By Spence M. Finlayson
NASSAU, Bahamas – I have a very fond memory of Sir Lynden Pindling, former Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
I can recall in 1967 when he led the Progressive Liberal Party to a huge victory at the polls in the General Election, becoming the first ever black Bahamian to lead our nation.
There was a victory motorcade for the PLP and Sir Lynden and his lovely wife lady Pindling, were in the back seat of a car and me and my neighbors from the Valley ran behind his car from Wulff Road to the top of Collins Avenue.
At ten years of age I was beaming with pride.
Two past events have caused me to pause and reflect on one of the greatest Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, the Right Honorable Sir Lynden Pindling.
Firstly, the Opposition Progressive Liberal Party and the Governing Free National Movement Party both held their conventions in Nassau and the dominant theme was leadership and secondly, my friend The Honorable McKeeva Bush became the first premier of the Cayman Islands.
My hero, Sir Lynden Pindling, was born on March 22nd 1930 to Arnold and Viola Pindling in his grandfather’s home in Mason’s Addition in Nassau, Bahamas. He attended the Government High School from 1943 to 1946.
At the age of 16 he took a job as a junior clerk in the Post Office Savings Bank before travelling to London to study law. He received a bachelor of Law (LLB) from King’s College London in 1952 and was called to the English Bar at the Middle temple in February 1953 and to the Bahamas Bar in June 1953.
He won an unbroken string of general elections as leader of the Progressive Liberal Party from 1967 to 1992 when the PLP lost to the Free National Movement.
There is an abundance of talk today in many circles and gatherings about leadership and in my view Sir Lynden Pindling was the epitome of a great leader.
He was charismatic, an excellent orator and a visionary. He was bold and decisive and though he walked with kings and queens he never lost the common touch. He was equally at home whether at a high level conference in Geneva, Switzerland or fishing from the rocks in his constituency of Kemps Bay, Andros.
As a visionary leader he championed many positive initiatives that benefitted the entire Bahamas. He was interested in the education, development and empowerment of his fellow Bahamians.
Two of his star political pupils have gone on to become Prime Ministers of the Bahamas, namely the former Prime Minister the Honourable Hubert A. Ingraham and the former Prime Minister the Honorable Perry Gladstone Christie.
I can recall very vividly a situation that happened in 1991 when an American corporate trainer from Seattle, Washington wanted to come to the Bahamas to offer a customer service training program for the entire country, Sir Lynden politely told him that we had our very own Bahamian motivational speaker and corporate trainer who was well qualified to conduct such a program.
He said now you will have to contact Mr. Spence Finlayson and see how he feels about collaborating with you.
I was invited by Sir Lynden Pindling and the then chairman of the PLP, Andrew Maynard to address the party’s convention in 1992.
I spoke in my capacity as a motivational speaker and received much applause and a standing ovation at the end of my speech and every time I ran into Sir Lynden, he commented on my great performance. This will go down undisputedly as one of my proud accomplishments. He raised the ceiling on my possibilities!
I firmly believe that Sir Lynden Pindling was ‘born’ for the job of prime minister. He set the bar high for all aspiring leaders and future Prime Ministers in the Caribbean region. He led the Bahamas to Independence from Great Britain on July 10th 1973.
He is considered one of the chief architects of the modern Bahamas and is rightly credited with achieving significant social change in a democratic and orderly process, as well as the introduction of National Insurance and the formation of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force.
Some of his political contemporaries have suggested that Sir Lynden Pindling was to the Bahamas what George Washington was to the United States – the father of the nation.
History will be kind to him, possibly comparing him to other great world leaders such as Mahatma Ghandi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr.
When I travel throughout the Caribbean region as a motivational speaker, people always come up to me and talk about “that man Pindling” from the Bahamas. He definitely made a positive impact.
The international gospel singer Bebe Winans sang the hauntingly touching song “Stand” at Sir Lynden’s funeral, which says “after you have done all you can, you just stand!” So stand proud my Caribbean brothers and sisters, the universe is on your side.
Spence M. Finlayson, Bahamian-born, world renowned motivational speaker and corporate trainer is the President & CEO of the Phoenix Institute for Positive Development & Empowerment based in Nassau, Bahamas. He is the creator & host of In Search of Inspiration TV Show which airs in 26 Caribbean countries and the United Kingdom. For speaking engagements he can be reached by email at [email protected] or visit his website at www.thephoenixempowerment.com