Alvin Rudolph Braynen should really be considered a national hero. There should be something significant named after him, where his contribution to political history, can be remembered.
A. R. Braynen was the white man, who helped to secure, the black man’s political victory in 1967.
In 1949, however, he was just a heartbroken dad, having become estranged from his only son.
For surely, it must be an unquestionable historical fact that, without A. R. Braynen, the white man who helped secure the black man’s victory, the events of January 1967, the year of Majority Rule for The Bahamas, would not have happened.
But for Alvin R. Braynen, a former member of the UBP, who ran as an independent in 1967, and Randol Fawkes of the Labour Party, siding with the Progressive Liberal Party, history would have been very different.
In 1967, Braynen ran for Harbour Island and won against Norman Solomon (UBP ) and the Hon. Joseph Albury (UBP). When the electoral seats were split right down the middle between the Progressive Liberal Party and the United Bahamian Party, it was A. R. Braynen and Randol Fawkes who sided with the PLP.
Braynen famously went to the Speaker’s Chair and Fawkes created a coalition of sorts with the PLP. This gave the PLP the win with a one seat majority. It was only one seat, but a win was a win. History was made.
What Braynen did in 1966 was Herculean. One has to understand that it was Premier, Sir Roland Symonette, leader of the UBP, who first gave Braynen a significant job at Symonette Shipyards. This job allowed Braynen to establish himself financially and politically.
The story of Braynen siding with the PLP may be historical fodder now, but in 1967, it tore long-standing friendships and business relationships apart.
As A. R. Braynen prepares to run in 1949 General Elections, his son Gilbert Braynen, decides he wanted nothing more to do with the Braynen name. This must surely would have been heartbreaking for Alvin Braynen
Braynen has his biography featured in local newspaper ahead of the 1949 general elections. He is running for Harbour Island.
Note that in 1949, Braynen had only two children from his first marriage – Gilbert and Thelma. Braynen’s first wife had died. He remarried in 1932.
Mr. Alvin Rudolph Braynen only son of the late William Rudolph Braynen and Lulu Isabel Braynen, was born in 1904 at The Current Eleuthera.
Two children, Gilbert and Thelma were born to Mr. Braynen and his first wife, whom he married in 1923. After her death, Mr. Braynen married Herona Munroe in 1932.
After attending the public school at The Current, where he was made a monitor and was commended on his diligence, Mr. Braynen came to Nassau in 1922. He was trained as a teacher by Mr. T. A. Thompson, the present Inspector of Schools, to whom Mr. Braynen feels that he owes a debt of gratitude.
After occupying teaching posts at Bimini, in 1923 and at Tarpum Bay in 1925, Mr. Braynen returned to Nassau during the latter year and leaving Government service, he accepted employment with R. H. Curry and Co., Ltd., as a shipping clerk. Three months later he went to work at Symonette’s Shipyards, and in 1931 was appointed agent for the firm which he still represents, Sinclair Cuba Oil, Co., S.A.
One of the achievements of which he is most proud is the formation in 1933 of a benevolent society known as the Nassau Mutual Aid Association. In August 1935 Mr Braynen also organised the present Chamber of Commerce, of which he was the first Honorary Secretary.
He was first elected to the House of Assembly in 1935 as a representative for Cat Island. During the next General Election in 1942, he offered successfully for Harbour Island. In the almost fourteen years that he has been a member of the House, Mr Braynen has served as a member of the agricultural and marine products board, the health board, development boy, the board of education, the civil service committee, and as chairman of the public establishments committee.
One of his greatest political successes, Mr. Braynen considers, was the successful conclusion of an eleven-year fight by him for the right of the House to condemn Rules and Orders made by Public Boards and the Governor in Council.
To watch all departmental legislation the House instituted a Committee, of which he is the chairman. He also moved for the creation of a Hoisw Library in 1938. On his motion a scholarship scheme was adopted by the House, enabling Bahamians to be sent abroad for educational purposes. At his instigation a commission was appointed to enquire into the reasons why Dr. M. Rassin was refused permission to practice medicine in the Bahamas. The commission rules that Dr. Rassin should be allowed to come to Nassau and practice his profession.
Mr. Braynen states that he has always been eager to spearhead movements in the House for the improvement of education in the Colony, and he was instrumental in the development of a Vocational School. He was the chairman of the School Committee of the Eastern Senior School for a number of years.
A committee for which Mr Braynen moved in 1938, subsequently brought in the first voting by Ballot Bill in New Providence in 1939. It was upon the recommendation of Mr Braynen’s committee that the Government remove the last rationing restrictions.
In 1945 he was a member of the committee appointed by the governor to also recommendations in connection with the improvement of public offices. In Mr Brennan’s opinion the most important matter for the new house to consider is constitutional reform. He feels that Moore executive power should be vested in the representatives of the people.
Gilbert Rudolph Braynen ONLY son of Alvin Rudolph Braynen CHANGES HIS NAME to Gilbert Anslem Major – 12th November 1949
My grammy used to always say, ‘if you mind these chirren, they’ll cause you to go to jail…best to leave ‘em until they catch they self’.
In 1949, just as A. R. Braynen was campaigning and eventually winning his Harbour Island seat, his only son Gilbert Rudolph Braynen was formally disowning father, family and name. Goodness only knows what could have possibly happened, between father and son, to cause such a drastic and dramatic action.
Gilbert Rudolph Braynen changed his name, by deed poll, to Gilbert Anselm Major.