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THE WORK OF THE MISSIONS ABROAD

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Washington D C

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Delivering the keynote address at the unveiling of a memorial bust of the late Sir Lynden Pindling, the first Prime Minister of The Bahamas, at the Organization of American States (OAS) on Thursday, April 20, 2017, Senator the Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson, Attorney General of The Bahamas, declared that Sir Lynden “is undoubtedly the architect of the modern, progressive Bahamas.”

Sir Lynden’s widow, Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling, Governor General of The Bahamas, unveiled the memorial bust of her late husband during an impressive ceremony in the Hall of Heroes in the OAS main building, 17th Street and Constitution Avenue, N.W., during which their son Mr. Obafemi (Obi) Pindling, Director of the Sir Lynden Pindling Foundation, delivered remarks on behalf of the family.

Also participating in the official ceremony were His Excellency Dr. Elliston Rahming, Bahamas Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations and the OAS, who brought welcome remarks; His Excellency Nestor Mendez, Assistant Secretary General of the OAS; His Excellency Dr. Eugene Newry, Bahamas Ambassador to the United States; Mrs. Paulette Zonicle, Bahamas Consul General to Washington, D.C., who was the Moderator; and Rev. Dr. William Thompson, Executive Chairman of the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas, who said the invocation.

Following is the full text of Attorney Maynard-Gibson’s keynote address:

I bring greetings from our Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie and our Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Fred Mitchell. Both of them today have taken the first step, Nomination, in the process of free and fair elections, – the hallmark of democracy in The Bahamas.

The hero is someone who inspires people and effects change across racial, social and cultural barriers and across generations.

We Bahamians are most grateful that the Organization of American States has seen fit to recognize, as such a person, the Father of our Nation, our national hero, Sir Lynden Oscar Pindling.

In this hall of heroes, the House of the Americas, the legacy of leaders that have most contributed to the political economic and social advancement of our hemisphere is enshrined and celebrated.

It is an honour, therefore, to be here today, to commemorate the achievements of the Father of our Nation – Sir Lynden Oscar Pindling.

His humble beginnings, grandson of a Bahamian seaman and son of a retired policemen, and son of a faith filled mother, instilled in him the uncommon disposition to ‘walk with the crowd and keep his virtue and walk with Kings and not lose the common touch’.

His formative years also, however, confronted him squarely with the stark reality of economic and political oppression endured by the black majority in The Bahamas.

At the age of 26, a lawyer by training, he joined the then minority Progressive Liberal Party shortly after its formation in 1953 and in 1965 was elected to the House of Assembly.

He and our Founding Fathers were convinced of the virtue of fighting for the plight of the working man and against the unjust social and political oppression which for too long held at bay the opportunity for the average Bahamian to achieve his just aspirations. He was called affectionately the Black Moses. He was the trusted Leader who would lead Bahamians to the “Promised Land”. Majority Rule (the most significant historic event since the Emancipation) was obtained on 10 January 1967 and Independence on 10 July 1973. The Commonwealth of The Bahamas became a sovereign nation and her people embraced her citizenship.

In the preamble to our Constitution we proclaim that we citizens recognize the supremacy of God, the Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of the Individual and that our nation is “founded upon 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”. These are the rights of citizenship and the yardstick by which the policies of Sir Lynden’s administration were measured.

Sir Lynden remains one of the longest serving heads of Government in the Americas, having served as Prime Minister for nearly 26 years and as Member of the House of Assembly for 41 consecutive years.

Cuban national hero, Jose Marti once said of famous men, ‘those of much talk and few deeds soon evaporate. Action is the dignity of greatness”.

Like Marcus Garvey, one of his heroes, Sir Lynden believed that “there is no force like success, and that is why the individual makes all effort to surround himself throughout life with the evidence of it; as of the individual, so should it be of the nation.”

