Houses of Straw and Bales of Hate

Bahamas Shack
Bahamas Shack

A recent article posted on and mentioned in a Nassau Guardian article caused a firestorm in The Bahamas, prompting Bahamians to swarm en masse to social networking sites to protest and assail the author.

The article, written by free-lance writer Nellie Day had to do with living conditions in the Bahamas, with details on occupations, houses and Bahamian society. It made the claim that most Bahamians make their living “farming or selling trinkets at the local straw markets” while poorer Bahamians raid abandoned buildings for scrap material to construct makeshift huts.

And for these “heinous” comments many Bahamians now want Ms. Day “blacklisted,” banned from the country, fired from her job and worse…  In fact, much of the feedback found on Facebook and Twitter in response to Ms. Day’s article has been crude, cruel and alarmingly savage.

Do you think Bahamians overreacted to to Ms Day’s article?   Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Bahamians were obviously deeply offended by the inaccuracies in Ms. Day’s article. The general thought seeming to be that, as a journalist for a major travel media outlet, she had presented a negative and harmful image of the Bahamas. As a tourist-reliant nation our international image is of undisputed importance and times have been tough enough already, so we certainly don’t need somebody coming along and making us sound bad, right?

But all of those highly vitriolic responses published on major social networks are even more damaging to our national image. Such an angry onslaught over a silly little article sends a more injurious message about the Bahamas… and Bahamians than did the article itself.

Did Ms. Day really deserve the verbal assault, and even threats?  Sure she got some things wrong. But not everything.  One blogger points out that actually much of what she wrote was true.

“A lot of people in the Bahamas do live in ‘shacks and huts’ not all of us, but a significant amount, in both Nassau (where most of the outrage seems to be emitting from) and on the Family Islands… Another fact a lot of them are colorful…”

Another person responded: “there were inaccuracies yes but its not completely FALSE now I lived in Nassau all my life and I’ve seen these places do u want me to say that I haven’t”

Even BahamasB2B received a backlash of hate after tweeting a more comforting message to let Ms. Day know not all Bahamians are so mean spirited.  While the B2B tweet did not condone the article, the responding tweets attacked the B2B tweeter, asking if “you want to get dragged too” and stating that “you must have a cyber death wish”.

Amongst all the Nellie-bashing there were a few intelligent and well-prepared responses, such as the Facebook message sent by Graham Thordarson.

Instead of verbally attacking Ms. Day and banning her from the country – which is preposterous anyway – perhaps we should invite her to visit and stay a little longer, look a little closer, research a little deeper and write an article that accurately reflects our lifestyles. Although that could be dangerous too.  Because looking too closely, one might find that The Bahamas is not quite the vacation paradise our advertising makes us out to be.

As another poster on Facebook said: “…we concerned about the wrong things as usual.”


As always, we encourage your comments below.

Photographer Farreno Ferguson created this video response:


27 thoughts on “Houses of Straw and Bales of Hate

  1. The lack of decent jobs in Bahamas is appalling. The fault lies with the protectionist policy of a few folks on Bay Street in cahoots with the union bosses. They conspire to keep in place protectionist policies that effectively keep out foreign investors. The Bahamas, beautiful real estate, badly managed.

  2. I do feel that Bahamians overeacted about the Ad, we know that we don’t live in straw houses and the comments were untrue that were written, so why get all excited. In the book of Proverbs, it tells us that when you answer a fool, you become just like him. Ms. Day or whomever is a fool.

  3. Nellie Day did not travel to The Bahamas for research, nor is she an expert on international real estate or any type of construction. She is not an economist and from the writing style observed, she is barely a passable journalist. Yet she chose to write an article on an entire country and specifically its housing market as if she were an expert. This is not a primary school project with magazine cutouts pasted n ext to general facts gleaned from Colliers encyclopedia. Her article is equivalent to gossip, a bunch of things she overheard and simply repeated without regard to truth. She deserves to be harshly criticised for her disrespect and ignorance. This is not a game, this country is our livelihood and we are the jewel of the Caribbean not the biggest ghetto ever as she would have the world believe. Just like anywhere else, we have our income disparities but nowhere near the level she would have the world believe. She should shut up and hope that no one ever hobbles together bits of info that may or may not be entirely true about her, her personal life and her mother and simply call it an article. My bad, she said, I shoulda woulda coulda. Sorry, not good enough.

