Categorized | Editorials


Changing Of The Guard

By Godfrey Eneas

Changing of The Guard is usually a military term to describe a military maneuver which was about to take place.  During the days of Colonial Rule in The Bahamas, changing of the guard was an event which took place usually on Saturday morning at the front door of Government House.

A troop of police officers would march from the police barracks on East Street to Government House. The troop of officers would be the corps who would be relieving the officers who had been stationed at Government House for the week.  It was an impressive military ceremony and was attended by scores of Bahamians as well as tourists.

Within the context of this article, the changing of the guard to which I refer is a generational societal change.  This generational change is reflected in deaths.  It has gotten to the point where I try not to miss the Obituary pages of the daily newspapers.  Invariably of late, there is a death notice of someone whom I know from my childhood days in the Pond, school days at Sands School, Eastern Junior and Senior and, finally, St. Augustine’s; or fellows with whom I played baseball, cricket, rugby or former work colleagues.

I am eighty years old and two of my Primary school and Junior School teachers are still alive – Dame Ivy Dumont and Mrs. Wint-Rolle.  These were individuals who provided the foundation of my education as they had the vocation for teaching and imparting knowledge, though in those days, they were untrained educators.  However, they taught me to read and write; add, multiply and subtract and the basics for literacy in a British colony.

Teachers in those days took their professions very seriously; it was not a job it was a calling.  The impact which they made on our lives lasted a lifetime and that is one of reasons for remembering them.

For me a third dimension of my generational story is my university or college classmates, some of whom I have known since I was seventeen.  Some are alive and, in the last few years, I have been seeing death announcements from this grouping.

In a small country like The Bahamas with a population of about 400,000 inhabitants, generational loss can be extremely impactful, particularly where there is the absence of a strong literary or written tradition and a more oral tradition.  We have a Senate where no is older than 60 years with individuals who have no experience in public life and no track record in business or the professions. The ironic part is the Senate traditionally in the Westminster System is the Upper Chamber based on experience.

The Bahamas was developed by people with a value system based on hard work, common sense and trust in their God.  Their belief was that by the sweat of your brow, you shall earn your bread. It is this value system which was practiced by the generations who were nurtured by colonialism. Fifty years into Independence, this new generation of Bahamians have a different outlook on The Bahamas. Some even believe The Bahamas was always as it is today.

Individuals of my generation see a Bahamas where tremendous socio-economic progress has been made. For most of us, The Bahamas has been modified by ethnic diversity because assimilation has been resisted in certain quarters for various reasons, one of which is xenophobia. Being an archipelago has been responsible for logistical challenges which have influenced our view of ourselves. There is no doubt in my mind that the generational divide has created this new Bahamas in which we live.

When The Bahamas became a Service Economy, thousands of Bahamians moved from the Family Islands to Nassau and Freeport. This migration re-oriented the workforce as women emerged an important part of the workforce, primarily as hotel workers.  With secondary and tertiary education becoming free, women moved into the professions.  With women in the workforce, family life suffered as wife and mother were no longer at home when school was out and some mothers had to go to work on Sundays, so kids did not go to Sunday School. All of these elements influenced life in our country and created a new lifestyle in The Bahamas.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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