Sir Lynden’s actions in leadership together with other Founding Fathers (one of whom was my Father, Sir Clement Maynard, who served with Sir Lynden from his Premiership and throughout his tenure as Prime Minister) and other Bahamian patriots prepared to serve under his inspirational leadership have left indelible marks of success on the Bahamian landscape.

This legacy includes the creation of Institutions such as National Insurance – which now includes National Health Insurance; the College of The Bahamas – now the University of The Bahamas and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force – the guardian of over 100,000 square miles of what the Apollo astronauts have called the most beautiful waters if the world. And he continually enunciated a vision of The Bahamas feeding itself. Under the leadership of our Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie, we now have the Bahamas Agriculture Marine and Science Institute (BAMSI) and the plans for a new city supported by BAMSI to emerge on the Island of Andros, for which Sir Lynden was a long serving representative.

Sir Lynden’s visionary leadership led to The Bahamas having a continuing Parliamentary Democracy for almost 300 years. Tourism, financial services and the maritime sector continue to thrive and serve us well because of this stability, a legal system that is independent and well respected, and citizens who are proud hard working patriots.

With no equivocation, they set about on this task of building a society in which the majority of citizens, coming from humble beginnings, would now be equipped with the education and opportunity to captain their own fate and to help engineer the society they wished for themselves and their children.

They imbued in citizens the determination to build a nation and invest in people whose indomitable spirit would cause the world to mark the manner of their bearing. Per capita, The Bahamas has more Rhodes Scholars and Olympic gold medalists than any country in the hemisphere, perhaps the world. We also have Grammy award winners and Oscar award winners.

Sir Lynden is undoubtedly the architect of the modern, progressive Bahamas.

Sir Lynden’s leadership has also had significant impact in the international arena.

He was a powerful advocate for Caribbean and pan-African connectivity and integration. He promoted regionalism and multilateralism that would effect ‘change without disorder, revolution without bloodshed and develop a stable economic and social order’.

His leadership during the October 1985 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), hosted in The Bahamas, supported by the strong Bahamian anti apartheid movement led to the agreement for economic sanctions against South Africa articulated in that Meeting’s Nassau Accord. The Nassau Accord became a catalyst for a series of events that would eventually lead to the release of Nelson Mandela, abolition of apartheid and the first democratic general elections in South Africa in 1994. Upon release from prison in 1990, President Nelson Mandela, on his first trip abroad, visited The Bahamas, to thank Sir Lynden for the seminal role that he had played in the process.

Sir Lynden’s legacy was cemented by a team – including his supporters and colleagues in The Bahamas, those who served and continue to serve The Bahamas internationally and people of other nationalities who love The Bahamas as much as we do.

As with most great men, he was supported by a loving and devoted wife, Dame Marguerite Pindling, now, the Governor-General of The Bahamas. Thankfully, Dame Marguerite, is still a Mother to their biological children and all young Bahamians.

The Almighty God has blessed us with significant geographical placement. The Bahamas served as the gateway to the new world in 1492. Since 10 July 1973, we have diplomatically, economically and metaphorically, served as the gateway, and bridge, between the North, Central and the South of the America’s. This concept drives our foreign policy. We are friend to all. We believe that all people deserve the same opportunity to shape their destiny. We oppose injustice anywhere and we support self-determination everywhere.

We Bahamians fell a tremendous sense of pride today as we see Sir Lynden, at the gateway, the entrance to the Hall of the Americas, placed beneath the colors of the Bahamian flag, aquamarine, gold and black, welcoming the citizens of the America’s, to these August Halls. The busts of heroes hailing from 22 countries across the Americas, with Jamaica’s Marcus Garvey as a representative of the CARICOM region, and with other luminaries such as George Washington of the United States, Jose Marti of Cuba and Simon Bolivar of Venezuela. We pray that the legacies of these great men, and the legacies of the Bahamian freedom fighters, symbolized by Sir Lynden’s bust, will continue to inspire and guide people all over the world but especially those who come here, to the Organization of American States, as they engage and deliberate, respecting and accepting each other as equals.

