Exuma, the musician or magician?

by Hunter Kinder

One of the reasons I was initially interested in blogging on the Bahamas was the culture.  I learned a bit about the culture from one of my favorite musicians who is from Cat Island in the Bahamas; he goes by Exuma.

He was born on February 18, 1942 and was active musically in 1962 up until his death on January 25, 1997. His music can be described as a blend of Junkanoo, Calypso, and Ballad.  Junkanoo is a tradition  in the Bahamas in which music is paraded down the streets of towns on Boxing day (which is the day after Christmas when bosses give presents to their employees and vice-versa), New Years eve and in the summer. Calypso is a genre rooted in Afro-Carribean music originating in Trinidad and Tobago.

One of the first things apparent in hearing Exuma’s music is his soulfulness.  Not only is it present in his voice, but also his lyrics.  He talks about Obeah which is a term used to refer to folk magic, sorcery and religious practices derived from West Africa.

To learn more on Obeah: http://www.obeahrituals.com/

Exuma has opened my mind not only as a listener of music, but also as an observer/learner of culture and religion.

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51+ years since women’s suffrage, Bahamians still fight

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

By Mark Kinder

In 1962, women gained the right to vote in the Bahamas.  This came about after the Burma Road Riots of 1942, the General Strike of 1958, the Labour Movement of the 1950s, and civil rights movements.  Since then, Janet Bostwick became the first woman elected to the House of Assembly.  Bostwick leads symposiums, like last year’s, with presentations  by relatives of the women who led the movement and pushed for equal rights.  Today, her argument is that women’s rights are not being advanced.  “We have become complacent, materialistic and quiet. We have never been more educated, nor have we ever enjoyed greater levels of influence, yet this is hardly reflected in our involvement in seeking social justice and true equality. It is shameful,” Bostwick says.

Advocates continue to encourage women to educate themselves on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.  This convention, ratified in 1993,  “pragmatically evaluates the efforts of member countries, to assist and encourage them to best meet their obligations. As a body, CEDAW works to hold governments accountable, and to advocate on behalf of women across the world,” according to Ministry of National Security, Missouri Sherman-Peter.

Included was an issue that is still prevalent all over the world: the marginalization of women. It was specifically highlighted with single mothers, disabled, and immigrant women. “A lot of times they don’t get the support that they need. And we are not just talking about financial support. Sometimes there is a need for housing that does not exist or a person who is in real distress. A lot of times these women are with children. These are some of the issues that we need to be concerned about and that is what I talked about,” said Donna Nicolls, activist and volunteer counsellor at the Crisis Centre.

Sources:

http://www.cob.edu.bs/conferences/womenssuffrage50_history.php

http://www.bahamapundit.com/2012/03/womens-rights-and-the-tragedy-of-the-conchy-joe.html

http://www.tribune242.com/news/2012/aug/21/bahamas-affirms-commitment-womens-rights/#h13399-p15

Bahamian NGO continues to fight capital punishment

By Hunter Kinder

Image

(R.E. Barnes briefing on how the BHRN fights capital punishment)

The Bahamas Human Rights Network is a non-governmental organization based in Nassau, Bahamas. They work to promote the observance of, the education of persons of Commonwealth’s human rights. They also report and investigate abuses of human rights, one of which they have been fighting for 25 years is capital punishment which was legal in every capital offense, but has since become more lenient with a 2006 Privy Council ruling that the mandatory death sentence in The Bahamas was unconstitutional.

R.E. Barnes, a BHRN official, says, “We try to educate and enlighten people on how the death penalty doesn’t work…People feel it is a simple solution to the crime.”

The Bahamas, which is a Commonwealth, inherited policies from Great Britain as it was colonized by Britain.  Although Great Britain has abolished the death penalty, the Bahamas has not. Current prime minister, Perry Christie, is in support of the law recognizes it as a divisive issue.

The BHRN encourages positive constructive pressure on the issue.  One could write to the Prime Minister, expressing discontent with the law.

Sources:

http://www.thenassauguardian.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=33387&Itemid=27

http://www.ngocaribbean.org/index.php/the-bahamas-human-rights-network/

Bahamian government cracks down on work permits

Atlantis-Paradise-Island-Bahamas_Aerial

Posted by Hunter Kinder

The Bahamian government  is in the process of  a state-wide crackdown on work permits. Many of the jobs are filled by immigrants, particularly in tourism (making up 50% of the Bahamas’ economy and 60% GDP).

A U.S. citizen employed by a Bahamian resort was detained while training sea lions for having a pending permit. Foreign Affairs Minister, Fred Mitchell, was regretful to how the woman was detained but supported the crackdown as a way for more Bahamians to become employed.

“This applies from the top to the bottom. It applies to the bank, the newspaper and the industrial sector. It applies across the board,” he said at a news conference Monday. “It is a simple question. Is there a Bahamian available for this job? If there is a Bahamian available for this job, then a work permit will not be granted.”

William Rolle, the former CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, claims there are not enough  skilled Bahamian workers available for the private sector.

“What happens when we cannot find people to get the job done? Are these businesses supposed to go without? I don’t think that is practical and realistic,” Rolle said. “I think the current stance by government is damaging. For people sitting outside of the Bahamas, what is being portrayed is scary.”

About half of the Bahamian workforce is employed in tourism. This sector, established by Americans, is being threatened with this crackdown. If enough permits are rebuked, these companies could go under, leaving half of the Bahamian workforce jobless. This begs the question whether or not the Bahamas rose too heavily on American established tourism or democracy.

Source(s):

http://news.yahoo.com/bahamas-permit-crackdown-angers-big-205028441.html

http://www.doingbusiness.org/data/exploreeconomies/bahamas/

Zakaria, Fareed. “The Rise of the Rest.”The post-American world. New York: W.W. Norton, 2008. 1-5. Print.

Who’s To Know?

 minnis

Posted by Hunter Kinder

The Bahamas are known to visitors as an island paradise getaway. To me, I know they are holding at least 5 Cuban detainees since this July. The Free National Movement leader, Dr. Hubert Minnis, claims they were “physically abused.” Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Fred Mitchell, says Minnis’ claim and the FNM is, “siding with the enemies of the Bahamas against the Bahamians (via the Guardian).”

Minnis and Mitchell both claim that the detainees released a video reenacting the beatings; which was released on a Spanish TV station in Miami. So why is Minnis doing Mitchell’s job by bringing this to attention? Minnis has called Bahamian Prime Minister to fire Mitchell; while Mitchell believes the U.S. will take care of this.

http://www.thenassauguardian.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=41307:fnm-cubans-were-abused&catid=3:news&Itemid=27