The Journey to 50: Reflecting on the Past, Planning for the Future.
This phrase was the Theme used for the celebration of the 49th anniversary of Grenada’s Independence on 07 February 2023. Most definitely; the Theme is pivoted on the excitement towards Grenada attaining fifty (50) years of nationhood and, it would also attract political tones and debates.
The Theme is apt; however, the National Celebrations Committee and by extension the Government of Grenada is hereby challenged about its ‘understanding, message, treatment, and sincerity’ of the Theme.
The Committee is yet to demonstrate forcefully and clearly its prospect and intent about preparations and performances towards a historic Golden jubilee.
It must be appreciated though, that those preparations and performances should go beyond rallies and entertainments to focus on ‘historical enlightenment’ for the young people, especially in terms of social evolutions and indigenous norms including civics and ethics, and the protection of national patrimonies.
Any serious attitude and application about the Theme should have already been realised by the Committee, with the announcement and/or activation of various programmes and responsibilities across the full spectrum of the national community to ensure ‘completion and effectiveness’ for the upcoming celebration.
In fact, as a first stage in the meaningful reality of the Theme; what was the Committee able to amass and document, as a result of the activities, experiences and presentations during the 2023 Independence time, so as to widen the areas and perspectives about the preparations and performances for the Golden jubilee?
On this concern, attentions should be given at least to the following articles which were carried by The New Today E-paper; that is, “On the road to 50 years of Independence” by Christell Simeon on 27 January 2023, and “The Coming of age” by Norris Mitchell on 03 February 2023 as well for adopting, so as to establish and/or to reach out to particular institutions.
There are also other articles in The Grenadian Voice E-paper – “The journey to 50: reflecting on the past while planning for the future” on 03 February 2023 by former Ambassador Denis G. Antoine, PhD., and “Journeying to 50: a jubilee concept for Grenada“on 24 February 2023 by Rev. Vonnie E. James, Grenada Baptist Association.
The challenge and call to the Committee are justifiable and relevant, when also considering that in the Independence Day ceremony on 07 February, Chairman Jacqueline Alexis, positively states that “the journey to fifty 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”.
What then is the concept or sense or meaning of such a statement, including the ‘nature and extent’ of those events which Ms. Alexis seems to have pledged?
This is critical to make known, so as to guide and/or to appease the expectations and suspicions of the general population; and especially when coincidentally or fortunately the 2024 Golden jubilee comes as Grenada is also at a ‘destiny crossroad’ with the 2023 installation of a new political Administration, ushering-in a “Transforming Grenada Agenda” which should not be proven to be of ‘superficiality, pretense and adversity’.
A spectacular Golden jubilee must be about ‘innovations’. It should be the keen consideration, interest and role of the Committee to discover, target, approach and mobilise all of the appropriate resourceful entities, without exemption – this includes the Government Ministries as well as the Diaspora fraternity in formalising and structuring the preparations and performances for the “spectacular” Golden jubilee.
It should be seen as meritorious to have the Ministry of Education formulating the 2023-2024 School Based Assessments (SBAs) for the primary and secondary schools, with emphasis on the significant events surrounding Grenada’s 1974 February Independence and the 1979 March Revolution, featuring student’s ‘trip interviews’ with key players, particular authors and prominent individuals.
In fact, those referenced articles above provide an excellent package for the student’s SBAs, with explorations also for the original ‘name and meaning’ of places and practices/rituals.
Another example is about the Ministry of Tourism which should partner with community groups on a parish or a constituency level to beautify, renovate and label attraction sites.
There is also the need for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to task the cohort of ambassadors to engage actively in securing ‘total debt relief’ from international governments and institutions, as a ‘goodwill gesture’ to Grenada.
The setting and opportunity exist in Grenada at this point in time for synergy and success in the broadest sense, with the rolling-out of pertinent undertakings by the Committee.
The intelligentsias, professionals, and social and political activists, as well as the Non-Governmental Organisations including the Media, must be incorporated or be gotten on board to spearhead and sponsor community fora and projects.
Commendation is fitting for those institutions which have independently already set into motion plans in relation to the Golden jubilee; of particular mention is the Writers Association of Grenada which invites the public to send pertinent materials towards the compilation of a book for publishing.
It would also be great to have individuals who are in possession of photos, paintings, antiques and other artifacts, including ‘technological, domestic and craftwork’ items, register them with the Grenada National Museum for viewing and learning through the year, especially to enable for the scheduling of all schools.
There are the outstanding discussions about Reparations by colonisers, patriation of the Independence Constitution, Truth and Reconciliation, and about the need for synchronising, resolving and bringing into focus the diverse and controversial issues affecting Grenada.
A typical case was pronounced by Minister Ron L. Redhead at the 19 October 2022 Flag-raising and Wreath-laying ceremony, “We must address the healing of our nation …. Government will …. propose a series of actions geared towards promoting national healing from the demise of the Revolution …. Grenada will remember and recognise all the days of the tragic ending from the 19th to the 25th with a week of activities …. Special consideration will be given to developing our national heroes’ framework to designate a day entitled “Maurice Bishop Day”, among others.”
