I’m socially awkward and I have anxiety. By this very definition, I don’t leave my house unless it’s absolutely necessary. I often grocery shop on a Thursday when AML has published their food specials and has hilariously convinced the public that they should be paying 8 dollars for a bag of Jasmine rice. I avoid making eye contact with people I know when I see them in public, not because I don’t like them (oftentimes I don’t), but because I dread the thought of an awkward conversation made even more awkward by my inability to feign enthusiasm. I avoid bars. I cringe at phone calls. I pay my bills online. I work in a three-person department and before that, I worked from home. If Social Distancing were an Olympic sport? I wouldn’t even win the medal because that would require standing on that Godawful podium while listening to the anthems of all the nations that competed in the sport. I’ve been prepared for this quarantine for quite some time. So when I say “you lot” I mean it from the deepest depths of the soul I’m trying so desperately to hold on to. A lot has happened between Friday, March 20th and now so let’s start from the beginning.
On March 15th the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the Bahamas. Not wanting to become another Italy, Prime Minister Minnis immediately encouraged people to voluntarily self-isolate and implement social distancing in their daily routines. On Wednesday, March 18th (my damn birthday) an act was tabled to protect the most vulnerable among us and by Thursday, March 19th, it was established that only essential stores and emergency services would remain open, along with a nationwide curfew of 9 pm – 5 am that would go into effect Friday, March 20th. Emergency powers were effectively put into place and these orders would be mandatory for all citizens and residents. Keep this in mind as we move forward.
Just Road– A Saga.
As we neared the 9 pm curfew mark last Friday, many Bahamians were curious as to what the roads in the capital would look like after-hours. An island that has far surpassed her should be population quota, would for the first time have her streets emptied. Some people likened it to the purge, except Nassau on any night normally gives Gotham City some stiff competition.
Patron Saint Clint ‘Just Roadius’ Watson led a team from EyeWitness news onto the streets to see how the curfew was being enforced and who exactly was obeying it. With a Facebook Live Feed that united the nation, Mr. Watson let us know multiple times that “Bahamians by and large” had adhered to the curfew. The EyeWitness (EW) team was able to get footage of both the Royal Bahamas Police Force and Royal Bahamas Defence Force as they walked the beat. Many of us watched from our various devices in unveiled enthusiasm as the EW driver pushed that teakettle of a bus to its fullest limit. Many of us, including myself, participated in this virtual tour of Nassau by making comments and begging Clint to drive by our homes for a feature. It was informative. It was riveting. It was the inner city.
National emergencies have a tendency of showing us exactly where we rank on the totem pole of humanity’s importance. While all eyes were focused Over The Hill, In an unsurprising Orwellian turn of events, communities like Albany had sent their residents memos with vague wording, like “a large portion of The Bahamas has been asked to modify their behaviour.” The memo would go on to essentially say “LOL not us though”. I’m paraphrasing at this point. If you’ve read this far and you’re among the many people that are trying to figure out how an entire community could somehow believe that the laws of a sovereign nation do not apply to them, I have two words for you: Nygard Cay. Any nation that allows an alleged rapist like Peter Nygard to embed himself both culturally and politically through financial contributions will find it very difficult to argue with the rich and famous of Albany. All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others, or whatever Blair said. Besides, if history has taught us one thing, it’s that rich white people are really good at spreading infectious diseases to locals through poor hygiene and colonialism.
By Saturday many of us were primed for Episode two of ‘Just Road With Clint Watson” only to tune in and witness Clint verbally berate an officer, who I assume during this time of confusion, decided to seek his inner chakra and take a vow of silence. He manned the barricade with the courage of Grenn of the Night’s Watch and held it. The officer literally held onto it. Silently and firmly, albeit spitefully.
Despite the fact that the new Act gave media the freedom to report on the news and have access to the roads after curfew, Clint and his team were denied this right. When asked the reason, the officer refused to speak. To be fair, if an enraged Clint Watson had a camera in my face with close to 17.5 thousand people watching me, I too would probably clam up. Clint’s team would then go on to call the commissioner of police who then stated that he would enforce the act as he saw fit. So that’s not problematic.
There is a video from 2018 of a building in Grand Bahama on fire. The aftermath of a lover’s quarrel. The person recording was standing away from the building and was told by the police that he needed to stop recording and leave. The faux videographer then timidly stands his ground and says “I know my rights”. “RIGHTS?!” The Officer says in a shocked and amused tone. Almost as if to say, “what rights?”. In many cases, our officers wield their power like class prefects left in charge during a staff meeting; the badge too heavy a burden for a being that has yet to understand the logistics of intellect and the logic of empathy.
Officers are meant to enforce the law and as such are placed in positions in which they need to be able to interpret it. That interpretation should come along with an ability to articulate the laws they’re seeking to enforce. Our law enforcement man at the barricade should have probably taken at least one Udemy course in communication.
After watching global news for weeks, one would assume that we would willingly bunker down in our homes, throw some lamb’s blood over the door and pray over our firstborn. This too shall pass, as elder Bahamian Christians would say. Except, many of those elder Christian Bahamians were banging down the doors of the church adamant to hold services in close quarters because apparently Jesus never relished his quiet time. People also decided that the middle of a Pandemic was the best time to host nouveau riche brunches and large beach parties. Some parties were so large that we got the attention of the very man who put us under curfew in the first place, Doctor Hubert Alexander Minnis, The Prime Minister of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas. Despite my being from Grand Bahama and his constant mishandling of Hurricane Dorian relief, I am not too proud to state that the Prime Minister has risen to an occasion that others may have just shuffled through. It’s important to make reference to his mistakes in the past because it’s clear that he is constantly learning from them. And much like he is learning from his mistakes we are learning from ours as we stare down the barrel of a 24-hour lockdown until possibly the end of April.
Because when you were supposed to be doing this:
You guys were doing this:
There have been many experts in health and science to pop up in the past couple of days despite our reigning national average of D. I’m not a healthcare professional and I don’t claim to be one. Here’s what I do know though: if we wash our hands and stay inside, Minnis may consider opening the liquor stores and if worse come to worse #eattherich.
Until then? I hope the beach and your waffles were worth it.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the position of 10th Year Seniors.