The New Today


When the carnival over, Grenadians quo vadis

To say the least, all the events staged to mark the 50th anniversary of Grenada’s Independence were highly impressive. And so, kudos go out to everyone who worked to make the celebrations the tremendous success that it was. Still, as Black Wizard admonishes: “When the carnival over, we still need a brighter day…”

During the National Democratic Congress Heartbeat program aired on Sunday, February 24, 2024, Senator Claudette Joseph was adamant in her optimism that: “We [Grenada] don’t have to be a Third World country forever.” This writer could hardly help thinking, however, that such a goal would be nigh impossible in the present global setting.

Given that one of the key parameters that determine a country’s development is what economists refer to as “economy of scale” (which refers to “the production of more units of goods or services on a larger scale with fewer input costs), those of us who are truly concerned about our nation’s future must confront the stark reality of whether a so-called “independent” nation with a landmass of just 133 square miles could ever satisfy the needs and aspirations of its 120, 000 citizens on its own.

For starters, so-called First-World nations far exceed so-called Third-World countries both in terms of land mass and population. The United States (US), for example, has an area of almost 4 million square miles. Canada, too, extends over a landmass of almost 4 million sq. miles. Russia spreads across an area of more than 6 million sq. miles, while the European Union (EU) totals almost 2 million sq. miles. China gains membership in this clique with an area of almost 4 million sq. miles.

Furthermore, First World countries enjoy the benefit of having significant population numbers. The US has a population of approximately 330 million people. Canada, EU, Russia, and China have a population of 40 million, 430 million, 144. 5 million, and 1. 4 billion people; respectively.

Jamaicans like to speak of other English-speaking peoples in the Caribbean as “small islanders”, while conveniently referring to themselves as being “little but talawa”. However, with an area of 4, 411 sq. miles and a population of less than 3 million, that country could be regarded as belonging to the same “small-island” grouping as Grenada. And the same could be said about Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, and even larger countries like Guyana.

The obvious anomaly in the present context is the continent of Africa and the African People. Mother Africa can boast a total landmass of 11, 724, 000 square miles. Equally astounding is the fact that the number of Africans (Black People) scattered around Planet Earth stands at about 1.5 billion; which is just about the same as the number of Caucasians, Chinese, and Indians. Additionally, Africa is the most resourceful continent in the world.

Meanwhile, the majority of countries disparagingly referred to as Third World Countries (or Donald Trump’s “s- – t hole countries) are African countries or countries like Grenada that are mostly populated by Black people. The only reason why the present situation persists is the failure of the African people to realise that “scale” matters. And the scope of the problem is just as dire in the largest African countries as it is in smaller countries like Grenada.

With a total land mass of just about 92, 000 square miles and a population of approximately 33 million, the African country of Ghana would be readily disqualified as being a “small fry” on the world stage. The same lack of courtesy would be meted out to larger African countries like Nigeria, Ethiopia, and South Africa with areas of nearly 357, 000; 472, 000; and 471, 000 sq. miles; and populations of 208 million, 110 million, and 58 million; respectively.

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Grenadians and other Third World people are routinely advised to take Singapore as a shining example of how smaller nations could successfully position themselves in the larger scheme of things. With an area of barely 283. 5 square miles, a population of almost 6 million, and an average annual income of US$50, 000, Singaporeans are touted as enjoying a standard of living that is on par with the bigger economies.

Still, as the Congressional Research Service admits: “[Singapore’s] role as a regional entrepôt means that its economy depends heavily on trade [with the United States]”. In exchange for hosting U.S. bases on its territory, American companies have been allowed to do business with that country in a manner that does not see the light of day anywhere else in the world. In other words, Singapore’s development is primarily a payoff for maintaining a strategic relationship with the United States.

Despite Senator Joseph’s optimism, Grenadians will realise that with plantations in Latin America having an acreage larger than the entire Spice Isle, Grenada can never achieve the “economy of scale” to compete on the world market in the banana industry.

A similar tale could also be told about the production of cocoa and spices in Africa and India. When one adds the mechanisation of industries to the mix, the plight of small countries like Grenada becomes even more overwhelming.

As the saying goes: “Birds of a feather flock together.” And so, the only way out of this kind of morass is for Third World countries with majority Black populations to form a common front that will give them the required “economy of scale” for meaningfully competing in today’s economy.

This becomes even more urgent because so-called Third World countries are increasingly excluded from participating in the world economy through such mechanisms as the “more favoured nation states” (MFN), the Group of Seven (G-7), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Our so-called political leaders are fully aware of the prevailing international dynamics. However, most of them, with the possible exception of Prime Minister Mia Mottley of the Republic of Barbados, are satisfied with being “big fish in small ponds” rather than being “smaller fish in bigger ponds.” Thus, they are quite willing to keep their hands tied as long as they can personally feed at the trough of their imperialist bosses.

It is for this reason, therefore, that the suffering masses must see the wisdom of embracing the philosophy of Rastafari which seeks to unite the African People; “wherever we may be.” Such was the vision of the Right Hon. Marcus Mosiah Garvey, His Imperial Majesty (HIM) Emperor Haile Selassie I, President Kwame Nkrumah, Malcolm X, Bob Marley, and scores of other enlightened Black leaders who were never going to settle for Black people merely being “hewers of wood and drawers of water.”

Keith Williams