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Still struggling with independence 47 years later

Grenada has seen its 47th year of independence and despite the celebrations, there are telling signs that our independence is not yet understood. Even the politicians have expressed concern, but unfortunately this has become rhetorical since every year we hear of complaints that people are not buying into the idea of being independent.

With the politicians observing weaknesses, as leaders we expect them to come up with solutions. One Senator expressed concern that most of the independent activities were not carried live on local radio and television outlets. He has promised publicly to investigate the matter. He also shared a feedback he got from a radio station that said that the Government Information Service (GIS) did not discuss the broadcast with them; so as a result, his outfit did not carry it. Another radio station promised to “make up for that in Valentine celebration.”

The question here is if 47 years later we are still struggling as a people with our independence, is there hope for getting it right? To be comparing independence with Valentine or for local stations to ignore planning programmes to encourage a patriotic mood is serious enough to provoke the policy makers to go back to the drawing board. There is need to look at where the February Carnival that independence has become, has taken us. Do people understand that Grenada is independent all through the year and in February we are merely showcasing/highlighting our concept of being independent? The excuse that GIS did not include stations in discussing the broadcasts, should not be accepted since programmes should be planned in advance. So the managers had enough time to reach out to the GIS if they felt slighted. They should feel compelled to bring the broadcasts at some point in time instead of ignoring them; we all know cricket brings in much needed money. But while we understand the business part of the decision, we cannot accept ignoring independence.

It is also a good time to take a deep look at the fabric of people this country is producing and see if there is the need to focus on projects, programmes and even the schools’ curricula that can instill patriotism in all of us. Another observation is that party politics brings insularity. So this may get in the way when the need arises for us to come together to celebrate as one nation when divisiveness is preached in every corner. Wasn’t that the very atmosphere that Grenada got independence in? Some of the older people would remember Sir Eric Gairy’s struggle to get all Grenadians to buy-in to our independence. They will most likely remember when the celebration attracted a few Civil Servants and school children with the highlight for students being ‘Independence treat.’

Then came the Revolution five years later which introduced a new form of patriotism; this time the focus was mainly on protecting the Revolution from outside opposition forces. So there are people who were as young as 13-years-old then who were introduced to military training. We all agree that the Revolution encouraged us to get involved in building our economy which a lot of people enjoyed doing as we look back at the many programmes that were introduced. But they were all part of a new system that was being introduced to Grenada. So during that period Gairy’s independence (as it was called then) was pushed to the back burner.

It was in the eighties after the fall of the Revolution that the issue of independence crept slowly back into our minds. As years go by and the celebration took on a more flamboyant look, the number of people who celebrated it grew. However it must be recognised that the commercialization of the occasion has created a serious problem in that we have now lost the true colour of our national flag which should be red/ites, green and gold (the word ites was introduced by the Rastafarians).

There was a time that the Civic Awareness group of Grenada was responsible for making national flags available and there was no confusion between the colours yellow and gold (some members are still alive). Of course it’s more costly to reproduce gold as a colour, but should we simply unceremoniously accept yellow for gold? It was revealed by somebody in the diaspora that those flags were mass produced cheaply for Carnival on the Parkway in New York. This newspaper investigated and found out that person maybe correct since we even got a name of the person who first introduced them for sale on the sidewalk in Saint George’s. That year there was a strong thrust in commercializing Independence as we saw other items introduced.

Maybe what may be seen as little things and are being overlooked by the policy makers are the very things responsible for undermining Grenada’s Independence. This newspaper congratulates the efforts made by the Independence Committee to organize activities even while COVID-19 protocols are in place.


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