  4. Ms.Day obviously didn’t do her homework but as others have already commented, a lot of what she described is factual.
    A large group of our population live at or below the poverty level for civilized countries, some in appalling conditions, and I don’t just mean illegals. Obviously some of the tweeters have never ventured ova da hill into the inner city areas and if they did they might be shocked.

    While Ms. Day’s article could be considered slighting, I would hesitate to label it damaging, Bahamians need to do a little soul searching about who are really doing the damage, but then as a people we’ve always been a bit delusional.

  5. I couldn’t say it any better than Gordon Thordarson in his facebook message. That was very well written.

    To Ms Day, when writing about real countries, try not to confuse reality with fairy tales like the Three Little Pigs.

    1. Ms. Day might have made us look like the little pigs but looking at all the huffing and puffing on facebook and twitter, I’d say we made ourselves look more like the wolf blowing Ms Day away.

  6. She might write nonsense but at least she can read and write. There are too many Bahamians who can’t do that.

  7. “Don’t worry about noise from Bahamas. Bahamians always “gang” anyone who says something that might affect tourism, true or not.” This was your response Bahamas B2B on twitter and now the below article … Um? Whose side are you on? Is she a friend or yours? I don’t disagree that comments made by we Bahamians are sometimes distasteful or that Nassau (The Bahamas) has shacks or huts but you can’t be serious? Is this article a follow up joke to Ms. Days? If you want to make a point then make it correctly and whole heartedly … two options. 1. Ms Day claims she is appealing to sources to give her correct information in order to write and publish an accurate article. Why don’t you provide Ms. Day with the facts in order for her to write an accurate article – from poor to wealthy living or 2. You do your Bahamaland justice and write and publish a factual sensible article. I am disappointed in your twitter comment and now this article.

    1. Our B2B Tweetmaster (is that an actual term?) responded to this on Facebook: “We never condoned the article and we didn’t think she needed to be told AGAIN that it was riddled with inaccuracies. But we waned to make sure that she (and anybody else reading the posts) knew that the Bahamas had other than mean-spirited people. Truthfully, when I first read the article, I didn’t get mad, I laughed out loud. It was ridiculous.”

      1. I didn’t get mad either and also laughed outloud … It certainly is ridiculous. Your twitter comment encourges her to Ignore – there were so many other ways to compose your message to lack “mean spiritedness”.

  8. Firstly, Ms. Day was wrong to publish on hearsay;as a writer that is one of the first no-rules in journalism. A few things were true, but as in all countries you have the variant classes. I myself, have been appalled at how some of us still live in 2012. It is a mind-set. I have also been to countries where I was more appalled at the living conditions.

    Her apology, flimsy at best. I don’t condone the responses to hurt her in any way as the so-call crime don’t warrant the backlash. Nor do I condone the pat on the knuckles given by some. I am a professional, and I know many, many professionals, officer workers, white collar, blue collar, civil servants, vendors, etc. Equally she could’ve written about our uniqueness, ideal tourism climate, stable government, ardent church-goers in a church rich and Christian society, some more positive aspects about us such as the Flamingo walk at Adstra Gardens. Island-hopping where she would have truly seen the beauty of our Bahamaland, such as The Glass-window bridge in Eleuthera, the bottle-wall in Harbor Island, and the tree growing in the ocean, where you can walk out to it during low tide. To the next writer, do your homework first.

    1. Good comments Nina. But I think… with one of the highest murder rates in the Caribbean, the highest reported rape rate in the world, the highest incest rate in the developed world, an employee theft rate of 25% and one of the highest armed robbery rates in the western hemisphere… we really need to drop the “Christian nation” crap. It is blaphemous to say such things, given the nature of Bahamian society.

  9. How can B2B and some others say that what Nellie Day wrote was accurate?

    1. yes we have poverty but they don’t live in straw huts
    2. the “poor” on the family islands do not live on the beach. They live up on the hills and have better sense than building along the shore.
    3. The lower class is not the majority demographic in the Bahamas.
    4. The majority of Bahamians do not farm nor sell trinkets
    5. Upper class houses are not made of stucco and have dividing interior walls of sheets, string beads or straw.
    6. Etc, etc.

    Please don’t give credibility to her ignorant garbage. She was wrong. In fact, the websites she listed as her sources clearly gave accurate descriptions of life in the Bahamas. So she is not only a bad writer but a liar as well. She is famed for writing sensational articles describing places she’s never visited. In her article on boating in the Caribbean she says that piracy and pirate ships are prevalent throughout the waters. She also has articles on Atlantis, Swimming with dolphins, Sandals, Kamalamae Cay in Andros. If Jamaicans read her article on Jamaica, wow, she would definitely have another wonderful day.

