NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Office of the Prime Minister’s announcement of several heroes to be highlighted for their efforts throughout the coronavirus pandemic has been met with mixed views.
The National Heroes Day honourees were published on the OPM’s Facebook page on Sunday night under the theme, “There’s a hero in all of us”, with each individual representing different categories and industries.
Among the people to be highlighted in the initiative include Brunay Clarke, a music teacher at R.M. Bailey; Jasper “Ovadose” Thomas, a local DJ and media personality; Dr Nikkiah Forbes, Director of the HIV/AIDS and infectious diseases program; Zhivago Dames, Police Officer Chief Superintendent, Cable Beach Division, and Macushla Pinder, news editor at the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas.
The men and women were described as heroes who protected, educated, informed, brought hope, and saved lives throughout the pandemic.
“This National Heroes Day we salute the Bahamians that rose to the occasion and proved that there is a hero in all of us,” the OPM said.
The individuals are expected to be highlighted throughout the week.
Many people took to the post to express disagreement over Thomas being named a hero, over many other essential workers deserving of recognition.
Bahamas Nurses Union President Amancha Williams was among those who believed a nurse should have been included on the list.
Williams said: “Not one nurse on it, at a time like this. In a pandemic and you know the nurses are working very hard.
“There are a lot of heroes around this Bahamas and they should have used a nurse.
“Damn you put a DJ on there, a DJ vs a nurse that saving lives and coming to work every day.
“That tells you where we at, we’re in a bad state, not to say they don’t deserve it but that’s what they think of us. They think nothing of the nurses.”
Thomas captivated and entertained thousands of people nightly with his free quarantine radio sets.
Speaking to Eyewitness News on the backlash, the young performer said: “I believe everyone has their rights and opinions…I never really expected people to look at me in that way, but who am I to deny a positive label given to me. Heroes come in so many different forms and I believe along with the police and medical workers, there are so many more I can give that title to…At the end of the day, you’re somebody’s hero”.
He continued: “I didn’t know people of such substance or people who make important decisions would recognize me. I was in awe and I was extremely surprised.”
Thomas said given that his main platform is focused on mental health, he was pleased that his talent was able to be acknowledged as a coping mechanism for people who may have been sad or depressed throughout the lockdowns.
Thomas said he is humbled by the recognition and will continue to use his platform to add comfort and value for his audience.
The OPM also saluted medical professionals on the frontline risking their lives.
“We cannot recognize them all by name but we honour their heroic efforts as their bravery and strength do not go unnoticed,” the OPM said.
“Each of them proves that in the midst of difficulty heroes are born and when we rise to the occasion there is a hero in all of us.”
During an interviewing Dr Forbes noted that while she has been on the frontline of the COVID fight, there are also so many other workers in the public system and clinical areas who have championed the response, including the nurses, doctors, and the internal medicine department at the Princess Margaret Hospital.
She added that The Bahamas can get through the second wave of COVID-19 cases once a collective move is made by all to follow the prescribed measures.