A Charge To The Bahamian People on the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of Independence

Your Excellency the Governor-General the Most Honourable Cornelius Smith,

Your Excellency President Kagame of The Republic of Rwanda,

Fellow Prime Ministers Henri of Haiti, and Mitchell of Grenada,

Premiers, Vice-Chairman, Deputies and Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Joyce Beatty,

Rt. Hon. Patricia Baroness Scotland, Secretary-General of The Commonwealth,

Members of The Diplomatic Corps,

Chief Justice Ian Winder,

Honourable Ministers and Leader of the Opposition,

Members of the Judiciary, Legislature, and other Senior Government Officials,

Reverend Members of The Clergy,

Honoured and Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen:

My Brothers and Sisters:

In just a few short hours, come midnight, our Bahamian flag will be raised once again.

It will be an echo of that moment, 50 years ago, on July 10th 1973, which marked the birth of our nation.

It was and is a moment of awe, one which has delivered a birthright which the world now marks by the manner of our bearing.

On that night, as the flag slowly ascended, with it were raised the hopes and aspirations of the Bahamian people, to carve out our own identity, to make our own way, to seek to build the best little country in the world.

And we seized the charge.

We set about building this nation.

We gave it a new name.

We created a new flag, a new coat of arms, and claimed for ourselves a national fish and tree and bird and flower.

We built the institutions of statehood.

It was an effort and a contribution made by every single Bahamian. 

We did it.

We all did it.

But Independence was not just a moment in time.

It was not just the throwing-off of the shackles of colonialism.

Independence was and is, a state of mind, an attitude, a conviction, that we will faithfully discharge the weighty responsibilities of sovereignty and self-determination.

Independence was the first big step on the long journey that continues to take our nation forward and upward.

These past months, we have looked back with gratitude and pride, reminding ourselves of how we got here.

With Lynden Oscar Pindling and Arthur Dion Hanna, let the names of the many, many, great women and men, who built the foundation of our Bahamas, forever ring loudly in the hearts and minds of Bahamians everywhere.

Moses led his people out of slavery and into the desert.

That was their Independence.

But Moses did not live to enter the Promised Land.

It was Joshua who led the people forward on their journey.

Through strength and courage, compassion and Faith and hard work, it was up to Joshua to finish what God had started through Moses.

My Brothers and Sisters: 

We – all of us – are the Joshua Generation.

Each of us is called to continue to play our part to build on our inheritance.

Each of us is called to join our footsteps on the road to our Promised Land: a land where we can keep ourselves safe and secure; a land where we can raise ourselves out of poverty and educated into greatness; a land where opportunity and justice are free and fair and available to all!

Our friends from around the world have come to stand with us tonight, and throughout these celebrations.

From far and near, their presence is further recognition that we stand tall among the family of nations.

From the lights of the Bahamian flag shining on the Empire State Building, or shining on the waters of Niagara Falls, our friends show us, that they are with us.

Tonight, we also remember our Bahamian family and friends, who are not with us in the flesh, but are scattered around the world, making their mark on the global stage.

We know that you are with us, and we are with you.

You are always welcome home.

My Brothers and Sisters: 

At this moment in history, I am humbled to serve as your Prime Minister.

And so tonight, on this 50th Anniversary, I solemnly re-affirm and re-commit to the oaths and promises I made to you when I accepted the instruments of office.

I will continue to serve faithfully in all that I am called to do.

Tonight, as our flag is once again raised to proclaim our independent Bahamas, I invite each of you to also re-affirm and re-commit to being your best selves, to do all that you can to make our Bahamas better.

Together, we will move closer to the Promised Land.

As we gaze out at the horizon, looking towards the next 50 years, let us be spurred on by the light and the heat of the rising sun.

Stand up.

Step up.

Rise up, and do all that you can for our Bahamas.

Divided we may fall, but together we can achieve greatness.

Look beyond the present way, and think it all possible.

Let us keep moving Forward in Faith, that our tomorrows can be better than our yesterdays.

Let us keep striving Onward, that progress is made real for ourselves, our children and generations to come.

Let us keep reaching Upward, that our future may be secured for all time.

Together, let us March on.

March on, My Friends.

March on, My Brothers and Sisters.

March on, MARCH ON, Bahamaland!