For quite a while now, the Bahamian people have been obliged to look deeply at not only what is happening world-wide, but have been obliged to understand that what they had blithely described as ‘development’ was no such thing. Step by step, inch by dread inch, more and more Bahamians have been awakened to the reality that what they had experienced across the span of the past half-century was little more than a reflection of what had happened in Cuba when in 1959, Fidel Castro and his comrades set in motion forces that would detach that island economy from the orbit of its large neighbour to the north.
As tourism waned in Cuba, so did it wax to the Bahamas.
As this process unfolded, some Bahamians benefited mightily while some others were left behind, marginalized, lost and mired in desperation.
In addition, these Cuba-fed and therefore Castroism-driven forces unleashed a dynamic which drove more and more Family islanders to New Providence; thus the demand for more and more housing, more and more jobs and more and more state provision of public services.
To this date, this beat continues.
Now that we find ourselves mired in the after-tow of the Great Economic Recession, crime is running amok as more and more unemployed [and unemployable] youth wreak havoc on each other and on their wider communities.
Clearly, the half a century age of easy money and so-called prosperity is over.
Change is in the air. Now, some scholars would have you believe that population dynamics play a crucial role in determining a country’s developmental prospects.
If asked to look in on the prospects facing the Bahamas, they would surely argue that there is only so much the Bahamian people can do granted their country’s small population.
The point would also be made that there is also so very little that can be done from a security perspective by the Bahamian people granted the archipelagic configuration of The Bahamas – an island nation scattered across some 100,000 square miles of Atlantic ocean.
In a sense, this nation’s configuration of such a plethora of islands, rocks and cays makes it a near perfect analog to a wider Caribbean which is itself comprised of a congeries of Small Island developing states.
In both instances, disconnection, fragmentation and alienation now define the limits each and every such state can achieve in a world where organization and unity play such a vitally important set of roles.
When for example, we look at the Bahamas there is nothing clearer than the fact that today’s Bahamas is not only Nassau-centric, but that we now have on our hands a quite paradoxical situation.
This situation involves a brutally expensive disconnect between the political demands conducing to provision of public services to each and every populated place in the Bahamas: thus huge investments in roads, schools and telecommunications linking the least developed islands of the Bahamas to both Nassau and New Providence. Today we have a situation where such goods are in extremely high demand throughout the Bahamas. This situation cannot and shall not be sustained.
The time is surely now for the Bahamian people and those who would rule over them to understand the clear urgency in the moment insisting that there be a break with things as they are.
This break with things as they are must involve drastic and dramatic changes in how Crown land is dispersed, how and who is called upon to pioneer development in this nation’s multiplicity of islands, rocks and cays.
Precisely because things are bad, that money is scarce and that there is currently no major foreign investment onslaught, we ought to use this occasion – as a basis – for digging deep into our shared reservoir of creativity to help shore up this nation’s Bahamian-driven dream of genuine development.
Evidently, there is a crying need in this time of crisis and change for Bahamians who have a vested interest in transforming their country for the better to come together in solemn assembly to chart the way forward.
This way forward can and should be driven by Bahamians.
Furthermore, such a way forward can and should involve government, civil society and business in ventures created and designed by Bahamians who would pioneer development throughout this archipelago.
Such ventures would clearly implicate some that are touristic in nature and which cater not only to the foreigner, but also to Bahamians; some could also involve farming and fisheries development; and some might also involve the establishment of any number of craft-related industries.