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Prescription For Economic Collapse - 6-, 2003 – 19: 0
If Mr. Symonette, or any other person who has inherited the legacy of the white minority past, is genuinely desirous to serve, maybe he should move slowly through the ranks of the political machinery

Months of speculation about whether Mr. Brent Symonette, a white Bahamian would run for the leadership of the Free National Movement, one of the two major political parties in a predominantly black country, came to a dramatic, and for many, a disappointing thud just before that party's recent national convention. After months of leading his followers, and indeed the nation through the media, Mr. Symonette finally decided, he said, not to contest for the leadership post in the best interest of his party. He apparently felt that doing so would have caused a split in his party, which had already suffered a serious fallout from an earlier leader-elect contest; and he did not want to inflict more of the same by pursuing his ambition at the present time.

Was his decision wise or not? Only time will tell. Maybe vying for the leadership post was not the wisest choice in the first place. After all Mr. Symonette was bringing a lot of baggage to the political table. For many years the country had been ruled by the very small white oligarchy, albeit offering good governance at the time, but at the same time in the best interest of themselves.

Under the leadership of his forefathers, racism flourished to the advantage of the white minority, and there was a long and hard, though bloodless struggle to eradicate it. The popular black Progressive Liberal Party, with the support of black labour, and emboldened by the civil rights movement in our big neighbour to the north, capitalized on the situation.

Internationally, there was also pressure from factions in the League of Nations (United Nations) to have colonizing nations divest themselves of their colonies. Most were black; and so regardless of how good white governance was, it was undergirding a feeling of white supremacy, a mental baggage we have yet to shed.

Mr. Symonette's aspirations to the leadership of his party and the nation, no doubt, has stirred up some of those old feelings, which have lain somewhat dormant over the last couple decades; and no doubt, some people who dare to remember, feel justified in opposing the move. We wonder how sensitive Mr. Symonette is to the pain that the past has caused, and the long lasting damage that has been done to the psyche of a very fragile people.

The scars of the past run very deep, not as deep as those that affect the Jews, or the black people of the United States, Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia), South Africa or Kenya, but deep nevertheless. That is the reality of the baggage that his forefathers have put on him, and the onus is upon him to find an acceptable way to lay the baggage down and do some plastic surgery on the scar tissues which still remain.

All the persuasive rhetoric in the world will not change that fact, as we have seen in some of the countries listed above. What is needed are some concrete steps at healing over a long period of time. Andrew de Klerk of South Africa and Ian Smith of Rhodesia understand that. They know that it will take generations of good will demonstrated in their actions to gain the confidence of the black majority before they can even ascend to power again.

Fortunately the wounds left by Mr. Symonette's past do not run as deep as those in America and Africa; and so he has been able to survive in black politics. If he wants to advance to higher leadership position, however, it might be wise for him not to flaunt his wealth just to become wealthier and expect that wealth would equate to power. Let the wealth be used to assist the poor, the handicapped and the marginalized, without desire for personal gain. The spirit of sacrifice and pain for the benefit of the underclass always creates an impact as we know from the life of Robert and John Kennedy, Mohandas Gandhi, Julius Nyerre, Jomo Kenyata, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr. but most of all Jesus Christ.

If Mr. Symonette, or any other person who has inherited the legacy of the white minority past, is genuinely desirous to serve, maybe he should move slowly through the ranks of the political machinery, starting at ground floor positions. In this way people would judge him by his actions, which would be his card of admittance into the hearts of the people. Even if he tries for second spot on the ladder, this might be enough to demonstrate his genuine desire to serve.

Starting at the bottom and relating to the pain and suffering of the common folks in the marketplace, however, would leave no doubt. If he were to bring others of the past to work shoulder to shoulder in the trenches, that would even be better. Then and only then would the people begin to believe that the ugly specter of racism and white supremacy has truly begun to be eradicated from the Bahamian scene. Then it would be left up to the PLP to put the icing on the cake by doing likewise.

Viewpoints, The Bahama Journal
Comments may be sent to vlferg@batelnet.bs

 

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