Nassau, Bahamas – Remarks of Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson, Q.C.Attorney-General & Minister of Legal Affairs of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas on the occasion of the Unveiling of the Bust of Sir Lynden Pindling OAS Main Building, Washington DC on Thursday, 20th April, 2017:
Dame Marguerite Pindling, Governor General of The Bahamas, and widow of the late Sir Lynden Pindling, and their children,
Assistant Secretary General of the OAS, His Excellency Nestor Mendez,
Permanent and Alternate Representatives to the OAS,
Diplomatic Representatives of The Bahamas and other Bahamians present,
I bring greetings from our Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie and our Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Fred Mitchell. Both of them today have taken the first step, Nomination, in the process of free and fair elections, – the hallmark of democracy in The Bahamas.
The hero is someone who inspires people and effects change across racial, social and cultural barriers and across generations.
We Bahamians are most grateful that the Organization of American States has seen fit to recognize, as such a person, the Father of our Nation, our national hero, Sir Lynden Oscar Pindling.
In this hall of heroes, the House of the Americas, the legacy of leaders that have most contributed to the political economic and social advancement of our hemisphere is enshrined and celebrated.
It is an honour, therefore, to be here today, to commemorate the achievements of the Father of our Nation – Sir Lynden Oscar Pindling.
His humble beginnings, grandson of a Bahamian seaman and son of a retired policemen, and son of a faith filled mother, instilled in him the uncommon disposition to ‘walk with the crowd and keep his virtue and walk with Kings and not lose the common touch’.
His formative years also, however, confronted him squarely with the stark reality of economic and political oppression endured by the black majority in The Bahamas.
At the age of 26, a lawyer by training, he joined the then minority Progressive Liberal Party shortly after its formation in 1953 and in 1965 was elected to the House of Assembly.
He and our Founding Fathers were convinced of the virtue of fighting for the plight of the working man and against the unjust social and political oppression which for too long held at bay the opportunity for the average Bahamian to achieve his just aspirations. He was called affectionately the Black Moses. He was the trusted Leader who would lead Bahamians to the “Promised Land”. Majority Rule (the most significant historic event since the Emancipation) was obtained on 10 January 1967 and Independence on 10 July 1973. The Commonwealth of The Bahamas became a sovereign nation and her people embraced her citizenship.
In the preamble to our Constitution we proclaim that we citizens recognize the supremacy of God, the Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of the Individual and that our nation is “founded upon Spiritual Values and in which no Man, Woman or Child shall ever be Slave or Bondsman to anyone or their Labour exploited or their Lives frustrated by deprivation”. These are the rights of citizenship and the yardstick by which the policies of Sir Lynden’s administration were measured.
Sir Lynden remains one of the longest serving heads of Government in the Americas, having served as Prime Minister for nearly 26 years and as Member of the House of Assembly for 41 consecutive years.
Cuban national hero, Jose Marti once said of famous men, ‘those of much talk and few deeds soon evaporate. Action is the dignity of greatness”.
Like Marcus Garvey, one of his heroes, Sir Lynden believed, that “there is no force like success, and that is why the individual makes all effort to surround himself throughout life with the evidence of it; as of the individual, so should it be of the nation.”
Sir Lynden’s actions in leadership together with other Founding Fathers (one of whom was my Father, Sir Clement Maynard, who served with Sir Lynden from his Premiership and throughout his tenure as Prime Minister) and other Bahamian patriots prepared to serve under his inspirational leadership have left indelible marks of success on the Bahamian landscape.
This legacy includes the creation of Institutions such as National Insurance – which now includes National Health Insurance; the College of The Bahamas – now the University of The Bahamas and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force – the guardian of over 100,000 square miles of what the Apollo astronauts have called the most beautiful waters if the world. And he continually enunciated a vision of The Bahamas feeding itself. Under the leadership of our Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie, we now have the Bahamas Agriculture Marine and Science Institute (BAMSI) and the plans for a new city supported by BAMSI to emerge on the Island of Andros, for which Sir Lynden was a long serving representative.
Sir Lynden’s visionary leadership led to The Bahamas having a continuing Parliamentary Democracy for almost 300 years. Tourism, financial services and the maritime sector continue to thrive and serve us well because of this stability, a legal system that is independent and well respected, and citizens who are proud hard working patriots.
With no equivocation, they set about on this task of building a society in which the majority of citizens, coming from humble beginnings, would now be equipped with the education and opportunity to captain their own fate and to help engineer the society they wished for themselves and their children.
They imbued in citizens the determination to build a nation and invest in people whose indomitable spirit would cause the world to mark the manner of their bearing. Per capita, The Bahamas has more Rhodes Scholars and Olympic gold medalists than any country in the hemisphere, perhaps the world. We also have Grammy award winners and Oscar award winners.
Sir Lynden is undoubtedly the architect of the modern, progressive Bahamas.
Sir Lynden’s leadership has also had significant impact in the international arena.
He was a powerful advocate for Caribbean and pan-African connectivity and integration. He promoted regionalism and multilateralism that would effect ‘change without disorder, revolution without bloodshed and develop a stable economic and social order’.
His leadership during the October 1985 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), hosted in The Bahamas, supported by the strong Bahamian anti apartheid movement led to the agreement for economic sanctions against South Africa articulated in that Meeting’s Nassau Accord. The Nassau Accord became a catalyst for a series of events that would eventually lead to the release of Nelson Mandela, abolition of apartheid and the first democratic general elections in South Africa in 1994. Upon release from prison in 1990, President Nelson Mandela, on his first trip abroad, visited The Bahamas, to thank Sir Lynden for the seminal role that he had played in the process.
Sir Lynden’s legacy was cemented by a team – including his supporters and colleagues in The Bahamas, those who served and continue to serve The Bahamas internationally and people of other nationalities who love The Bahamas as much as we do.
As with most great men, he was supported by a loving and devoted wife, Dame Marguerite Pindling, now, the Governor-General of The Bahamas. Thankfully, Dame Marguerite, is still a Mother to their biological children and all young Bahamians.
The Almighty God has blessed us with significant geographical placement. The Bahamas served as the gateway to the new world in 1492. Since 10 July 1973, we have diplomatically, economically and metaphorically, served as the gateway, and bridge, between the North, Central and the South of the America’s. This concept drives our foreign policy. We are friend to all. We believe that all people deserve the same opportunity to shape their destiny. We oppose injustice anywhere and we support self-determination everywhere.
We Bahamians fell a tremendous sense of pride today as we see Sir Lynden, at the gateway, the entrance to the Hall of the Americas, placed beneath the colors of the Bahamian flag, aquamarine, gold and black, welcoming the citizens of the America’s, to these August Halls. The busts of heroes hailing from 22 countries across the Americas, with Jamaica’s Marcus Garvey as a representative of the CARICOM region, and with other luminaries such as George Washington of the United States, Jose Marti of Cuba and Simon Bolivar of Venezuela. We pray that the legacies of these great men, and the legacies of the Bahamian freedom fighters, symbolized by Sir Lynden’s bust, will continue to inspire and guide people all over the world but especially those who come here, to the Organization of American States, as they engage and deliberate, respecting and accepting each other as equals.