Categorized | Business

Former AG Proposes New Preamble

By: K Quincy Parker

Former Attorney General and Minister of Education Alfred Sears – who currently serves as the Chairman of the Council of the College of The Bahamas – has proposed that the preamble of the Constitution of The Bahamas be amended in order to “better reflect the ideals and aspirations of our multiethnic Bahamian society.”

“The preamble of the Bahamian, I submit, has a number of weaknesses,” Sears writes in an opinion piece published in a local daily.

“First, there is no reference to the historical fact of 300 years of slavery of African people in The Bahamas, or the genocide or the Lucayan/Arawak people by the European presence, two critical aspects of the historical evolution of The Bahamian polity and society.”

“Second,” he writes, “the preamble mischaracterizes the incorporation and colonization of The Bahamas into the triangular slave trade, initiated by and for the benefit of Europe, as “…rediscovery of this family of islands, rocks and cays, heralding the rebirth of the New World.”

Among other things, Sears proposed that the amended preamble:
• Affirm a commitment to the continuing observance of the principles of individual freedom and democratic government as the inalienable heritage of Bahamians.
• Acknowledge that The Bahamas has been “blessed” with leaders of vision, with artists, writers, musicians and athletes who have carried the name of The Bahamas “with honour and glory throughout the world.”
• Salute the founders of the independent state of The Bahamas
• Acknowledge the progress made in the post-Independence Bahamas
• Reaffirm that the sovereignty of the Bahamian people and nation is founded upon principles of the dignity and worth of the human person, fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, social justice, {and} the fundamental role of the family in a free society based on spiritual values.

Other statements in Sears’ proposed preamble would honour all who have made contributions to the development of The Bahamas; pay special tribute to national heroes; pay special tribute to the Suffrage Movement of The Bahamas, and resolve that the national assets of The Bahamas be preserved and used to promote the general welfare.

“I suggest that the foregoing statements,” he wrote, “may better express the current expectations and aspiration of the Bahamian people. The preamble should be inclusive and affirming the racial, ethnic, religious and cultural diversity and pluralism which now make up the Bahamian civil society, and declare aspirations to guide us into the future.”

Sears said that since 1973, The Bahamas has evolved into a full-service economy with a highly urbanized population. Detailing the heritage of the African-Bahamian population, and the heritage of others including the Greeks, Syrians, Chinese, Jews and Lebanese, Sears said:

“All of those groups have made a significant contribution to the development of the modern Bahamian mosaic. Their descendants have been assimilated into the Bahamian society and reflect the multiethnic character of the contemporary Bahamas,” he said.

“Therefore, the preamble of our constitution should recognize the contributions of all the significant ethnic groups who have shaped our reality.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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