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Bahamas: Clash Over Hero Of ‘Racist Regime’

FREE National Movement Chairman Carl Culmer yesterday defended the decision to posthumously award Sir Roland Symonette with the Order of National Hero, saying the country’s former premier singlehandedly “did more for black people” than some people of colour.

Sir Roland’s honour has been met with controversy, including allegations from the opposition Progressive Liberal Party that the former premier led a “racist regime” and opposed the fight for independence.

To this, Mr Culmer said that “no man is without sin” and defended Sir Roland’s legacy.

The FNM chairman also suggested that Sir Lynden Pindling, the first black premier and prime minister of an independent Bahamas, oppressed black Bahamians through political victimisation.

Despite this, Mr Culmer told The Tribune that he was not against Sir Lynden receiving the award.

He added that any Bahamian who contributes to the development of the country should be eligible for the honour, and implored people to move past skin colour or political persuasion.

The first recipients of the Bahamas’ National Honours were announced on Independence Day. Sir Roland received the top honour with Sir Lynden, Sir Milo Butler and Sir Cecil Wallace-Whitfield.

PLP Chairman Fred Mitchell told reporters yesterday that it is the PLP’s view that Sir Roland was not a “fitting, proper person” to qualify for that award.

However, Mr Mitchell said that ultimately, the decision was up to Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, calling on the nation’s leader to justify the choice.

In a post to Facebook, Englerston MP Glenys Hanna Martin decried Sir Roland’s award.

“I do not accept that a man who led a racist regime – Sir Roland Symonette – whose deliberate policies obstructed the natural human development and progress of the masses of Bahamian people can ever be deemed a ‘national hero.’ This decision is perverse and highly offensive. It is grotesque revisionism,” she wrote.

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