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Two years in power and still humbled

Christopher Famous soaks up that special night when he unseated Bob Richards, the Deputy Premier, in Devonshire East (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

“Feel the needs of others more than your own”— Emperor Haile Selassie

On Wednesday, July 19, 2017, I lay awake in my bed attempting to contemplate the fullness of the day before. A day that started with heavy rain, followed by a rising sun, which then produced the perfect cocktail of Bermudian heat and humidity.

It was also a day that produced long lines of Bermudians standing in rain, heat and humidity. Under the best of circumstances, normal human beings would not stand in the rain, yet, somehow, thousands from vastly diverse ethnic persuasions, socioeconomic backgrounds and Cup Match leanings stood in lines throughout our island home over the course of a 12-hour period, between 8am and 8pm.

Some stood in those lines for the very first time in their lives, while others stood in those lines for the very last time in their lives. Some came as individuals, while others came as family units.

There were those who came to support the political status quo, while others came to be a part of political change. In total, more than 35,000 Bermudians stood in lines, both long and short, to cast their ballot in the General Election of 2017.

In the aftermath of any General Election, there will always be a mix of emotions ranging from excitement and happiness to sadness and outright disappointment. Essentially, democracy ensures that once the people have spoken, there will be both winners and losers.

I reflect on that day, and every day since then, with a sense of profound gratitude to all the people of Bermuda who came out on that day to demonstrate that democracy, warts and all, is alive and well in our country.

In the 730 days since that day, our country has matured and progressed in many areas. However, at the same time, we have not yet evolved in other areas. Looking at comparable jurisdictions, we are ahead in some ways such as public transportation and seniors’ care, with room to grow in business ownership, technical education, and racial and gender equality.

As with all other democracies, the people have a right, or should I say a duty, to continue to expect and demand more from those who are elected to represent the interests of all.

When the electorate feel that they need to voice their concerns and anguish, they have the avenues of reaching out directly to their representatives to have those issues heard and, where reasonably able, to have those issues resolved.

Equally, if the people feel their voices are not being heard, they then have the avenue of expressing themselves via traditional or social media. That is what democracy allows and demands to remind those elected that they are there to serve the people.

I am still learning the finer rudiments of what Parliament is about and the steps towards formulation of policy and legislation. Like any other profession, being a legislator, whether in Cabinet or on the back bench, is something that requires a lot of time, reading, writing and midnight oil to properly serve the people.

Without a doubt, both the first and last thing any parliamentarian must do to serve their people is have empathy and listen to the concerns of the people. While you may not always be able to readily address their concerns with a solution, it is important that the people know that they can come to you or contact you with their issues.

After all, that is what they stood in those humid lines for.

To those who braved the mixed elements on July 18, 2017, we thank you for exercising your democratic right. At times you will be happy with us and, yes, at other times you will be not so happy with us.

Over the past two years, we have made slow but steady progress on many fronts such as addressing some of the root causes of antisocial behaviour, abolishing conscription, passing international money-laundering regulations, repurposing the Royal Bermuda Regiment, and providing scholarships for more Bermudians to attend Bermuda College and universities overseas.

We still have much work to do as a country in many areas such as building ties with regional partners, public education, addressing healthcare epidemics, improving our tourism product, providing affordable housing and getting more Bermudians into the trades.

More personally, I would like to thank the people of Devonshire, and especially Devonshire East, for giving me the opportunity to be their representative for their concerns.

It is an honour beyond measure to be able to come to your homes, assist with keeping the area vegetation cut, signing passport applications, attending community and family events, and to listen to you when you are upset.

When you take the time to express your frustrations at any given situation, ranging from proposed legislation, excess vegetation, issues with landlords or potholes, it means that you trust me to get these things investigated and resolved, where possible.

Without a doubt, the most humbling part of this journey is when persons allow us to be present to support them during the funeral services of their loved ones. To be present during life celebration events, holding hands with a family in need of comfort is an extremely humbling experience.

Love you all.

Christopher Famous is a government backbencher and the MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him at WhatsApp on 599-0901 or e-mail at cfamous@plp.bm