Celebrations are expressions of ‘happiness and satisfaction and gratitude’ for some form of achievement, of success or of positive outcome; the expressions vary from being extravagant entertainments to reflective ceremonies, depending on the reason(s) for the celebrations.
Successes must be seen as have been planned and hoped for, and worked towards with sound standards, realistic objectives and unwavering focus. With this hypothesis, it can be argued that not all achievements are successes; some achievements happen by chance, effortlessly, and even inappropriately.
Positive outcomes, including significant lessons learnt, can be realised from incidents like a life-threatening accident, a natural disaster, political unrest and the COVID-19 epidemic.
For a country as Grenada having the status of ‘self-determination’, celebrations of prominence are usually given national recognitions on Bank Holidays, and those outside of the religious rituals as Easter and Christmas, should be based on the boast by all citizens about genuine success and progress which can be readily identified and cherished, as well as about the patriotism and heroism displayed towards such success and progress.
Thus, the celebrations of the Political Independence of a nation should take a holistic approach; also covering its review of governance thematic, and its wellbeing status, socio-economic resilience and potential for sustainable development.
What are the principles, parameters and projections which defines and evaluates the status of Self-determination for Grenada? If the concept of Self-determination of a nation is about its political pursuit and trajectory in its “own image and likeness”, then could it be said that Grenada’s position is yet ‘unsettled and indeterminate’?
Was Grenada’s attainment of Independence as a ‘democratic nation’ on 07 February 1974 a success of its petition and process for same; considering the dark circumstances and intense challenges surrounding the declaration of the Independence, and which leads to the 13 March 1979 ‘Marxist-Leninist’ People’s Revolution?
Are there sufficient evidences over the years that the Grenadian people have embraced ‘consciously and fully’ the Independence, along with the National Constitution, Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance?
Is Grenada’s Democracy ‘in the balance’, when there are persistent questions about the ‘indigenous legitimacy’ or the patriation of the Constitution, and now convenient excuses that Grenada is a ‘baby’ State and that Independence is not an event but a process? Should it be doubted that Grenada is filled with or is facing ‘political retribution’, supported by the crux of George Brizan’s text “Grenada Island of Conflict”?
Recall the two part-article “Grenada Transforming its Identity And Legacy At Golden Jubilee” which also links the longtime advocacy for 13 March as a Bank Holiday to celebrate ‘true’ Liberation and Patriotism, and the disdain for 25 October as Thanksgiving Day.
Grenada launched on 31 October 2023, ‘in fabulous style’ with traditional, cultural and decorative features, its Golden Jubilee celebrations, as regards its Political Independence, spearheaded via the Cabinet-appointed National Organising Committee (NOC).
On the occasion, NOC’s Chairperson, Dr. Wendy Crawford-Daniel, notifies that the celebrations will be “yearlong” with an “endorsed calendar of events, and details will be provided at the adequate time”.
Crawford-Daniel also informs that the NOC has been working, with electrifying energy since June (2023) to ensure that the Jubilee celebrations will live-on in the memory and hearts of each and every Grenadian at home and abroad, and solicits the goodwill inputs of everyone.
The Government Information Service in a 02 November 2023 Press Release captioned, “Grenadians Rally Around The Call To Reach For Greatness”, relates in part: “If the success of the evening foretells Grenada’s trajectory for the next 50 years, it will be 50 glorious years given the energy and momentum of this first event of the celebrations planned”.
In its 03 November 2023 E-paper, under the editorial “And Off We Go – 50th Anniversary Celebrations Begin”, the Grenada Informer hopes that the 50th anniversary of Grenada’s Independence is not seen as a festive interlude but a deep and meaningful juncture in its history, accentuating the Will to continue achieving and doing great things that belie it.”
Although the Launch was “spectacular” and has obtained ‘good reviews’, it was not substantial in defining and contextualising properly the Golden Jubilee celebrations. It must not be missed that the Golden Jubilee is also the occasion of signaling the entry of Grenada, ‘requiring a better foundation and a new platform’, into the next 50 years.
Why the reiterations by the powers-that-be that at turning 50 years, Grenada has “just come out of the womb” and is at an “infancy” stage? When exactly do the yearlong celebrations officially start? Does the yearlong period extend throughout the year 2024 to February 2025; or does the period extend from the launch date of the celebrations to February 2025?
In the ‘spirit and intent’ of the April 2023 article, “Open Call To National Celebrations Committee On Grenada’s 50th Jubilee”, the Jubilee celebrations should have already been well-advanced and blossoming with sensitisation about the various activities, with education and enlightenment about the struggles to Independence and the experiences over the 50 years, and with solid preparations and active involvements for “an inclusive and truly grand Grenadian Golden Jubilee affair”, about 07 February 2024.
Had the enthusiasm gesticulated at the Independence Day ceremony last year by Chairperson Jacqueline Alexis of the National Celebrations Committee (NCC) which is now absorbed inside the NOC, been appreciated and put into effect, the Launch would have been earlier. Ms. Alexis expressed thus; “the journey to 50 begins tomorrow.
Throughout 2023 we will be hosting events as we journey down the road to a spectacular Golden Jubilee in 2024, and making the journey one that our children, our grandchildren and our great grandchildren, will still be speaking of, when they reach a century”.
