STATEMENT BY MADAM ATTORNEY GENERAL Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson
It is an honour and a great pleasure to be here with you today on your first annual “National Constitution Day” and most especially to represent our Prime Minister who, regrettably is unable to join us today. I congratulate the highly esteemed Leader, Pastor Myles, for his vision in hosting this annual event.
It cannot escape us that this day occurs on Palm Sunday, the first day of Holy Week, in the presence of our Founding Fathers, during the year celebrating our 40th Anniversary as a nation, which is an opportune time for all of us to examine who we are, where we have come from, and where we are going. For us as Christians, the comparison with the children of Israel who were about to enter into the Promised Land is perhaps inescapable.
Our Constitution defines us as a people. It is our Nations’ DNA so to speak. This is why Pastor Myles says that every citizen and every person who is to become a citizen should know the Constitution. It is readily available on the internet. Again, it answers the question, “who is a Bahamian”.
I believe that every word in the Constitution is important. I could talk about the 3 branches of governance or the fundamental rights and freedoms and every other article. I believe that every article has meaning in the context of the Preamble. I especially commend to everyone the Preamble.
“… And Whereas the People of this Family of Islands recognizing that the preservation of their Freedom will be guaranteed by a national commitment to Self-discipline, Industry, Loyalty, Unity and an abiding respect for Christian values and the Rule of Law; …Now Know Ye Therefore: We the Inheritors of and Successors to this Family of Islands, recognizing the Supremacy of God and believing in the Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of the Individual, Do Hereby Proclaim in Solemn Praise the Establishment of a Free and Democratic Sovereign Nation founded on Spiritual Values … do Hereby Provide by these Articles for the indivisible Unity and Creation under God of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.”
We believe that the preservation of our FREEDOM or our democracy, will be “GUARANTEED by a national commitment to Self-discipline, Industry, Loyalty, Unity and an ABIDING RESPECT FOR CHRISTIAN VALUES AND THE RULE OF LAW”. And we “Do Hereby Proclaim in Solemn Praise the Establishment of a Free and Democratic Sovereign Nation founded on Spiritual Values”. And by the Constitution we “Hereby provide by these Articles for the indivisible Unity and Creation under God of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas”. “God” is the last word before “the Commonwealth of The Bahamas”.
Brothers and Sisters, our hope of the full promise as a nation and as a people will be achieved when we LIVE the words of the Preamble.
Especially recognizing that people frequently respond more favourably to Pastors rather than politicians, we need to hear from our spiritual Fathers. Pastor Myles, I congratulate you. I acknowledge you as a world recognized expert on Leadership and Leadership Training. Like St. Francis of Assisi, you “preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary use words”. I urge upon you, in this 40th anniversary of our Independence, to lend your voice in urging the Bahamas Christian Council and all Pastors and Priests in The Bahamas [our spiritual Fathers] to lead by their actions as well as speaking from their pulpits. This “Free and Democratic Sovereign nation”, The Bahamas, needs more than ever – “self discipline, industry [hard work], loyalty, unity and an abiding respect for Christian Values and the Rule of Law”.
Though no theologian, I note that throughout the Old Testament, women supported the Prophets. Women were with Jesus from the beginning to the end of His Ministry. A woman was asked to carry the good news of the resurrection. As a granddaughter of Georgiana K. Symonette, a Suffragette, and representing her and all the others, I ask you Pastor Myles whether The Bahamas can and ought to enter the Promised Land without women as equals? Can an eagle achieve its full flight flying with one wing? Can The Bahamas achieve its rightful place as a world leader while discriminating against women in its Constitution?
Brothers and Sisters, I ask you to note that even if legislators passed laws eliminating this discrimination, Bahamians must by Referendum agree to change the Constitution. Again, I call for the voice of Pastors and Priests, our spiritual fathers, to guide us in this crucial matter.
Pastor Myles, may God’s richest blessings continue to be upon you and your Ministry, in The Bahamas and around the world, and may God continue to get the glory!