considering the poverty level in the rest of the world. We are told to feel blessed and realize that we are “rich”, compared to other, unfortunately, cursed nations. This idea of never worrying because we’re not the worse in the world is as corrupt as thinking a racer should feel content merely because he didn’t finished last despite the many racers who finished ahead of him- he should rejoice for, at least, beating someone.
What also damns the Bahamas is the fact that what we consider ABOVE poverty is still a characteristic of a needy, homeless man. In today’s Bahamas, $56.06 a week can barely support a person’s ability to afford food, water, clothes, or electricity. Most important of all, a man or woman with that income can’t afford shelter since the average 1 bedroom efficiency apartment goes for about $125 a week. With that considered, if one defines poverty as the state of not having enough resources to live comfortably in society, this 9% figure is a misleading figure. There is probably twice that amount of persons who live in what society would see as poverty- that is, below what is required for a basic lifestyle. This fact may surprise the bush-economists (most Bahamians) who like to boast of the Bahamas’ GDP per capita being the 3rd highest in this part of the world. This quality is contaminated by the gross inequality in the Bahamas.
The public discourse on inequality is almost as underdeveloped as the discourse on poverty. Inequality is a societal reality and will always exist in every free society due to the skills and works of man being unequal (everyone is not endowed with the same gifts, talents and work ethic). The level of inequality, however, is the issue and what separates a fair society from an unjust, corrupt society. The Bahamas for the past 15 years, with minor exceptions, has had the highest inequality level in the Caribbean as measured by the Gini coefficient (Bourne, 2008). This doesn’t include Haiti, of course. The Bahamas’ Gini coefficient is 57 (Statistics, 2005). This is among the highest in the world (CIA, 2011).
What to do? Where to start?
The role of government and society is not to cure inequality and poverty- they would only be reacting to a more systemic problem. However, if the reason for poverty and inequality is the failure of government and society to fulfill their roles in other areas, there should be calls for better policies in those areas of government and society that would improved the conditions. Poverty and inequality is a failure of government and society in the areas of education, welfare, tax policy, and accountability in the political structure of the government. The details of government’s failure in these areas are to be presented in a future article. Until government and society succeed in these named areas, the plight of the ‘little man’ will be great and the country will regress to a diminished democracy and destroyed society.
Bourne, C. (2008). Economic Growth, Poverty and Income Inequality. Sir Arthur Lewis Memorial Conference (p. 23). St. Augustine: University of the West Indies.
CIA. (2011, December 5). The World Factbook . Retrieved December 12, 2011, from The Central Intelligence Agency of the United States of America Web site: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2172rank.html
Domhoff, G. (2011, November). Who Rules America? Retrieved December 9, 2011, from University of California at Santa Cruz: http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html
Statistics, D. o. (2005). The Bahamas Living Conditions Survey. Nassau: Department of Statistics.
[Lynden McIntosh is currently an undergraduate student at the College of The Bahamas majoring in Economics. He is also a political commentator, comedic sketch writer and poet. McIntosh is influenced by the works of economists Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek and philosopher Ayn Rand. He is an advocate for liberal legal policies and pragmatic libertarian economics.] email: firstname.lastname@example.org
|Posted by joeybahamas on December 2, 2011 at 3:05 PM||comments (0)|
As the College of the Bahamas’ symposium on the work of Frantz Fanon this December 2nd, 2011, happens as I post this, I want to take this opportunity to preach the gospel of Fanon. Those outside of academic circles or those who’ve not had a chance to study sociology, postcolonial theory, psychoanalysis or literary critique may be unfamiliar with Fanon and that’s completely understandable. It is my opinion, however, that everyone from the so called “Third World,” the “Global South,” the “Under Developed World” or the “Commonwealth,” should be familiar with Fanon. I believe his work to be prophetic in the sense that we are now living what Fanon wrote about 50 years ago. But unlike religious prophecy, Fanon did not believe our current course was inevitable, he attempted to give us a way out. I intend for this piece to be a brief foray in the work of Frantz Fanon, specifically my favourite text, Wretched of the Earth.
