Saturday, February 11, 2017

Freetowns In The Bahamas

RE - A Brief History of the 'Freetowns' in New Providence and in Grand Bahama, Bahamas.



PREFACE - When you said something that was DUMB, my 9th Grade teacher at Eastern Senior School would say: "Don't let your IGNORANCE predominate where your INTELLIGENCE should assist". This pronouncement related to some of the DUMB comments I have seen posted here on Facebook, as they relate to the new FREETOWN Constituency. Personally to me, this sad because there are those Bahamians, who just do not know their history, or those that do not appreciate the value of the very rich history our Bahamaland. Hence my decision to share the facts about the Freetowns in The Bahamas.
Why I stated: Freetowns In the Bahamas’, well, just for the record, Freetowns are not unique to The Bahamas, as there are 17 places in the world that are named ‘Freetown’. Freetown In Africa, there is a place (the original) named Freetown, Sierra Leone. There are 3 places named Freetown in Liberia. There is one place named Freetown in Nigeria. The original Freetown, Sierra Leone was founded in 1787, by Great Britain as a settlement for ‘freed slaves’ who sided with the British during the American Revolutionary War and that arrived in the city from 1787.
Freetowns In the Americas (those mainly North America, Central America and The Caribbean ) - There are 7 places named Freetown in America. There is one place named Freetown in Jamaica. There is one place named Freetown in Belize. There is one place named Freetown in Antigua and Barbuda. There are 2 places named Freetown in Bahamas. All of the places called ‘Freetown’ in the Americas, they are believed to be historical communities that were established after their emancipation in August 1834, for 'freed slaves' when all slaves in the British Empire were emancipated. They were probably given the name by the British Colonials, after the original original Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Freetown In Bahamas. Now that I have established the historical factors behind the name FREETOWN, I now will address and contribute to the history of Freetowns in The Bahamas. So, appears that the FNM and UBP Parties is not a 'nationalist' parties... country first. They seem to be not really concerned with preservation of our Bahamaland history, as the UBP first named the Killanery constituency - after the lake, The PLP Party saw it fit rename Killarney constituency after the historical 'Gambier' township; that which just like the well-established 'Foxhill' constituency, ‘Bain & Grants Towns’ constituency, ‘Carmichael’ and 'Adelaide', all that are an integral part of our rich Bahamian history. Let me interject here; that in cases where possible that it is tradition that constituencies be names after ‘places of history’, for example historical churches in New Providence - St Barnabas, Mt Moriah, St Cecelia, and once others, as were, St Thomas More and St Agnes. Also edifice like the historical forts: Ft Montgua and Ft Charlotte in New Providence.
Now back to the history of Freetown in The Bahamas. These communities named above, all of which are historical townships that 'freed slaves' established after their emancipation in August 1834, when all slaves in the British Empire were emancipated. Including those 'freed slaves' living in The Bahamas, and those that escaped from 'Slavery in America'. Most 'black Bahamians' are direct descendants of these former African slaves. As noted above, in addition to 'Adelaide', 'Gambier', 'Foxhill', ‘Bain & Grants Towns’ there are also two known historical ‘Freetowns’, in the Bahamas. 
Bainstown, New Providence, The Bahamas
However, my research discovered that there are also to small settlements called 'Freetown', one in Eleuthera, this area is located on the southern (east-west) Deep Creek and one south in The Bight, Cat Island very little in known of these towns history. Let's focus on the historical ‘Freetowns’ in New Providence and Grand Bahama Islands respectively.
FREETOWN, NEW PROVIDENCE - The area between Mackey Street and Kemp Road, called 'Freetown' is also a part of this rich history of New Providence Island. For The Record, FREETOWN, New Providence, extended beyond Kemp Road, to John Evans Road just to the East of the new Shell Gas Station on Shirley Street. Freetown Lane - located between Lyon Road and John Evans Road - is still on the map. In fact, the Church of God of Prophecy on East Shirley Street; still gives its address location as Freetown. In addition to this, many prominent Bahamian Families originate out of the Freetown / Kemp Road Community.
The facts are, the Freetown Constituency was FIRST established in 1968 by the PLP Government a year later after being elected in January 1967. The Freetown constituency that grouped the ‘Out East’ black communities all together. The Anns Town / Freetown Community being bounded between Shirlea (west) John Evans Road / Kemp Road Area (east), Bar 20 Corner / White Road (south) and Bay Street (North), Mr. Simeon Bowe was the PLP MHA for Freetown in the 1968 election and he won the seat. Today, this ‘renaming’ is now only the reestablishment of the old Freetown Constituency.
Contrary to reports on Facebook, Freetown was never a part of the Montagu community, as Freetown did not extend beyond (John Evans Road) that is the Western boundary walls of Montagu Heights and Queens College west boundary. In the 1968 General Elections, there was both a Freetown constituency and there was a Montagu constituency. But for the last 3 general elections, the Freetown / Kemp Road communities were integrated into the Montagu constituency by The FNM Party, in this case, this will now be reversed for the 2012.
FREETOWN, GRAND BAHAMA - Just like New Providence, there was also a Freetown established in Grand Bahama. But this Freetown has nothing to do with ‘politics’. In 1836 the population of the entire island of Grand Bahama was recorded as 370; most of those people are presumed to have lived around West End. By 1861 the population had grown to 858, and was probably spread between West End, Eight Mile Rock and Freetown.
Rum Running West End
Records from West End, the oldest city on Grand Bahama Island, show that the population in 1836 was only about 370, many of whom abandoned the island for greater opportunities in Nassau. However, in 1861 people flocked to Grand Bahama because of an unexpected economic opportunity the American Civil War.
At the outbreak of the war, with the Confederacy of Southern States under a strict Union embargo, smugglers operating out of West End were able to command hefty prices from the South for goods such as cotton, sugar, and weapons. As soon as the war ended, the economic boom ended as well, but it established strong ties between The Bahamas and the United States that still exist today.
So there is the history of the 'Freetowns' in Nassau and in Grand Bahama. As the saying goes: ‘If you don't know where you came from, you surely don't know where you are headed'.
Written and Published by Monte A. Pratt - M.A.Pratt & Associates - Consulting Partners - Copyrights (C) 2017
Source: Bahamas Historical Society and - Photos: Facebook (copyrights)
From Monte A. Pratt - Facebook