    1. No one at BahamasB2B ever said that what Ms Day wrote was “accurate”. Where did you get such a foolish notion?

      We just didn’t think it good for tourism that dozens and dozens of Bahamians lambasted her so viciously. We are a tourist-centric nation. Keep it civil, respectful and welcoming… even when you don’t agree. There are far too many places people can go to vacation. They do not need to visit a nation of petty, mean-spirited, thin-skinned people.

    2. Dude! Can’t you read? The summary of the B2B article refers to Nellie Brown’s “misleading” article. They also say it contained “inaccuracies”. Does that sound like they think it was accurate. This is the kind of over-reaction they are criticizing… and rightfully so!

  10. Over reaction for sure! This just shows the “disconnect” that most Bahamians have with what “they perceive” their country as being and what other “view” the Bahamas as being.

    1. So true. Bahamians have this blind notion of our country–I hear all the time, “the Bahamas is the best country on the planet”. Yeah, yeah, I love my country too but that doesn’t mean I can’t see that it’s a mess in more ways than a few.

      We have bigger things to worry about where our international image is concerned and bashing Nellie Day all over the internet is doing us a bigger disservice than her article.

  11. Every country has destitute areas; no country can claim to be free of poverty. With that said, I can’t see how it’s considered an overreaction when a we stand up for such inaccuracies versus other countries that do the same or even go to worse extremes over pettier issues. The lack of patriotism in this country has long ago been cited. We accept what we’re given or told. Yes we may grumble under our breaths but then what? Nothing. Let gas prices rise by even 30 cents in the U.S., there is a public outroar, there are speeches, marches, organizations that get together and argue over 30 cents, because they know that if it doesn’t stop there, it will continue. Similar things happen here and we just shake our heads and suck our teeth, which was why I was rather proud of the reaction that took place. Amongst the few idiots that felt the need to curse and insult her (which is normal when offence is taken by anybody of any country) were some of the most intelligent responses and corrections I’ve ever seen. In fact, I even saw some of my non-Bahamian friends join in and defend what they remembered upon visiting. I was very active on twitter and on facebook during that time and saw more “intelligent” emails and tweets at her, than “idiotic” ones. Did she deserve the verbal abuse? Most certainly. Because I firmly believe that she would probably never make the mistake again, and not in reference to THe Bahamas, but in reference to Journalism in general. She found out, firsthand, the importance of proper research and source citing. Don’t view this country’s stand for truth as an overreaction, because she didn’t receive a multitude of death threats. Consider her responses to the first few messages she got…it was simply saying ” I did my research and that’s what I concluded…sorry if you don’t like it.” Had she not been pestered the way she was…her stance would’ve stayed and no retraction would’ve been thought of. The article might have simply stayed there if no one “overreated.”

    To say were concerned with the wrong things is an exact testament to why something like this is a step in the right direction. Someone read an article, shared it to help get support for their disapproval and it took off. Just as the “Aragonite Story” is now taking off. Are we concerned about the wrong things or do we simply not know about the things that are wrong and warrant concern? Over reaction? Maybe…but step in the right direction? Most definitely.

    1. Actually, she did receive a couple of threats of violence, and that is when we stepped in with our comment on Twitter. Thanks for your comments.

  12. Honestly, Bahamians have every right to vent their feelings about the subject. Just as how she had every right to post her article. For it to be considered overreacting however, not really. I’m not sure about everyone else, but when I read Ms. Day’s article I was highly offended by such ignorance by an educated person. If her research was done properly and a truthful article had been posted there was not going to be an uproar. I agree that violent threats and trying to ban her from the country is over reacting, but you cant bash on everyone who was upset and offended that responded to her. Every nation in the world has their high, middle and lower class citizens, but to say that 99% of an ENTIRE country lives in huts and shacks and the other 1% can afford “normal housing” is a bit out there don’t you think? As I said in the beginning, people have every right to be upset and vent about it. They have the right to message her or @ her twitter account. Threatening her life and banning her from the country? That would be overreacting.

