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Majority Rule Day Observed in Schools
By Kathryn Campbell
Bahamas Information Services
NASSAU, The Bahamas – Schools throughout the nation held special assemblies recognizing the important milestone in Bahamian history –Majority Rule Day, January 10. Six of those schools in New Providence observing the 48th anniversary of Majority Rule with special assemblies on Friday were: Garvin Tynes Primary, Sandilands Primary, Centreville Primary, Yellow Elder Primary, E. P. Roberts Primary and Anatol Rodgers High School.
Students, teachers, and guest speakers at the various schools celebrated the historic day with performances including songs, choral verses, musical selections, skits, poetry and dramatizations. They also paid homage to Bahamians who fought for Majority Rule such as Sir Lynden Pindling, the first Prime Minister and Sir Arthur Foulkes, former Governor General.
Dr. Erecia Hepburn, Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry, Natural and Life Sciences at The College of The Bahamas, addressed Anatol Rodgers High School on the topic “Bridging the Gap…The Journey Continues”. She told the student body that observance of the milestone gives Majority Rule the honour and significance it rightly deserves alongside landmark events such as the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade in 1834 and the attainment of independence in 1973, both of which are also memorialized as national holidays.
Dr. Hepburn briefly recollected the journey of events that culminated with Majority Rule.
1942 – Burma Road Riot. This event was the first instance of political and social awakening and increased awareness among our people in circumstances wherein American workers were paid more money to carry out the same work as their Bahamian counterparts. This was an important event that demonstrated how Bahamians stood up for their rights and demanded equality.
1949 – The start of the suffrage movement when Rufus Ingraham lost his seat in the 1949 General Elections and said to his wife Mary that perhaps if women had the right to vote, he could have won his Family Island seat of Crooked Island and Acklins.
1950 – The formation of the Citizens Committee to overturn the ban on Sir Sidney Poitier’s film, “No Way Out” in local theaters. The government of the day feared that this movie would educate Bahamians about how to stand up to and overcome bigotry and stir up social unrest.
1953 – The birth of the Progressive Liberal Party, the first and oldest political organization in The Bahamas
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. The PLP ushered in the era of party politics.
1958 – General strike over denial of work to taxi cab drivers by the hotels that provided transportation between airport and hotel for their guests, effectively shutting out the taxi cab drivers from earning a living.
1962 – Women voted for the first time in history. Ruby Ann Cooper, later ‘Darling,’ was first to register to vote and Ms. Mackey was the first woman to cast her vote.
1965 – Black Tuesday: Sir Lynden Pindling threw the Mace out of the window of Parliament in protest over gerrymandering of seats. The Mace is the symbol of authority and power in Parliament, so Sir Lynden said that since power belonged to the people, then the Mace should be outside with the people.
1967 – Majority Rule on January 10th: It represented one man, one vote and for the first time the expressed will of the people was realized. This symbolized the promise of equality, a level playing field and fair play.
1973 – Independence on July 10th: This was the birth of our nation and when we formally acquired a national and unique identity. We became a Bahamian sovereign state and not just a British territory and protectorate.
She noted the many Bahamians who embody the spirit and promise of Majority Rule. Bahamians including as Sir Lynden Pindling; Sir Arthur Foulkes, former Governor General; Cynthia “Mother” Pratt, the first female Deputy Prime Minister; and A.D. Hanna, former Governor General. Dr. Hepburn said they are people from modest means and from humble beginnings who “elevated themselves to occupy the highest offices in the land just by first aspiring to succeed, then educating themselves and applying themselves through hard work.”
She told the students that they who represent the next generation of leaders must properly prepare themselves to meet the challenges facing the country and so work to help decrease the crime wave, expand economic opportunities, and strengthen our social fabric.
“You must not squander the hard-fought freedoms and opportunities your forebears secured for you through great personal sacrifice and self-denial,” she said. “It is your responsibility and challenge to agitate for a better Bahamas, do your part to make it better, then safely deliver it to the next generation in a better, safer and stronger condition than your generation inherited.”
“You must be the bridge to your future and pass on the legacy of Majority Rule so that the journey continues,” she added.
Garvin Tynes Primary students learned of the Road to Majority Rule from Pastor Joseph Zonicle of Port Howe, Cat Island. (BIS Photo/Derek Smith)
Yellow Elder Primary School Principal Kendal Burrows relays the history to his students. (BIS Photo/Elcott Coleby)
Anatol Rodgers High School guest speaker, Dr. Erecia Hepburn, encouraged students ask questions. (BIS Photo/Elcott Coleby)
E. P. Roberts Primary students gathered round to listen to Principal Mrs. Janice Moss. (BIS Photo/Elcott Coleby)
Centreville Primary students have fun with their historical enactment. (BIS Photo/Letisha Henderson)
Sandilands Primary reflected on symbols of changes past to present. (BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)