Thank you.

CAPTION ONE

Attorney General Allyson Maynard Gibson delivering the keynote address at the unveiling of a memorial bust of the late Sir Lynden Pindling, the first Prime Minister of The Bahamas, at the Organization of American States (OAS) on Thursday, April 20, 2017.

CAPTION TWO

Pictured from left to right at the unveiling of a memorial bust of the late Sir Lynden Pindling, the first Prime Minister of The Bahamas, at the Organization of American States (OAS) on Thursday, April 20: His Excellency Dr. Eugene Newry, Bahamas Ambassador to the United States; Rev. Dr. William Thompson, Executive Chairman, Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas; His Excellency Nestor Mendez, Assistant Secretary General of the OAS; Dame Marguerite Pindling, Governor General of The Bahamas; Mr. Obi Pindling, Director of the Sir Lynden Pindling Foundation; Mrs. Diane Pindling; Senator the Hon. Maynard-Gibson, Attorney General of The Bahamas; and His Excellency Dr. Elliston Rahming, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of The Bahamas to the United Nations and the OAS.

Washington DC

MEMORIAL BUST OF SIR LYNDEN UNVEILED AT OAS

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling, Governor General of The Bahamas, unveiled a memorial bust of her late husband, Sir Lynden Pindling, the first Prime Minister of The Bahamas, during an impressive ceremony in the Hall of Heroes at the Organization of American States (OAS), 17th Street and  Constitution Avenue, N.W., on Thursday, August 20, 2017.

Sir Lynden’s son Mr. Obafemi (Obi) Pindling, Director of the Sir Lynden Pindling Foundation, delivered remarks at the historic event on behalf of the family. Mr. Pindling was accompanied to Washington by his wife Diane.

Also participating in the official ceremony were Senator the Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson, Attorney General of The Bahamas, who delivered the keynote address; His Excellency Dr. Elliston Rahming, Bahamas Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations and the OAS, who brought welcome remarks; His Excellency Nestor Mendez, Assistant Secretary General of the OAS; His Excellency Dr. Eugene Newry, Bahamas Ambassador to the United States; Mrs. Paulette Zonicle, Bahamas  Consul General to Washington, D.C., who was the Moderator;  and Rev. Dr. William Thompson, Executive Chairman of the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas, who said the invocation.

The Bust was sculpted by Bahamian artist Andret John, who was present to see his handiwork in marble unveiled. He later said that it was a dream of his “for many years to sculpt this national hero.”

Also present for the unveiling were Mrs. Sharon Brennen-Haylock, Director General of the Bahamas Ministry of Foreign Affairs;  the Hon. H. Ricardo Treco, Bahamas Consul General to Miami; the Hon. Forrester Carroll, Bahamas Consul General to New York, and his wife Dr. Valencia Carroll; and Mr. Bobby Pinder, Cultural Attaché with the Consulate of The Bahamas in Atlanta, Georgia, who sang  the National Anthem of The Bahamas.

In his welcome remarks, Ambassador Rahming referred to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “A Psalm of Life,” in which Longfellow intones, “Lives of great men all remind us, we can make our lives sublime, and departing leave behind us, footprints on the sands of time.”

“That is what brings us here this afternoon,” Ambassador Rahming said. “The indelible, immutable footprint of Sir Lynden Pindling has brought us together to etch into perpetuity a collective remembrance of and an everlasting tribute to a great Caribbean son who, to expand upon a line from Ted Kennedy’s eulogy to his brother Bobby, “saw wrong and tried to right it; saw suffering and tried to heal it;” saw a small island state and tried to enlarge it and empower it.”

Ambassador Rahming noted that just as “The Apostle Paul of old had the good fortune of sitting at the feet of Gamaliel, many of us gathered here today had the privilege of sitting, proverbially and literally, at Sir Lynden’s feet.”

