IN LEAFING through the Ed Moxey files in The Tribune's archives last night, we were not surprised to find that the Coconut Grove MP's own colleagues were trying to take credit for his cultural concept - Jumbey Village. In other words, they were trying to steal Mr Moxey's own brainchild from him.
We say not surprised because the PLP came to power with a strange personality quirk -- call it what you will, some at the time referred to it as a mammoth inferiority complex. However, they seemed to want to wipe the slate clean.
To hear them talk, Bahamian history started on January 10, 1967 when the Progressive Liberal Party defeated the United Bahamian Party and for the first time in the history of these islands ushered in majority rule. For this we give them full credit. Although for generations there were many Bahamians, and even English civil servants, whose courageous decisions helped change a people's thinking to prepare the way for the historic transfer of power, as far as the PLP were concerned the past - and the men and women who were a part of it - did not exist.
And so it was not surprising that they felt that Ed Moxey was getting too big for his boots and had to be chopped down, and his creation snatched from him.
But on that day in 1967, it was Lynden Oscar Pindling who was the chosen leader for the historic change. And, although, as many -- Mr Moxey included - maintained he soon lost his way, no one can take from him that single achievement.
However, the prevailing attitude among the PLP of that day was that nothing that happened before 1967 was of importance, and anything created afterwards naturally had to have been created by them.
And so, Mr Moxey should have seen the handwriting on the wall when he formed a cultural committee, invited community leaders, including Prime Minister Pindling, and outlined his ideas for a community created "of the people, by the people, for the people." The enthusiasm to get started was so overwhelming that a few weeks later Mr Pindling (as he then was) called on Mr Moxey to "make him part of the machinery". In good faith, an enthusiastic Ed Moxey offered the prime minister the position of Parliamentary Secretary Community Development. Mr Pindling's acceptance would be the eventual kiss of death for the project.
By 1974- with the building of Jumbey Village well on the way -- ominous storm clouds started to form. That year Jumbey Village was excluded from the Budget. The Coconut Grove MP said that government's efforts to "suppress" Jumbey Village was the result of petty jealousy by individuals who felt that only they should be involved in certain national activities.
The fight was on with Tourism Minister Clement Maynard, whose Ministry was busy planning a festival site at Fort Charlotte on the same lines as Jumbey Village. This would have been the death knell for the Village and the last hope of attracting tourists with their dollars over the hill to patronise the struggling businessmen there. Mr Moxey was outraged. He said he knew nothing about the Fort Charlotte plans until he learned about the Goombay Festival -- also his idea that he envisioned for his people over the hill.
"The amazing thing," said Mr Moxey, "was that I was parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister at the time and he was honorary chairman of the Festival, but I knew nothing about it. My name was never mentioned and when I raised hell they tried to shut me up."
Mr Moxey challenged Mr Maynard's statement that Goombay was the corporate idea of a number of people. "This is a lie," he thundered. "It was entirely my idea.
"In a letter to Prime Minister Pindling on May 15, 1974, drawing his attention to a newspaper headline that read: "New Jumbey village planned for Fr Charlotte site," Mr Moxey wrote in part:
"This is a very serious matter which may have very serious repercussions. As you may recall, sir, the Minister and Ministry of Tourism stole the Goombay programme from me and my people and sold it to foreigners who are now doing a good job in keeping it to themselves, while the people for whom it was designed are going out of business and are on the verge of starvation. Now he seems hell bent in an attempt to take the Village concept to Bay Street.
"My heart and soul are tortured," the letter continued, "my people now suffer great pain because it would appear that you and your Minister have struck a death blow to their dreams and aspirations.
"Let me remind you, sir, that we have made tremendous sacrifices to bring you and your Government to power and God's eyes are on the sparrow.
"I do humbly pray," the letter concluded, "that you use your good office and influence to restore sanity to this nation 'Now', for which you are ultimately responsible."
The Fort Charlotte plans never succeeded and Jumbey Village crumbled back into the dust from which it came.
"The Price of Being a Man, the story of Ed Moxey and the undoing of Jumbey Village and the Quiet Revolution," written and narrated by Anthony Newbold, will be shown at 8pm Sunday on Cable Bahamas -- channel 12. It commemorates the 25th anniversary of destruction of Jumbey Village.
March 27, 2012
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