A political blog about Bahamian politics in The Bahamas, Bahamian Politicans - and the entire Bahamas political lot. Bahamian Blogger Dennis Dames keeps you updated on the political news and views throughout the islands of The Bahamas without fear or favor.
Bahamian Politicians and the Bahamian Political Arena: Updates one Post at a time on Bahamas Politics and Bahamas Politicans.
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Who Is This Fred Smith, QC Fella?
And Who Is Fred Smith, Qc?
Tribune 242 Editorial:
Mr. Fred Smith, QC
“WHO IS dis Smith fella…let’s
pick him up!” bellowed an angry Loftus Roker in a Side Burns cartoon
published in The Tribune on August 21, 1986.
Roker, then Immigration minister in the Pindling government, was
notorious for his Haitian round-ups. In the cartoon, “Cowboy Roker” is
drawn with a pistol at his side and a bandolier around his waist. He
holds a telephone to his right ear as he shouts the “pick him up orders”
while reading a letter from Amnesty International complaining that
“Smith say yinna is mistreatin’ Haitians.”
In fact, in Mr Roker’s day, five Immigration officers did “invade” Fred Smith’s law office in Freeport to check on his status.
Mr Smith, in describing himself, said that he became a Bahamian citizen
in 1973, which seemed to confirm the opinion of those who dismissed him
as just a “paper Bahamian”. Rather than confirming him as a “paper
Bahamian”, it confirmed the ignorance of many Bahamians, who today
consider themselves the “true, true Bahamians”, forgetting that each and
every one of us came to these islands in different centuries either by
boat or by plane. Not one of us is indigenous to the Bahamas. Therefore,
there is not one among us — regardless of race – who can claim original
ownership of these islands, although a PLP Minister once took leave of
his senses and declared from a public platform that “God gave this
country to the PLP”.
fact, if gaining Bahamian citizenship in 1973 is what created a “paper
Bahamian”, then we are all “paper Bahamians” because it was in that year
that we ceased being citizens of Great Britain and her colonies, and
became citizens of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. This is what Mr
Smith meant when he said he became a Bahamian citizen in 1973. In fact,
that applies to all of us who claim to have been born in these islands.
Friday night, a demonstration was arranged on Bay Street, among the
demonstrators was a black Bahamian, wearing a white shirt on which was
imprinted the image of a Klu Klux clansman carrying a burning cross with
the words - BACON-KKK. In our photograph this Bahamian carries a large
placard declaring that Fred Smith is a “Haitian Infidel!”
let’s examine this Fred Smith, “Haitian infidel”, and discover why he
is such a passionate human rights advocate, and why many Bahamians are
trying to disown him as fully one of them.
fact, Fred Smith is more of a Bahamian than any one of us, because on
his Bahamian father’s side he can trace his roots to an original
Cherokee Indian who was one of the few to survive the Spanish purge
after Columbus discovered these islands in 1492. A photograph of his
great great grandmother shows a very beautiful Cherokee woman.
Smith’s family has been in the Bahamas at least since 1648 – a year
after King Charles 1 of England in the 23rd year of his reign granted to
the company of Adventurers for plantation and cultivation the island of
Eleuthera and “all the surrounding islands known as the Bahamas”.
Smith’s family arrived in ships filled with Puritans and others seeking
religious freedom from England. The indigenous population of Eleuthera
was almost entirely decimated in the wake of the Spanish discovery.
However, of the few who were left was a man whose last name was Sims —
eventually the family added another “m” to turn the name into Simms.
This first Sims was Fred Smith’s great, great, great, great, great,
great, great grandfather. One hundred and fifty years later, his
descendant William Simms had a daughter named Arabella Simms. She was
Fred Smith’s great, great grandmother.
the family grew and spread, they acquired such additional branches to
the Simms tree as Smith, Knowles, Cartwright, Deal and Bowe. They were
born in various islands, among them Exuma, Long Island, Eleuthera and
Smith’s father, born in Nicholls Town, Andros, was Frederick (Freddie)
Charles Smith, Freddie’s older brother was Wilfred (Pemmy), who had a
crawfish import-export business on Prince George Wharf, and their only
sister, Mrs Mary Doris Stevenson, was an accomplished interior
decorator, who operated “Interiors”.
Mary Doris’ husband, Carl, operated a venetian blind company in Twynam Avenue.
Mr Smith’s cousins still in Nassau are Lester and Leonard Smith. He
even has second cousins in the PLP camp – former PLP MPs George and
Smith’s father, Freddie, operated a mailboat between Nassau and Gonaive
Haiti, where he traded with Izaac Richards (Arabic name Ghiscian), and
befriended his daughter, Julia Richards. Julia was born in Madaba,
Jordan, the Christian capital for Middle East Catholics. Her father was a
Bedoin and her mother Armenian. They married.
had four children — Norma, Gladys, Joyce and after a few years Fred
Smith, QC. The four children were born in Port-au-Prince and registered
with the British consulate as citizens of Great Britain and her
colonies. They became Bahamian citizens — as did all of us — on July 10,
1973. Although they lived in Haiti, they were frequent visitors to
their home and family in Nassau.
at an early age, Fred knew what discrimination and round-ups meant. He
was eight years old when his father was summarily put on a plane and
deported to The Bahamas by the dictatorial “Papa Doc” Duvalier and his
evil Tonton Macoute. The Tonton Macoute was a paramilitary force
answerable only to Papa Doc. They were authorised to commit systematic
violence and human rights abuses to suppress political opposition. They
were created after a failed coup d’état against Papa Doc in 1958.
recall us living in terror,” said Fred, “whispering at night clustered
around candlelight so that the housekeepers could not hear us, frequent
roadblocks during the day. Our home being invaded and torn apart by
Tonton Macoutes and the Gendarme. My mother being seized and spirited
away and disappearing in some dictatorial prison system where she could
not be found for three days.”
recalls his father hiding his mother and sisters in the mountains,
while he and his father were barricaded in his father’s bedroom with
“all sorts of shotguns and hunting guns while in the background they
were tearing our house apart”.
family returned to their home in the Bahamas in the 1960s, and
established Eddie’s Department Store. Young Fred went to school at St
Thomas More, Xavier’s, St Augustine’s and then off to school in
England, eventually studying law and being called to the English Bar.
only is he a noted lawyer, but he is a fierce human rights activist,
who having had his own experience, understands the plight of Haitians
being rounded up in The Bahamas.
Smith recognises that this country has a Haitian crisis that has to be
solved. But he is determined to see that it is solved with humanity.
to answer the question: Who is Fred Smith? He is a true Bahamian
descended from the original stock, whose family has suffered human
rights violations. He is now dedicated to making certain that those
abuses are not continued in the Bahamas. He is also determined to see
that the rights of Haitians are not abused during the exercise of
determining their citizenship. And if abused, he will face the
government in court on their behalf.