I am profoundly saddened by the death of the Hon. Arthur Dion Hanna, former Governor General of The Bahamas, former Deputy Prime Minister, patriot supreme, nation-builder of the highest order, a man who was also my deeply valued friend and close political comrade of more than 50 years.
Arthur Hanna was the very last survivor of the original Majority Rule Cabinet. With his death, there are now no more. He really was the Last of the Lions.
Let me state without hesitation that this is the greatest loss we have suffered as a nation since the death of the Father of the Nation, Sir Lynden Pindling, 22 years ago.
With Arthur Hanna’s passing, we have truly come to the end of an era; arguably the most consequential era in the history of our country; an era that ushered in Majority Rule, Independence, and national development on an precedented scale, and in which he played a major and defining role.
Arthur Hanna’s record of accomplishment is legendary. Many firsts are justly to be credited to him but the three of which he was proudest were these:
Firstly, he was absolutely insistent that we had to become independent as quickly as possible once Majority Rule had been achieved in 1967. He therefore pushed his colleagues and the country to expedite the realization of this objective. Within 5 short years it had indeed become a reality. It could not have happened without his tireless urgings and uncompromising advocacy.
Secondly, Arthur Hanna was the single most influential figure in the conceptualization, articulation, and execution of the policy of Bahamianization with which his name became synonymous. He was a nationalist of unsurpassed conviction and integrity. For him there was never any compromising of his principles or political ideology. He was a purist. He was unalterably convinced that The Bahamas was for Bahamians and that together we had to build a new nation “with our own hands”, to use the phrase that he himself often used. This he saw as the fundamental imperative facing us as we emerged from colonialism and its attendant psychological bondage into a new age of national sovereignty with the full flowering of freedom and responsibility for the management of our own destiny. That, for A.D Hanna, was what Bahamianization was all about.
Thirdly, Arthur Hanna was always on the side of the poor and dispossessed of our land.
They never had a more resolutely committed warrior for economic and social justice than Arthur Hanna. It was not surprising therefore that he would be the architect of many of the major social initiatives that were central to the governance of The Bahamas during his seventeen years in Cabinet and more than three decades in parliament. His aim was to alleviate human suffering or, as he so poignantly and poetically put it, “to wipe every tear from every eye”.
A. D. Hanna really was the embodiment of the best we can be when it comes to being a servant of the people and of the nation he was so influential in creating and which he served with such awe-inspiring love, dedication, personal integrity and idealism for so long.
On behalf of my wife, Bernadette, and on my own behalf, I extend deepest condolences to the family of this great National Hero and very dear friend, most especially, to his daughter, the Hon. Glenys Hanna Martin, who is continuing the tradition and example of outstanding public service set by her father.
May he Rest In Peace.