I will preface what I have to say by telling you the truth:
I love my country. I am an island boy at heart. I was born in Doctor’s Hospital and raised in Nassau. I was a Comet (shootout QC) and a Saint (shoutout Kingsway).
I love fried fish (snapper, grouper, it don’t really matter) and cracked conch. I love crab & dough. I love Bamboo Shack. I love Fish Fry.
I love Sky Juice (I’ve told more than my fair share of American friends that they need to try it, and so should you, if you haven’t).
I love the Bahamas, but I have to leave my country behind.
Since I left for college, I’ve gotten every form of:
“What?? You’re from the Bahamas? Why would you leave such a wonderful place?”
And I tend to take those questions with a grain of salt.
Usually, the people asking those sorts of questions do not have any idea what the Bahamas is really like, beyond Atlantis (if they know what Atlantis is), beautiful beaches, warm weather and marijuana*
*When marijuana is mentioned, the conversation tends to shift because it becomes evident that the person who brought it up has mistaken the Bahamas for Jamaica, since every country in the Caribbean is Jamaica by default. But I digress.
For young people who’ve lived in the Bahamas for their entire lives, the perception is much different. If you talk to a college-aged Bahamian right now and ask him/her if the plan is to return home upon graduation, the conversation typically will go one of two ways:
Return weh? Return home? Fa’ wha? To get jook up or shoot up? Ain’ no jobs here anyway.
Bey, this where my family is. How I could leave home and go make some foreign country money after this country raise me up? We Bahamians supposed to be building this nation for future generations!
And I believe that both arguments are legitimate, in their own ways.
If you read both sides carefully, you will see a clear picture of what Bahamian life is like right now. You will see two areas of concern, right away: crime and the Bahamian economy.
If you’re not a Bahamian and you’re reading this, the crime rate is probably much higher than you think. The Bahamas is paradise, but that doesn’t mean crime and poverty are not real concerns.
Another fact that young and old will often identify is the lack of opportunities for Bahamian youth to be entrepreneurs, build careers, or succeed consistently when returning to the Bahamas after college.
There are not enough opportunities for college educated Bahamians with advanced certification to be properly compensated.
There is also another layer to this argument.
Disability has been something of a dirty word in the Bahamas over the years. People rarely talk about it.
Yes, there is legislation that is supposed to protect people with disabilities, but I can’t think of a day in my life that it’s ever protected me.
Legislation without education and discussion about disability in Bahamian communities is just words on paper.
There is also a question of how committed the Bahamian government is to young people, and I won’t throw that by the wayside just because Perry Christie was finally put out of political office.
If you love something or someone, you must have enough love to point out the issues that exist or tell them where they went wrong. I love the Bahamas, but my beautiful nation has issues that I will try my best to fix, from a distance.
If you are a young Bahamian and have decided to remain in the Bahamas, I salute you. The Bahamas needs you more than it ever has.
I believe the world has so much to offer, and I believe I have so much to offer the world.
I hope that by the time I am in my seventies (God spare life), I can say that I’ve done all I can.
I hope that I can say I was able to spread my wings and take advantage of every opportunity.
So, I will not be confined.