My fellow Bahamians, I am proud and honoured to address you today on this 55th anniversary of Majority Rule. A defining moment in the history of our island nation, Majority Rule ushered in a just democracy for all and guaranteed the constitutional rights of every Bahamian regardless of class, colour, sex, or creed.
Majority Rule is not only a testament to the courage of those who have come before us. It is a catalyst for our collective efforts in building this nation, a nation where things truly are getting better.
This great turning point in our history was the culmination of decades of political activism: from the Burma Road Riot in 1942, to the General Strike of 1958, and Women’s Suffrage in 1962. It was not won by some distant entity or far-off figure. No, at the heart of Majority Rule, was you. My fellow Bahamians, you were and continue to be agents of change.
Before you were the deciding vote that gave voice to every Bahamian, you were the taxi driver on strike at the airport. Before you were the taxi driver, you were the protestor fighting for women’s right to vote. And before you were the protestor, you were marching down Burma Road for a just wage.
These events, a select few amongst many, remind us of our country’s rich history of bold leadership and active citizenship. And they do not end here. My fellow citizens, I now dare you to imagine what we might achieve next, as our struggles have by no means come to an end. Some continue to go hungry, and others have no home to sleep in tonight. On this holiday and all that follow, what can you do to be your brother’s keeper? What will you risk for a better future?
Today, we celebrate the risks taken by Bahamians from all walks of life – Bahamians, black and white, who cherished principles of equality, justice, and fair play.
Their noble efforts guaranteed that a mercantile elite based in the capital would no longer rule the country. Instead, the country would be governed by the majority. Power and civic responsibility would be held by the people of The Bahamas. By the salt raker on Inagua, the crab catcher in Andros, and the sheep runner on Long Island.
From Mayaguana in the south to Abaco in the north, trailblazers have come from every island in this archipelago, committing themselves to the task of making our country a better place. The Suffragists Eugenia Lockhart and Georgiana Symonette came from Ragged Island and Eleuthera. Sir Clifford Darling, former Governor General and co-organiser of the General Strike, came from Acklins. And many of the demonstrators in the Burma Road riot came from marginalised ‘over-the-hill’ communities right here on New Providence.
Let us now honour and reflect on the efforts of those changemakers. And let us remember that what marks a ‘true true’ Bahamian is not just our place of birth, but our commitment to standing up for what we believe.
I am deeply humbled to continue in the stride of known and unknown nation builders. May we all strive to leave footsteps that will not fade with the incoming tide.
My fellow Bahamians, as we rise to meet this new year, consider how far we have come as a people. Now, imagine where we might go.
It is true that devastating events like Hurricane Dorian have beset our country in the recent past. It also true that the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic continues to pose challenges for our recovery. But I declare that so long as we are a country conscious of its past, moving together as one people, united in love and service, we will overcome any obstacle in our path.
On behalf of my wife Ann-Marie, my cabinet colleagues, and the entire government, and I extend my best wishes and highest regards to the Bahamian people as we celebrate Fifty-Five years of Majority Rule.
May Almighty God continue to bless the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.