PM dances around race issue in Sir Roland controversy

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis.

Chipman family claims first hand knowledge of racial behavior by Sir Roland

As controversy continued to escalate surrounding the recent naming of the country’s first premier Sir Roland Symonette as a national hero, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said Thursday, that he is unmoved by public discourse.

Some have argued that Sir Roland should not be considered a national hero because he was allegedly prejudiced and promoted the white agenda in The Bahamas.

The committee responsible for naming the national heroes maintains that it did not agree to Sir Roland being named and insisted the final decision was made by the prime minister.

But, Dr. Minnis appeared unbothered by the trend of thought that the commendation of an allegedly racially prejudice national figure was done in poor taste.

“Race? That’s a word I have taken out of my dictionary,” Dr. Minnis asserted.

“I don’t want to go down that road.

“We need to learn to see people beyond color. I don’t see people like that.”

While the prime minister may see no reason for national discourse over Sir Roland’s commendation, the Chipman family begged to differ Thursday.

Member of Parliament (MP) for Centerville Reece Chipman told Eyewitness News yesterday, that while the country has recognized Sir Roland as a national hero, he allegedly cheated hundreds of acres of land from his great-grandfather H. N. Chipman; who also served in government during Sir Roland’s era.

“That escheatment to me was indicative of an unattached cause. So, I just thought that if you’re going to be a hero, you should be championing a cause and definitely one that is for the people,” Chipman maintained.

There are some who maintain that Sir Roland championed a cause for white people – namely the Bay Street Boys – a group of white Bahamian men who were given special privileges to own a lion share of storefronts in Downtown, Nassau.

Chipman alleged that Sir Roland stole his family’s land while allowing white Bahamians to thrive.

Chipman’s sister, Farrah, shared the same sentiment.

“It’s not only the Chipman family,” she said.

“Many families around here are going through the same thing, but people have just been afraid to step up.

“It was definitely a matter of prejudice trying to hold down black people.

“My great-grandfather was on par with Sir Harry Oakes and the Symonettes financially. Can you imagine if we said we wanted to sue the government? They would not be able to pay us.

“Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) is on Chipman land, Ministry of Health is on Chipman land, Tucker’s Estate is Chipman land. Check it out and see who lives there, all of the politicians and their political cronies.”

The prime minister has not given any indication that he intends to repeal the honor bestowed on Sir Roland.