“I realize that I’ve always been surrounded by love”. Phylicia Rashad in an interview 20 June 2020, Juneteenth weekend.
On Father’s Day 2020, I think that most Bahamians of my generation can agree with Phylicia Rashad. As a child, my parents, like others, had more than one job. They worked hard and made tremendous sacrifices so that their children could have a better way of life. They were supported by a Community that felt the same way and by their actions acknowledged that “it takes a Village to raise a child”.
We prayed the “Our Father prayer” every morning and evening. My childhood awareness was that God is an ever present loving Father, who loves me more than Daddy and Mummy. That’s a lot of awesome unconditional love.
My late father, Sir Clement Maynard, by his example, among other things, taught my siblings and me about service, respect, discipline, excellence, manners and to be proud of my heritage. I remember his big smile as he piled his grandchildren into his car to take them to visit various people, who were a part of his childhood, in Kemp Rd. and St. James Rd. I also remember my dad checking on and encouraging children of his constituents and encouraging them to excel. He would even ask to see report cards. The G.K. Symonette library was built because parents in the Yellow Elder Constituency wanted children to be able to walk to a library to read, do their homework and have quiet space. His friends, Bahamian and non-Bahamian members of the Village, gave generously of their time, talent and treasure because they too wanted to develop, and see flourish, the immense talent of Bahamian children.
My late grandfather, Dr. Roland Cumberbatch, with whom my siblings, cousins and I played word, math, general knowledge and other games, also by his example, taught us about service, excellence and respect. It was such a treat to go to his office upstairs at the Grace Gospel Annex. The magazines and medical and other books there transported me into mysterious and exciting worlds. He never turned any one away. People still tell me how he would make home visits at any time. He was a Village healer.
Then, there were the fathers in “the Village”, men that, out of respect, I called, and still call, “Uncle” or “Mr.” or “Sir”. We played rounders and other games in yards that felt like parks. Neighbours’ windows were broken by “home runs”. Parents swiftly dealt with these mishaps as they were happy that we were safe and healthy. Dads were present at PTA meetings, picnics, outings to Howard Johnson’s, “weiner roasts”, games nights, parties, YCM, Girl Guides, Boy Scouts and Boy’s Brigade. Does anyone remember making sure that curfew was observed, to avoid the embarrassment of the father of the house putting on the National Anthem, to let everyone know that it’s time to go home? My generation knew that the fathers in the Village were in our corner, supporting us and cheering us on. They worked hard and they led by example.
As a “citizen”, I salute our Founding Fathers. Every time that I read the inspirational words of the Preamble to our Constitution, I am so proud to be a citizen of The Bahamas, a Nation founded on those magnificent and noble principles.
I also salute the fathers that I worked with in the Pinewood Constituency. They, working with the Urban Renewal team closed down one drug house and were well on the way to closing down another. Also, Pinewood dads helped to maintain the new international standard baseball diamond, and they coached the teams. On our first time out, three of the six Pinewood teams made it to the Freedom Farm league finals. Hands on dads, encouraging their sons, led to this result. There are many more examples of such nurturing fathers.
As I travelled through The Bahamas, I saw that men were Community Elders, father figures, all over The Bahamas. They were respected and what they said was “the law”.
This is a short article about which a book could be written. My generation is fortunate because we had, some still have, fathers and Village father figures who nurtured us.
Happy Father’s Day to the splendid fathers and father figures of The Bahamas. Thank you for your example of love, service, discipline and respect, all of which are a source of Bahamian excellence.