NASSAU, The Bahamas — This year’s 46th annual celebration of Majority Rule in The Bahamas helps to form a “brilliant narrative of freedom and hope” when combined with the celebrations of the 50th Anniversary of the Women’s Suffrage Movement and the 40th Anniversary of Independence, Governor-General, His Excellency Sir Arthur Foulkes said Wednesday.
The Golden Anniversary Celebrations of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in The Bahamas took place in November, 2012, while the 40th Anniversary Celebrations of an independent Bahamaland are scheduled to take place this year.
“These three bold chapters form a brilliant narrative of freedom and hope. They speak to the universal values to which all humankind aspires – values which are the fountainhead and fruit of democracy,” Sir Arthur said while addressing Bahamians attending the Majority Rule Service held January 9, 2013, at the historic Bethel Baptist Church.
“Though these values of liberty, equality and fraternity are held to be self-evident, it is only through constant struggle that racism, discrimination and other denials of human dignity are defeated; defeated on the battlegrounds of history; defeated by wars of liberation, or defeated by non-violent movements for majority rule and equality.”
His Excellency said the achievement of Majority Rule in The Bahamas in 1967, should further be viewed as another milestone in the worldwide struggle for freedom and equality, and the enfranchisement “of those who were denied the dignity that is the birthright of all humanity.”
“It is essential that we place Majority Rule in the historical context of all of those struggles to achieve human liberty and social justice, including decolonisation and the enfranchisement of women and oppressed peoples throughout the world,” Sir Arthur said.
“Even as we are part of the main, we have advanced the global, universal, forward march of human civilisation and progress in our Bahamian context. Here at home, this year’s anniversary of Majority Rule is bookended by the 50th anniversary of women’s suffrage last year and the 40th anniversary of Independence this year,” Sir Arthur added.
His Excellency challenged Bahamians to never forget the sacrifices made by the politicians and social activists of years gone by, to attain Majority Rule.
“To those who would so easily disdain and dismiss politics and politicians, I remind them that today’s Statesmen and National Heroes were typically yesterday’s politicians,” Sir Arthur said.
“One of our greatest National Heroes, Sir Milo Butler, understood that political involvement was essential in achieving and maintaining the promise of democracy – along with all of our rights and privileges as citizens.
“So even as we celebrate Majority Rule, let us never forget that freedom – and even civilisation itself – requires democratic politics and civil society,” Sir Arthur added.
His Excellency, who himself played a vital role in reshaping the political landscape in The Bahamas during those early years, paid tribute to those members of the struggle towards true democracy, past and present, taking time to remember their contributions, particularly those who have now gone on before.
“I pay tribute to colleagues who have left us, and colleagues still happily with us, who lent their determination, talents and strong shoulders in bending the arc of Bahamian history towards the achievement of our Second Emancipation.
“Their overriding example was a fierce determination to uphold and steadfastly protect the ideals of human dignity in the complicated and sometimes untidy world which has marked the human condition since the dawn of time.
“Let us be worthy of their example of unceasing struggle; let us not give in to cynicism and apathy; let us not be seduced by those who refuse to join the long march for freedom because they disdain the untidiness of the process.”
Sir Arthur closed with this admonition.
“As we memorialise the achievement of Majority Rule, let us recommit ourselves to celebrating our vibrant Bahamian Parliamentary democracy and the promise inherent within democratic politics to ever secure and deepen our national heritage with all of its freedoms, rights and privileges.”