The grand entrance of honourees at the Majority Rule Assembly at Central Abaco Primary School (CAPS) on Jan. 8 signified a historic moment in time as the unsung heroes of Abaco were celebrated for their contributions. The theme: “A Tribute to Majority Rule: The Unsung Heroes of Abaco.”
Following the national anthem, pledge of allegiance and prayer, Moderator Anistacia Dawkins asked that a moment of silence be held for Estin Sawyer, a Bahamian music icon, who recently passed away.
Grade 3 students welcomed all guests to the school, including the Hon. Fred Mitchell, minister of Immigration and Foreign Affairs as well as Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Renardo Curry, and Alexander Flowers. In observance of Majority Rule Day, the message by Bahamas Governor General Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling was read by Principal Beatrice Moxey. The message read that Majority Rule Day was perhaps “the most important day in our history since the abolition of slavery on Aug. 1, 1834.”
“On the 10th of January 1967, the will of the majority of Bahamians was freely expressed in a general election based on universal adult suffrage where all adult citizens could vote freely to determine who would govern our country.
“Majority Rule Day memorializes what was, in a sense, a Second Emancipation, since that was the day when people of African descent, who made up the majority of the population of The Bahamas, were enabled for the very first time to form the government.”
The chanting of “We are the majority, and the majority rules” grew louder as students from the Culture Club marched onstage. The students sang “Something Inside So Strong” as two students demonstrated the struggle faced by blacks before Majority Rule.
In his remarks, Renardo Curry reiterated much of what was mentioned in the Governor General’s message. He did, however, remind the audience members to remember those who fought for equality and social justice including the honourees.
“May all of us do our part to ensure social justice continues and to be our brother’s keeper,” Curry instructed. “All that matters is that we are Bahamians.”
Grade 5 students participated in a reenactment of the Road to Majority Rule representing key leaders like Bahamas Prime Minister Sir Lynden Pindling, Sir Randol Fawkes, Sir Milo Butler, Preston Albury, etc.
Shariffa Swain introduced guest speaker Rev. Ezekiel McIntosh, who spoke after a selection by CAPS’ staff chorale. Giving historical background, Rev. McIntosh said that the first time he voted was in 1956, and during that time they were not called Bahamians, but British subjects.
There was widespread injustice he said because of the Bay Street Boys system that was in place, so blacks did not have a problem with all whites.
“Land coulda vote when man couldn’t vote,” he explained. “You could vote as many times as you wanted according to the amount of land you had.”
He shared his firsthand experience of travelling on the Stede Bonnett, and how blacks were treated as second-class citizens in their own country.
“You couldn’t eat at the same table as a white person; even if there was only one white person still eating in the dining room, you had to wait until they were finished,” Rev. McIntosh recalled.
He observed that even with the Women’s Suffrage Movement, which granted women the right to vote in 1962, many of them voted for the UBP for fear that they or their husbands would lose their jobs if they didn’t vote for the UBP. Nevertheless, in the 1967 general, election where the United Bahamian Party (UBP) and Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) were both tied with 18 votes. In the end, the PLP would be victorious.
Before he ended his speech, Rev. McIntosh sought to share how Sir Randoll Fawkes was a man he had great respect for because he fought hard for this country.
It was soon time to present plaques to the honourees, and Education District Superintendent Dr. Lenora Black presented a plaque to Sabrina Sawyer on behalf of her father Estin Sawyer, an unsung and fallen hero.
Also honoured were: Robert McKinney, Ezekiel McIntosh, Patrick Bethel, Medious Edgecombe, William Swain, Keith Stuart and Elijah Mills.
To close out the Majority Rule Day Assembly, the K-Kids also did a special performance led by Raisa Hamilton, followed by the vote of thanks by Keva McIntosh and a Junkanoo Rush out.
Majority Rule Day was observed as a public holiday on Monday, Jan. 11.