Moreover, wouldn’t it be a ‘mature demonstration’ of people’s patriotism, participation and empowerment to have genuine discussions on the socio-economic pursuits of the nation and the threats to Grenada’s identity, sovereignty and survival, through the featuring of the Citizenship By Investment (CBI) programme with dependence on foreign investments and real estate businesses; the Blue Growth Coastal Master Plan; and the archaeological and environmental resources?
As hinted earlier about the need for the Committee to analyse and adopt the published articles, there is tremendous wisdom and worth in the “biblical and theological currency”, according to Leviticus Chapter 25 as raised by Rev. Vonnie E. James.
In fact, the financial aspect of the “jubilee concept” was first put forward in recent times (2013-2014) by Fr. Sean Doggett for the Conference of Churches in Grenada (CCG) in its contribution as a Social Partner in Grenada Social Compact, to the Structural Adjustment Programme of the Government; and thus serious consultations with request for assistance and direction, should also be held with the CCG on the issue of public debt relief and reduction.
Consistent also with Deuteronomy Chapter 15, it should be the pleasure of the Government to formulate a ‘qualifying scheme’, as well as to activate the “Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy” (referencing sections 72, 73 and 74 of the 1974 National Constitution), so as to ‘forgive and release’ prisoners in the similar ‘expression and spirit’ for the issuing of National Awards during the Independence ceremony.
It should be mindful that the challenge or call to the Committee is placed, notwithstanding the uncertainty and unawareness about the legislative framework and the financial allocation for the Committee, and about the existence of any provisions or criteria for guiding and judging the annual celebrations of the nation’s Independence.
Strikingly, on 08 February 2023 the Government Information Service issued a press release, “2023 National Awards postponed”, on behalf of the Committee advising thus, “The nomination exercise (‘for the awardees’) will be reviewed in the coming weeks with a view to streamline the process”.
The 2007 National Honours and Awards Act (Cap. 204A) provides for the grant of awards to citizens of Grenada and other persons for distinguished, outstanding or meritorious services or achievements, or for gallantry and related matters, under the authority of the Governor General (sections 3 and 4 on the “The Order of Grenada”).
It would have also been courteous, decent and edifying for the Grenadian citizens to know whether or not there was a 2023 Independence Day message delivered by the Governor-General.
This ‘ceremonial’ Governor-General’s message may be necessary and appropriate also to reflect best wishes to Grenada coming from His Majesty and the Commonwealth.
With satisfaction and thankfulness, Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell and Leader of the Opposition Keith Mitchell, in the 2023 Independence Messages, hailed the past forty-nine (49) years as having brought “significant progress” for Grenada.
The ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the opposition New National Party (NNP) are the parties which have constitutionally formed the Government during the post-independence era thus far, and of which the NNP reigned overall for about twenty-seven years.
In relation to the future, Dickon and Keith referenced the ‘spirit of unity’ as it is preached in the National Anthem, towards achieving “sustainable development” which is espoused in Grenada’s Vision 2035 thus: “Grenada, a resilient and prosperous nation, with a conscious and caring citizenry, promoting human dignity, and realising its full potential through sustainable economic, social, and environmental progress for all.”
That is – in 2019 Grenada produced a National Sustainable Development Plan (NSDP) which is patterned on the United Nations Development Goals, but is boasted to be “firmly grounded in Grenadian realities ….built on the aspirations of the Grenadian people”.
The NSDP has been described as “the anchor for Grenada’s development agenda and priorities for the period 2020-2035”; providing strategic direction, forward localised solutions, and an opportunity for significant national transformation.
Should the average citizen be complacent and comfortable about the state of affairs in Grenada; particularly about its sovereignty, prosperity, governance and trajectory? William Joseph published “The Patriotic Vine…Second Letter to the NDC Hierarchy” on 21 January 2021, expressing: “ ….There is hardly a Grenadian who would be happy for the next fifty years of Independence to be like the first fifty years.
Our Independence project called for two pillars of nationhood: namely, development and leadership. The record shows that we have under-achieved on both counts…. We need to define and practice ‘New Age Politics’ for building ‘The New Future’ for the Grenadian people …. There are three sources for shaping and giving substance to ‘The New Future’ while guiding the practice of ‘New Age Politics’.
First and foremost is the Bible! Spend time with the Word! It is filled with truth, directions, teachings, values, injunctions, chastisements, rewards, and seeds for every human need and secular enterprise.
Unless God covers the people, opposing forces will own them and lead them into pits of division, drought, and poverty…. Second, is the National Anthem with its powerful array of lyrics covering spirituality, leadership, unity, family, work, culture and heritage, purpose …. Third, is the Constitution which needs to be reassessed and re-tooled if it must serve the people better for the next fifty years.”