AFTER 40 YEARS, BEING BAHAMIAN STILL ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH – AMERICANS TO STAR IN OUR 40th INDEPENDENCE CELEBRATIONS.
By Sharon Turner
Why is our government planning our 40th independence celebrations making the highlight of the main events foreign musical artists? So, we are going to celebrate 40 years of being Bahamian by celebrating the artistry of foreigners?
There have been many outrageous and ridiculous things seen in recent times in our country, but this one has got to rank among the top ten of those at least, and is a crushing and inexcusable slap in the face to all Bahamians, but most especially our Bahamian musicians, singers, actors and playwrights – our cultural icons.
Our musical legends in The Bahamas, who have spent the decades of our independence making history in the arts and entertainment and being the cornerstone of what it looks, sounds and feels like to be Bahamian, are not good enough to be the marquee talents who should actually be special honorees at next year’s celebrations?
Jennifer Hudson, who is much younger than an independent Bahamas, and BeBe Winans, neither of whom are Bahamian, have been placed on the pedestal of our celebrating 40 years of nationhood above our own people.
Our musical legends have mapped and charted our culture and our history through the arts. They are our native celebrities, with careers that have outlived many entertainers worldwide. They are not only our celebrities, they are our superstars. They are our kings and queens of the artistic genres we relish. They are our cultural icons.
But instead, Bahamian legends like Ronnie Butler will play second fiddle to Jennifer Hudson and BeBe Winans in their own country.
The message being sent to Bahamians young and old by this is historic – and not in a good way.
When asked by the media how much we the taxpayers will be shelling out to honor Jennifer Hudson and BeBe Winans, our government and its designees lashed out at the press, saying money did not matter, and that having the two American artists hold the spotlight at the celebrations of our nationhood was “priceless.”
My God. If I were a Bahamian musician, singer, artist, playwright, actor, etc in The Bahamas, I would still be nursing the unprovoked gut-punch my government had delivered to me through their announcement and that statement.
And as for having Jennifer and BeBe here being “priceless” – at what point in our almost 40 years have we shelled out to our Bahamian artists the kind of money we will be shelling out to book these popular American artists?
Oh yes, I forgot. We don’t view our own people as being worthy of the kind of remuneration foreign acts must be guaranteed up front and in writing before they even agree to step foot onto an aircraft to travel here to perform.
We will pay hundreds to go to the concert of a Jamaican or American artist, but our own? Boy, they better try hard have that concert for free.
And while I have nothing against Sir Sidney Poitier and his being honoured through the naming of a thoroughfare, was it that difficult to find a Bahamian who has spent the last 40 years in The Bahamas, in the soil, building The Bahamas?
Sir Sidney has enjoyed a stellar and illustrious career as a motion picture actor in the United States and his achievement in that regard is inspiring. There are Bahamians who have inspired us here in and on the soil as well, who became the stars in our eyes and hearts right here at home.
Were their lights not bright enough simply because they did not grace the silver screens of Hollywood? Were their gifts not valued enough because they do not have a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, or never won a US Oscar?
Is there anything Bahamian that is ever seen as “priceless” and unmatchable in The Bahamas?
I am an articulate Bahamian, but I cannot find the word to adequately describe the kind of put down to Bahamians our 40th independence celebrations, as announced by the government Tuesday, plan to be.
It is more than disheartening to see that even after 40 years, being Bahamian in The Bahamas is apparently still not good enough.
EDITORIAL NOTE: Bahamas Press supports this thought! KB and Terz are as good as any other international artist.