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Famous earns ovation with maiden speech

Emotional speech: Christopher Famous (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Christopher Famous brought the house down with his maiden speech to Parliamentarians on Friday night about the meaning of true leadership.

Members on both side applauded, cheered and stomped their feet when the Progressive Labour Party backbencher concluded.

Mr Famous opened his speech by quoting former First Lady Michelle Obama when he said: “Every day I wake up in a house built by slaves.”

He continued: “Every day we are in this house, we are in a house built by slaves. Brick by brick our enslaved ancestors built this house nearly 200 years ago.”

Imagining the old “colonial masters” might not have envisioned the descendants of those same slaves would one day be in control of the house and the country, Mr Famous added: “Today is the day that we remind some of them and their descendants that there are no more boys to order around. There will be no more bowing down to anyone, anymore.

“Simply put, today we are here as the descendants of those great tradesmen that built this house, not as enslaved persons but as free men and women to remind every man and woman that there are no slaves in this honourable house, there are only leaders.”

He honoured the people who have mentored him, when he said: “True leadership does not seek to hold power to itself but to groom the next generation of leaders — just like cousin Derrick [Burgess] does. I would not be in this seat if it were not for the leaders in this country who then and now have deeply influenced my upbringing and continue to shape me even today.”

Mr Famous paid tribute to those who made their way here from the West Indies as indentured servants or slaves.

He said: “Post 1834, others left the brutal plantations of the Caribbean to start life here in Bermuda, not to bow down to colonial masters but to determine our own destiny just as we did on July 18, 2017.

He spoke of when the black community were denied places of worship, education, sports, union representation, restaurants and political representation, they built for themselves many building still standing today, including the Devonshire Recreational Club, the Bermuda Union of Teachers and the PLP itself.

“We did not cry or go around begging colonial masters for their scraps or trickledown economics. We did what we do best — we led.”

He praised communities that had become known as “the back of town” who had “mistakenly” been looked down on by many but he said he was proud to be from the area and “proud to be a pond dog”.

He encouraged Bermuda’s workforce to excel and to take academic and technical courses to better their companies and Bermuda as a whole.

Finally, he said the voters of Bermuda deserved to have their concerns addressed with “dignity and a sense of maturity” by political representatives.

He said: “Bermudian voters do not vote for us to come here and repeat our opinions for 20 minutes at a time — they voted for us to do the necessary research, present facts and alternative opinions.

“They voted for us to discuss what we said when we canvassed them. They did not vote for us to make the rich richer, they voted for us to empower those who need to be uplifted. They didn’t vote for us to come in this house and bicker like children — they voted for us to lead”.