Although it was a rather skimpy crowd at the 41st celebration of Grenada’s Independence, the country’s leader, Dr Keith Mitchell said the nation is moving forward in development but not in character.
In his speech at the National Stadium on February 7th, PM Mitchell reiterated that as Grenada welcomes 42 years, its people must deepen the traits that defined their Grenadian-ness “and not divert from them in the name of development.”
Dr. Mitchell noted that the Independence theme, “Moving forward in unity to build a stronger nation” is not being exemplified in some of the actions that have been recently portrayed by some people.
He said that safety and respect have been the qualities for which Grenada was well known but it is being quickly forgotten.
In developing on this thought, the Prime Minister referred to two incidents, which had struck the nation two weeks ago.
A 27 year old lost her life due to a domestic dispute after which the suspect, a former lover and father of her two children took his own life.
A few hours after this incident, a young man was stabbed to death in
the St. George’s Market Square area over a gambling altercation.
Around the same time, Government Minister, Alvin Dabreo was reportedly physically assaulted when he was struck with a fist to his neck and face by an angry citizen walking on the sidewalk in St George’s.
Prime Minister Mitchell was not happy that these events were occurring on the island.
He said: “When a young mother’s life is violently cut down, this is one incident sisters and brothers too many. The blades of anger are not the way to settle disputes…when a young man losses his life in senseless argument, we refuse to take comfort in the fact that we have one of the lowest crime rates in the region.
“…By the same token, tolerance and respect for authority have always been part of our Grenadian culture and as we cope with revolutionary changes in a modern society, it must not mean the abandonment of our true character,” he remarked.
According to Dr. Mitchell, history “has taught us that we get ourselves in trouble from the tenets that made us who we are”, and he called for a more direct approach to be taken by all Grenadians in resurrecting the country’s true character.
The Prime Minister also used the occasion of independence to speak out against an incident close to the Bus Terminus in St. George’s in which a bus conductor was engaged in a physical tussle with a police officer who was tying to arrest him for an alleged offence.
He said that the recent incidents “remind us that we are in danger of ripping apart the soul of our nation if we are not careful. It’s about time to take stock. The public attack on the member of our Security Forces is not fodder for idle joke; it is no joke but should be an incident worthy for collective rebuke”.
PM Mitchell was also critical of Executive member of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Jenny Rapier who on a radio programme took issue with public remarks made by some church leaders.
He said the verbal attack on church leaders must not be tolerated by anyone.
“Sisters and brothers we can disagree with positions and even challenge those positions but we must never reduce our (Church) leaders to the type of ridicule slander … that we have seen in recent times. Therefore, all those who condone those acts are also guilty as those from whose mouths the hateful words are uttered”, he said.
“…When we as leaders, sisters and brothers refuse to reprimand our
own, we forfeit our moral authority to the conscience of our nation and we undermine our authority to lead … I say to them wrong is always wrong, right is always right,” he added.
Prime Minister Mitchell charged that if Grenada is to move forward, it must do so with purpose.