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Norman Solomon (RIP)
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Posted by:Oct 6th 2008, 03:58:40 pm
Fig Tree News TeamBahama Pundit

by Sir Arthur Foulkes

When the PLP came to power in 1967 many in the hierarchy of the party looked forward to exorcizing the demon of race from Bahamian politics once and for all.

The leader of the party, Sir Lynden Pindling, seemed at first to be more strongly in favour of that than some of his colleagues.

Miriam Makeba, the celebrated black South African singer, was among a number of prominent blacks in America who wanted to do business in the new Bahamas. But Sir Lynden stopped her when he heard she was romantically linked with black power firebrand Stokely Carmichael.

She left Sir Lynden’s office in tears and never came back. The new Bahamas was having nothing to do with that.

A more dramatic demonstration of this attitude occurred at Paradise Island in the presence of Lady Marguerite Pindling. Another famous singer, Nina Simone, was giving a concert and she did not think it was out of order to sing some black American protest songs; but she was wrong.

A young Bahamian journalist, Oswald Brown, was so moved by her powerful performance that he mounted the stage and kissed Ms. Simone’s feet, much to the delight of many in the crowd, but not Lady Marguerite nor, as it turned out later, Sir Lynden.

Mr. Brown was at the time being groomed to take over the party’s newspaper, Bahamian Times, which I had edited up to 1967. A Trinidadian named Jimmy Andrews had been recruited to run the paper until Mr. Brown was ready.

But the new establishment came down on Mr. Brown like the proverbial ton of bricks. Lady Marguerite made it known that we were finished with that sort of thing in The Bahamas. Mr. Brown was chastised by Sir Lynden personally and then berated on national radio.

Neither did the foreign editor of Bahamian Times escape the fury of the Pindlings. Mr. Andrews made the mistake of publishing Mr. Brown’s favourable report on the concert and he, too, was personally reprimanded.

Sir Lynden had the Immigration Department temporarily in his portfolio at the time because the substantive Minister, Arthur Hanna, was away. The Premier, in a fit of anger, issued a deportation order against his own editor! After some discussion, the order was rescinded.

Sir Lynden knew just as well as everybody else that the days of the Old Guard UBP and its racist policies were gone forever. The chief architect of that policy, Sir Stafford Sands, also knew it was over and so he packed up and left.

Not all of the UBP were racists, of course, and that had been dramatically demonstrated in 1956 when some of them resisted tremendous pressure to support Sir Etienne Dupuch’s resolution to abolish racial discrimination in public places in The Bahamas.

It was also demonstrated in 1971, when the new and enlightened leader of the UBP, Sir Geoffrey Johnstone decided that the time had come to disband that party, which he proceeded to do.

When the Free National Movement was founded in 1971 with Sir Cecil Wallace Whitfield as its leader and the Dissident Eight at its core, Sir Lynden knew that, he was facing a new and powerful challenge in the Bahamian political arena.

These were men committed to the principles of democracy and collegiality in government, men who were determined to resist at all costs the cult of personality and dictatorship that had brought so many other former colonial territories to grief.

The eight were joined by some former members of Paul Adderley’s NDP, including Sir Orville Turnquest, and some former members of the UBP. One of the most articulate proponents of the new liberal order was former UBP Norman Solomon.

A few weeks ago this same Mr. Solomon was at the centre of an emotional farewell with Ministers of today’s PLP Government; he was also a sobbing visitor at the bedside when Sir Lynden was dying from cancer.

Back in the 1970s Sir Lynden and his PLP knew perfectly well that Sir Cecil and his colleagues -- who had fought as hard and sacrificed as much, if not more, than he – could not possibly return to the racist policies of the Old Guard. He also knew that Sir Kendal Isaacs, who later became leader of the FNM, could not preside over such a thing.

But facing this new challenge from men whose measure and spirit he knew well, Sir Lynden revived the same race card over which he had rejected Miriam Makeba and chastised Oswald Brown.

He played the UBP race card against them and their colleagues at every step of the way, at every election throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

It was a lie then, but some people bought it. It is still a lie now. But Perry Christie and his PLP minions have decided to use it in a desperate attempt to save themselves from the follies and scandals in which they are drowning, from the cesspit they have dug for themselves.

They know full well that Hubert Ingraham, like Sir Cecil and Sir Kendal before him, is the puppet of no one. They know that he is the leader of a democratic party whose members are committed to the betterment of all Bahamians, and to the original bright promise of racial harmony and integration at all levels of our society, including politics.

