Nkosi Damani, left; Lowdru Robinson, right. *Photos supplied
Nkosi Damani, left; Lowdru Robinson, right. *Photos supplied

Every year, the Bermuda Day Parade brings people together, either as participants or spectators — and this year was no exception.

I was curious to know how it first began and was surprised to learn about the role of my father-in-law,  Mr Lowdru Robinson, so I did some research.

On the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of December, 1977, Bermuda experienced the worst case of  “civil disorder” in the island’s history. A state of emergency was declared to quell the rioters and restore order.

The government in power at that time established a bipartisan Royal Commission to investigate the underlying causes of the “disturbances”.  

The Chairman of the Commission was Lord Pitt of Hampstead. The Commission produced a report titled, ‘Report of the Commission into the 1977 disturbances’ — often referred to as the Pitt Report. 

It outlined a series of recommendations for government to address to “move Bermuda towards a harmonious society”.

In 1978, the Ministry of Community Affairs hired its first Director, Mr Lowdru Robinson, a Bermudian, who was living in Canada. 

While in Canada he had gained considerable experience working on community relations programmes. Mr Robinson used the Pitt Report to develop and produce new programmes for the Ministry to introduce to the island. 

Two issues highlighted in the Report called for Bermudians to be encouraged to participate in more common activities and events. 

They were: the need to come “together more frequently in pursuit of shared interests” and that “Community Affairs should consider the possibility of some annual festival” that appealed to the entire community and had the same impact as the “marathon on 24th of May”.

For the first suggestion, Mr Robinson developed the Community Education and Development Programme, which continues to operate successfully and has received  commendation from the International Community Education Association. 

And for the second he developed the annual Heritage Celebration. 

It began as a one-week programme in May but was so popular that it grew into a one-month event, and later led to the creation of the Department of Cultural Affairs.

Included in the Heritage Celebrations were:

Events across the community, sponsored by the Ministry;

• An appeal to all schools to carry out heritage projects;

• School choir performances on the steps of City Hall;

• Senior Citizens’ Tea, hosted by the Premier at Camden;

• Bermuda Day and the Bermuda Day Parade.

It is clear that the 1977 “disturbances” and the Pitt Report recommendations changed the “social and political life” in Bermuda forever.

I was surprised to learn these facts and wondered if there were others, like me, who were not aware of the origin of the Bermuda Day Parade, which is now an established, annual event. I also discovered that Mr Robinson was the person who introduced the idea for the Human Rights Act and many other programmes that are still operating. 

After 21 years of dedicated community service, he retired in 1999. 

I am pleased that Mr Robinson is alive and well and that Bermuda has not missed the opportunity to celebrate his innovative ideas and contributions, which continue to impact Bermuda society. 

I for one, as a Bermudian, would welcome any action that will formally recognize the ongoing impact that his contributions have made to the multicultural island I call home.