Article By Nicole Roberts
viagra sales prostate times;”>The French novelist Gustave Flaubert, cialis canada nurse who lived in the 1800s, ailment once said, “Our ignorance of history makes us vilify our own age”. No truer words have been spoken when we consider the Bahamas today. To the Bahamian born after 1963, our stupendously pitiful lack of awareness, knowledge, pride and inspiration that is supposed to be gained from the events of 10th January 1967 might be excused… might! It might be excused only in the smallest terms because we grew up in a Bahamas that was vastly different to the ones our parents, grandparents and not so distant ancestors grew up in.
The only obstacles that existed, after 1967, were accidents of birth and even those could be remedied with determination and hard work, if one chose to. The sides of the mountain had been scaled, smoothed and readied for us to climb our own life’s journey with a few less encumbrances than our ancestors. To understand the incredible significance of majoritarianism, we need to reach back into history, not Bahamian history, but world history. The political ideal of majoritarianism, or majority rule, was once only a vague and distant dream of ordinary people around the world. By today’s standards, it is almost incomprehensible to consider a world without access to education, knowledge, ideas and MAJORITY RULE .
Forgive Our Ignorance and Apathy free thought where men had unlicensed opportunity to proclaim their words to whomever wanted to hear them. But almost since the beginning of organised community living, ordinary people had no rights, no voice and lived and died by the will and hand of a few. Throughout the tens of thousands of years of organised political communities, there are only few instances of large-scale majority rule in recorded history. Ironically, most of the famous ancient philosophers like Plato, were staunch opponents of majoritarianism.
It was strongly believed that only the rich, the highly educated and the nobility should make the laws. It was deemed foolish to base decisions on the will of the uneducated and uninformed ‘masses’. This was not wise or just and a complete waste of time because the ordinary did not contribute anything to society except for their labour. Menial labour, throughout history, was always cheap and plentiful, so why should it figure in larger affairs of society. The most notable majoritarian system is recorded in ancient Athenian democracy and other ancient Greek city-states. However, we can say that none of these were truly a majoritarianism or majority rule because these societies excluded women, non-landowners, outsiders and slaves from decision-making processes.
The idea of majority rule was nothing more than a foolish thinking. The very notion that ordinary people could have a proper say in the running of their government and country by simply having the right to vote or being able to run for public office to represent the entire population of a country, and not just the rich or the noble, was incomprehensible. In fact, throughout Europe it would have been considered treason.
As we move further along in history, to the early 1600s, the idea of majoritarianism gave rise to the English Civil War. When presented with the idea from Parliament that England should move to a more enlightened form of government called ‘democracy’, where the will of the people (the majority) superseded that of the King (the minority), King Charles 1 of England is said to have dismissed it as folly and remarked ‘democracy was a Greek drollery based on the foolish notion that there were extraordinary possibilities in very ordinary people.’
We all know that for his ignoring the growing demand for a majority voice, King Charles was beheaded by his own people, the majority. Certainly, the most dramatic fights for majority rule that we can clearly recognise, was the American Revolution 1776, where the new Americans (the majority) fought for independence from England (the minority) and the French Revolution with their Declaration of the Rights of Man and of Citizens in 1789. As history moved forward, something extraordinary started to happen. As time marched on, and slave colonies began to hear of the goings on in the new America – unspeakable, unmentionable ideas began to take root in the minds of a growing black majority.
Could the idea of popular sovereignty launched by the American Revolution take hold in the minds of people long considered so ordinary that they did not meet the definition of what it meant to be truly human? Haiti, then the French colony of Saint-Domingue took their majoritarianism in the style of a mass insurrection by the enslaved in August 1791. How was this any different from the American and French Revolutions? There was no difference actually, but history would deem it to be. When black majorities in the Caribbean began to work up the resolve to defy the laws and social rules at the time, majoritarianism all of a sudden became Page something that could not be shared or fostered. It went back to its old definition – impossible.
By the time, the colonised Caribbean began to agitate for a greater say in the way their respective local governments functioned, it would still be another almost two centuries, before this translated into majority rule where black people, who made up the greater numbers, had the opportunity to have an effective voice. Ironically, from the very nation states who would tout their political evolution in recognising democracy, when it came to recognising black majorities, the mood toward this new type of democracy would cool to a chilly, cold frost. I would like to pause here to say that black people did not ask for this. Black people in the then colonised Caribbean did not ask for this fight – the fight to be heard and considered. The struggle was laid at the feet of our ancestors, what else were they supposed to do with it? Ignore it? Dismiss it? Black people never intended to play the race card, it was the hand that was dealt to them from the loaded deck of history.
If Black Caribbean didn’t choose it, why today are they still being penalised for it, by ignorance and indifference, for taking up a fight that the British, French and Americans have all been hailed and lauded for since their own fight for majoritarianism? For the Bahamas, our majority rule came at a time when history would record the period, as the precursor to unforeseen, unanticipated world change. During the early to mid-20th century the Bahamas was largely an ignorant, uneducated, superstition mired society under repression and wanting change.
When we achieved majority rule, it happened at a time when globalisation was just taking hold. By 1975, globalisation had exploded across the world and travelled like an economic freight train on greased tracks, taking us, a neophyte government and country, along with it. Bahamian independence coincided with the greatest global phenomenon since industrialisation and black people were ill prepared for it. When the money-making train was slowed for us by America and Europe, the deflated drug trade and the offshore banking blacklisting, the Bahamas was left like the ugly small kid who couldn’t play with the big boys anymore. The reality was, we never knew the rules we were playing by with countries who had long before built the game board and could move their pieces around it at will. We were left out in the cold having being courted once but no longer needed now.
Since 1967, we haven’t had a chance to catch our breath, to reflect on our history, our place in the world, our goals, our sovereignty. Since 1967, we haven’t had a chance to freely make our own laws, define our own nationality, to consider what it means to be Bahamian and to find our true enlightened selves. And so today we are angry, sullen and discontented that the world is still changing beneath our feet and our sense of history, our collective anchor, is lost in an economic haze.
Is the Majority Rule of 10th January 1967 a victory for blacks in the Bahamas? Yes! And what is wrong with that? Is the Majority Rule of 10th January 1967 something that all Bahamians, regardless of colour or creed can share in? Yes! And what is wrong with that given that we share in the celebration of the American Revolution, British democracy and French enlightenment that were, in no way shape of form, anything related to black people, Bahamian people or Caribbean people.
Is the Majority Rule of 10th January 1967, something that should fill us all with pride? Yes! And why shouldn’t it? Is only developed world majoritarianism to be lauded and admired? Is the Majority Rule of 10th January 1967 racist? No! How could it be? Why should it be? Why should a recognition of black anything now be considered racist in modern times when throughout hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years of history, it never was before?
Is the Majority Rule of 10th January 1967 something that the whole world should take pride in for us and Bahamians more so? Yes! The Bahamas achieved majoritarianism with a dignity and a valour that belies a cruel history. A peaceful attainment of majoritarianism is our finest hour. 10th January 1967, makes us startlingly beautiful and majestic like the flamingo in flight. We are no longer just a former slave colony to history. We are nation of men and women who turned a vital page in its history, calmly and peaceably, to reveal more of our true collective nature and spirit that only needs to be nurtured and fostered more as we step into the future as one nation. ——The Social Perspective January 2016 .