|Remarks by MP Fred Mitchell at Independence celebration for The Bahamas in South Florida|
|Monday, 16 July 2012 08:23|
Remarks by Fred Mitchell MP Independence Celebration for The Bahamas in South Florida. Mt. Olive Baptist Church, Ft. Lauderdale
There is a song that goes like this: By the rivers of Babylon, where we sat down and there we wailed when we remembered Zion. For the wicked carried us away, captivity, required of us a song. How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land.
That song was immortalised by Jimmy Cliff, the Jamaican artist and is taken from one of the psalms. It is important today in this context. The song of the people of Zion in exile was a way to remember from whence they had come. It speaks to this fact: No matter where you are or what you do, part of your survivability as a human being is to carry the memories wherever you go.
Today, one hundred and seventy-nine years after the abolition of slavery and thirty nine years after being freed from the British, we are here to sing the Lords song in this strange land. We do it by having established certain traditions.
The tradition we follow here this afternoon with this service is important. I have tried to come every year even when I was not the minister because I believe in the mission of the Ministry which is to engage the Diaspora of The Bahamas. It requires people to people contact. Our Prime Minister is all about people.Next month we will engage in other traditions as we mark the emancipation of the slaves one hundred and seventy nine years ago. We have been in this strange land for some 350 years. We sing our songs and we practice our traditions because it helps us with our self worth. It helps us to mark who we are.
The Charter for Governance says that to mark the 40th anniversary of the independence of the Bahamas there will be a national congress of people from across the nation, all walks of life, all political persuasions, similar to what we did in 1972 in the run up to independence. It will be an opportunity for us to discuss from whence we have come and to set a blue print for where we are going. It will be especially important for the young people of our country because the country is being handed off to them.
I hope that you will all find a way to participate in that event. It will be important for those of you in Florida to join in. We at home have to help to make this possible. The Bahamian diaspora is important to the development of our country.
You can expect more engagement under this administration.
These are not easy times to sing the Lord’s song in this strange land. Each year I celebrate independence with the people of Exuma and then move on to Long Island. And in each of those islands, people are wondering what will happen to them as the economic situation bites ever more deeply.
Today I join the Bahamian community in south Florida to mark the anniversary of our country. I bring you greetings on behalf of the Governor General, our Prime Minister, the the Cabinet and the people of the Bahamas.
I believe that when the children of Israel sat down and sang the Lord’s song, they did indeed remember Zion. As we celebrate today, we know that the times are hard but we celebrate who we are and we know that we will make it through.
Clement Bethel put it this way: When the road seems rough, when you’ve had enough. Don’t faint, don’t cry, don’t sigh, wonder why. Just keep on trying. Cease your crying. Look beyond this present way, this time will pass. Tomorrow’s another day.
Welcome and I am privileged to be your humble servant on this occasion in this part of the vineyard.
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