NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) -- Thousands of mourners, some weeping and carrying
the Bahamian flag of yellow and aquamarine, crowded around a Nassau church
Monday for the funeral of the former prime minister who led their country to
independence from Britain.
Thousands more lined Bay Street in the capital as police and army officers
carried the casket of Lynden Pindling to the God of Prophecy Church
accompanied by politicians, black-robed judges and clergy.
"This is history," said carpenter Michael Colebrooke, who brought his two
children to see the procession. "I remember him and when the flag was raised
for independence -- it only is fitting that I am here now when his flag is lowered.
I just hope my boys remember it."
Pindling died of prostate cancer Aug. 26 at age 70.
He founded the Progressive Liberal Party in 1953 in opposition to the mostly
white, colonial-run United Bahamian Party.
In 1967 he became leader of the first black government in a nation whose
population is 85 percent black. Independence was won in 1973, and Pindling
remained prime minister until 1992.
At the funeral, dignitaries credited Pindling with promoting the island's
"You brought us from colonyhood to nationhood, from subjects to citizens,
have come to say thank you, Sir Lynden," God of Prophecy Bishop Brice
Thompson said. "We will always owe a debt of gratitude which we cannot
American singer BeBe Winans, a friend of the Pindling family, sang "After
You've Done All You Can" at the ceremony. Mourners watched the service on
televisions set up in tents outside the church.
Linda McIntosh, 69, arrived at 3 a.m. and dozed near the graveyard to get a seat.
"I know I can't get in the church, but I have to see my prime minister,"
McIntosh said. "If he didn't come along I couldn't have a house -- no black
could have anything."
A final viewing on Sunday was attended by Bermudian Premier Jennifer Smith;
St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister James Mitchell; Derek Taylor,
chief minister of the Turks and Caicos Islands; former Jamaican Prime Minister
Edward Seaga; and former St. Lucian Prime Minister John Compton.
During a commemoration service on Sunday night, religious leaders broke
in tears as they remembered Pindling. Retired plumber George Russell attended
and said he was overcome by emotion.
"I had to cry," Russell said. "He was a great man."
Pindling was buried after the funeral at St. Agnes Anglican Cemetery in Nassau.
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