Before considering Fanon’s work I think an abridged biography can give us some clarity about his perspective. Fanon was born on island of Martinique on July 20th, 1925, which was still a French colony at the time. The product of a middle class family, Fanon attended the most prestigious school on the island but despite his privileges his disgust for colonial system deepened. After France fell to the Nazis French soldiers stuck on Martinique were given a chance to display the true racist inclination of colonialism. This changed Fanon forever. He eventually ran away from Martinique joining the French army in Europe. Though white and black French soldiers fought together, racism was still glaringly apparent. After the war, Fanon studied medicine and psychiatry in Lyon, along with literature, philosophy and drama. Fanon eventually moved to Algeria where he was active in the Algerian war of independence from France until he was deported in 1957. During that time he wrote Black Skin, White Masks, an account of the psychological effects of colonialism on people of African descent.
Wretched of the Earth was publish shortly before Fanon’s death from leukemia and most of it was dictated. In my opinion it can be seen as a testimonial, and a kind of final appeal to people still under the weight of colonialism oppression when he fell ill. What can Fanon tell us about decolonization? What has written about concerning postcolonial governance? What has he said about crime and violence in the post-colony? And, how can what can be said about our current economic state in the Bahamas? I think the gospel of St. Fanon’s gospel can be summarized in these words, “The Third World ought not to be content to define itself in the terms of values which have preceded it…The country finds itself in the hands of new managers; but the fact is that everything needs to be reformed and everything thought out anew.”
For Fanon, decolonization was not simply the replacing of the colonizers flag with that of the newly independent nation’s. The ramifications of colonialism run deep—psychologically, socially, politically and economically—and the colonial project proceeds unfettered. Perhaps we no longer live in a world where this project is as evident; where, as Fanon describes it, “The dividing line, the frontiers are shown by barracks and police stations.” But Fanon suggests that the defining quality of the colonial world is that it is “divided into compartments,” “cut into two,” it is “Manichean” in nature.
Our present situation may boast of open borders and freedom of movement, but still the world is divided into First and Third, overdeveloped and underdeveloped, the Global North and South. And, while barracks and walls no longer keep savage locals at bay, visas and biometrics, facial recognition and the Patriot Act ensure that the movement between the two halves of the colonial world is tracked and that the wrong kinds of savages are kept out. To be sure the resolve to strengthen these borders, even the by building actual walls, has increased since 2001.
On a smaller scale, the reality of these two worlds exists in New Providence and all around the Bahamas. Not long ago I wrote in the Bahamas Weekly about “out West” and wealthy enclaves of Bay Street and Paradise Island compared to the squalor of shanty towns and dilapidated neighborhoods scattered across the rest of the island. Faced with the colonial order of things, “The colonized man will first manifest his aggressiveness which has been deposited in his bones against his own people. This is the period when the niggers beat each other up…” The envy which the native feels toward “a paradise close at hand which is guarded by terrible watchdogs” is channeled into violence, into crime. Fanon calls this collective auto-destruction, the actual self-inflicted destruction of a people the result of the pressurization of frustration and anger against the figurative and physical walls that divide the native from the settler’s privilege. Could this assertion by Fanon explain, for example, the wave of crime now sweeping cross the Bahamas in the midst of an economic downturn? After all, Bahamians are no longer colonized in the traditional sense and certainly not governed by settlers or from a country afar. What then of our government?
Fanon levies a harsh critique of postcolonial governance and I think this applicable to our postcolonial predicament. The nationalist parties that rode popular discontent to the power, like the Progressive Liberal Party, are in many ways to blame for the continuation of colonial conditions. In his chapter, “The Pitfalls of National Consciousness,” Fanon says of the political elites, “To them, nationalization quite simply means the transfer into native hands of those unfair advantages which are a legacy of the colonial period.” Perhaps, it is best to quote Fanon at length as he tells you your present circumstances from the annals of history:
Seen through [the government’s] eyes, its mission has nothing to do with transforming the nation; it consists, prosaically, or being the transmission line between the nation and capitalism, rampant though camouflaged, which today puts on the masque of neo-colonialism…It follows the Western bourgeoisie along its path of negations and decadence without ever having emulated it in its first stages of exploration and invention…We need not think that it is jumping ahead; it is in fact beginning at the end….The national bourgeoisie organizes centres of rest and relaxation and pleasure resorts to meet the wishes of the Western bourgeoisie. Such activity is given the name of tourism, and for the occasion will be built up as a national industry…Because it is bereft of ideas…undermined by its hereditary incapacity to think in view of the whole nation, the national middle class will have nothing better to do that to take on the role of manager for Western enterprises, and it will in practice set up its country as the brothel of Europe.
