Sobering Reflection on State of the Country at UB Academic Convocation
29th September 2017
In a thought-provoking address that reminded the University of The Bahamas (UB) community about the context and expectations for student scholarship while lamenting the social and moral decay that has marked the Bahamian society – particularly New Providence – writer and poet Mrs. Patricia Glinton-Meicholas delivered the keynote at UB’s Opening Academic Convocation on Friday, 29th September 2017.
The convocation which brings together first year students, seniors and other members of academia marks the beginning of the academic year.
Referencing, certain “burning truths”, Mrs. Glinton-Meicholas observed that Bahamian families, neighbourhoods, country and ability to soar are constrained by celebrated ignorance, myth, tribalism, selfishness, greed and increasing violence.
She decried a system in which true education is dissed, missed and seldom hits necessary targets.
“When attacking intractable problems, such as poor attendance and scholastic achievement, it is necessary to strike not at the branches or symptoms, but at the roots, among which are toxic environments and toxic parenting fed heavily by ignorance, and the corrupt models offered by many who claim, or aspire to leadership,” she said.
“Toxic homes tend to give rise to toxic offspring. Consequently, life in our urban areas has become an allegory for bondage, mayhem and palpable fear—Witness the daily mad race by many to get off the streets after dark to homes that appear to be extensions of the Department of Corrections with their iron grills, alarm systems and barbed fences,” she added.
Mrs. Glinton-Meicholas noted that Bahamians are being “hemmed in by graduates of the academies of vice and crime that Nassau’s impoverished quarters and our prison system have become”.
She also identified a certain noxious socio-political milieu which incubates divisiveness, class distinctions and privileges. A twisted mythology of worthiness is applied to acceptance to Bahamian status, she lamented.
“We demean and seek to discard compatriots who may have much to contribute to national development, but lack the credentials of our flawed system of assigning importance. In devastating contradiction, we construct worthiness based upon political affiliation, successful piracy, family name, and no less on owning iPhones, name-brand clothing, expensive handbags and sports shoes, artfully torn jeans and Remy hair,” Mrs. Glinton-Meicholas said.
“…I was appalled at the outpouring of criticism in some quarters for our prime minister’s offer of help to our sister Dominica in her current, woeful plight. Is it that we have grown so arrogant and selfish that we have discarded our humanity or lost our ability to empathize with suffering?” she questioned.
She offered a sobering view that unless all Bahamians of goodwill make commitments to real change, rather than to crafty public relations campaigns, the country’s international credit rating will always be in danger of downgrade and without intelligent and innovative input, our nation will continue to decline.
University of The Bahamas has an integral role to play in making The Bahamas more resilient. Approximately 5,000 students are enrolled at UB and there are plans to increase enrolment by 25 percent. Creating centres of excellence throughout the archipelago which address the peculiar needs of Bahamian communities and developing a research thrust that is relevant and responsive are priorities.
UB President Dr. Rodney D. Smith told the audience that establishing traditions like the Opening Academic Convocation will help the University build a stronger foundation as it grows and develops.
“It is innovation that will significantly help us to grow. It is innovation that will help us to transform our small island state, through new programmes, projects, partnerships and research. Significant innovation at UB will help to build our shores and make The Bahamas attractive, not only for tourism, but also for diverse economic, social and environmental ventures,” he said.
“We must also remain true to our authentic selves, our brand and unique character. This is what will make us attractive to new students, as we continue to diversify our faculty and student populations. It will also root us as uniquely Bahamian,” President Smith added.
Opening Academic Convocation is a formal way of welcoming our first-year students and starting with special significance the final year of study for seniors.
Mrs. Glinton-Meicholas was invited to give the keynote at the event because the University selected her book: An Evening in Guanima: A Treasury of Folktales from The Bahamas as the Common Read for the 2017-2018 academic year.