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The People of the Bahamas

BahamiansAbout eighty five percent of the entire population of the islands of Bahamas descended from Africa. The rest are the descendents of the Loyalists and the first settlers and sailors. Some of the Bahamian families have been living on the islands for over two centuries. They are very friendly and freedom loving people. Religion is a vital part in their lives and they love music. These are mainly traditional as well as cultural people and the traditions are reflected in the ways they treat various ailments or in the way they celebrate their holidays or by the use of the slang in their language. Such traditions have been established in the last three hundred years.

The traditions and cultures of these people are quite unique and different because of the diversity of the people who came in here and settled down. English is the official language throughout the islands and from the sign boards to the menus in the restaurants everything is available in English and so it is not a problem for a tourist who is good in English. But like any other country the place has its own dialect and that might be a little hard for the newcomer to understand.

The dialects are even different in the various islands. Another thing that might trouble you is that the people here make the use of many idioms that you are probably not familiar with. Here if someone tells you "day clean" he actually means "daybreak" and "first fowl crow" refers to the first cry of the rooster that is made in the morning. These idioms are typical of the Black Bahamian English. This language is very closely related to the Gullah dialect of South Carolina. The Loyalists brought in the language with them when they came from the American South and settled in The Islands Of The Bahamas.

Many other influences have also caused the difference in the dialects of the same language. Like the coming of the African slaves, English Puritans and other immigrants and their settling down here on The Islands Of The Bahamas brought in the idioms to a great extent. But the different cultures also nicely managed to blend in their speeches all together.

Bush medicine
Bahamas Bush medicinceBush medicine has been practiced by the people of the islands for many years and they use many indigenous plants for medicinal purposes. This has been a tradition of the African slaves and they brought it along with them when they came to The Islands Of The Bahamas.

The Cat Islanders have a reputation of having really long lives and they give the credit to bush medicine. They prepare internal and external remedies to relieve such symptoms as headaches, high blood pressure, diabetes, coughs, itching, etc.

As a reliable source of medical treatments, around a hundred different kind of plant can be found around the island. The aloe Vera plant, for instance, is a known burn cure, pain reliever, tonic and laxative. Other examples of plants that have medicinal value and are believed to provide beneficial treatment for a variety of ailments include Bagarina, Cascarilla, Crab Bush, Fig Leaf, Hibiscus Pepper Leaf, Pond Bush, Sailors' Flowers, Sour Sop Leaf, Spanish Sage and White Sage.

People-To-People Program
Bahamas peopleIn order to give the tourists to the islands an informal as well as real view of the Bahamian culture, traditions as well the hospitality of the people the Ministry of Tourism of the islands has organized for a year-round People-to-People program. People who share your interests will give you an idea of the Bahamian life is a very personal yet convenient way when they work as volunteers of this particular program. You might choose to join these volunteers at their home for a pleasant conversation and an authentic Bahamian meal. Or you can meet up at some civic or social club or at a church service or sports event, or see the sights with a native interpretation.

This activity is very popular around the nation. More than 1,000 volunteers are available in Nassau and about 100 in Freeport. Volunteers for the event come in from various spheres of life and in order to get themselves enrolled they need to pass a screening test. The tourists are then matched with the volunteers according to age groups and interests as well as professions that they share. For instance, a doctor is matched with a Bahamian doctor. Being professionals the volunteers are usually able to give their time only in the evenings or in the weekends but they are always eager to contribute to this international bonding program.

The monthly Tea Party organized at the Government House from in between 4.00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on the last Friday of the months from January to August, is a very important part of the entire people-to-people program. The wife of the Governor-General of the Bahamas hosts the party and around two hundred guests can come in to the party.


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