The blinding truth is that 10 years of governance by the FNM has proven beyond the slightest shadow of a doubt that the FNM is not about what they dishonestly said, and still stupidly say. Those 10 years did not see a return to the racism of the Old Guard nor even to other outdated policies.

That 10-year period saw a deepening of the Bahamian democracy at every level, things the old PLP failed to accomplish in 25 years. It saw the strengthening of the rights of Bahamians, working Bahamians who now enjoy progressive labour legislation including the minimum wage and a shorter work week.

So this time, the number of people who will be taken in by the long lie are likely to be few in number. But that will not stop Mr. Christie and his pack of political assassins. He used to stand silently on the side as they did his dirty work, pretending to be above it all. Now he leads the pack.

The more desperate this lot becomes, the lower they are likely to sink. Not only are black politicians who associate with white ones subject to their lies and insults.

Last week one of the pack of hired assassins suggested that some Bahamians – black Bahamians -- whose parents happened to have been born abroad, are somehow to be considered lesser Bahamians, if Bahamians at all.

The Prime Minister, the relevant Minister and all those responsible for allowing this person further to pollute the Bahamian airwaves should be ashamed of themselves.

They all know her and they must have known what claptrap, prejudice and jingoism she is capable of spewing from the dark recesses of her demented mind. They will all be held accountable for the fallout.
Posted by:Oct 6th 2008, 03:54:45 pm
Fig Tree News TeamThe death of Norman Solomon (Freeport News)

Norman Solomon, who died on Monday at the age of 78, was a truly great Bahamian who made tremendous contributions to this country in a number of areas, particularly in politics and as a businessman. Indeed, back in February of 2007, then Prime Minister Perry Christie paid this well-deserved tribute to Solomon: "There are Bahamians in our country, Norman Solomon being one, who are so patriotic and so intense in their desire to see a better Bahamas that they continue to work well beyond what is their cause and well beyond what one would reasonably say is expected of them."

The occasion was a ceremony held to officially announce that Solomon was stepping down as co-chairman of the Nassau Economic Development Commission. It was a poignant and touching occasion, and Solomon — frail and battling both Parkinson's disease and lung cancer at the time — lost his battle to hold back a torrent of tears as he responded to what seemed to be genuinely sincere remarks from Christie. That heart-rending scene spoke volumes for the respect that Solomon garnered over the years from his contemporaries in the political arena, for he was indeed a patriotic and proud Bahamian, who devoted his entire life to helping to build a better Bahamas.

What made Christie's tribute all the more noteworthy was that Solomon established himself in politics as a member of the United Bahamian Party (UBP), the former white minority government of this country whose members were collectively demonized as being racist to the core. What's more, Solomon was no ordinary member; he was one of the UBP's leaders, having served for a time as the party's whip and a member of its executive council. No one who knew Norman Solomon back in those days, however, could honestly accuse him of being a racist. To do so would be telling an outright lie. He was as good a decent human being, as were a number of others in the UBP such as Sir Roland Symonette, Sir George Roberts, Sir Geoffrey Johnstone and Peter Graham, among others.

Yet the PLP has over the years repeatedly revived the ghost of the UBP, which disbanded following its defeat in the January 10, 1967 general election, to buttress its support among grass-root members. In the 1980s, the party's race-based campaign centred primarily around showing the mini-series "Roots" on national television. Anyone who has seen "Roots" knows how graphically it details the inhumane and despicable treatment meted out to blacks during one of the most disgraceful periods of American history. By showing "Roots" during the campaign, the PLP was subliminally reminding black Bahamians about the indignities suffered by their foreparents, a tactic specifically aimed at refreshing the memories of black Bahamians about some of the indignities they themselves may have endured under the UBP.

In the process, though, this sinister strategy also served to perpetuate racial polarization in the country, at a time when every effort should have been geared towards closing the racial divide and focusing instead on establishing a more racially homogeneous society.

If Christie was sincere in his tribute to Solomon, it is incumbent on him — and indeed all Bahamians, black and white, who view the divisive issue of race as being counterproductive to the progress that has been made in closing the racial divide — to make a concerted effort to accomplish in The Bahamas what the motto of Jamaica claims exists in that country: "Out of many one people." Certainly, Norman Solomon, a proud and patriotic Bahamian, demonstrated that he was committed to this ideal. May his soul rest in peace.
Posted by:Oct 3rd 2008, 12:21:09 pm
The PartymanGod Bless Norman Solomon. An advocate for many and a Bahamian hero.

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