Sunday, September 9, 2012

...whatever they called him during his 15 years as prime minister ...Hubert Ingraham did much for this country - The Bahamas ...and for all Bahamians... ...He should be a true inspiration to Bahamian youth who now know that regardless of their backgrounds ...they can also aspire to great heights

A Tribute To Hubert Alexander Ingraham

Tribune 242 Editorial

IF from a log cabin in the backwoods of Kentucky the sixteenth president of the United States could step forth, there was no reason why 203 years later Cooper’s Town, Abaco, could not produce from similar circumstances the second prime minister of the Bahamas.
The two men had much in common. “I walk slowly,” said Abraham Lincoln, “but I never walk backwards.”
Hubert Alexander Ingraham, born in Pine Ridge Grand Bahama, in 1947, could have said the same.
Both men had much in common. Lincoln’s parents were illiterate. His mother died when he was nine, and his stepmother took him under her wing and encouraged him to read. Reading material was scarce and Lincoln walked for miles just to borrow a book.
Hubert Ingraham, was left with his grandparents in Abaco when he was a toddler, while his mother found work in Nassau. He grew up in a four-room wooden house with his grandparents and an uncle, and slept on a pallet on the floor with his two cousins. He got his first pair of shoes when he was 10 and didn’t learn how to use a knife and fork until he was 17. His grandfather taught him how to fish, his grandmother insisted on education — and every bit of learning he could get he got at the sleepy little town’s all-age school, where he became a monitor at 12 and a pupil teacher at 14.
When at 17 she felt he was ready to go to town to further his education, he wanted to become a teacher, she determined that he was to be a lawyer and a lawyer he became. Lincoln, who with his backwoods accent, made his living by manual labour and – like Hubert Ingraham – had to acquire social skills as he went along, also became a lawyer.
His grandmother instilled in him his courage and determination, she crafted his principles, taught him to raise his gaze above the horizon — believing that if he aimed for the stars, he might reach the tree tops. He did not let “Mama Lizzie” down. He was her boy and between his love and respect for her and his mother “Dama” he was determined to raise the lot of women in our society.
The UBP gave women the vote in 1962. When in 1992 Hubert Ingraham went to the polls to remove his mentor, Sir Lynden Pindling, from the seat of power, women started to come into their own.
During his administration, Mrs Janet Bostwick, a former minister in his government, states in an article in a special supplement in today’s Tribune:
“And, he is an FNM hero because he brought women front and centre in each government which he led, paying attention to all the issues that concern Bahamian women most especially health, education, social development and equality before the law.”
He placed women to head important ministries in his government — Attorney General, Health, Education, Foreign Affairs, Social Development, Transport, Public Service, and Immigration. During his administration Dame Ivy Dumont became the first woman Governor General, and Dame Joan Sawyer, was the first woman Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
He believed deeply in democracy — and for democracy to be equally enjoyed by all Bahamians. He was criticised by his own party for his refusal to discriminate against Bahamians who were not FNM. There are still those in his party who do not understand that all the spoils should not go to the victor. At least Hubert Alexander Ingraham did not believe in the victor walking away with everything — nor did old Abe Lincoln.
He also believed in freedom of speech. And one of the first things that he did on becoming prime minister of the Bahamas was to open the airwaves to the private sector. The Tribune was given the first private radio licence for 100 JAMZ. Since then there have been many private radio licences and many talk shows, where Bahamians can express their opinions, no matter how wise or foolish.
No longer do Bahamians, like Fred Mitchell, have to fly to Miami to buy air time to get their views across to the Bahamian public. Today they have many outlets right here at home and they certainly use them.
Mr Ingraham has been the brunt of much of their criticism — but this is the price of free speech. We are certain that he does not like it. We are also certain that untruths make him squirm — in fact send him into a boiling temper — but we are also certain that he would never be vindictive, or retaliate by denying work permits to newspapers. He would probably agree with Winston Churchill who said: “I am always in favour of the free press but sometimes they say quite nasty things.” As for Abe Lincoln, he felt it important “to let the people know the facts, and the country will be safe.”
They laughed at his accent, they called him the “Delivery Boy,” his nickname was Hughbiggity – Sir Lynden dismissed him as a one-term prime minister – but whatever they called him during his 15 years as prime minister he did much for this country and for all Bahamians. He should be a true inspiration to Bahamian youth who now know that regardless of their backgrounds they can also aspire to great heights.
September 07, 2012