Renaming streets

I must say that I could not disagree more with Gerry Hopkin on his  article on the renaming of streets and the true meaning of independence.

By all means name streets to honour our heroes, but they must be new streets or those that had not previously been named to honour someone else, as was unfortunately done when Tyrrell Street was renamed Herbert Blaize Street.

I don’t actually know who Tyrrell was but I assume that he was a Governor of the colony, as it was then. Very often streets were named after Governors rather than slave owners.
But even if a street is named after a slave owner, that is part of our HISTORY! We must never try to re-write history, however unpleasant that history may have been. And history very often was extremely unpleasant, whether in the colonies or the imperialist countries. But it happened, that is the point, and cannot be undone. This is not a children’s’ game; it is serious. They who know not their history are condemned to repeat it.

As to the inhumanity of some slave owners let it be seen against the background of general inhumanity in the 18th century, where people were hanged in the streets of London and a child could be hanged for stealing food. And be careful that some of the people you wish to honour today are not responsible for murder and torture and thuggery and denial of basic freedoms.

I notice that Gerry Hopkin has failed to mention one of our greatest heroes, Alister Hughes. It is a matter of great shame that on his death there were official murmurings of the need to name a street after him. And that was all; the matter was quickly forgotten and no street has been named after him. Alister is a hero because he stood up for TRUTH. And he was brave enough to defend the truth at the risk of losing his life.

He continued to publish his newsletter throughout, at times the only news publication in Grenada where the truth could be read. He was physically assaulted and humiliated by the Mongoose Gang and while Gairy’s police were firing their rifles into the buildings on the Carenage (am I offending anyone by mentioning HISTORY?), Alister lay on the floor of a room in Otway House with some schoolchildren who were trying to escape the bullets.

Alister had his trusty tape recorder turned on, and he made a recording in which you could hear the approaching rifle shots and someone in the room started to say the Lord’s Prayer in which everyone joined.

Miraculously, once danger had passed, Alister gave the tape to someone who got it out of Grenada and that evening it was played over Radio Antilles. In those days we listened to Radio Antilles out of Montserrat if we wanted to learn what was happening in Grenada. Radio Grenada was nick-named “Radio LIE-onel”.

I remember listening with my little transistor radio to this amazing recording as the sun was setting and tears came to my eyes. For this achievement Alister received a prestigious award from an international organisation of journalists.

And after the Gairy regime was ousted by the gun, Alister continued to publish the truth. He and his wife were severely intimidated by the new regime, which sent a mob every night outside their house in Scott Street to noisily protest Alister’s “lies”. But Alister was undaunted, so eventually he was picked up and taken to Richmond Hill prison. For telling the truth. We cannot say what might have happened to him if the American armed forces had not come to let him out.  Fortunately he was then able to live for many years in peace, without anyone threatening him.

I know that Alister would not want any street to be Renamed after him but he would happily accept the honour of an unnamed street being named after him. Alister was passionate about Grenada’s history, and was a wonderful source of information. He would hate anything historical to be renamed.

I do realise that Gerry Hopkin’s view is the popular one, and yes it is sadly true that other islands are rewriting their history. It’s called revisionism.

True independence means responsibility. We are not being looked after anymore and have to look after ourselves. We should stop allowing our precious 18th century buildings to be pulled down. We should care a lot more about the direction we are going and not allow history to repeat itself.

Dominic Andrew

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