“I believe that history would confirm that I rose from shoeshine boy to serve for four years as his Special Assistant; three years as Secretary General of the party that he led; a candidate in two national elections under his leadership and Opposition Leader in The Bahamas Senate having been appointed by Sir Lynden,” Ambassador Rahming proudly recalled.

He added, “And so I knew Sir Lynden up close. Not only is he the father of the island nation known as the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, he was a surrogate father to thousands of young, poor Bahamians in whom he saw promise and potential and therefore took a personal interest in our development and advancement.”

“We commemorate his achievements and celebrate his life today not just because he was in the vanguard of the fight for women’s rights; not just because he led us to majority rule; not just because he led us to Independence; not just because he built the modern middle class in The Bahamas; not just because he played a pivotal role in the release of Nelson Mandela and hence the dismantling of apartheid. We celebrate and commemorate him today not simply because of what he did, but moreso because of what he made possible for The Bahamas and ordinary Bahamians to become. That is his enduring legacy and his immutable epitaph.”

In his remarks, Obi Pindling noted that as the eldest of his parents’ four children, he could “truly and sincerely say that I have witnessed virtually all of my father’s political career and his dedication to serving the people of The Bahamas.”

“By way of illustration, in 1967, when the party of which he was Leader, the Progressive Liberal Party, was first elected to be the Government and our country attained majority Rule for the first time, I was a month shy of my eighth birthday,” Mr. Pindling said. “At that time, he had been Leader of the party for 11 years. When he retired from Parliament, where he sat and served for forty-one years, I was 38 years old. Consequently, it is not an understatement when I say that I have seen the highs and the lows of public life.”

He added, “Being the child of someone who became known as ‘The Father of the Nation’ gives one a completely different vantage point of the aforementioned highs and lows. I must confess, however, that the full significance of his standing and prominence in the history of The Bahamas and, indeed, in the history of English-speaking Caribbean leaders never hit home to me until after his death 17 years ago. In the years to follow, so many incidents occurred where numerous persons made comments about my father which truly opened my eyes. Of the many incidents, if you would indulge me, I will give brief details of just two of them.”

Recalling that his father loved Trinidad Carnival and indeed introduced him to the “greatest show on earth in 1986, Mr. Pindling said that “since then I have not missed Carnival ONCE.”  About 10 years or so, he continued, “I landed at Piarco International in Trinidad and presented my passport to the Trini Immigration officer, who appeared to be in his 40s. He looked at it and said, “Hmmmm …… Lynden Pindling …… Bahamas. Are you related to the former Prime Minister?”. I said, “Yes sir, he was my father”.  The officer then smiled and said, ‘He was a great man, one of the Caribbean’s Big 6.’ ”

When he quizzically responded, “Big 6?” Mr. Pindling said the Immigration Officer replied, “Yes, Big 6 Caribbean leaders — your father, Eric Williams of Trinidad & Tobago, Errol Barrow of Barbados, Forbes Burnham of Guyana, Alexander Bustamante of Jamaica and Vere Bird of Antigua.”

“This stunned me because I had heard all the praises showered on him by supporters at home as well as all the criticism of him from political opponents at home, but this was the very FIRST time I had ever heard a non-Bahamian speak about my dad in such a larger- than-life, regional historical context to the point,” Mr. Pindling said. “To me, this was indeed a WOW moment.”

Mr. Pindling continued, “Whenever special events like today occur where some honour is bestowed on my father, whilst we, as a family, acknowledge the honour with immense gratitude, fondness and appreciation, we are the very first to acknowledge the indisputable fact that whatever he accomplished for the people of The Bahamas, he did not, and could not, do it alone. He was just one member of a very strong team of dedicated and faithful freedom fighters, male and female, who were all a part of a movement to uplift the masses. Those very same persons were those who elected him as Captain of the team. Again, as a family, we tip our caps to that entire team for without them, today would not be possible.