    1. Thank you for your comment. However, I do not think that Ms Day ever said 99% of the country lives in shacks or huts. She said “many”, and if you look around McCulloughs Corner, Fort Charlotte, Farm Road and some of the settlements in the Out Islands, I think you have to agree that many Bahamians do have very “modest” housing. It is curious why Bahamians feel so “offended”, if they truly believe the article to be untrue. Would they feel that way if a Bahamian had made those remarks? Probably not. I remember a politician, running against Perry Christie in Centreville in the last election, created videos of the abject poverty in the Farm Road consitituency, outside toilets and all. Nary a word from Bahamians about those videos. If the over-the-top response to Ms Day’s article was because a foreigner said it, that does not reflect well on a nation that derives its income from foreigners. Perhaps too many Bahamians are just thin-skinned. Or maybe they have such a low impression of themselves, they get all bent out of shape over the tiniest things. I am a Bahamian and I was not the least bit offended. The article was stupid, and I just laughed and shrugged it off. I did not feel “offended” by someone else’s ignorance. And I certainly didn’t feel a need to castigate Ms Day for her ignorance.

      You say that you do not consider the responses “overreacting”, yet some responses were threats of violence and to ban her from the country. That was overreacting.

      There are far greater issues to be concerned about like crime, the environment, stray animals, the economy, etc., etc., etc. To work yourself into a tizzy over something so trivial as Nellie Day’s article isn’t worth it. If only Bahamias would rally around solutions to some of our real problems, we’d be able to solve them.

      1. As a Bahamian I must agree with you, and what you are saying is nothing but the truth. Upon my return home in 2007 I couldn’t believe the state that Nassau was in. To me it seemed as though most people didn’t put any pride in their surroundings.

        Me growing up, I could remember no matter how small your house was, and having an outside toilet, we kept it clean. I remember sweeping our yard with a coconut broom, first sprinkling it with water to keep the dust down.

        To address the crime, and yes the economy, that should be where the concerns are. And instead of being offended by what Ms Day’s response is about the huts and the condition, then get together and clean up the crime, the yard and the homes, for it’s the small homes that makes our island so special.

  13. Nellie Day is clearly ignorant about many aspects of Bahamian life. She wrote a negative and inaccurate article which struck a raw nerve. I don’t in any way endorse such journalism but I bet her article resonated with the families of the many tourists who have been robbed raped or murdered on these idylic, sun-kissed shores. The fact is, that despite her lack of research and innaccuracies we, as Bahamians, recognise that our mantra of “Better in The Bahamas” is probably setting the expectations of the average tourist just a bit too high. We need to get over our self-righteous indignation and deal with the problems of education, poverty and crime. We need to fire half the useless teachers, half of the corrupt police, immigration and customs officers as well as half of the civil servants. Who’s got the balls to do that? God help us

  14. I don’t think Bahamians overeacted about this blog because even if we know its wrong, the world may not know. We have to be sure to quickly correct, or put her false article down because I remember when I was a teen, my ex told me about a situation where he was in the U.S. and some old lady came up to him and asked if it’s true that Bahamians live in tree houses. He sarcastically answered yes its true. He said how could this woman look at me in my $200 shoes and brand named clothes and expensive bling and ask me if I live in a tree house?

    Its people like this woman who insist on spreading ignorance and who would have people believe that nonsense that could hurt the Tourism Industry. Who would want to vacation someplace that sounds like people live in shacks, huts and in squalor?

  15. LOL loved the response vid by Farreno. Bahamians did overreact. When you attack someone because of your own ignorance… you’re just making it worse. Now I never had to carry water buckets, ride jitneys (I rode one for fun the other day and its quite the experience! :D.. funny as hell lol) but that’s not the point. I didn’t grow up in a rich family either.. but what I know is.. The Bahamas is a third world country for a reason. It was a bad call on Nelly’s part for not representing herself well as a journalist, but I feel like this is the way it went down:

    Lead Journalist: “heyy uhh Nelly!.. can you write an article about The Bahamas?? ..yeah that place where Jamaica is the capital (you won’t believe how many ppl think we’re IN Jamaica).. yeah.. yeah there.. whatever.. i just need something by tomorrow.”

    Not saying that’s exactly how it went down.. but people forget that our country is just a another place on the map.. somewhere MANY haven’t ventured yet… lol.

    I don’t want to make us sound like a “non-factor” but that’s the honest truth. We’re one of the best kept secrets in the world. So yeah.. it would have been a lot better to see the majority of Bahamians simply correct her and not ridicule her… that was just ignorant in itself.

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