"When Jamaica sneezes, Bahamas catches a cold"March 22nd, 2011
Bahamians often seem ashamed of their national culture, but they do not need to look abroad for inspiration, writes 26-year-old Jennawade Pratt from Nassau New Providence.
There is a proverbial saying that has echoed over the length and breadth of our islands: ‘When America sneezes, The Bahamas catches a cold.’
And it’s no wonder our grandparents felt this way. The younger generation had adopted everything from the clothing to their lazy punctuated drawl.
However, these days, it seems as if Jamaica wheezed and we’ve caught their flu.
The younger generations now proudly wear the garb of Jamaica; their songs have become anthems, and we wear their colors with a pride that overshadows that of our own.
It seems that no matter where you go, you witness persons in what appears to be a culture shock – young Bahamian men and women whose true identity can only be found in passports and other government documents.
We attend concerts with Jamaican themes and have practiced the dances at our own Passa Passas. Our delicate sing-song dialect has the harsh undertones of Jamaica – it is a Patois not our own, yet we are so enchanted by it that we force what doesn’t fit.
Who do we blame? Many would seek out the government, stating that there should be an exciting cultural curriculum to enrich the lives of our Bahamian students.
Others would say that the parents are to blame. Why? Simply because they allow them to listen to the music; they watch their children transform into ‘Rasta babies’ as they mouth the lyrics and respond in conversations with Jamaican slang and sayings.
Still yet, the church is condemned because it is not speaking out against the message that some Jamaican artists bring to our shore.
I feel that we are all to blame. Every single Bahamian. Why? Because we are not as proud a people as we once were.
It seems that we are ashamed of our humble beginnings and have found greener pastures elsewhere. We have walked away from our traditions and find it difficult to support our own.
We feel that ‘Bahamian’ isn’t good enough and choose products that have been exported from more favourable destinations. We hide behind verbal masks and adopt entire cultures, seemingly disenchanted with who we are.
We engage in a rendezvous with everything Bahamian at national celebrations and ‘grown folk’ parties and then feverishly put it all away to continue on our trek to our Jamaican Mecca.
Many would say that we should develop our Bahamian culture, our products, and artistic environment. I say that development begins with the support of fellow countrymen. If we take pride in our own here in our nation, then we can proudly display all that is Bahamian for others to find inspiration.
I look forward to the day when our immune system doesn’t just get stronger, but we ourselves pass on the proverbial cold and flu to other nations.
Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. All articles are published in a spirit of improving dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?