Sunday, August 19, 2012

...the paradox of the migrant and the missing Bahamian worker in The Bahamas

The Missing Bahamian

By Jones Bahamas:

Life as it is experienced at the street-corner level in today’s highly urban-Bahamas conjures up a medley of competing images.
At one extreme, there is that widely held assumption that daily life in most of our heartland communities is all about crime, hustling and other such acts of deviance.

At another remove, there is that other lived reality where daily life as experienced in all its rawness and has to do with village life; people bustling about engaged in this or that money-making enterprise.

There is that popularly held notion that life at the community level in some of our heartland-communities amounts to an ongoing struggle by one faction [the decent, law-abiding and penurious citizen] against another, [the law-breakers]: thus the current police-led thrust of Urban Renewal 2.0.

What is interesting about these perspectives has to do not only with how each has been constructed by this or that interest group; but by what each somehow or the other manages to neglect or elide.

Each misses the fact that daily life in our heart-land communities and for that matter throughout our nation is marbled through and through with foreign workers – whether at the elite level as they are to be found as advisors to government, consultants and managers in the hotels and banks.

Evidently, foreign workers – legal and illegal alike- are to be found wherever there is a need for skilled workers; thus all those electricians, plumbers, masons, cooks, nurses, teachers, security guards who are gainfully employed.

Interestingly, some of these people are savvy enough, hard-working enough and disciplined enough and honest enough to not only hold down a job, but also fit and proper enough to send remittances home to their families.

Missing from these serried ranks is an untold number of Bahamian men and women; people who would prefer hustling, drifting here, there, hither and yon armed with complaint piled upon complaint as to what they had expected this or that administration to do for them in exchange for their vote.

We sometimes wonder about why when the hard times fall – practically everyone with a voice blames someone or the other for the myriad of woes experienced either by themselves or others.

This blame-game is all for naught. When it comes to blame, there is enough of the stuff and more for all who would wish to play the game.

Now think – if you will – about this: If you want a really good tailor – there is a Haitian or Chinese who can and will accommodate you. The same principle applies if you are looking for a really good chef: here you can readily find one who is from Belgium, France or another such European country.

If you want a really good maid to live in and do your bidding, hire a woman from the Philippines – and the list goes on for any number of other jobs and occupations.

Sadly, missing from the list are so very many Bahamians who might – if only they were ready, able and willing – to man more of these jobs, some of which are fairly well-paying.

Call this – if you will – the paradox of the migrant and the missing Bahamian worker.

The migrant population in the Bahamas comprises mainly of Haitians who settle for work, while others are from Cuba and Jamaica. There is also inter-island migration, chiefly to New Providence and Grand Bahama islands.

We have a situation where the qualified, hard-working migrant gets both the job and the work; whereas his Bahamian counterpart oftentimes wants the job and the pay that it brings; but could care less about value delivered for money.

One of the more cruel jokes currently making its way around this island and perhaps also around this archipelago has to do with a Bahamian man and his wife [both unemployed] living off neighbors, family, friends and Social Service who – when interviewed by a news reporter- averred that they wanted jobs, not work.

Both were convinced that a government job was just the ticket they needed.

They wanted jobs, but were clearly not looking for work.

By stark contrast, there are thousands upon thousands of other people – some of them living and working as so-called ‘illegals’ – each and every day apply themselves to the task of earning their daily bread.

Today we look in not only on these people’s lives but also on those of some of our people who believe that the world owes them something.

The day of the free lunch – if they did not know it – is long gone.

15 August, 2012

Jones Bahamas