Welcome to The Bahamas. Land of sun, sand, sea . . . and mediocrity. A place where heads are proverbially buried in powdery white sand, messengers are metaphorically shot daily and foreign money is welcome with open arms, but the owners of said currency are not.
Here in these 700 islands, the truth is an unwelcome stranger. Facts aren’t welcome either. They give us gas.
We have a robust economy, a thriving second city, an impressive national grade average, no failing schools, the lowest crime rate in the world and an efficient and modern post office system that has made us the envy of the region, said no one ever.
We don’t view service as servitude, are tolerant of opposing views and are happy to embrace outsiders who could supplement the paucity of our experience, said absolutely no one ever.
In this country, a Bahamian passport trumps qualifications, degrees, experience and common sense. Oh, what’s that you say? You don’t have experience building spacecraft but you want the job? Are you Bahamian? Well, why didn’t you say so? We’ll just pass on this NASA aerospace engineer and his team of experts.
You can be white. You can be foreign. You can be outspoken. But, you cannot be white, foreign and outspoken. If you suffer from those three conditions, you are not authorized to speak. If you are Bahamian and white, you too, are not allowed to speak ill of Bahamians, the majority of whom are black. For you have money and privilege and cannot relate to the everyday experience. What’s that you say? You’re a white Bahamian, but you’re poor? Why, there’s no such thing. The mere color of your skin makes you wealthy and again, you are not qualified to speak.
Looking to invest in The Bahamas? You’ve made a wise choice and we thank you. We encourage you to bring your ideas, experience, millions of dollars, and extensive contacts with world business leaders. But, you’ll have to leave behind the experts who helped you build your empire, for we have experts here – talented Bahamians capable of building spaceships.
You will hire Bahamians on your projects and you will not badmouth them. Especially if you are white. And foreign. And outspoken. You will not complain about bad service or poor attitudes. When in front of a microphone, you will stress that Bahamians are some of the warmest, friendliest, most honest, hardworking people your organization has ever encountered. When confronted with evidence to the contrary, you will reply, “That has not been our experience.”
To thank you for your investment, Mr. Investor, you will receive inordinate wait times for immigration documents to be processed, political foes locking horns over your request to recruit foreign labor, a workforce fueled by mediocrity and protected by the iron fist and razor tongue of a union leader hell bent on self-preservation. You will pay exorbitant energy costs, deal with theft at all levels and, if you’re white, you will be called a racist. If you’re black, you will be called an Uncle Tom. And if you’re a white man named Tom who has nieces, you will be called a racist Uncle Tom.
If you attempt to remove hair braiders, taxi drivers, Jet-Ski operators off of your property you will be accused of “coming in to take over” and “taking bread out my mout’” Notice, there is no “h” at the end of mouth. This is serious.
Immediately upon arriving in The Bahamas, your first order of business will be to hire an ad agency to create a PSA campaign, complete with easy-to-follow skits and testimonials from citizens in other jurisdictions. These PSAs will let the public know that you have no intentions of taking over. You will feature everyday men and women from those jurisdictions who will look directly into the camera and say, “Company X” came in and they did not take over. Another person should immediately appear on the screen to say, “They did not take bread out my mout’!”
Your second order of business will be to advertise heavily in all of the newspapers, radio and TV stations. Spend serious bucks here. Talk show hosts aren’t about to allow a few chronic callers to disrespect your organization. Not when they have to make payroll. You’ve just bought yourself months of good PR. So, make sure you factor that into your budget.
You may also want to hire a local spokesperson. The novelty of your hot-shot New York publicist will wear off quickly with Bahamians. What you need is an educated Bahamian spokesperson who is as equally comfortable speaking to a Bloomberg journalist as he is telling members of the media about their fat ma.
You will never allow yourself to be seen with a member of one political party – ever. If you’re at a function and the prime minister approaches you, immediately start shouting for Philip ‘Brave’ Davis to join the two of you. Your job is to strike up solid relationships with both sides to ensure continuity in the event of a change in government.
Functioning in The Bahamas will require you to unlearn everything you’ve ever been taught while working in a developed country. We’re developing. The ‘ing’ makes a big difference.
It’s not better in The Bahamas. But, I have hope that it’s going to be.
Remember, the truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off.