6TH AUGUST 2012
FOX HILL PARADE GROUNDS
Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen, the people of Fox Hill.
We are gathered here today to mark the 178th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in what was then the British Empire and of which The Bahamas was then a part.
This is a momentous day in the history of the African in The Bahamas. It is one of the many stops along the way toward freedom which has been a part of the struggle toward sovereignty and independence.
There are other days: 1st June 1942, the Burma Road Riots; the founding of the Citizens Committee in 1950 to overturn the ban on the showing of Sidney Poitier’s first film in The Bahamas; the founding of the first political party the Progressive Liberal Party on 23rd November 1953; the General Strike of 1958; women getting the vote in July 1961 and voting for the first time in November 1962; Black Tuesday 27th April 1965 when the late Sir Lynden Pindling threw the Speaker’s mace out of the window; 10th January 1967 Majority Rule Day; 18 year olds obtained the vote in 1969 and independence in 1973.
None of that would have been possible were it not for Emancipation Day 1834.
I was very proud this morning of the members of the Fox Hill Festival Committee headed by the indefatigable Maurice Tynes for all the hard work they have done to make this a success. I am thankful to all the public agencies the Bahamas Electricity Corporation, the Department of Social Services; the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Culture; the Ministry of Works and our Deputy Prime Minister who paid personal attention to this matter; the Royal Bahamas Police Force and Government House today represented by our own dear Dame Marguerite Pindling in the absence of the Governor General who is on official duty in the United Kingdom.
In this connection, I would be remiss if I did not thank the many Junkanoo groups who came to Fox Hill this year and performed par excellence. Some have not been to Fox Hill for years. The young people came and beat the drums, danced and shook the cowbells excelled. It was truly moving and exciting.
It was a fitting present to the ancestors.
I would however like to take this opportunity to apologise and express my deep regret at an unfortunate incident with regard to the leader of the One Family group which on the face of it requires a complete and absolute apology. However, I wish to say to him and the group that I have spoken to the police minister this morning and followed up with a written formal request to the Commissioner of Police asking for an investigation into the matter and seeking appropriate action. I say that what happened this morning was not typical of what happens here and that I trust that the Junaknoo group will not let that sully their agreement to participate in our Festival next year.
Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen, when I spoke last year I told you that I thought that if a certain event followed in the way I wanted it to, that things would be different this year. I hope that we see what a difference a year makes.
This village Fox Hill is the last bastion for the celebration of the emancipation of the slaves left in our country. In this connection, the government has seen it as central to our Bahamian ethos to support the festival with its resources and not leave it to chance. I think we have shown that this year.
The bathrooms are repaired, the basketball court has been repaired and resurfaced and general sprucing up has taken place. More is to come with a complete redesign and upgrade of these parade grounds and an honest to goodness effort to improve the revenue potential of the festival itself for the people who live and work here in Fox Hill. I hope you will be pleased at what happens over time.
I am really quite happy at the young people can see change and more change to come, change which they helped to usher in and which makes them so much a part of this country.
We gather here to mark this occasion. Our Prime Minister will join us on Fox Hill Day, Tuesday 14th August. Please come and join us as we watch the children perform at the Baptist Churches in the Village.
We must continue to gather. We must continue to beat the Junkanoo drum. The fact is that even after emancipation, the authorities tried to stop these activities from taking place. I told the story last year how after the Haitian revolution in 1804, the leaders of the day in The Bahamas were so afraid that they passed laws to prevent the gathering of African people in large groups. So as simple as this gathering is today, as simple as the rush out this morning may seem, we are by doing what we do today striking a blow for freedom.
Once again, I am pleased to be your servant on this occasion. It is a wonderful thing to be your representative. Together we can do great things.
I want to say before I sit congratulations to the people of Jamaica who celebrate the 50th anniversary of their independence today.
May God bless them. God bless the people of Fox Hill and the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
© 2012 Microsoft
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