Skip to main content


The Bahamas

Members of South Coast District hold a youth-led discussion meeting that includes 25 youth guests, Jamaica, West Indies, July 2019. Black River, Parottee, Jamaica.

SGI President Ikeda writes about the Bahamas in his ongoing essay series “Unforgettable Encounters—Friends With Hearts Like the Sun,” which is being serialized in the Japanese publication Pumpkin. This essay was published in the October 2019 issue of the magazine.

The hometown,
the sea and the earth
all hold the power to nurture life
and so can be deemed mothers.

I love islands.

And I love islanders.

Islanders shine with an undefeated spirit, having fought through harsh histories and intense natural disasters.

Illuminated by their wisdom to bring about harmony, they sing together, dance together and help one another in times of need.

Illuminated by their broad smiles that nourish their beloved islands, they look to the motherly wisdom and fatherly discipline of the vast and boundless ocean.

In places like Okinawa, Hawaii, Hong Kong and Guam, I share unforgettable journeys with my treasured friends who overflow with the heart of peace.

The treasure islands of the Bahamas, shimmering in the Caribbean Sea, also hold an indelible place among the 54 countries and territories I have visited.

• • •

The Bahamas, which are made up of 700 islands and surrounded by more than 2,000 coral reefs, surely were borne of the motherly ocean. Its limestone foundation that is close to three miles in thickness was formed over the course of some 190 million years, and it is said that the peaks of these limestone “mountains” are the portions that sit above sea level.[1]

Surrounding the islands are many world-renown beaches with long, breathtaking stretches of shallow shores and crystal-clear waters. The undulating currents seem to create ever-changing paintings on the white sands of the ocean floor.

“But man is not made for defeat.”

The ocean’s coral reefs are treasure chests of life filled with colorful fish performing a beautiful dance. And above water, the islands’ rainforests maintain ecosystems that are rich in biodiversity.

In the Bahamian seas, mother dolphins raise their young together, take care of one another’s offspring, while adolescent dolphins look after the younger ones.[2] Known to have the largest brain among marine animals, dolphins utilize their “intellect” to discern whether other animals are friendly or not and how to interact with them.

The Bahamas are well known as a place where people can swim together with these dolphins as fellow mammals, much like Mikurajima and the Ogasawara Islands located off the coast of Tokyo. It is as if these clever dolphins are teaching us that true intellect means using our wisdom to bring living beings together so that they can coexist harmoniously.

At times when intense hurricanes batter the islands, Bahamians have surmounted such natural disasters by coming together, supporting one another and bringing forth wisdom collectively.

Last September (2019), the Bahamas endured severe damage due to Hurricane Dorian. I am fervently praying that the Bahamian people can quickly recover from this devastating event and for their well-being far into the future.

In his masterwork The Old Man and the Sea, the renowned writer Ernest Hemingway, who held such love for the Bahamas, wrote, “But man is not made for defeat.”[3]

• • •

deep currents
Toward peace,
Treasure islanders
Upholding a brilliant mission,

I first visited the Bahamas in June 1996.

Just four months earlier, an incident had occurred in which the Cuban military shot down two United States civilian aircrafts. The U.S. had strengthened economic sanctions on Cuba causing the tension between the two countries to intensify.

I traveled to Cuba as an ordinary citizen, desiring to help ease these tensions, if even in a small way, by pursuing paths of dialogue and mutual exchange related to culture and education. I departed for Cuba from Florida, having heard from leading figures in both the U.S. and Cuba of their positive expectations regarding my efforts. At that time, there were no direct U.S. flights to Cuba, so my travel plans required a layover in another country. As a result, I was able to transit through the Bahamas, a place I had long been yearning to visit.

• • •

The emerald-green ocean that I saw looking out over the Bahamas from the airplane appeared as an endless expanse of pristine waters, a prime example of the Earth’s natural beauty.

This is also a place of convergence for the cultures of Europe, America and Africa.

Making our way from the airport through the capital, Nassau, I noticed the pastel-colored buildings and rows of houses. I felt as though in a fairy tale, being welcomed by bright, colorful instrumental music and a very jubilant atmosphere.The government buildings were even decorated in flamingo pink. In fact, the flamingo is the national bird of the Bahamas. A story explains that flamingos are the inspiration for the legendary phoenix rising from the ashes, which is a symbol of rebirth and transformation.

In reality, flamingos bear and raise their young in harsh conditions. The young, as they overcome such conditions and develop, eventually shed their gray wings that turn pink as they mature and learn to soar free.

Just like the story of the phoenix, the people of the Bahamas have endured and overcome untold hardships at the hands of colonial rule since the 15th century. Political autonomy was finally achieved in 1964, and complete independence from the British was realized in 1973.

Finding new opportunities amid our present age of information and globalization, the Bahamas has developed dynamically. This island nation has become a major center of global finance and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, transforming itself into a leading source of economic development among the Caribbean Islands.

I remember the scenes I witnessed of the picturesque bay with large cruise ships docked at the port and a diverse array of people from all corners of the world joyfully discovering the city.

• • •

Beholding magnificent
Hearts and smiles
Blooming like flowers
Here is a land of paradise
Where one can feel fully at peace

I most joyfully and keenly recall the two youth who greeted me with bright smiles and a beautiful bouquet of flowers when I arrived in the Bahamas. The young woman had been active in an SGI-USA chorus group, and the young man was an entrepreneur from the Abaco Islands.

