Saturday, March 31, 2012

Brave New World

In my last post, I suggested that the rhetoric of our discourse had become more revolutionary, and I was excited to see in which way this trend might continue. It was with this in mind that I attended last night's event at the Hub. This last part of the Fanon series was advertised as a discussion about "Revolutionary Cultural Practices and Engagements."

However, either our revolution was shortlived, or the cultural workers of the Bahamian intellectual elite have not yet caught on to it. It was this sector where I would have expected the most radical challenges to the status quo being posed. I was wrong.

What I heard were polite suggestions for progress by tame reformists, willing to accept the cultural leadership of a Minister of Culture, rather than demanding the abolition of such a pretentious title. "How can government help artists," was a regular mantra.

Sadly, as a nation we've been so brainwashed that even the art scene needs some brain-un-washing. The other regular theme of last night's discussion was, "Bahamian culture is more than just Junkanoo," to be followed by discussing Junkanoo, Junkanoo, and Junkanoo.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Seeds of Revolution

Did anybody else notice how the national pundits in our Bahamas are getting louder in their demands for democracy, transparency and respect for the humanity of Bahamians? One interesting debate to follow currently takes place on Twitter, a place I don’t normally pay much attention to, because I do not believe important insights can be expressed in one hundred and forty characters or less. Nonetheless, in anticipation of the upcoming general election, Twitter, like most other social media, is showcasing a wide range of opinions from various Bahamian opinion leaders.

Several days ago, a new hashtag entered the scene - “#DemandDebates.” As far as I can tell, this originated from College of the Bahamas faculty, who are now pushing for our political leader, for candidates from all parties, to not only face but engage the public and debate the issues facing this country, to present their plans and ideas for solving the various crises plaguing the Bahamas.

Normally, I would consider COB and its faculty to be a haven of moderation; in fact, COB always struck me as somewhat conservative. Yet, I look at their calendar of events for recent weeks, and I see items like a series of symposia dedicated to Frantz Fanon, a revolutionary thinker and theorist of the Caribbean and African diaspora.

If indeed COB has turned into a cell of intellectuals vocally expressing their disgruntlement, imagine how the Bahamian masses must feel in the current situation of economic despair and out-of-control crime. The rhetoric is becoming more radical, more revolutionary.

It looks like 2012 (or the years to come) may see the continuation of the unfinished revolution of the 1960/70s. Will the political caste recognize this in time to ensure that this, too, is going to be a Quiet Revolution, a peaceful, democratic process, or will the continued disregard for the needs of large strata of Bahamian society result in civil unrest and upheaval?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Political Police

Over the past few weeks, there have been a lot of allegations and denials regarding a new unit in the Royal Bahamas Police Force supposedly formed to spy on the opposition parties, the PLP and the DNA. Unfortunately, none of the allegations contained anything even remotely resembling facts. So why am I mentioning this?

One of the comments on an article on the Tribune's website, "Tal Russell" asks, "Why is it this FNM regime is not scaring the hell out of their own supporters?" Well, Mr. Russell, it is. But it is not this latest set of allegations that is scaring any conscious Bahamian, rather it is a whole long list of foolish statements made by this current government.

For one, there's the PM, styling himself as "Papa." This here former FNM voter does not wish to be governed by a man who proudly adopts the nickname of a dead Haitian dictator.

And then, special police unit or not, I must remind my readers of the statements the Minister for National Security, Tommy Turnquest, made during the BTC privatisation and the protests surrounding it. He threatened the unions with putting the Royal Bahamas DEFENCE Force on alert. Only dictatorship use the military in internal conflicts.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Who/Who Not

Last week, the College of the Bahamas hosted a symposium in commemoration of the women's suffrage movement, and I am sure, somebody at COB will soon write something telling us all why and how this was a great success. And they may be right, too.

The list of dignitaries in attendance was long, and from this list, we can learn about which policy makers value COB as an academic institution, value a broad national discourse, and value the memory of these suffragettes. However, more telling are the absences, sorely noted. Those who do not value our nation's history, who do not value COB as an academic institution, and who believe that they should dominate, rather than share, the national discourse.

As far as I can tell, no current government minister considered this national event worthy of a time out from their campaigns. And the College's President wasn't in attendance either. Things that make you go hmmm...