The date celebrated as
Bahamian Independence Day celebrates the day the
Islands became a nation -- on July 10, 1973.
This year -- on Wednesday, July 10, 2024 -- it remains a celebration not to be missed!
many areas in the Caribbean, the hundreds of islands and cays that make up the
Bahamas were "discovered" and claimed by European explorers in the late
1400s. The road back to independence and self rule was long but relatively peaceful.
The centuries in between explain why the culture and people
of the Bahamas are rich with native Caribbean, European and African influences.
Bahamas' early history
The first settlers
on many of the islands were thought to be predominantly the Arawak speaking Lucayan
or Taino people. They arrived from
South America sometime in the 9th Century. For hundreds of years the indigenous
culture thrived and spread from island to island.
In 1492, Columbus
landed at San Salvador and claimed the Caribbean islands for the Spanish on his first
journey to the Americas. (The word Bahamas is thought to come from the
Arawak name for the islands, but some historians believe it comes from the Spanish,
"Baja Mar," which means "shallow sea.")
Bahamas coat of arms with the nation's
Upward, Onward Together”.
When the Spain controlled the islands, African slaves were brought to work
in the plantation fields or in the homes of the plantation owners and other wealthy Spaniards. Most of the original population disappeared
through fighting and diseases brought to the islands by the new African and Spanish
Dutch rule followed when they gained control of the islands for a short time, but then lost
them to the English in 1670. The Bahamas
remained mainly under British rule for the next 300 years.
On the road to independence
The abolishment of slavery in 1838 marked the first beginnings of independence when many former slaves remained to work the land and eventually became land owners themselves.
Parades and colorful costumes are
the order of the day for celebrating
Although all residents
of the Bahamas were free, the Islands remained a colony of the United Kingdom. But much of day-to-day governing
of the country was actually based in the Bahamas. This became a major factor
that led to a peaceful negotiation for Bahama's independence.
1964, after decades of debate and legal maneuvering, Great Britain granted The
Islands Of The Bahamas limited self-government. In 1969, the Bahamas finally became a British Commonwealth, which effectively ended colonial rule. Four years later, the Bahama Islands gained total independence from Great Britain and became a sovereign nation on July 10, 1973.
Bahamas Independence Day celebrations today
Today, the big day is celebrated with a 10-day celebration beginning around July 1 leading up to the official Independence Day on July 10. The full roster of events traditionally include colorful float parades, musical performances, and special church services to mark the occasion.
A mix of traditional Junkanoo performances -- and lots of fireworks displays --- are a highlight of the celebrations, punctuated with official speeches celebrating freedom and independence throughout the islands.
The Government House in Nassau officially proclaims independence day on July 10.
If you happen to be vacationing in the Bahamas during this time, you are definitely in luck! It's a trip you will long remember for the color and excitement that makes Bahamas Independence celebrations an unforgettable event.
More about Bahamian Independence Day around the Web:
Sun Sets on the British Empire - The BBC news coverage
of the ceremonies in 1973 which changed the Bahamas from a
British Crown Colony to a country that is a full member of
All About Junkanoo - A link to some pictures of costumes
adds depth to this brief history of the junkanoo from Geographia.com.