Don’t buy into philosophy that we have divided loyalties
As young children and as cousins, persons such as Dwayne Caines, Wayne Michael Caines, Roxanne Christopher, myself and many others were labelled in the negative, based solely on our mothers or fathers coming from the West Indies.
With total disregard that one of our parents was born and bred in Bermuda, there was always some narrative that we were “less than”.
Our respective parents, all of whom were professionals in their own right, taught us — often via wooden spoons and tongue lashings — that they expected, no, demanded nothing less than leadership from us.
Fast forward and many, if not most, of my generation have given service to our country in one way or the other.
So yesterday it pained myself, and hundreds, if not thousands, of others to view some of the most divisive political diatribe that was reminiscent of the dark days of the 1970s. That was a period when the powers that be employed these divisive tactics to divide Bermudians who were related by blood and community ties.
It is sad that in the year 2020, there are still those who buy into the philosophy that those of Caribbean heritage — or in this case, Jamaican heritage — have no loyalties to Bermuda and are out to destroy this country.
You see, David Burt, the Premier, is not just my political colleague and party leader.
His father's family and my father's family are one and the same from the Jubilee Road and Watlington Road region of Devonshire.
Family names such as Ming, Charles, Webb and Harris are intertwined by blood.
Multiple generations of our ancestors and family members are buried in the same graves in the steep hills of Christ Church in Devonshire, and the even steeper hills of St John's Cemetery in Pembroke.
So, exactly, how is it that David Burt or any of us who has a parent born in the Caribbean are not Bermudian?
We are family and we will always stick together.
When you speak badly of one of us, you are in essence speaking badly of all of us.
So I say this to those who put out political videos to question our loyalty to this country, and also, to those that attempt to speak negatively of our Caribbean heritage:
“Please, do not go down that road.”
Unity over division
With that being said, over the past eight years, I have become friends or, should I say, friendly with One Bermuda Alliance MPs, senators and supporters.
Most of the time — OK, some of the time — we agree on holistic issues such as education, job opportunities for Bermudians and senior care. However, we do differ at times on methodology and on how to reach the desired outcomes.
Despite what many may perceive from the media and listening to parliamentary debates, MPs actually get on quite fine when we are in the House of Assembly.
So now that an election is called, there will be some in the public that will expect us to be going at each other like gladiators in the colosseum. However, I would go out on a limb and say that this election cycle will be quite different than previous campaigns.
After the trauma of lockdown and the reawakening of the Black Lives Matter movement, there is no appetite from the public to see the political and personal carnage of past elections.
While we all have differences in socioeconomic backgrounds, ideologies and/or pigmentation, the reality is that Covid-19 has served as a great equaliser in many ways. Many have now put aside individualism and pettiness to appreciate the need for more connectivity and community building.
Now back to the October 1 General Election.
Every country that claims to exercise democracy has variances in political parties and supporters.
Here in Bermuda, we have the OBA and the Progressive Labour Party as the main parties. There are, supposedly, other groups or individuals who may pop up in the next few weeks.
That is the sign of a healthy democracy.
People will, as with all elections, make their choices based on variables.
It is up to each candidate and their respective party to engage with the electorate.
In closing, from what we are seeing and feeling on the doorsteps, Bermudians of all stripes are seeking unity over division.
This is a good thing.
Out of many, one people.
• Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him on WhatsApp at 599-0901 or e-mail at email@example.com