An untransformed government, handed over to the elites of the Bahamas schooled within the colonial centre, taking no pause to assess the needs of the whole nation, the postcolonial condition of the country, presses forward with a plan bequeathed to them by their former colonial masters. As we busy ourselves, chasing to catch up with the West, we have failed to see what their trajectory has led to and in the meantime we’ve failed to start from our own beginnings, make our own way. And so when I hear PM Ingraham or government leaders of the past say that as the government of the Bahamas we are “facilitators,” (as he did on Issues of the Day) we help in the management of foreign investment and removal of local obstacles, I can’t help but think in actuality you are the “mangers for Western enterprises” and our country is a merely a “brothel” for the West. In actuality, maybe it is not completely polemical to say that the cotton field has gone global—so called Third World governments are the task masters and we can never expect to see the true profit of our industry.
How then does Fanon suggest we reverse the path which we are already traveling? He offers us a few ways, but I will pull out two that are relevant to the readers of the Nassau Liberal. First, Fanon lists a number of things we’ve failed to do once gaining independence and this point in particular give us some idea as to where we should start. Fanon says, “The landed bourgeoisie refuses to take the slightest risk…It has no intention of building upon sand; it demands solid investments and quick returns. The [profits]…are never reinvested.” Instead, Fanon says those who’ve benefited the most from independence, politicians and business men, build huge homes, and spend their earnings on cars and the trappings of wealth. Sentiments of nationalism, “Forward, Upward, Onward, Together,” become “Me first, mine to spend, and what do you mean by ‘us’?” In effect Fanon is suggesting the need for a shared burden in the interest of the nation, a reinvestment of earnings by Bahamians into the community, instead of the individualist mantras that we’ve adopted from Western capitalism. It also challenges us to go beyond the safety of foreign investment, which we are beginning to realize is not safe at all.
Lastly, and this I take especially to heart, Fanon believes that “In those under-developed countries which accede to independence, there almost always exists a small number of honest intellectuals…” For Fanon, in combination with these intellectuals, the masses led by a party and “armed with revolutionary principles ought to bar the way to this useless and harmful middle class.” As thinkers, armed with the knowledge of our present condition, of our postcolonial condition, we must work to educate the masses, against the advance of Western interests by the elites that govern. Not only must we educate, we must be “armed” with a set of principles, a clear and revolutionary vision to peel back the veil of false progress.
Fanon finds the spirit of true decolonization in the words, “’The last shall be first and the first shall be last.’ Decolonization is the putting into practice of this sentence.” Perhaps Fanon’s language is antiquated. Can we really call a class the “landed bourgeoisie,” or does the term “the masses” describe the Bahamian working class? Even his reasoning may seem reductive. And, perhaps this was a poor attempt at extracting from Fanon a modern narrative to which Bahamians can relate, an attempt overwhelmed by the true breadth of Fanon’s work. I still believe, though, that Fanon was speaking truth to a situation in which Bahamians are currently mired. And, I believe that Fanon, as he dictated Wretched of the Earth, sick from leukaemia, was making a last appeal: all is not lost and we have the power to change it. That is what makes his work prophetic and that it was makes it valuable.
[Joey Gaskins is a graduate of Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY with a BA in Politics. He was born in Grand Bahama Island and is currently studying at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) where he hopes to attain his MSc in Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies and go on to pursue a Doctoral Degree. Joey also writes for the Bahamas Weekly. You can reach him at email@example.com ]