“On behalf of my beautiful, elegant 85-year-old mother, Dame Marguerite, who is present with us today; my siblings, Leslie, Michelle and Monique; my lovely wife, Diane, who is also here today; my parents’ six grandchildren, I wish to express our sincere gratitude to the OAS, the Government of The Bahamas and to each and every person responsible for making today possible. It is indeed, an honour and privilege for us to be here today and be a part of such a momentous occasion. Having referred earlier to the “Big 6 of the Caribbean” it is, indeed, hard to believe that my father is only the second person from the Caribbean Community to have a bust in the famous Hall of Heroes here at the OAS in Washington, DC. Again, another WOW moment.

“Over the years, my dad has received all manner of awards and honours both at home and abroad. I must confess, however, that I am especially proud to say that this honour today ranks if not at the top, very near to the top of them all. At home, it is somewhat expected that he would be shown love and admiration from those who support him. The cynics would say, ‘Well, what do you expect from his supporters?” However, when the international community, especially an organisation as prestigious as the OAS, pays homage, and gives recognition to his achievements, it is overwhelming, to say the least. It gives an even greater sense of pride and appreciation as it lends credence to the old saying, ‘It’s not what you think of yourself; it is more important what others think of you’.

“In closing, on behalf of my mother and the entire Pindling family, I wish to again say thank you to everyone responsible for making this day possible. TO GOD BE THE GLORY, great things he has done.

Assistant Secretary General of the OAS Mendez, in his remarks, highlighted some of the accomplishments of Sir Lynden during his long  and distinguished political career, and described The Bahamas’ first Prime Minister as “a political giant and visionary who left an indelible mark upon the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and our region.”

Following the unveiling, a reception was held in the Aztec Patio of the OAS.

Dame Marguerite, accompanied by ADC Carlos Blatch and ADC Keith Ferguson, arrived in Washington shortly before 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday. She was met at Reagan National Airport by Ambassador Rahming and Ambassador Newry and was driven to the St. Regis Hotel in downtown Washington, where she stayed.

On Wednesday night the Governor General attended a reception for the United Way of the National Capital Area hosted by Consul General Zonicle at the Oxon Hill Manor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

On Thursday morning, Her Excellency and Attorney General Maynard-Gibson, who arrived in Washington Wednesday evening, paid a courtesy call on Consul General Zonicle at The Bahamas Embassy Consular Annex, 1025 Vermont Avenue, N.W.

The Governor-General and her delegation departed Washington Thursday evening.

Recognized as “The Father of the Nation,” Sir Lynden was Prime Minister of The Bahamas from 1967 to 1992. Shortly after he returned from Law School in England, he joined the newly formed Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) in 1953 and was first elected to the House of Assembly in 1956. He became Parliamentary Leader of the party after Henry Milton Taylor, the then Chairman of PLP, was defeated in the 1956 general election and Pindling was elected the party’s Parliamentary Leader. He went on to win successive elections to the House of Assembly in 1962, 1967, 1972, 1977, 1982, 1987, 1992 and 1997.

On January 10, 1967, the PLP and the governing United Bahamian Party (UBP) each won 18 seats in the House of Assembly, but Randol Fawkes (the lone Labour MP) voted to sit with the PLP, and Sir Alvin Braynen, an independent MP, agreed to become Speaker, enabling Pindling to form the first Majority Rule government in Bahamian history.

Pindling went on to lead Bahamians to independence from Great Britain on July 10, 1973. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1983.

He retired from politics in 1997 and died three years later on August 26, 2000, after a prolonged battle with prostate cancer.

CAPTION ONE

His Excellency Dr. Elliston Rahming, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of The Bahamas to the United Nations and the OAS, speaking at the unveiling ceremony of the Bust of the late Sir Lynden Pindling.

