Remarks by Hon. Branville McCartney, M.P.
It was on the basis of these 93 words that a nation was born. And it was on the basis of these words that the dreams of men and women of strength, courage, valor and purpose forged a new direction for our Commonwealth of Islands. Men and women like HM Taylor, William Cartwright, Cyril Stevenson, Milo Butler, Lynden Pindling, Randol Fawkes, Clifford Darling Mary Ingraham, Georgina Symonette, Eugenia Lockhart, Mildred Donaldson, Sylvia Larimore, and Doris Johnson struggled to forged a path borne out of the necessity to see an historical past based on oppression transformed into a glorious new future where the Bahamian, by his or her own power and the sweat of his or her own brow, could rise above the ordinariness of life to have a future free of limits – a future where opportunities for all Bahamians throughout the entire length and breadth of this great archipelago would only be limited by their ability to conceive the desires of their heart.
April 30, 2012
"We must discard the idea that past routine, past ways of doing things, is probably the best ways. On the contrary, we must assume that there is probably a better way to do almost everything. We must stop assuming that a thing which has never been done before probably cannot be done at all." - Donald M. Nelson
My fellow Bahamians, it is with compassion in my heart and conviction in my words that I address the nation this evening to discuss where we have been, where we are going, and what it will take to get there. We have come to a crucial juncture in the History of our nation, a point where the overwhelming challenges we face call for us to take bold and decisive action in a new direction. What we do over the next seven days will inherently determine the immediate fate of our nation, the future of our children, and the legacy we will leave etched in the history pages of this great nation. Every free born Bahamian is being dared as they were in 1967 and again in 1992 to create the Bahamas they envision for themselves, their children and their children’s children.
We the Inheritors of and Successors to this Family of Islands, recognizing the Supremacy of God and believing in the Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of the Individual, DO HEREBY PROCLAIM IN SOLEMN PRAISE the Establishment of a Free and Democratic Sovereign Nation founded on Spiritual Values and in which no Man, Woman or Child shall ever be Slave or Bondsman to anyone, or their Labour exploited, or their Lives frustrated by deprivation, AND DO HEREBY PROVIDE, by these Articles, for the indivisible Unity and Creation under God of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
I come to you today in the spirit of our heroes, who through sacrifices, sweat and tears and a fearless resolve to make this a better country for all stood shoulder to shoulder against many seemingly insurmountable odds. And not only on behalf of our forefathers but also on behalf of our children, a generation bound to inherit the lands, the assets, the benefits, and the burdens that we leave with them. A generation that cannot determine the fate their future and depend on us to ensure that it is one filled with equal opportunity with their fellow citizens of the world.
Let me say this in no uncertain terms, the decision you will make on election day will not be cast for you but rather for those before and those after. The challenges we face are far too great to simply do what we have always done. Over the next 5 years we are faced with a seemingly insurmountable national debt that threatens to cripple our economy and dissuade foreign investment. We will be faced with escalating violence and crime that has shaken the very foundation of our society and will continue to snatch the lives and futures of promising young people far before their time. Our youth will be faced with a rapidly changing global climate, continuously forced to compete on a world stage with inadequate preparation. And finally our labor force is being continuously squeezed into conditions that force them to be unemployed, underemployed, or mistreated by their employers.
Finally, we are facing a Bahamian culture that is nearly unrecognizable to the one that many of us once enjoyed. Our best and brightest are fleeing this country in what can be argued to be the greatest Bahamian exodus in history. They leave in pursuit of opportunity, of social progress, and of a greater quality of life. What’s worse then the Bahamas loosing them is that they are loosing the Bahamas. Many of them have lost hope that this country has the will and fortitude to actually change and no longer feel the overwhelming desire to return.
Overcoming these obstacles will be no easy task. Before we can embark on the journey of progress we must first make a conscious and deliberate decision to confront head on the one obstacle that is so divisive it threatens to prevent any further progress in our country: the disease of hyper-partisanship and party politics.
While our challenges are great the united resilience of the Bahamian spirit is even greater, but our resilience can only be recognized in a UNITED and COORDINATED effort. We can no longer focus on the colors that divide us and must instead focus on the ties that unite each of us. Now is the time for us to either stand united, or continue to fall divided. Now is the time for you to rise above your party in order to do what is right for your country.
I say to you Bahamas, times are far too serious for It to be business as usual. We cannot continue to do the same thing and expect a different result. We cannot continue down the same road and expect to find a different destination. Today I encourage you to turn from this path where mediocrity, partisanship, doubt, corruption, and social decadence are the accepted norm. Turn from this path where national pride is a term used only at independence celebrations instead of an emotion embodied through the Bahamian experience.
We cannot continue to fall victim to empty rhetoric delivered by the ENEMIES OF CHANGE… leaders that have found their success in our division. Leaders that thrive personally by strictly keeping us from working together and by denying our solidarity are leaders no longer to fit this nation.
This is our country we must love it as we love ourselves. We must envision this country the way WE want it to be and then take drastic measures to ensure that it is achieved. We must not only demand more from ourselves, but we should also desire more for our neighbors; regardless of their political association. We must be courageous enough to stand against the enemies of change that are bound to keep us from achieving Real Change for One Bahamas.
Then, we must make the hard choice and take the necessary steps toward that change. Change is never easy. And enemies of change will reject the very idea of Bahamians doing anything other than what they have always done. But power has never been conceded from those who possess it without significant force. I encourage you today to be the force that finally relieves them of 20 years of unprecedented power. And remind them once and for all that the power of the people is greater than the people in power.
My beloved Bahamians if what you see now is not the Bahamas you want for your children and their children, then you must be resolute, you must be firm, you must be unwavering, you must take charge of your destiny; today, and create the change you want. Each and every one of us must stand shoulder to shoulder and declare, “If it is to be, it’s up to ME!” Be the change you so badly want to see so that you can look your children in the eye on election day and declare that you did what was in their best interest, regardless of the outcome.
I know the thoughts and visions many of you have for this Bahamas. I know the deep burning desire to bring forth the manifestation of a prosperous one Bahamas.
As a people, we have endured enough of outdated politicians and recycled policies bound to keep you dependent on them to sustain your way of life. This is a vicious cycle in Bahamian politics where every 5 years politicians attempt to remind us that our fate lies in their hands and that if we do not pledge unrelenting support to them our families may not eat, our roof may not be prepared, our child may not get their tuition paid, our job may be in jeopardy, and our utility bill may not get paid.
This election season ask yourself, if the government had achieved its primary functions should you even have to depend on politicians for the basic necessities of life. Ask yourself why a man would insist on you calling him Papa or Daddy if not to ultimately reduce you to a life of dependency?
Sir Lynden Pindling, the true father of our nation once said to a crowd of 1000’s of disgruntled and disenfranchised Bahamians that “if you are not prepared to fight for your country, then you do not deserve to have it.”
The time has come for us to fight for the future of our country. Now is the time for fresh, innovative leaders that are prepared to charter a bold new course forward. We need true leadership that can adjust to the rapidly changing technological environment that we are in. We need leadership that will listen to expert advice, regardless of party affiliation, and then make firm decisions for the advancement of all Bahamians. Leadership that realizes Bahamian talent is not limited to one party and that great ideas come from every Bahamian not withstanding political association. And that when great ideas compete with other great ideas then great ideas are bound to be lost.
My fellow Bahamians, we have some of the most talented people in the world.
Look at the national pride Bahamians experienced when Sir Sidney Poitier became the first black person to win an Academy Award for best actor. Look at the national pride that Bahamians felt when Sir Durward Knowles and Cecil Cooke won a gold medal for the Bahamas in sailing at the 1964 Olympics, a first for the Bahamas. Look at the national pride that Bahamians felt when Elijah Obed captured the WBC Light Middle Weight Boxing Championship in 1975, a first for the Bahamas. Look at the national pride that Bahamians felt when Michael “Sweet Bells” Thompson became the first NBA draft pick in 1979. I say look at the national pride that Bahamians felt when we elected our first female member of parliament Janet Bostwick in 1977. Look at the national pride Bahamians felt when the Golden Girls won Olympic Gold in Sydney, Australia in 2000.
We recognize Joseph Spence, one of the greatest guitarists the world has ever seen. We recognize Sir Milo Butler, our first Bahamian Governor General. We recognize Dr. Myles Munroe, a pioneer of religious outreach ministry on the world stage and an author who has written more than 10 best sellers. We recognize Dr. Cynthia “Mother” Pratt, the first woman Bahamian deputy prime minister.
We have shown throughout our history that when we commit ourselves to excellence, no one can beat us. We have shown that when we put our collective thoughts together we become the greatest little nation in the world. You see I believe in the Bahamas. I believe Bahamians can achieve the impossible. I believe that if a Bahamian cannot do it then quite frankly it simply cannot be done. I believe so fiercely in the Bahamas that I sacrificed everything that I have worked for to stand shoulder to shoulder with other Bahamians to do what they said could never be done.
SO I encourage you to join myself and 37 other agents for change that were brave enough to take the step on what will prove to be a long journey of progress, agents of change that rejected the notion that because something has never been done, that it cannot be done. Join me as we begin ensuring quality education for our children, reclaim our streets from violent criminals, and secure our borders from those threatening to violate our laws. Join me today Bahamas as we seek to improve the distribution of health care, reduce our national debt, reclaim the dignity and pride we once had and retain our rightful place on the world stage.
Join me today as we build One Bahamas, not just for society’s elite, but for all Bahamians. Not just for the voting public but for all Bahamians. Not just for the governing party but for all Bahamians. Join the DNA in its quest to build our country together. Your voice is paramount Bahamas. Don’t let anyone tell you that your vote does not count. Remember, “The Power of the People is greater than the people in power.”
Thank you…..Good night & God Bless.
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