There are only two possible Bahamas Governors who could have refused the help of Dr. George Washington Carver because he was a negro, and because no hotel in Nassau at that time, would have allowed a negro, even as a guest of the governor, to stay. The choice falls between Sir Bede Edmund Hugh Clifford (Governor 1932-1934) who eventually went on to Trinidad and Tobago, or his successor Sir Charles Cecil Farquharson Dundas (Governor 1934-1940). Dundas was a district commissioner in Tanzania before coming to the Bahamas. After the Bahamas, he was sent to Uganda.


Dr. George Washington Carver


Dr. George Washington Carver was born into slavery in America in 1864. He and his mother were kidnapped and taken to Arkansas by persons unknown. Carver, as a baby, was traded for a horse by his kidnappers. His mother was never heard from again. He was bought by a German farmer, Moses Carver.

By 1942, George Washington Carver was 78. He died in January 1943.

Carver became an eminent agriculturalist and inventor. Carver had developed techniques which could have revolutionised the agricultural industry in the Bahamas. But for the racism, which plagued the small island nation, in the early 20th century, the country never experienced the innovation his mind could have offered.

(The Nassau Daily Tribune Saturday July 18, 1942)

1942 – THE PROBLEM OF PERPETUAL DEPLETED AGRICULTURAL SOILS ACROSS THE BAHAMAS

Agricultural land in the Bahamas suffered badly from the continued plague of soil depletion. It had always been so. Repeated planting, hurricanes, thin soil, hard limestone rock and sea salt deposits were destroying once bountiful agricultural beds and reducing yields. What Carver had perfected in America, was a way of improving the quality of soils depleted by repeating plantings of cotton. It was hoped that Carver could lend his expertise to the depleted soils of the Bahamas, especially in Andros. By 1938 as well, Dr. Carver had been experimenting with the possibilities of turning common garden weeds into a cloth making fibre. Weeds was what the Bahamas had in abundance.

Around this same time, the Bahamas Assembly and its colonial Governor, were desperate for any help they could garner, in jump starting agricultural production on one of its larger, most promising spaces, Andros. Study after study had been commissioned by the Bahamas Assembly from those in America claiming to have the answer to the country’s agricultural woes. As the negro poor population was growing, across the islands, the government was desperate for any answers that could be offered. Well, almost desperate.

(Duke of Windsor with farmers discussing poor soils in Nassau and his ideas for trying to revive sisal plantations)

The Bahamas Assembly, at that time, were not looking for someone to help them grow fruits and vegetables. Quite the contrary, they were hoping for help in building large scale, industrial agriculture businesses. It was envisaged that somehow the islands could produce the raw agricultural materials that places like America and Europe could use in their manufacturing industries.

Somehow, contact was as made with Dr. George Washington Carver, at Tuskegee, in Alabama.

(Tampa Bay Times, Monday, 28 March 1938)

1942 – Governor of the Bahamas, the Duke of Windsor Tries To Revive Sisal

By 1942, the Duke of Windsor made a feeble stab at trying to revive the sisal industry and the failed venture in Andros by Joseph Chamberlain and his son, Neville Chamberlain, in 1890.

(The Tampa Times, Monday, 10 August, 1942)

1942 – CARVER AND NASSAU

Segregation and low-key racism was rife in the Bahamas, especially on the capital island New Providence. Few tried to create ripples in the pond. Everyone sort of knew their place. The status quo between the races was long accepted. Negroes lived one way. Whites the other.

George Washington Carver and his potential to help the failing agricultural industry in The Bahamas, got caught in the middle of it. Knowledge of this angered the Tribune editor so much, that they had to write about it.

CARVER AND NASSAU

Dr. George Washington Carver, famed Negro scientist who saved the economy of the entire Southern states on several occasions by his discoveries, has at last agreed to leave his beloved Tuskeegee Institute—- he had formally declined attractive offers from the Government of the Soviet Union, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison—– to tie up with Henry forward on a formula that Dr Carver has for the production of synthetic rubber.

An interesting fact is that some years ago this remarkable man who occupies a place in the front ranks of scientists of all ages, was prepared to visit the Bahamas to help the islands work out some of it agricultural problems. All if required was an invitation from the Bahamas government but, of course, it was thought that it might be “inconvenient” to have him here and so the invitation was never issued. As a guest of the Government where could he stay—– that was the problem!

We have always felt in the hands of Dr. Carver the marl at Andros could be transformed into “gold.”

(The Nassau Daily Tribune Saturday July 18, 1942)

The newspaper article referred to turning the marl of Andros into gold. What is marl?

A marl is a type of rock. “Marl or marlstone is a calcium carbonate or lime-rich mud or mudstone which contains variable amounts of clays and silt. The dominant carbonate mineral in most marls is calcite, but other carbonate minerals such as aragonite, dolomite, and siderite may be present.”

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