CAPTION TWO

Mr. Obi Pindling, Director of the Sir Lynden Pindling Foundation, speaking at the unveiling ceremony of the Bust of his late father Sir Lynden Pindling.

Washington D C

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Bahamian artist Andret John is pictured with the bust of the late Sir Lynden Pindling, the first Prime Minister of The Bahamas, after it was unveiled in the Hall of Heroes of the Organization of American States (OAS) on Thursday, April 20, 2017. John, who was born in Eleuthera in 1973, the year that The Bahamas attained independence from Great Britain under the leadership of Sir Lynden, said he was “beyond excited when I got the news of being commissioned to sculpt the bust of Sir Lynden.”

Washington DC

It is an honor for me to address you this afternoon at today’s ceremony to unveil a bust dedicated to the late Rt. Hon. Sir Lynden Pindling, Former Prime Minister and the Father of the Nation of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. I am equally honored to be in the presence of his wife, Dame Marguerite Pindling and son, Mr. Obafemi Pindling – I welcome you both to the OAS, the House of the Americas.

Born on March 22, 1930, Sir Lynden rose from humble beginnings.  The grandson of a Bahamian seaman and son of a retired policeman, he attended Government High School in Nassau from 1943 to 1946. At the age of 18, the young Lynden Pindling left The Bahamas to attend the University of London, where he received his Bachelor of Laws degree in 1952. He was called to the English Bar, Middle Temple, as a barrister-at-law in January, 1953, and to The Bahamas Bar that August.

He later joined the minority Progressive Liberal Party shortly after its formation in 1953 and in 1965 was elected to the House of Assembly for the Southern District, New Providence.

During his tenure, Sir Lynden accomplished many goals, the greatest of which was leading the country into independence on July 10, 1973.   He also created several acclaimed institutions such as the College of the Bahamas, the Defence Force, Bahamasair, The National Insurance Security Scheme, the Bank of the Bahamas, among others.  He implemented fiscal policies that bolstered the Bahamian economy and created a new middle class.  He also served as chairman of the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which was held in Nassau in 1985 and was appointed Chairman of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group, which brought pressure upon South Africa to dismantle apartheid.

During his lifetime, Sir Lynden, a political giant and visionary, left an indelible mark upon the Commonwealth of the Bahamas and our region.  Having served as Premier of the Colony of the Bahama Islands from 1967-1969 and as Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas from 1969-1992, he is the longest serving democratically elected head of government in the hemisphere.  He is described as being blessed with superlative oratorical skills, and yet he embodied the ‘common touch’.  He fought for social justice and human rights believing that change can occur through peaceful means.  Upon accepting membership to the United Nations, Sir Lynden pronounced, “we believe that we can make a contribution in human relations in effecting change without disorder, revolution without bloodshed and in developing a stable economic and social order.”  He died in August 2000 at the age of 70.

This afternoon we commemorate his legacy and achievements.  I wish to thank the Government of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas for honoring our Organization with the placement of this bust in our Hall of Heroes.  Here Sir Lynden will proudly stand among the other great luminaries and historical figures of our hemisphere.  I must point out that this is only the second bust of a prominent figure from the CARICOM region that has been featured in this Hall, the first being that of the Jamaican social activist, Marcus Garvey.  I urge my fellow CARICOM Member States to endeavor to fill these hallowed halls with more of our great leaders who have charted the course of your nations’ history and in turn made a mark on this hemisphere.  Only then will our Organization be a true representation of our hemisphere’s diversity and wealth of talent.

Let us redouble our efforts and continue to carry out the work of our hemisphere’s foreparents and freedom fighters so that the peoples of the Americas can live in peace and prosperity! Congratulations to the Government of and people of the Bahamas.

THANK YOU

CAPTION

OAS Assistant Secretary General Nestor Mendez speaking at the ceremony at the OAS for the unveiling of a Memorial  Bust of the late Sir Lynden Pindling, the first Prime Minister of The Bahamas.