Dame Ivy Dumont Says Farewell
First female Bahamian Governor General demits office, ending over a half-century of public service.
Dame Ivy Dumont yesterday moved on to a more quiet life, concluding nearly 58 years of public service, the last four being those as the sixth Bahamian Governor General of The Bahamas, the first female to hold the high office.
Her demission was marked by a joint meeting of both Houses of Parliament in the Senate in a farewell ceremony, trimmed with pomp and pageantry.
It was an historic, and for some a somber event, that brought traffic to a crawl in downtown Nassau.
Honour guards from both the Royal Bahamas Police and Defence forces fanned across Parliament Square, and barricades halted traffic on Bay Street from Charlotte Street to East Street as Bahamians took a moment to pay their respects.
Once in Parliament Square, Dame Ivy and her husband, Reginald, a former police officer, were received by the Chief Justice, the Secretary to the Cabinet, the Provost Marshall, the Commodore of the Defence Force and the Chief of Protocol. From there, the retiring governor general moved into the halls of the Senate, where she gave brief remarks.
Speaking from the throne, Dame Ivy said upon assuming the role of governor general, she selected only three major objectives for her tour of duty.
Those included maintaining her relationships with students and youth groups, encouraging volunteerism and emphasizing the importance of family.
She said the fourth objective - restoring, renovating, rehabilitating and redecorating the physical plant with particular reference to the public areas of Government House - was only added after she moved into the residence back in January 2002.
"My husband and I have been privileged to live, and I, to work, at Mount Fitzwilliam. We go now to our little house, leaving behind the pomp and pageantry, to greet each new day with praise and thanks to God for the beauty of life, the joy of salvation and the peace of the indwelling Holy Spirit," Dame Ivy said.
She thanked the government, the administrative, professional and support staff who facilitated her efforts, the schools throughout the country, the many organizations - civic, cultural and service clubs - her family and friends and her Christian brothers and sisters, whose prayers for her health and well-being she said have been answered.
Following this, Dame Ivy left the Upper Chamber to return to Parliament Square to inspect the guards of honour.
From there she was presented a bouquet of flowers by a little girl, then she left Parliament Square to the tune of Auld Lang Syne.
The Cabinet Office has announced that former Attorney General Hon. Paul Adderley has been appointed Acting Governor General.
Mr. Adderley has served as deputy to the Governor General on numerous occasions when Dame Ivy was out of the country.
Following the joint sitting, MPs return to the House of Assembly where tributes to Dame Ivy were made.
Among those paying tribute to Dame Ivy was former Prime Minister and Free National Movement leader, Hubert Ingraham, who recommended she be appointed to the top post.
The former Governor General served as a pillar of the FNM, serving for some eight and a half years as Minister with responsibility for Health and Environment and then for Education, Youth, Sports and Culture.
According to Mr. Ingraham, Dame Ivy's life has been shaped by her interest in people and their development. He said she is moving into a well-deserved retirement.
"Her tremendous reputation as a serious, competent, no nonsense woman was earned during her years as an educator and administrator in the public education system and later as a human resources executive in the private sector," he said.
"During her years in frontline politics, Dame Ivy, a warm and gracious lady, brought civility and decorum to the rough and tumble, which often typifies that realm of life. She never confused substance with rhetoric, goals or objectives with propaganda or duty with political expediency.
"Her life's work is worthy of emulation by us all-She executed her responsibilities there (office of Governor General) with aplomb, a credit to herself, her family, her island home and of course all of us."
Endorsing those comments were Independent MP Tennyson Wells and Prime Minister Perry Christie.
"She has earned and deserves a retirement. I believe that she gave all she had. I believe she and her husband - a former police officer - served this country well," Mr. Wells said.
Prime Minister Christie again stressed the importance of the life stories of great Bahamians being written.
"All too often these stories are lost in the passage of time and the little ones of the future would never get to know unless the stories are recorded," he explained.
"I am happy to say that Dame Ivy, who represents a distinguished passage from her origins in Long Island to Fort Fincastle to the Valley and now down to Farrington Road has a story to tell and perhaps in telling that story, we will learn more about the success of the people and schools of Long Island.
"But nevertheless, as a country, we must find a way to guarantee that those stories are told-The country cannot afford any longer to have people who have given so much to the country to have their contributions fade into history."
The House of Assembly has been adjourned to January 11, 2006 at 10am.
By: Macushla N. Pinder, The Bahama Journal