There is a lot of talk these days about generation property, the practice by which Bahamians have owned land throughout the archipelago throughout the ages. It’s a problem, we’re told; it impedes development. Time for us to fix the system.
Well, good. Just as long as we don’t fix the system by making it just like every other land-owning system in the western world.
Keep in mind the following points. First, generation property is an oral way of organizing people’s relation to land. The principles that govern the custom are fundamentally different from the principles that govern every other system of land ownership; and any bid to deal with the system must recognize and respect this fact.
Second, generation property is a strategy that has provided the descendents of slaves with access to land that is unprecedented in the Caribbean and Latin American region.
Third (and this point is closely related to my second), generation property has provided black Bahamians with the ownership of prime land in a region where the second-class position of people of non-European descent is pretty universally entrenched.
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