Grenada’s history has been rich and diverse. Over the centuries the various conflicts, life experiences and challenges especially the road toward political and economic independence have thought us how the socio-economic and political background to each conflict holds the key to its resolution and asks whether Grenadians can now become masters of their own destiny, rather than subject to external agencies and groups.
The late Prime Minister and Educator George Brizan wrote a book entitled, “Grenada – Island of Conflict” and his text examines past turmoil in Grenada by focusing on six episodes in the island’s history, including: the European destruction of the first Amerindian inhabitants; the rebellion against the rule of the French and then the British colonialists; the disgrace of Gairy; and the demise of Maurice Bishop and the PRG.
My review of this book is mind boggling, it’s an inspiration to all and I would recommend it for young and aspiring leaders of tomorrow.
When one studies the history of Grenada it gives a great sense of national pride of being a citizen of this country. From Crown Colony to Associate Statehood and Independence, we stood as a resilient people and that’s an accomplishment we can be proud of.
Grenada has gone through many name changes over the centuries.
The French then adapted Granada to Grenade, and the British followed suit, changing Grenade to Grenada. European settlement was slow to follow due to the fierce resistance of the Kalinago people.
The island remained un-colonised for more than 150 years although Britain and France fought for control.
Grenadians are a resilient people and we have worked hard and fought for our freedom under Fedon’s leadership, the island’s slaves rose up in a violent rebellion, effectively taking control of Grenada.
Although the rebellion was crushed by the British, tensions remained high until slavery was abolished in 1834.
When Sir Eric Matthew Gairy won the (1972) election he took it upon himself after making the pronouncement in (1970) that Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique should seek independence despite strong opposition from our late Prime Minister Herbert Augustus Blaize.
In May of 1973, Sir Eric and his delegation journeyed to England to meet with the then Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative party Sir Edward Heath to discuss the possibility of Independence and it was agreed that Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique would become independent in February, (1974).
On 7th of February 1974, Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique gained Independence from Great Britain along with her Declaration STATUTORY INSTRUMENTS Grenada Constitution of 1973.
This declaration of Competence Sovereignty, Autonomy and Freedom was supposed to bring political independence.
In Grenada’s case, it was democratisation because we were granted Independence without revolution.
Citizens today enjoy a wide range of civil and political rights guaranteed by the constitution. Grenada’s constitution provides citizens with the right to change their government peacefully. Citizens exercise this right through periodic, free, and fair elections held on the basis of universal suffrage.
Grenada’s constitution was suspended twice under colonial rule 1962 and 1979 under Revolutionary rule.
In April 1962, Grenada’s Administrator, the Queens representative on the island, James Lloyd suspended the constitution, dissolved the Legislative Council, and removed Eric Gairy as Chief Minister, following allegations concerning Gairy’s financial impropriety.
The March 1979-83 revolution that ended badly led to a US invasion of the island three years after the coup. What Maurice Bishop and the New Jewel Movement did in Grenada was the most ground-breaking effort since Haiti in 1804 and Cuba in 1959.”
The New Jewel Movement seized power in a coup in 1979 under Cde. Maurice Bishop, suspending the constitution and detained a number of political prisoners.
In 1983, an internal power struggle began over Bishop’s relatively moderate foreign policy approach, and on October 19, hardline Stalinists captured and executed Bishop, his female partner Jacqueline Creft, along with three cabinet ministers and two union leaders.
Subsequently, following appeals by the OECS and the Governor General of Grenada, Sir Paul Scoon, the Reagan Administration in the U.S. quickly decided to launch a military intervention known as Operation Urgent Fury to invade the island.
It was triggered by the internal strife within the People’s Revolutionary Government that resulted in the house arrest and the execution of the previous leader and second Prime Minister of Grenada Cde. Maurice Bishop and the establishment of a preliminary government, the Revolutionary Military Council with Hudson Austin as Chairman.
The invasion resulted in the appointment of an interim government, followed by Democratic election in 1984.
The country has remained a democratic nation since then.
Grenada has two significant political parties, both moderate: the NDC and NNP. But they failed significantly to unite Grenadians as a result we are deeply divided politically by the two factions.
We are still not at the juncture of where we should be as a nation in terms of economic and social development, sustainability, self-sufficiency, trade and investment.
Somehow, I don’t think these modern day leaders understand the social construct of the society in which we live in. We are being affected each day on a daily basis through Socio-Cultural Change whether the impact are affecting us in a negative or positive way no one seems to care.
Our people has been left out in the opening to battle the gathering storms while facing uncertainty and perilous times on their own.
After 43 years of independence all we’ve got to show are infrastructures, buildings, roads etc but when it comes to the holistic development of our people our Governments have been lagging behind as both present and past failed the electorates and still are today.
The people were neglected on numerous occasions by many governments that were in power.
Our country has been struggling with a number of ailing issues that’s crippling our economy and yet governments are in denial, producing falsified statistics and reports for the various world organisations on how well our economy is moving forward.
High unemployment amongst young persons top the list (50%) of the youthful population.
With a staggering figure like that it tells how serious the issues are. Poverty is no stranger to this country because it was prevalent under colonial rule.
According to the World Bank, 32 percent of Grenada’s 107,000 people are considered poor, and 13 percent are considered extremely poor.
Poverty in Grenada is most visible in rural areas because small, rural communities don’t have access to Grenada’s mainstream economy, which relies heavily on international trade for growth.
In rural areas, farming is the most common profession, especially among older individuals.
Under Cde. Maurice Bishop’s leadership, while most Caribbean nations suffered terribly from worldwide recession, Grenada achieved a (9) percent cumulative growth rate.
Unemployment dropped from 49 percent to 14 percent. The government diversified agriculture, developed cooperatives and created an agri-industrial base that led to a reduction of the percentage of food and total imports from more than 40 percent to 28 percent at a time when market prices for agricultural products were collapsing worldwide.
The literacy rate, already at a respectable 85 percent, grew to about 98 percent, comparable to or higher than most industrialised countries.
Free health care and a secondary education system were established, the number of secondary schools tripled, and scores of Grenadians received scholarships for studies abroad.
There were ambitious programmes in the development of the fishing industry, handicrafts, housing, tourism, the expansion of roads and transport systems and the upgrading of public utilities.
If only we can follow in Maurice’s footsteps in term of his economic development plans, our country would’ve been very self-sufficient today and he did all that without the help of (IMF) International Monetary Fund so if he did it back then there is no reason we cannot do it today.
I keep hearing slogan from the ruling administration about “Keep Moving”. I’m asking myself to where? Is it on a path to increase poverty, high youth unemployment, wastage of our resources and money mismanagement – no wonder why the Fiscal Responsibility Oversight Committee was formed.
SAP (structural adjustment programme) was introduced because government has a problem with money mismanagement.
We have a country’s image to protect and build. We cannot afford dishonest individuals to lead us down this treacherous road again especially on this path to nowhere.
Grenadians need unification because we are divided as a result of political extremism.
Our loyalty should be with country and not political parties and until we learn that as a people, we’ll be able to unite as one under the banner of unification.
Brian J.M. Joseph