The Most Honourable Arthur
Dion Hanna, ON
Former Governor-General of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas
Arthur Dion Hanna was sworn in as the seventh Governor-General by Chief Justice Sir Burton Hall on 1 February 2006. His Excellency replaced Acting Governor General, Paul Adderley, who served in the position since December 2005, following the retirement of Dame Ivy Dumont on 30 November 2005.
Early life and education
Born to Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Albert Hanna on 7 March 1928, Hanna is a native of Pompey Bay, Acklins.
He attended the Government High School in Nassau, and later entered the University of Bristol and Inner Temple in the United Kingdom where he obtained a law degree. He was called to the English Bar by the Inner Temple and in 1955 was admitted to the Bahamas Bar as counsel and attorney.
In 1956 Mr Hanna joined the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), and was elected to serve on its Executive Board. In March, 1956, he was nominated, along with the late Samuel White, to contest a Cat Island seat in the general election. They lost.
Always an ardent supporter of trade unionism, His Excellency got an opportunity to use his skills in the 1958 general strike, giving union leaders freely of his time and counsel and taking part in the tedious negotiations that eventually led to victory for the workers.
As a direct result of the strike, Sir Alan Lennox-Boyd, then Secretary of State for the Colonies, visited The Bahamas to investigate the grievances by the unions and the opposition PLP. Mr Hanna played an important part in the negotiations between the PLP and the Secretary of State. Critical constitutional advances flowed from the talks; one was the increase in the number of seats in New Providence from eight to 12.
Two of the four seats were allocated to the Eastern District, hiking the number there to four. Nominated by the party to run in the constituency, Mr Hanna won easily.
As a member of the Opposition, he constantly flailed the United Bahamian Party (UBP). His candour and courage in debate led to his suspension from the House on 17 April 1965, during a debate on boundary changes. He refused to leave when ordered out, and had to be evicted bodily by the Sergeant-at-Arms. It as an unprecedented act in the 236-year history of The Bahamas Parliament. Four days later, Mr Hanna was readmitted.
Re-elected in the 1962 general election, he was appointed to the delegation that represented the PLP at a constitutional conference in the United Kingdom.
In the 1967 general election he competed for a seat representing St. Ann’s – a new constituency. He was re-elected in 1968, 1972, 1977, 1982 and 1987 and served until he lost his seat in the 1992 General Election.
As a legislator, Mr Hanna has made a major contribution to the political and social development of The Bahamas. He is considered a champion of civil rights, having vigorously opposed any form of racial discrimination. He is the architect of bahamianzation, a policy which placed Bahamians first.
After he watched the Union Jack flutter down to be replaced by the Bahamian standard during the Independence ceremony July 10, 1973, at Clifford Park, he told a friend, “I myself had only one major political aim and that was to assist this country achieve complete sovereignty. Everything I did or said was to this end.”
Mr Hanna was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and government leader in the House in 1967 and held the position until his resignation from Cabinet in 1984. As a member of Cabinet, Mr Hanna served as Minister of Education, Minister of Trade and Industry, Minister of Home Affairs (with responsibility for immigration), and Minister of Finance (with added responsibility for the public service).
The Governor General is married to the former Beryl Church. They have four surviving children, Arthur Dion Jr., Mark Lindsay, Glenys Hanna-Martin and Dawn Victoria. They were pre-deceased by another son, Sean David.
Mr Hanna retired on 14 April 2010 and was succeeded by Sir Arthur Foulkes.
Honours and awards
In 2018, he was awarded the Order of the Nation (ON).