The Bahamas: A model for unity?By David Muhammad | Last updated: May 14, 2012 - 4:26:12 PM
First of all it is one of the richest nations in the Western Hemisphere and has the highest GDP per capita of all the CARICOM nations, Trinidad is second, and the Bahamas also has the largest intake of foreign exchange in the entire English-speaking Caribbean, suggesting Bahamians also have the most successful tourism industry. The country has a relatively low crime rate as well as low unemployment while educational achievement and productivity are generally above average.
So in many ways the Bahamas is truly a model nation. But the way in which they stand out above all other nations in the Caribbean, and most nations in the world, is in the field of “Unity.” We may ask, “well who did they unite with?” The answer is that they united with each other.
The Bahamas consists of 3,000 islands, islets and cays all standing together under one government. Whereas in most countries it is roads that connect cities and towns, in the Bahamas you actually have to travel by boat to get to another nearby district.
In fact some citizens often have to travel across the sea to go to the bank or the supermarket or even to the movies.
In 1996 the Bahamian Parliament passed the “Local Government Act” to facilitate the establishment of Family Island Administrators to allow various elected officials to exercise some independence in their governance while still being a part of the greater unit. They are one nation, one community and one people. And while some may think the Bahamas is just another tiny tropical paradise, think again. After tourism, the next most important economic sector is financial services, accounting for some 15 percent of GDP. The capital city Nassau, located on the island of New Providence, has become a world famous business location that has attracted some of the world’s most influential economic giants. The government has adopted incentives to encourage foreign financial business, and further banking and finance reforms are in progress.
Now think about this in contrast: The smallest CARICOM nation is Montserrat whose population is 4,000. So here we have two Caribbean nations where the number of people in one is almost equivalent to the amount of pieces of land in the other. This obviously requires tremendous administrative skill to effectively manage, and the governments must also be commended. But it is not just the legislative capabilities that the Bahamas must be congratulated for, but really the consciousness of the people; the state of mind to see themselves standing together as one society in the midst of a region with so many fragmented countries.
Many West Indian nations do actually have a number of appendage islands as part of their domain (such as St. Vincent & the Grenadines, the Turks & Caicos Islands and even Trinidad & Tobago which has seven additional smaller, surrounding islands) but nothing comes close to the phenomena of the Bahamas with 3,000.
Today Blacks make up 85 percent of the total population of 354,570 people, and in some ways they are more united than most Black people across the globe. The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has often spoken of his vision for a “United States of the Caribbean,” maybe we can take a page from the book of the Bahamas to make this dream a reality.
If we as Caribbean nations can bond with each other in the way that the separate Bahamas islands have connected themselves, we can achieve our objective of a “One Caribbean” overnight.
(David Muhammad is the Trinidad Representative of the Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. Listen live to his “Black Agenda” radio program Mondays and Thursdays 8 p.m.-10 p.m. ET on www.wackradio901fm.com.)