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Celebrating 'Majority Rule Day' [Bahamas Journal]
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Posted by:Jan 10th 2003, 01:53:46 pm
Fig Tree News TeamEditorial
"Majority Rule" Confusion

Friday, January 10, 2003 will mark the thirty sixth anniversary of the achievement of 'majority rule' in The Bahamas. While many Bahamians continue the unfortunate habit of equating this event with a victory for black Bahamians, a number of thoughtful observers are now realizing that the victory was one not merely for the majority, but for all Bahamians. There are today echoes of this confusion in the current bickering about how Majority Rule should be commemorated. Unfortunately for the nation, it is still a political football.

When the Progressive Liberal Party was successful in its efforts to wrest control of the reins of government from the United Bahamian Party on the "tenth day of the first month," its supporters infused the victory with miraculous overtones, some going as far as likening it to the passage of the once enslaved Jews across the Red Sea . In and of itself this is hardly surprising granted relevant analogies linking the histories of all once enslaved peoples.

What makes this issue relevant today is that a tiff has broken out between people who wish to commemorate this great event as a national celebration and others who would wish to continue to see it as a unique event in the history of the Progressive Liberal Party.

For their part, the Free National Movement has, this year, declined to take part in the events which have been organized, arguing that it is being packaged and presented as a PLP affair.

Understandably, the Progressive Liberal Party will and must celebrate January 10th in a very large way. What troubles us in all of this is that even after the passage of thirty six years there are still Bahamians who have not matured sufficiently to take note of the obvious, which is that no matter how the PLP wishes to frame the matter, Majority Rule was a tribute not only to their efforts but to the courage and determination of the Bahamian people. They had decided, after long struggle, that they wanted to have control over the government of The Bahamas. In 1967, their instrument was the Progressive Liberal Party.

A quarter of a century later, their instrument was the Free National Movement. More

recently, the people decided to repose their confidence in the "new" Progressive Liberal Party. This, too, is as it should be. The celebration is not the exclusive right of any political party as Bahamians now in opposition to the PLP voted for majority rule too.

As we have noted previously, the problem which continues to bedevil The Bahamas is its continuing paranoia about the discussion of matters germane to race, class and gender relations. These continue to colour public understanding about certain public events. Three examples would suffice to illustrate the point.

Take for example, the question of celebrating and remembering the abolition of slavery. Year in and year out, a dwindling number of African-Bahamians celebrate Emancipation Day and Fox Hill Day. White Bahamians do not. All Bahamians should become educated to the fact that the abolition of slavery was intended to release all Bahamians from the grip of a deadly institution.

Similarly, Majority Rule has come to be falsely associated with the matter of race, thus the false conclusion that it was a victory for black Bahamians. Nothing could be further from the truth. When the Progressive Liberal Party won the government in 1967, that was an expression of a popular yearning for democracy. It was a victory for all Bahamian people, thus our recommendation that the issue be refocused and declared Democracy Day. This does not mean that it should be a public holiday.

By the same token, the achievement of juridical independence should be seen as a victory for democracy in The Bahamas, conferring as it did identity on the Bahamian people. The Commonwealth of The Bahamas is the possession of all Bahamians. That really is the sum of the entire matter. Anything else is either mistaken or malicious.

Even as partisans of the Progressive Liberal Party and the Free National Movement bicker over nuance and detail, our counsel is for Bahamians of goodwill to recognize and cherish Emancipation, Majority Rule and Independence for what they are, namely milestones on a journey towards economic, social and political justice in The Bahamas.

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