The nation bid farewell to Telator Cumi “Sister” Strachan, during a State-Recognized Funeral Service, Friday, August 17, 2018. The former Senator, entrepreneur, and licensed minister of the gospel was celebrated as a Bahamian patriot, a national hero, a political warrior, and a freedom fighter by relatives, former colleagues, neighbours, past and present government officials, religious leaders and friends during a service at Faith United Missionary Baptist Church, Baillou Hill Road South.
Governor-General Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling was among the high-ranking officials who paid their respects at the three-hour service. Also in attendance was Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis, Members of Parliament and the Cabinet, Senators, Permanent Secretaries, family members, representatives of the Progressive Liberal Party, straw vendors and friends. The service was marked with hymns of praise and adoration, scripture readings, prayers, musical tributes by Judea Baptist Church Combined Choir and the eulogy. Mrs. Melanie Griffin, daughter of Senator Strachan, gave a moving tribute in song to her mother. The service was officiated by Rev. Dr. Marina Sands, Pastor, Judea Baptist Church. She was assisted by Rev. Dr. William Thompson, Pastor, Faith United Missionary Baptist Church. The Organist was Rev. Patrick Smith. She was a former President of the Straw Vendors’ Association and was instrumental in the formation of the New Providence Handicraft Cooperative Society. She was a member of the Trustee Board of Judea Baptist Church and was granted the Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2015.
Tributes were given by Reo Russell, Minister Hazel Davis, Valentine Grimes, former Member of Parliament (MP) and Alma Adams, former Senator. Condolences were given by Minister Patricia Strachan on behalf of Judea Baptist Church; Rev. Dr. Lloyd Smith, President, Bahamas National Baptist Missionary & Educational Convention; Glenys Hanna-Martin, MP, Englerston; Mark Humes, MP, Fort Charlotte; the Right Hon. Perry Christie, former Prime Minister; the Hon. Philip ‘Brave’ Davis, Leader of the Official Opposition, PLP, and Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis, Prime Minister.
Mr. Grimes described Senator Strachan as an entrepreneur par excellence, a true nationalist, a strong and devoted freedom fighter for the rights of all Bahamians, but particularly for the Bahamian women she had the privilege to lead. He said, “As a relatively young Member of Parliament she always reminded me that I first had to demonstrate to my constituents that I cared for my own family, otherwise your constituents would never believe that you were concerned about their welfare.”
Mrs. Hanna-Martin said she had a measure of joy because Senator Strachan’s life and legacy is alive, and vital and perpetual. “She determined to pursue her personal development. She manifested as an intelligent, poised, confident and articulate woman. She was multi-talented. She was an entrepreneur, a skilled artisan in a craft that was passed down to her by her own mother. A pioneer female Junkanooer with the likes of Maureen Duvalier. She was a labor leader. She was principled and philosophical. She was courageous: despite being a woman, and especially one of that era, she emerged as a leader; shoulder to shoulder with her male peers. She joined the liberation struggle as a full-fledged member of the Progressive Liberal Party. She fought for equality — against inequity and injustice. She stood against the powerful oligarchy that loomed over the dreams and aspirations of our people. Ultimately, she became a unique voice in the halls of Parliament having been appointed a Senator by then Prime Minister Lynden Pindling, thereby making history. What an amazing journey! Telator was tough. She was strong, but she was also gentle and kind. She was unashamed to love profusely… demonstrated daily for her God, whom she served in her daily walk, and in her church,” she said.
Mark Humes paid an emotional tribute to the former Senator who, along with her family, played a role in his upbringing. He reflected on his childhood days in the straw market where he recognized that “Sister” was a leader. “I saw the respect she received from her colleague vendors. I admired her even more for the respect that she gained when she became Senator Telator Strachan. As a young boy, I thought Senators and MPs were ‘high society’ people. I did not understand the politics of things. All I knew was one of my family members was ‘high society’. “In the midst of it all, she never forgot her roots. She never allowed ‘high society to make her high society’. Even though she was Senator Strachan, she never let that redefine her. A simple, but classy straw market lady from Chippingham who, for every day for as long as I could remember, sold The Bahamas to the world, and in her simpleness, she etched her mark in the annals of Bahamian history.” Senator Strachan passed away on Monday, July 30, 2018, at the age of 85. Her body was interred at Woodlawn Gardens.
More images from the service below: