The Bahamas Celebrates 50 Years of Independence in Jubilant Fashion

(BIS Photos/Patrick Hanna)

It was 50 years ago on July 10, 1973, at the historic Clifford Park when the Union Jack was lowered and the Aquamarine, Gold, and Black Flag was hoisted ushering in an independent nation – The Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

And at that same spot before a massive crowd – the Flag was hoisted at midnight to the bursts of golden confetti, booming sounds of a cannon being fired, and explosive fireworks signaling that it was — July 10, 2023.

No doubt, it was the signature State event on the Independence Calendar on which activities were mapped out and managed by the National Independence Secretariat — The 50th Golden Jubilee Ecumenical Service, Military Tattoo & Cultural Show.

Thousands braved high heat indices in the triple digits of 105 degrees and flocked to Clifford Park, Sunday afternoon, July 9, for the celebration, which began at 5 pm and culminated with flag-raising at midnight.

The programme featured a fly-over display by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Air Wing, a Military Tattoo comprising the Uniformed Branches in precision drills, expressions from around the Family Islands, a 100-voice choir, a praise and worship segment, performances by some of the best in Bahamian culture, and entertainment including a number by the incomparable T. Coakley of ‘T Connection.’  Definitely, a crowd pleaser was a drone presentation of things Bahamian.

Among those in attendance were His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Cornelius A. Smith, Governor General; the Hon. Philip Davis, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance; and visiting dignitaries from the Caribbean, China, Bermuda, and elsewhere namely Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda; Dickon Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada; the Rt. Hon. Patricia Baroness Scotland, Secretary General of the Commonwealth of Nations; United States Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and high-level officials.

The theme of the 50th Independence Anniversary is ‘One Nation. Our Legacy. Our Future.’

And in his message, President of the Bahamas Christian Council Apostle Delton Fernander said, “We have not traveled long, we have much further to go.  But we know where we are going, and with a united people and a gracious God, we will get there”, as he quoted former prime minister and Father of the Nation, the late Rt. Hon. Sir Lynden Pindling.

The prime minister’s message of the night was in a similar fashion when he recalled the hoisting of the Bahamian Flag for the first time 50 years ago. He also implored Bahamians to be the “Joshua” of our time and continue on the road to the Promised Land.

There was also a recorded video message from King Charles III, who was then Prince of Wales when he represented his mother Queen Elizabeth II at the July 10, 1973 Independence ceremony.

He warmly reflected on his family’s visits to The Bahamas especially that of his late mother, and congratulated the country on 50 years of Independence.

A notable moment during the night’s ceremony occurred when The Order of Excellence was awarded to His Excellency Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, and US Congresswoman Maxine Waters in recognition of exemplary service to, and long-standing friendship with The Bahamas, respectively.

The night concluded with singer and storyteller Phil Stubbs performing his signature hit, “Proud to be a Bahamian”; the March Past, prayers for the nation by members of the Clergy, the Flag Raising, and fireworks.

The celebration continued at 2:00 am when the “People’s Rush” brought Bay Street in downtown Nassau alive with pulsating rhythmic sounds of Junkanoo.

More photo highlights below:

(BIS Photos/Patrick Hanna)