|Bahamas Independence Day 1973|
As a young adult. I am happy to say I am proud to be Bahamian. I am proud of our history of non-violence and our beautiful people and country.
The facts: The Bahamas achieved independence from Britain July 10, 1973, and was now a fully self-governing member of the Commonwealth and a member of the United Nations, the Caribbean Community and the Organization of American States.
I found a great piece of that historic day at the Time magazine website:
At precisely one minute past midnight this Tuesday, the Union Jack will be lowered in Nassau's Clifford Park. Then, as fireworks thunder and crowds cheer, the black, gold and aquamarine Bahamian flag (the colors symbolize the people, the sun and the sea) will be hoisted into place, highlighting a boisterous, twelve-day celebration that will mark the independence of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas after nearly a quarter-millennium of British rule.
To stage this gaudiest of galas, Prime Minister Lynden O. Pindling's government spent some $2,000,000. The week leading up to Independence Day was an eclectic mix of regattas, steel bands and snake dancers that wound down Bay Street, Nassau's main financial district. To help him celebrate, Pindling invited the heads of 62 nations; most accepted. Britain's Prince Charles, the official guest of honor, arrived last week to ceremoniously turn the islands over to the 185,000 Bahamians.
White Anger. Independence will create its own problems for the Bahamas. Prime Minister Pindling, 43, a London-educated lawyer who was over whelmingly re-elected last September on a platform of immediate independence, personifies the newly proud and somewhat militant mood of his nation. The cornerstone of his program is "Bahamanization," which is an attempt to push more Bahamian blacks, who comprise 85% of the population, into white-collar jobs. This policy has meant that foreigners now find it extremely difficult to obtain work permits, though it used to be a routine matter. Moreover, in order to hire a foreigner, employers must first agree to train a black to take over the job eventually. This has brought an increase in the number of blacks holding higher-paying jobs (particularly in banking), but has angered many white businessmen. They claim that they have trouble finding qualified black trainees, and that they cannot hire more competent foreign help because of work-permit restrictions.
As a result, some whites have left the islands, creating a shortage of trained manpower. Fearing that Pindling power is synonymous with black power, some white-owned banks have moved to tax-sheltered havens such as the nearby Cayman Islands, which are still under British rule. The net result has been a slight drop in employment, a sharp drop in the construction industry, and the threat of a further white exodus.
Some investors note that many angry young Bahamians are not at all enthusiastic about serving tourists, and frequently make no effort to hide the fact. Yet tourism, which earned $285 million last year, accounts for 73% of the Bahamas' gross revenues. In the face of that hard reality, Pindling observes that no matter how much Bahamians may resent working for white tourists, it would be madness to lose such a lucrative business. T.B. Donaldson, chairman of the Bahamian Monetary Authority, points out that the Bahamians had five foreign-owned banks in 1967; now they have 120. "We're not jungle bunnies," says Donaldson. Translation: regardless of their resentment, Bahamians will not be so intoxicated by independence that they are going to forget that business is the lifeblood of sovereignty.
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