Minister of Foreign Affairs and Member of Parliament for Fox Hill the Hon. Fred Mitchell speaks on the history of the community and its role in nation building, at the Mt.
Carey Baptist Church, on August 7, 2013. (BIS photo/Eric Rose)
NASSAU, The Bahamas — During his lecture on the history of Fox Hill, on Wednesday, August 7, 2013, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Member of Parliament for Fox Hill the Hon. Fred Mitchell spoke of the role the community in the history of The Bahamas and the part it continues to play in nation building.
“Today Fox Hill is in 2013 at the end of a continuum: built on a history of struggle and toil; it is at the forefront of the struggle of the maintenance of the African identity in The Bahamas,” Minister Mitchell said at the event at the Mt. Carey Baptist Church in Fox Hill. “Why is it I wonder that this community forged as it was by an accident of history has ended up being the intellectual centre of the African movement in our country? This is a matter that deserves more study and support.”
Among the senior Government officials present at the event were Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Perry G. Christie; Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works and Urban Development the Hon. Philip Davis; Minister of Tourism the Hon. Obie Wilchcombe; Bahamas High Commissioner to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) His Excellency Picewell Forbes Chairman of the Gaming Board and Member of Parliament Dr. Andre Rollins.
Minister Mitchell said Fox Hill has changed with the coming of the new subdivisions and the people from “over town”, as the outsiders are called by “Fox Hillians”.
“The newcomers must know the history,” Minister Mitchell said. “The story that I have told tonight is about the people that we call the Bahamians. The more problematic entrants are the Haitian migrants who have settled in low cost rental units throughout the area.
“Their children make up almost a third of the Sandilands Primary School and if they are going to continue to be part of the unfolding story of Fox Hill, will they be told the story so the story also becomes their story? That is an issue that only Fox Hillians and their government can settle over time.”
He added that, in a sense, inward migration is not new because migration from other Bahamian islands into Fox Hill has been continuous over the past two centuries, from Eleuthera and from Exuma in particular.
“This new group of course is French speakers and this presents new issues and a new ethos with which to deal,” Minister Mitchell said.
Minister Mitchell said that the late Rex Nettleford used to describe the region’s societies as being “the rhythm of Africa with the melody of Europe”. While some say that Professor Nettleford’s expression is simplistic, Minister Mitchell continued, what it pithily describes is the interactions between a dominant culture of Europe and the subsumed and supposed inferior culture of Africa.
“What we know from that expression is that the music is not complete without both parts. People try as they might to suppress the African presence but try as they might it keeps on coming and Fox Hill has led the way in this presence,” Minister Mitchell said. “It infuses our music, our art, and our very lives. We are African and Fox Hill each year at this Emancipation Day are reminded of it.”
He added that every year at this time, the eyes of The Bahamas are on Fox Hill.
“This year in our 40th year as a country, we look particularly at the role which Fox Hill played in who we are today. It reminds us of the African ethos to our origins,” he said. “We came here by accident, against our wills but we have forged a magnificent future while we have occupied these rocks.”
Minister Mitchell pointed out that Governor General His Excellency Sir Arthur Foulkes said in a recent interview that The Bahamas is 40 years as an independent country, but it was a country before 1973.
“Tonight, we have lived through some of the events which make that statement of the Governor General more self-evident,” he noted. “We were here before 1973 and with God’s help we shall endure long after these 40 years.
“The question is: what will our children do? The future is surely theirs. Whether we like it or not, we pass it off to them.”
Minister Mitchell said that he is confident that Bahamian youth are “smarter than us, better educated than us, and that whatever vision they have for this country they will protect all of the things about which we have spoken here tonight”.
“We are speaking about the dignity of man; that no man or woman shall ever again be a slave; that the resources of this country belong to all Bahamians of whatever hue and description,” Minister Mitchell said.