|Telator Cumi Strachan, OBE
Former Senator, Commonwealth of the Bahamas
Telator Cumi Strachan was a Bahamian straw vendor and former Senator.
Early life and education
Telator Cumi Strachan was born on 25 March 1933 in New Providence, Nassau, The Bahamas, but her roots were in Cat Island. She received her early education at St. Agnes Day School, Woodcock School and Western Junior and Senior Schools. She also pursued courses in Shorthand, Typing and English.
Inspired by friends in the Straw Industry and by her mother, the late Deaconess Mother Pearl L. Moxey, a talented straw vendor and seamstress, Strachan joined the ranks of persons employed in the largest cottage industry in The Bahamas in 1955. Through self-training she manufactured and marketed two types of tourist gift items – Straw Work and the Seven-Way Sun Dress (designed by the matriarchs in her family), as well as dashiki shirts.
In 1968, Mrs. Strachan became President of the Straw Vendors’ Association where she organized the women in self-help projects and in promoting the industry. Telator was also instrumental in the formation of the New Providence Handicraft Cooperative Society, an organization to promote local straw work and its wholesale export, through interaction with suppliers of raw material and straw items in the Family Islands.
Telator Cumi Strachan also served as a goodwill ambassador for The Bahamas, travelling throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and the Caribbean with the Ministry of Tourism promoting The Bahamas as the number one destination for vacations, and straw handicraft as one of the country’s important and historic artistic endeavours.
The continuity of the Straw Industry was extremely important to Strachan who presented many lectures at various schools, including The College of The Bahamas, and participated in many seminars and conferences on the history and development of the Straw Industry.
Strachan served as a Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) senator under the Lynden Pindling administration and was a known civic activist. She served in the Senate from 1987 to 1992.
Civic achievements included serving on the Town Planning Committee of the Ministry of Works, the Cooperative Advisory Council of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Tourism Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Tourism, the Women’s Advisory Council of the Ministry of Social Services & Community Development, member of the Nassau Tourism Development Board, member of the Business and Professional Women’s Association, a charter member of the Over-the-Hill Reunion Group and the Social Security Commission of the Ministry of Housing & National Insurance.
Honours and awards
On 31 December 2015, she was recognised as an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE).
Strachan was also a recipient of the Ministry of Tourism’s Cacique Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Tourism Achievement Award, the Commonwealth of The Bahamas Silver Jubilee Award, the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority ‘Blue Revue’ Award, the Zonta Club of Nassau ‘Living Legend’ Award and the Outstanding Bahamas Award. Mrs. Strachan has also been honoured by the Bahamas Baptist Missionary & Educational Convention, and the Straw Market Authority.
Strachan was the mother of one son, Wayne, and two daughters, former Cabinet Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, Melanie S. Griffin and the late Natasha Yvette (who predeceased her by two months earlier).
An avid Baptist, Telator was a founding member of Judaea Baptist Church. She was also a licensed Minister and a member of the Trustee Board.
Telator Strachan died in hospital on Monday, 30 July 2018 after succumbing to a long-term illness. She was 85. She was accorded a State-Recognized Funeral on Friday, 17 August, 2018 at Faith United Missionary Baptist Church, Faith United Way, followed by interment at Woodlawn Gardens Cemetery, Soldier Road.