The New Today

Commentary

Our golden jubilee

With the agitation in the 1940s and 50s for statehood by Marryshow (a national hero), and the collapse of the West Indian Federation in 1962 – Grenada was the first of the 8 OECS islands to obtain its political independence on February 7th 1974.

This new status, achieved by Prime Minister Eric Gairy can be regarded as a regional – if not a global milestone, which has to some extent upgraded our economic and social experience – post colonialism.

That said – it must be acknowledged that after 50 years of “political” independence, the physical, social and economic conditions of our country have not developed/progressed to their “maximum” extent – in keeping with this period of our evolution, in a rapidly changing world -where our political agenda (ideology) had been stuck in a 20th century paradigm, where building hotels with the sale of Grenadian passports seemed to be the NNP government’s only preoccupation.

This assessment is based to some extent on the celebration – so far, of this once in a lifetime occasion, when the government allocated $7.5 million dollars for a celebration carded to last almost the whole of 2024, without a holistic national programme presented to the public – as far as the foundation is aware, and as to how this large sum of public funds will be utilised – other than for decoration and entertainment which one accepts as an integral part of the celebration.

On the Physical side, our rating to upgrade our crumbling infrastructure is abysmally low. For at least the last 7 years, the foundation has been making appeals to the parties involved including a government minister, to replace the Awning and Balcony on the unsightly and deteriorating face of the building in the heart of St. George’s – at the corner of Granby and Halifax Streets but to no avail, due to the lack of civic consciousness.

Repairs to the Market Square in the same area, which has been ongoing for the past ten (10) years or so – is now a ghetto for drug pushers and vagrants, while the Public Library remain closed and deserted after 12 years – and York House and the Police Barracks on Melville Street in the final days of their collapse, as we await with bated breath for the actual completion date of the Molinere highway and Fort George restoration, which the foundation is advised is experiencing some problems with the removal of the antennae – and would not make the June completion date.

The Willie Redhead Foundation has been advocating with the powers-that-be for the past year-and-a–half, to renovate a derelict and decaying building on Market Hill for their headquarters, which has been abandoned for at least the last thirty (30) years – as part of the government’s Transformational Agenda – instead, the building has been allowed to be occupied by a squatter, rather than having it “legally transferred” to the foundation in partnership with the National Trust, in order to enhance the performance of both organisations which serve the community, and to assist in restoring the lost ambiance of historic St. George by repairing the building to a useful purpose.

In our Capital City – as a whole, where our Asian business owners are in the majority, there appears to have been no dialogue with the Celebration Committee to mark the occasion with a facelift to their properties, while the roadside vendors continue to take over the sidewalks – pushing pedestrians onto the street, having to dodge the moving traffic, which has increased exponentially, and the promise to repair the retaining wall on Church Street in front of the Anglican Church, has not been kept by the Ministry of Infrastructure.

We cannot close this section without making mention of our CBI Hotel projects: a very bad example is the KAWANA BAY (project) – an architectural disaster, which has ravaged the Southern end of Grand Anse beach and the surrounding area.

This is a common feature of other large CBI hotels which brings into focus the capacity of the Physical Development Authority (PDA) to monitor the design in harmony with our environment and to supervise the construction in compliance with the approved designs of those so-called developers, who see Grenada as a REAL ESTATE BONANZA, and repatriate their profits to their country of origin, while they explore the next regional victim, after leaving poor Grenada to manage their exploitations.

On the Social front – our relationship with our brothers and sisters leave much to be desired. The old tradition, where we were once our brother’s keeper, no longer prevails, and has been replaced by an egocentric attitude – where self is the prime contender, resulting in a weak national support culture, which has not proven to be a deterrent in social misconduct, resulting in an upsurge in violence and crime – hitherto unknown.

Stiffer penalties do not seem to be the answer, perhaps a return to civility and politeness from the pre-school level through Primary and Secondary schools right up to TAMCC may assist.

On the economic front – Grenada is still a producer of raw materials for the factories of the so-called first world, notably of which are our nutmeg and mace which are still exported in crocus bag after 75 years in operations; and our fish and spices, while our herbal plants for the medicinal and cosmetic factories of the north.

Under this section, the collapse of the rural economy must not be forgotten as agriculture is gasping for breath, and an attempt to modernise ROME MUSEUM in Walker, St. Andrew’s did not receive the support requested from the government, the Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) and Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association (GHTA).

J.K. Roberts’ circular of January 3rd 2024 titled – “Has Dickon Mitchell soured Grenada’s 50th Independence Observance?” – drew attention to the fact that no mention has been made by the Prime Minister about Constitutional Reform so far, in his Transformational Agenda.

The foundation joins with Roberts in this concern, and hope that within this 12 months period of celebration the Prime Minister would make some statement regarding the next 50 years of independence. The above scenario, to some extent, has brought to the fore a record of the state of affairs in Grenada at its 50th Jubilee. So far- the public has only seen the decorations and some cultural happenings; what is missing is the 50th independence landmarks, which has been described under paragraphs 5 and 6 – above, that would remain as a tangible record of the occasion, showing how the $7.5 million dollars have enhanced our physical environment, as a prognosis for the next 50 years.

The Willie Redhead Foundation joins with other NGO’s and the public at large in wishing GRENADA a happy and productive Jubilee year.

“Knowledge without wisdom is adequate for the powerful, but wisdom is essential to the survival of the subordinate” – Patricia Hill Collins, American Sociologist.

Submitted by: The Willie Redhead Foundation