The Department of Education Abaco District presented a Pre-Independence Youth Rally and Parade in celebration of The Bahamas’ 40thAnniversary on June 5 at the BAIC Park. The patriotic theme proclaimed: “The Bridge to the Future…The Journey Continues.”
Leslie Rolle, district education officer, called the ceremony to order shortly before the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Rangers executed a flag raising drill. Cooper’s Town Primary School and Crossing Rocks Primary School assisted with the opening prayer and welcome, respectively.
In his remarks, Senior Island Administrator Preston Cunningham told the audience that it was indeed a great day for him. He went on to educate the students concerning the time period leading up to Independence. Alas, he paused to remind Bahamians to take pride in their communities amidst the celebration because of the amount of litter seen on our streets and highways.
Cunningham’s final encouragement was to declare war on hate.
“It is because of hate, we are getting a lot of the criminal activities in this country; it’s because of hate many have been murdered in their homes on their streets, in the workplaces, and so on. This is not what we want for The Bahamas,” Cunningham declared. “I want to know 20 years from now when all of you will be grown men and women that you find a better country to live in, a better community.”
Abaco Central High School female students entertained the gathering with their song and dance performance of old-time Bahamian songs before the keynote address was given by Pastor Ezekiel McIntosh.
Pastor McIntosh spoke of attending a Grant and Aid School and of the hardships they as students and their teachers experienced during those times. He recalled how his father took up the mantle to take over the school and educate the students of Fox Town when they no longer had a teacher.
“Laying down one night, I remember hearing my father saying to mother – ‘I think I am going to take over the school in Fox Town because there are too much children growing up on this island who can’t read or write.”
His recollection of his childhood led him to remember how everyone used to farm in Wood Cay, the settlement where he was born, and how we are so blessed today to have something for ourselves and our families. As a boy, he had to get wood to cut up for the fire on which they cooked their meals in their yards. There were no stoves, and certainly no electricity.
“I am happy today to say to you that we have come from a long, long way,” Pastor McIntosh said.
The highlight of the day was the parade where all students and civic groups participated including the RBDF Rangers, Girl Guides under the leadership of Mrs. Bailey, and the Governor General’s Youth Program.
The remaining students wore 40th Anniversary T-shirts of their colours of yellow, aquamarine and black rippling like those of our nation’s flag as they moved into position to join the march that led them through downtown Marsh Harbour to the traffic light and back to the BAIC Park.