Thursday, March 22, 2012

...taking a look at the current state of the polity and recent events that have occurred in The Bahamas... it leaves one to wonder whether we the Bahamian people have a united front to serve our country toward a common loftier goal

A common loftier goal

Arinthia S. Komolafe

Nassau, The Bahamas

The words of our national anthem written by the late Timothy Gibson urge us as Bahamians to march together to a common loftier goal.  The importance of a common purpose to nation building is further highlighted in the words of our national pledge which states, “I pledge my allegiance to the flag and to the Commonwealth of The Bahamas for which it stands one people united in love and service.”  However, taking a look at the current state of our polity and recent events that have occurred in our country, it leaves one to wonder whether the Bahamian people have a united front to serve our country toward a common loftier goal.

A lot has been said about the recent documentary entitled “Caribbean Crime Wave”, produced by Australian reporter Mark Lazaredes, which seeks to highlight the crime problem that is spiralling out of control in The Bahamas.  The aforesaid documentary seems to create the impression that we are a nation under siege.  Many Bahamians who viewed the documentary were incensed that our beloved nation was portrayed and characterized in such a manner for the entire world to see.  In a country that is heavily dependent upon the tourism and financial services industries, it is an understatement to say that the documentary represents unsolicited bad publicity for The Bahamas in the midst of an already challenging economy.

While it is undeniable that crime and the fear of crime have taken hold of our nation, it does not seem to justify the characterization of The Bahamas as a nation under siege.  The everyday Bahamian citizen and residents as well as the millions of tourists who grace our shores annually are still able to enjoy to a great extent the freedom of movement and enjoyment in peace and harmony.  Unfortunately, we are experiencing a record number of murders, break-ins, robberies and crimes against persons.  It also seems fair to state that the government could address the issue of crime in a more significant manner and should have taken a more rigorous approach toward crime.

What are we doing to address the problem?

The Bahamas seems to have become a nation that has traded its moral and spiritual values for materialism, power, vanity and self-promotion.  The reality is that sectors of our society and stakeholders such as parents, the church, the community, civic organizations and the government are failing us daily by not making a concerted effort to address our moral and social issues and find plausible solutions.  More detrimental to the Bahamian society is the fact that our politics over the years has done very little to unite us as a people, but rather continues to encourage a “divide and rule” mentality among our people.  It was reported that there have been attacks against supporters of both major political parties.  However, it is noteworthy and encouraging to state that the leaders of the Free National Movement (FNM) and Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) have openly condemned this unruly behavior and urged their supporters to act in a civil manner.

How did we find ourselves at this point?  We have always prided ourselves on being a nation that has a long history of stable democracy and civil governance.  The recent behavior of our politicians leaves little to be desired by those of us who stand by on the sidelines and witness the continuous mudslinging and personal attacks to the gratification of political crowds who in many cases have been blinded beyond party lines.  It must always be remembered that regardless of our political persuasion, ideology or affiliation, we are first and foremost Bahamians.  The inability of our leaders to address issues that are plaguing our nation sets a poor example for the citizenry of our country.  It presents the “don’t do what I do, but do what I say” philosophy that so many parents raise their children by.  How can a politician expect to be taken seriously as an advocate of conflict resolution when he/she is supposedly guilty of the same offense?  The same question can be directed toward parents and leaders of the aforementioned sectors of society who seem in some cases to lead a double standard life.  It must be emphasized that children and people in general follow the actions of those who preside over them rather than listen to their words or rhetoric.  It is imperative that we set the right example for those that we lead.

Paradigm shift needed

It is difficult for our nation to arrive at non-partisan solutions to the myriad of issues that plague our nation without a paradigm shift by our political leaders.  The conception seems to be that crime starts and stops with murder, hence the cry for the death penalty each time one of our fellow citizens falls victim to murder.  It appears that the documentary among other things focused upon the fact that The Bahamas because of its judicial ties to the United Kingdom has been prohibited from enforcing the death penalty.  However, can it really be said that the death penalty will solve our problems?  It appears that our problems are far greater than imposing the ultimate punishment for what is considered arguably the most unacceptable crime – that is, murder.

It must be emphasized that crime includes all forms of illegal activity.  Therefore, if we take an introspective look at ourselves, we will find that the first step to addressing the criminal element in this country is to adjust ourselves accordingly.  The saying that “we must become the change that we seek” is true now more than ever.  We must refrain from nurturing a culture of lawlessness in our society that continues to erode the moral and spiritual fabric of our nation.

Political, civic, business and religious leaders must regain their focus and although not prohibited from following or supporting the political party of their choice, they must ensure that they demonstrate that their first allegiance is to our common loftier goal.  The Bahamas must come first at all times and above all individual ambitions.  This common loftier goal comes with the mentality of being our brothers’ keepers and truly building our nation until the road we trod leads unto our God.  It is only then will we be able to move foward, upward, onward, together and our Bahamaland can truly march on.

• Arinthia S. Komolafe is an attorney-at-law.  Comments can be directed at:

Mar 22, 2012