By Pamela Burnside
The Black Prince of Grant’s Town is a biography / memoir of Johnson’s father, Basil L. I. Johnson, C.B.E., D.F.M (1920 – 2004). Basil Johnsons’ life is a walk through our nation’s history spanning 80 plus years of significant change. The book provides invaluable insight into important events such as unionism and the 1958 General Strike, the Bahamas’ involvement in World War II, The Electricity Department and the treatment of World War II veterans by the Government of the Day.
Basil Johnson emerged as a national hero when, in 1941, he travelled to England to represent the then colony in World War II in the Royal Air Force. He became a flight engineer with 156 Squadron in the elite Pathfinder Force of Bomber Command, and survived forty-five missions flown over enemy territory before returning home to his beloved Bahamas.
As President of the Bahamas Branch of the Royal British Legion for 57 years Johnson became fondly known as “The Poppy Man” as he visited schools and businesses distributing poppies and explaining their significance.
Basil was a son of Hay Street, Grants Town like his childhood neighbor, former Governor General Sir Orville Turnquest Q.C. who writes of the pride the Hay Street families experienced in their “over-the-hill” boys’ adventures in the war.
Patricia Glinton-Meicholas, renowned Bahaman author writes: “The Black Prince of Grant’s Town is an important book…Felicity Johnson has given the crown to her father in her evocation of his life, which shows he earned the title in a life of breaking barriers and rising.”
Dr. Marjorie Brooks-Jones, former Dean of the Faculty of Liberal and Fine Arts at the College of The Bahamas, refers to Basil Johnson’s: “remarkable life….in this compelling biography.” She noted: “The text skillfully positions the enthralling personal story of an individual life within the unfolding matrix of momentous historical change.” Dr. Brooks-Jones comments that the book “Constitutes a significant contribution to Bahamian biography, history and historiography and will be of interest to Bahamians including the youth….and to scholars of colonial and post-colonial histories and social and cultural studies, and to aspiring writers of memoir.”
The Black Prince of Grant’s Town is available at leading bookstores including Logos, Bahamas Arts & Handicraft, Doongalik Studios Art Gallery and Buy the Book.