The Africans who came here during slavery had no choice; they did not decide to migrate. Europeans captured and enslaved them for kingdom expansion and financial gain.
By the end of slavery, our forefathers then, being three or more generations removed, hardly knew where their roots were in West Africa, far less what tribes they belonged to. By contrast, those who left here in the 1940s onwards, just about one hundred years after the abolition of slavery, all knew that they were from Grenada, and so did their children, born overseas.
This round of migration was voluntary and for economic reasons. Subsequent waves of Grenadian migrants went in pursuit of higher education. Today, those abroad manifest the essence of patriotism, the best in Grenadian family traditions, ambition and achievement. Disregard, briefly, those who lost their way as is to be found in every social system.
Call up a ‘verb list’ to track the activities of Grenadians abroad that confirm the declarations above. One finds them sharing, giving, sending, posting, helping and calling; hurting, crying and mourning.
They belong! In these ways, they establish portals of concern to touch poverty and unemployment and conduits of support for health care, education and community services.
In the same way that they send home millions of dollars in remittances each year to assist families and friends, so too they have important views about their homeland. Justifiably, they have established vocal lines of concern surrounding the state of the Grenadian society and its development.
It is truly a wonderful thing to see the third and fourth generations of youngsters of Grenadian parentage come home for the summer and at Christmas! They may be anxious about health care standards, but they lap up the fresh air, the healthy food, beaches, friendships; and they know that they are safe. The soul is at rest! No one should see beyond their Grenadian roots.
Let’s shift gears! The Grenadians abroad must not be limited to being ‘the hands of supply’. They must be invited to contribute towards the elaboration of a new and valid development and governance agenda for Grenada. Their credentials are authentic and legitimate. Those under fifty must help to provide political leadership.
Let us encourage them to own assets of various kinds in Grenada. Ownership is what differentiates the master from the slave; the ‘capital gains-taker’ from the ‘wage-earner’!
While it is true that Grenadian returnees have enhanced the quality of the housing stock and may have brought home their gratuities and pensions, the door must be opened wider. It is time for Grenada to introduce a ‘Diaspora Investment for Production Program (DIPP)’ providing the most attractive incentives and concessions to our people abroad to own wealth-creating assets in Grenada.
We need a bigger Grenadian ‘owner-class’ at the high end.
Can we not have projects at the parish and national levels financed by our people abroad? Can we not have them finance innovative projects promoting the growth of youth economies? The focus is on production because Grenada has a serious production problem that needs to be fixed urgently. Otherwise, we will run repeated cycles of Structural Adjustment Programs.
The costs of ‘running the State’ have become party and regime-neutral. This means that high taxes will remain locked-in to meet those costs regardless of which party forms the Government. The alternative is to cut Government programs, including the size of the Public Service!
As official sources of budgetary support dwindle, it is only higher production, the opening up of new economic frontiers, which will save us. Therefore, in the same way that we import resources and people of various cultures via the CBI Program, so too we must be fully confident and justified that Grenadians overseas, those abroad, could strategically own capital assets in their homeland.
Those patriots abroad must be called in to contribute at a higher level, beyond barrels and remittances. They must be in the Board Rooms! Recognition, embrace, gratitude and good treatment are old-fashioned Grenadian values. We must add to that a spirit of enterprise, ownership and leadership to complete the circle and raise the stakes of those abroad in Grenada.