“And We indeed gave Moses the Book–so doubt not the meeting with Him–and We made it a guide for the Children of Israel. And We made from among them leaders to guide by Our command when they were patient. And they were certain of Our messages.” —Holy Qur’an, Surah 32, verses 23-24
The Island of Bimini is located approximately 50 miles off the shore of the Florida Keys and Miami. Bimini is the fishing game capital of the world where fishermen and champions of Big Game fishing tournaments venture through this small gateway to the Bahamas on their small motorboats and grand yachts.
Here a simplistic scene emerges out of the crystal blue waters blanketing this small, seemingly insignificant Island that the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan referred to on his historic visit as being like a manger in its serenity. The Island is surrounded by the waters of the open sea on one side with a narrow stretch of road running through the Island with boats docked on the other side of the bay. It appears that one could stretch forth their arms, with their hands and fingers touching both sides.
Yet this little seven mile Island contains in its radius all the significant historical landmarks and personnel that makes up the Island population including carpenters, builders of the finest boats in the world, craftsmen and fishermen who are very well educated; pastors and historians who know their histories backwards and forward with a zest and spirit as if bygone days were ever present in every moment of time.
The Islands’ inhabitants are nearly two thousand. This small tranquil Island has attracted the likes of statesmen and congressmen; Adam Clayton Powell who found refuge on this Island and lived the latter part of his life until his death and requested that his ashes be strewn into the sea harbor off the coast of Bimini.
Others who were formerly presidents of the United States including Richard Nixon also found peace and contentment here passing through the Bahamas. Other notables include America’s great novelist and writer Ernest Hemingway who spent a number of years in this big fishing game capital and environment being inspired to write some of his well-known novels about the man and the sea. His former home and museum that housed many of his memorabilia recently burnt to the ground by an accidental fire leaving a guttered view of some of the concrete pillars and stones remaining in view.
Further down this same road marks the Big Game fishing club and hotels which hosted the renowned Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.’s visit to the Island which bears an engraved plaque at the entrance designating his cottage room, #3, for viewing to visitors. There he resided near the boat dock where great fishing yachts are lined up with a walkway leading to the pier.
It is here where he found solace and a general sense of peace of mind and relaxation which inspired him in the writing of several of his memorial speeches including “I Have A Dream” and his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. Much of the public may not be aware that he spent his last days here in Bimini preparing his address to the Sanitary Workers in Memphis, Tennessee on a boat in the Mangroves’ Plants surrounding the Island. Within three days of his leaving the Island to deliver this speech, he was gunned down and assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.
No one knows this story as perfectly as boat builder and craftsmen, fisherman and historian, Ansil Saunders; brother of the Bimini historian and medicinal plant specialist on the Island, Dr. Ashley Saunders. Ashley Saunders built the Dolphin House from the ground up with local materials on the Island which is situated on the same road from his brother Ansil’s Boat Workshop. It was at this Boat Workshop where the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan saw and heard for himself the incredible stories of the faith and humbleness of spirit that characterized Martin Luther King, Jr. directly from the man who spent time with Martin Luther King, Jr. during his several visits to the Island and personally escorted him to the Mangroves in his hand boat. Here in this sacred Mangroves, silence is golden and was emboldened by his retreat in the sea garden of these magical plants.
Ansil carried the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan in one of his hand built boats along with his whole delegation of about 24 persons to this sacred spot and recited the history of his personal experience with Martin Luther King, Jr.
Ansil is also an incredible poet and recited his own 151st Psalms glorifying God, which he recited to us in the most elegant and ceremonial way which inspired Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words that only God could have touched this magical place with His Holy fingers to display the Majesty of His Creation. It was almost unbelievable for me to perceive that after 16 years of my journeys to this little Island in the sun that I would be asked to help host the Minister and his delegation to the Island of Bimini as the last stop on his Whistle-Stop Tour to the Caribbean located only a few miles from the Gulf Stream on one side and 50 miles off the coast of the Florida Keys and Miami on the other.
He was met at the small airfield of Bimini by the representative of the office of tourism, the superintendent of all development and activities, and jurisdiction as the high commissioner appointed by the government of the Bahamas, the police department and heads of security and other important officials.
He was briefly interviewed upon his arrival by the only Bohemian television station who happened to be visiting at the same time from Nassau, the capitol of the Bahamas. Much introspection and reflective memories are immersed in my thoughts. I thought to myself that the Minister’s visit to Bimini from his own description of what he saw walking among the common and not so common humble people of a small fishing village and among the carpenters, craftsmen and builders as well as among the pastors of the churches was much like it must have been in the time of Jesus walking in the land of Palestine 200 years ago.
Now the Isles have heard his message and his testimony of Christ’s presence in this present hour at the end of one world and the beginning of the New.
“Is is not clear to them, how many of the generations, in whose abodes they go about, We destroyed before them? Surely there are signs in this. Will they not then hear? See they not that We drive the water to a land having no herbage, then We bring forth thereby seed-produce, of which their cattle and they themselves eat. Will they not then see?” –Holy Qur’an, Surah 32, verses 26-27