By Edward A. C. Frederick,
The following is a review of “The Grenada Revolution (Volume 1) – what really happened” by Bernard Coard, which I feel compelled to produce and deliver.
I thank the day that I was presented this book as a token of appreciation back in July 2017 by Ms. Shadel Nyack-Compton for partnering with her to motivate and stimulate further consciousness in her entire management team at Belmont Estate – a regionally and internationally recognised eco-tourism entity which delivers way beyond the expectations of all its customers.
This book is surely a masterpiece! It can also be described as EPIC, in that the writer has proved himself to be an educator, indeed who is careful to be digestible to all levels.
This book’s recollection of vital aspects of the Grenada Revolution is so graphic and for the most part FACTUAL that I was able to identify with several of his pronouncements and relive the period in a way that I almost feel the need to be “debriefed” and “re-briefed” having completed.
As methodical and well organised as he is known to be, I would not be surprised that his experience in Her Majesty’s Prisons (whether as Political Prisoner or Convicted Murderer – you choose), would have no doubt humbled him enough for the expressed sobriety of his approach and tone.
I am sure many of his early pages would have been written or at least drafted while the experiences were fresh in his head during his solitude/incarceration.
Whereas the content may have been highly influenced by the benefits of hindsight to the conscious among us and time – a major healer, I am sure there must have been some personal perceptions and opinions that helped him in the release of his writings which prove how much of an intellectual mind he is, indeed!
Volume 1 of what is expected to be a continuous unfolding from this revolutionary giant – has sought to clear up lots of rumours we all were privy to back then which none of us outside of the PRG’s inner circle would have known for a fact.
One such rumour led many to believe that Cuban strongman – Fidel Castro did not care for him too much and that he (Castro) regarded Bishop as his son! Another was that he (Castro) wanted Bishop to govern as he (Castro) did in Cuba – as a Maximum Leader. These are just two, all be they very important enough to have influence over the conduct of the Grenada Revolution and may have contributed in part or whole to its demise.
Horace Levy – Sociologist, University Lecturer, Civil Society activist and Journalist out of Jamaica has correctly described this 1st Volume of Bernard Coard’s Memoirs as – “A must-read; page-turning who-done-it”. Wow! He is so correct!
I have not picked up a book and read it cover to cover except for my several devotionals by my favourite Spiritual Motivator – Joel Osteen … in years. When I first learnt that this book was out by Michael Bascombe, my interest peaked and I thought because of my ready access to the US, I would order my copy through Amazon.com and in my quietude at home (whether in the US or in Grenada) I will read and enjoy. But as I said earlier, this was not to be as I received a copy as a gift ahead of my travel.
I never thought in my wildest dream, it would have captivated my attention in such an engaging manner. I really expected to take some time to read it, especially when I noticed its thickness and to actually confirm that it was 350 pages.
The intensity of action through clarification upon clarification of things I thought I knew with many of them on point with the bare-bone image I had of these issues, convince me of the power of an open mind.
Imagine the descendant of a chronic “Gairyite” and in no small measure a smarter sympathiser of Gairy for more his cosmetics (than substance or lack thereof) can relate in this fashion – even though truth be told my attitude towards the Revolution was not to be all-in during as I was still living home and within the walls of “my mother’s humble place of abode” was a Gairy zone – revolution or no revolution. Yet for all I still emerged with an independent mind able to hold my own and not be swayed by anyone or anything.
Having surprised myself to read a book so properly written in modern times and by Bernard Coard in particular, I cannot wait to be engaged by his follow-up volumes.
I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that the Grenada revolution of March 1979 to October 1983 came closest to providing the answers for Grenada’s genuine development needs. In four short years they made several strides by redefining the focus of the Marketing & National Importing Board (MNIB) in a manner that would make sense to Grenada’s economic trajectory; started a National Transport Service (NTS); bought two commercial banks; commercialised Gairy’s properties under the Grenada Resorts Corporation; acquired what was left of the fire-stricken Holiday Inn hotel on Grand Anse Beach renaming it Grenada Beach Hotel; properly set up Gravel & Concrete Corporation – an asphalt and stone crushing plant; consolidated ownership of the Grenada Sugar Factory; established the Sandino Plant (with the help of the Cuban government with the expressed purpose of building 500 low income houses per year; set up the Grenada Farms Corporation with its over 30 agricultural estates from the Gairy era to feed the MNIB for trade; started an Agro Industrial plant to utilise and add value to the several fruits Grenada is known for – among others.
Of course, we cannot forget the establishment of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS). In four-and-one-half short years – most, if not all of those mentioned came into fruition.
Anyone who is truly open-minded and connected to truth would not find it too difficult to go out and purchase this keep-sake well written iconic piece of literature.
For the price of the book is really small for the value it transmits through information which for the most part has already been corroborated by so many thus graduating into genuine knowledge which does help to bring closure to the entire developments which led to the massacre on Fort Rupert – now Fort George on October 19th, 1983.
The book clears up and places a lot of flesh on the bones of the several one-line rumours which were out there during the entire life of the Grenada Revolution and after – proving how much we are prone to gossip and ‘ole talk’.
The old saying – “You can hide food from Grenadians but not talk” came to light here also during my reading of the book.
One gentleman who shall remain nameless in response to my encouragement to go out and purchase his copy of this book advised me in no uncertain terms would he give “Coard” his money.
My humourous response to him was – although I received mine as a gift, I subsequently went out to purchase a couple copies to give as gifts to two friends in particular during my travels and I did not see Bernard Coard in the vicinity to collect the money, so he could go down to the book shop at Spiceland Mall and get his.
Needless to say, his curiosity was peaked and I am certain as day he would have gone out of his way to purchase one.
The number of people who told me they either went out to get one or ordered theirs on my encouragement – via WhatsApp, FaceBook, LinkedIn and by just a mere telephone conversation – leaves me very contented to continue to share enthusiasm for the clarity I feel today about the Grenada Revolution and what led to its catastrophic demise which was predicted by so many.
To those of you who still feel Coard must not get your money, my advice to you is please keep an open mind because it is said: “A mind is like a parachute. Best used when open.”
I simply conclude by recalling a famous piece I saw as graffiti on a wall of the old pan house in the Tempe Coke
Plant Junction – “When aligned to a doctrine, look out for the backlash”.