Further to the ‘reality’ that the Government has not had any serious forethought for Grenada’s 50th Jubilee and despite Alexis’s pledge, it opted for engaging a ‘new and bigger’ Committee (NOC) with a ‘compromising and bigger’ agenda, and thus having NOC’s “electrifying energy since June” been occupied to have had the launch of the Jubilee celebrations on 19 October 2023 along with a thrust to “rewrite” Grenada’s history.
That is, the NOC’s plan has been to have the pre-2024 Independence events focused on the inauguration and celebrations of 19 October as National Heroes Day with the glorification and reincarnation of the spirit of Maurice Bishop and the People’s Revolutionary Government, and the post-Independence Jubilee year with community and sectorial events.
The Launch unveiled the theme, “One People, One Journey, One Future”, and the logo and song, for the Jubilee celebrations; but a sample of a commemorative Eastern Caribbean Currency fifty-dollar (EC$50) bill as a Jubilee souvenir was not revealed.
Similar to the message of the theme and logo, the remarks by Chairperson Crawford-Daniel and Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell raise the need and aspiration for ‘unity, peace, equity, collaboration and shared responsibility’.
To this end about a ‘common destiny’, and in acknowledgement of the valuable lessons which symbolic deeds convey, analogous with the proverbial quote “a picture tells a thousand words”, it would be instructive for the Grenadian people to be told about any serious efforts made by the Government to have the showing of the Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament, at the Launch.
At least, Dr. Keith Mitchell should have been part of the ‘comprehensive representations’ in the lighting countdown for the declaration of the Jubilee celebrations by Governor General Dame Cécile La Grenade; as also taking into account the sharp political polarity in the nation and the calls and requirements for wide bipartisan participations in the celebratory activities and sessions.
Although enquired and advised for, by a stalwart citizen on the current affairs “To The Point” programme of the Grenada Broadcasting Network on 27 September 2023, the nation is yet to know the full slate of the fifteen-member NOC, in terms of the various representative sectors, the descriptions of the working groups, and the names of the liaison individuals especially those for the Parish Teams.
Whilst it may not have been expeditious and expedient for the sake of timespan and aspects of the Launch, to present this useful information, and whether or not its Website and Facebook page are fully operational with pertinent contents, a ‘well-prepared and well-meaning’ NOC would have considered it imperative to send such information to the mainstream media houses (print and electronic) to assist for public consumption.
Whilst the NOC has promoted, “throughout the Jubilee year (there) will be a series of educational, sporting, and cultural events and activities planned by many interest groups, associations and clubs in Grenada”, it does not seem to have any intent to design and undertake pertinent public fora and special school projects independently.
Wisdom should be manifested by the NOC and by extension the Government, to have for example the ‘facts’ on each of the plaques which are erected at the site of the Launch, depicting aspects of Grenada’s history in ten year episodes from Independence through to the first fifty years, shared amongst all of the primary schools so as to spur researches for presentations and awards, as part of the 07 February 2024 celebrations for the schools.
In fact, the above referred April’s article about the NCC, had highlighted that the Ministry of Education should see it as meritorious to formulate the 2023-2024 School Based Assessments (SBAs) for the primary and secondary schools, with emphasis on Grenada’s Independence and Grenada’s Revolution and featuring student’s ‘trip interviews’ with key players and prominent authors.
The October 2023 published piece by Attorney Arley Salimbi Gill, “Warriors for a Revolution: In Memory Of Grand Roy’s Fallen Heroes”, sets a pattern which can be adopted for the cooperation of the schools and businesses in each parish for producing documents on the role played by and the impact had on the various villages, as relates to February 1974, March 1979 and October 1983, and thereby bringing to reality an opportunity for the evidence of Grenadians writing their own stories.
The Grenadian people should not settle for only beautification, spectacles, rhetoric and showcasing Grenada’s life for the celebrations of the Golden Jubilee for which as much as $7.5 million has been allocated in the first instance, by the Government.
Moreover, the significance of the celebrations would be underrated and misrepresented, and made a travesty, if certain critical undertakings are ignored by the Government, especially leading-up to the historic 07 February 2024.
The public consultative process on the criteria and recommendations developed by the Experts concerning the selection and honouring of national heroes, and for the (re)marking and (re) naming of fixtures and monuments in the communities should be initiated; not forgetting the outstanding discussions about the patriation of the Independence Constitution and about Truth and Reconciliation.
With the assistance and direction of the religious fraternity on the “jubilee concept” of the Bible, pertinent entreaties to international lenders should be made for public debt forgiveness, with the same motivation and vigour pushed for Reparations from the colonisers.
The constitutional Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy should be activated to have the ‘release’ of some ‘qualified’ prisoners in the similar ‘fashion, expression and spirit’ for the issuing of National Awards during the Independence Day ceremony to qualified individuals “for distinguished, outstanding or meritorious services or achievements, or for gallantry and related matters”.
Every Grenadian should be alert about the extent to which the legislative and administrative policies to be unfolded in the 2024 budgetary year will reflect the 2023 Throne Speech theme, “Forward into 50: Reflecting on our Past, Solidifying our Future”, positioning the Golden Jubilee in the proper perspective.