They came to meet me despite the last-minute notice. We were able to discuss many things while on the move, and I encouraged them by explaining that on life’s long journey, they will have all kinds of experiences, but those who correctly uphold their faith to the end are guaranteed to become kings and queens of victory and happiness.

I didn’t want our time to end. Their faces beaming with the determination to be the first grains of sand on the beach of peace will forever be etched in my life. Just as they determined at that time, they have been steadily expanding their network of friendship for peace and happiness.

• • •

Sidney Poitier, a pioneering Bahamian-American actor, was raised in the Bahamas by parents who grew and sold tomatoes and other produce. The great actor once said, “No matter how poor or how difficult one’s life, only those who boldly fight against difficulty and never give up no matter how painful things may become, are able to know the true joys of life and become victors.”[4]

Everyone is the protagonist of their life. When we make the place we are now the stage of our mission, we come to play the starring roles in our own lives. In order to live this way, we must make the sun of courage rise in our hearts and face each obstacle as another challenge in the drama of life.

In Japan, I have visited various islands and had many discussions with individuals who, while undergoing indescribable hardships, have striven to contribute to the development of their communities. I often encourage them by saying: “When the sun rises, the earth is illuminated. Similarly, when a single person stands up to live with a sense of mission, they can spread the light of happiness and joy throughout their community.”

In a sense, an island is like a nation. Therefore, transforming these places into “victorious islands” of harmony and prosperity will serve as sources of hope for changing an entire country as well as the world at large. With pride and deep affection for our islands, we can carry out dramas of victory in our lives by dedicating ourselves to the development and happiness of our island communities.

• • •

Despite repeated sufferings
And hardships
Create rainbows of happiness
By dramatically overturning their circumstances

My wife, Kaneko, and I heard about the life of a leader in the Bahamas. When she was young, her beloved father suddenly passed away in an accident. Yet her mother was not defeated by this tragedy. While resolutely supporting her children’s education, she carried on her late husband’s business, developed it, became a top businesswoman in the Bahamas and traveled around the world.

Watching how her mother challenged herself, she awakened to the fact that “there is absolutely nothing that is impossible,” and that “the power to achieve one’s goals and dreams lies within.” She has been taking action toward contributing to peace, believing that this grand ideal starts with those closest to us, from our family and friends, to people in our workplace, in society and the world.

She has assumed the post of Permanent Representative of the Bahamas to the United Nations in addition to other prominent roles in government, promoting key issues in the fight for human rights, such as developing stronger cooperation among nations and gender equality.

She has said, “No matter how harsh the circumstances, if you directly meet with others and continue to dialogue, we can definitely break through and find solutions to difficult issues.”

This is her conviction as a mother and daughter, and it is a belief that permeates her family as well. I, too, hold this as my own creed.

• • •

The motto on the Bahamas’ Coat of Arms was proposed by two children, and it reads: “Forward, Upward, Onward, Together.”

I have many friends who are contributing to the islands of the Bahamas in various fields. They have donated books to schools and libraries, brought SGI exhibits to local venues, determined to expand a network of nonviolence throughout the islands and bring about peace, starting in the Bahamas.

In fact, my friends in Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, the U.S. Virgin Islands and all of the Caribbean Islands are inspiring one another and expanding their network of exemplary global citizens.

The Bahamas and all of the Caribbean Islands are making great contributions to the international community in various ways, through collaborating to develop their economy, culture and technology.

Japan and the Caribbean Islands have also become partners in the prevention of natural disasters, as we face common environmental threats of hurricanes, typhoons and earthquakes.

In addition, the Caribbean overflows with unmatched cultural diversity, having created beautiful religious songs, as well as Junkanoo dance and music, based on their valiant spirit to “overcome the raging waves.”[5]The culture of the Caribbean shines as one of the greatest gifts to humanity and has positively influenced the world—from reggae music born in Jamaica, to the steel drums of Trinidad and Tobago and the paintings of Haiti, expressing the vivid colors of nature and life. A portion of the lyrics to the Bahamian national anthem reads:

Lift up your head to the rising sun, Bahamaland; March on to glory, your bright banners waving high.
See how the world marks the manner of your bearing!
Pledge to excel through love and unity.
Pressing onward, march together to a common loftier goal;
Steady sunward.[6]

While learning from the diverse and rich potential of the Bahamas, and the solidarity of the Caribbean Islands, I fervently pray that the “blue island” called Earth, which floats in the great ocean of the universe, will shine ever more brilliantly as a treasure island of harmony and hope.

The clear expanse
Spreading wide and connecting all
Are the waves of hope
On this vast ocean of peace


  1. Bernhard Edmaier, and Angelika Jung-Hüttl. Earthsong. Phaidon, 2004. ↩︎
  2. Hiroya Minakuchi. Nocho to heiri: Aru boshi iruka no monogatari. Shiitasu, 2008. ↩︎
  3. Ernest Hemingway. The Old Man and the Sea. World ↩︎
  4. Tentative translation. ↩︎
  5. Jody Stecher and Peter K. Siegel. The Real Bahamas in Music and Song, Nonesuch Records Inc. ↩︎
  6. Michael Jamieson Bristow. National Anthems of the World. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2006. ↩︎

Never Defeated, Together With Sensei

Spreading Happiness and Joy