By Brian Lindsay-Campbell
He who betrays the Poor Betrays Christ…Fidel
After reading Mr. Julien Charles, article “Martyr” in the New Today’s weekly newspaper for the week ending Friday, November 1, 2013. I could not help myself from putting some words together to voice my concern for the language used by Mr. Charles in the last part of his presentation “Grenada is not afraid but reluctant to honour a man who led his people up the garden path and betrayed them”.
For starters, our former Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop did not betray the people of our tri- island state of Grenada. In fact, Maurice Bishop is still one of the best-loved Prime Ministers ever to come from our lovely Grenada since the advent of slavery, especially what is taking place these days.
However, Mr. Charles, I would like you to know that you are not speaking on my behalf or on the behalf of thousand of Grenadians, here at home and in the Diaspora and around the world in that respect.
For me Sir, it is not about who betrayed who but it is a question of what kind of society we are living in. If we are living in Christian society that means we do not have to wait more than thirty years to bury our dead. In that regard, the proper burial of Maurice Bishop and his colleagues must be seen in the context of our duty as Christians living in a Christian’s society.
As to why Grenada is reluctant to bury our former Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop, and his colleagues, to me that is like an absolute case of impotence in any circumstances because it cannot stand up as to why their remains should not be buried properly.
Mr. Julien Charles, I think that you are sending a wrong message as a Grenadian if you are one of us. That message is not appropriate when the remains are found or some forces are not willing to give it up yet for burial.
For me the only thing that is constantly betrayed in the last thirty years and counting is the principle of Christianity as it relates to the burying of our dead. In other words, it is not of Christianity not to bury our dead and I am sure we are living in a Christian society long before I came into this world and when I leave this world, we will still be living in a Christian Grenada, the Spice Island of the West Indies or Pure Grenada as the saying goes these days.
Furthermore, if we are not living in a Christian society please let me know if we are a colony of some external force or empire – I would like to know so I can mobilise some people to fight for our independence again.
Burying our dead is as old as humanity itself. A country that is reluctant to bury its dead will always have innumerable problems, as we are experiencing now.
I will ask the question – who betrayed who after the elections of February 19, 2013 when the people were promised the moon, the sun and the stars?
Today we are into hard times because the delivery truck got stuck somewhere in some place, or has a miscarriage.
In addition, the delivering of more taxes on the backs of our people seems to be the order of the day in these hard economic times.
I will ask another question Sir – what are you afraid of? Are you scared that if the remains surface and a date is set for a proper burial that thousands of people here at home and from around the world will come to pay their last respects and the country will have no room available because of the multitude that will be here to show their appreciation to a man who made a tremendous contribution during his life time as a lawyer, revolutionary politician and Prime Minister of our tri- island state?
Mr. Charles, if I was a visitor reading your article I would have said to myself, that there are people on this beautiful island who are not interested in the burial of the dead, especially people who served in government and who was the Prime Minister of his country. Are these the norms of a Christian society when it comes to the burying their dead?
Let me also tell you this: No one can whip up support for our former Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop as Maurice himself because he was a decent man who was very humble. However, we need all the support we can get to make sure that his remains are returned even at this late stage and he is afforded a decent and proper burial.
If we fail to do that then I am afraid we will be setting a dangerous precedence for the future and we must avoid such situations from happening again by all means necessary.
Maurice Bishop gave up everything including his life for all Grenadians so we can sit in the comfort of our homes to express our opinions without thinking and sleeping as though tomorrow will never come.
You, sir, should also know that the support that our second Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop received during his lifetime was for his unselflessness, passionate political thinking and his philosophical point of view for the development of his people and country and he is still really loved by many of the people.
Few people will be able to walk in Maurice’s footsteps during their lifetime and even long after they die.
Sir, people like you and me will not be recorded by history as people who made the ultimate sacrifice for the poor and struggling people of the world.
Just a little reminder Mr. Charles, that when the Freedom Fighters of the African National Congress (ANC) of Nelson Mandela were locked in struggle against the South African apartheid system, the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) headed by Maurice Bishop gave them honorary Grenadian citizenships.
Moreover, the former South African President, Mbeki was the holder of a Grenadian passport during the years of racism in South Africa.
I am confident that if there is a proper burial of the remains that the South African Government will send a high-powered delegation to pay their final respects to a great Grenadian revolutionary, who was first attracted to Black dignity before ideology came into play and one whose government made an invaluable ontribution to the struggles of Blacks in Africa.
I would also like to congratulate a recent editorial that appeared in THE NEW TODAY newspaper for recognising the need for the revolutionary period from 1979-1983 to be an integral part of our school curriculum so that our children should get to know what took place during that time in our history.
This is a vindication for me as someone who struggled and continues to struggle for our history to be taught in our schools especially from 1969 to present.
I can also recall a statement made by former U.S Ambassador to Barbados, Larry Palmer to the effect that the United States was willing to help find the remains of Maurice Bishop and his colleagues if asked to do so by this New National Party (NNP) Government of Dr. The Right Honourable Keith Mitchell.
It is my wish and the wish of many others that our Governor General, Dame Cecile La Grenade will impress upon PM Mitchell to accept the offer as soon as yesterday.
I also believe that no government since 1983 ever made that request during the last thirty-plus years to the USA authorities. For me I will not be putting my pot on fire where this is concerned until I have all the ingredients to cook.
Finally, let us use our time, talent and treasure to build a better country because whether we like it or not history will be kind to Maurice Bishop, Hugo Chavez Nelson Mandela and Fidel Castro.
As I have said before, there were excesses in all governments in the past from 1969 to present. It is because of those excesses by the Grenada United Labour Party Government (GULP) of Sir Eric Mathew Gairy it gave rise to the triumph of the Grenada Revolution of March 13th 1979.
Similarly, those same excesses committed during the reign of the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) of Maurice Bishop gave rise to the demise of the Revolution on October 19th 1983 when he and his Cabinet colleagues and friends were executed on the then Fort Rupert, which led to the US and Caribbean Forces invasion of Grenada on October 25, 1983. Today, we can safely say that excesses of the 13 years of the NNP Government from 1995-2008 are the main reasons why our country’s debt is what it is today which is the basis for the economic and social problems in our country.
When it comes to the Grenada Revolution of March 13 1979 to October 1983, no other government was able to mobilize our people in this unprecedented way as the PRG did under leadership of the charismatic Maurice Bishop, who came from a privileged family but who took time out to be on the side of the poor, dispossessed and working class, here at home and around the world.
Happy advance 72nd birthday to Maurice wherever you are because just as the Holy Spirit is alive and well so too is the indomitable spirit of Maurice Rupert Bishop.