Re-naming the State of Grenada
I would like to draw your attention to an interesting campaign, fronted by Chris Cudjoe, to include ‘the Southern Grenadines’ into the official name of the state of Grenada. The two largest islands to benefit would be Carriacou and Petite Martinique. Including these names is one option. However, below is Chris’ reasoning for including the name ‘and the Southern Grenadines’ on the Grenada passport followed by a list of all the other islands in the ‘Grenada Grenadines.’
To find out more go to Facebook and look up the group called ‘Grenada & the Southern Grenadines’.
The making of Grenada and the Southern Grenadines
My childhood recollections of the independence movement in Grenada were marred by the political instability of that era, and the advent of the black-power movement in the Caribbean. 1973 stands out most in my mind as I had witnessed for the first time, the student of Bishop’s College protesting against the independence movement launched by the then leader, Eric M. Gairy. My young mind remembers them chanting something to the tune of: “We don’t want Gairy. We want Blaize”. At that tender age I had a nebulous understanding of the significance of their protest and what it would eventually mean for our nation in general, and the people of Carriacou and Petite Martinique in particular. I supposed that the contention and protest stemmed from the fact that opposition leader, H. A. Baize’s point of view on independence vastly contradicted that of Eric M. Gairy, who later saw it fit to adopt a constitution document that reflected only his point of view on nationhood.
Thirty-seven years on into the journey one cannot help but question the process that led to Grenada becoming a nation, as well as the quality and nature of the input of the citizenry in the drafting the Constitution of 1973. What is very apparent, however, is that the H.A. Blaize faction was defeated and alienated from the input phase of the process, and as a consequence we inherited Eric Gairy’s conceived version of the nation—a nation was called “Grenada”; though we are many islands. That observation raises a salient question, which is: Is it that because the victor in any conflict gets to write the history of that conflict and superimpose his culture and name on the loser that Carriacouans and Petite Martiniquans are left without an identity? Further, is it that we were unrecognized in the national equation—a people without a name—because Gairy truly viewed his disagreement with Blaize on the independence issue as a conflict? I persuaded to believe that that is exactly what transpired, and that Carriacou and Petit Martinique were superimposed upon, being the losers in the ‘independence conflict’. As such, and against that backdrop, I intend to show why our nation needs to reconsider its name and adopt one that is more fitting of & resembling its makeup so that the entire citizenry can finally feel a sense of accomplishment and pride as it participates in constitution reform.
Some years ago, myself along with a group of Carriacouans began questioning the nature of the relationship between Grenada and its so-called dependencies—Carriacou & Petite Martinique. We initially highlighted the shabby treatment meted out the citizens of Carriacou and Petite Martinique by Grenada, and the poor conditions which exist on these islands with regard to infrastructure and government services. We also pointed out that these conditions were incubated in and nurtured by the idea that Carriacou & Petite Martinique were out of sight, out of mind, and as a consequence out of the verbiage of the average Grenadian. The fact remains that when one refers to Grenada, one can never be sure whether one is referring to Grenada the nation, or Grenada the island. Because of this confusion, Grenadians would frequently seek to qualify every statement made referring to Grenada the nation by saying, when necessary: “including Carriacou and Petite Martinique”. One is therefore left to assume that when the term “including Carriacou and Petite Martinique” is omitted from any statement in reference to Grenada then it must mean Grenada the island. That being said, it is quite obvious that the deliberate attempt by Eric Gairy to officially sideline Carriacou and Petite Martinique, or in a larger sense, the Southern Grenadines—the region within which Carriacou and Petite Martinique exist, has caused much harm and dis-enfrancisement, both economically and otherwise, to generations of our people. Up to this point both air and sea access to these islands still leaves much to be desired, and the cost of living on these islands far exceeds that of the mainland. When our citizens arrive in Granada after dark we are made to overnight and incur added, unnecessary travel expense as if we are orphans without a home. An upgraded airfield with night landing capabilities has been the dream of many Carriacouans. One can only hope that that dream becomes a reality in one’s lifetime.
Only recently I questioned the disparity in the prices of petroleum products sold in the islands as prices in Carriacou exceeded those in Grenada. These conditions exist when it is also apparent that the level of economic activity and the opportunities to earn a living wage in Carriacou & Petite Martinique are far scarcer than those on the mainland. How then does one justify the conditions existing on these islands? I firmly believe it stems from a 1970s policy to cleanse the islands of their inhabitants. Here is the theory: Upon careful observation of the conditions that exist, one has to assume that there was an orchestrated attempt to make conditions on these islands as unbearable as possible for the citizens so that they would eventually mass-migrate and practically leave these islands inhibited. This plan, if properly orchestrated, would have opened up Carriacou and Petite Martinique to new inhabitants who would then rush in to replace the displaced inhabitants, thus completing the colonization and alienation process started by Eric Gairy in 1973. Well, this is exactly what began to happen in the mid 1970s as hundreds of Carriacouans rushed to the United States and Canada to seek opportunities unavailable at home. By the 1980s Carriacou was like a ghost town with little investment, broken infrastructure, and uninspired youth. Fortunately for us, our close knit culture did not allow those who migrated to assimilate into the culture of their adopted countries, and as such they continued to support the efforts at home geared at rebuilding the communities, while firmly maintaining their cultural identity and ties. Today in New York City Carriacouan culture still thrives. Of course, with the subsequent changes of administrations in Grenada came changes in direction and the gradual realization that more autonomy for Carriacou & Petite Martinique was necessary in order to advance the development of these islands. The establishment of a Ministry of Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs in 1997 further enhanced government services available on the island, and the pending implementation of a local government council for these islands will, no doubt, drastically improve the quality of life for resident citizens. These governance frameworks are recent additions to the institutions on Carriacou and Petite Martinique and we see them as vehicles that would carry us to maturity as a society, and present us on the national stage where it would be impossible to ignore our contributions or presence.
But then, what happens after we’ve taken our rightful place within the Grenadian society and among it valued citizens? Would we continue to allow ourselves to be sidelined and ignored, and/or absorbed? Would we circum to mainland pressures and be assimilated in the wider Grenadian society, or would we assert ourselves as a people from a region that has contributed to national development on par with our mainland colleagues? After all, we have contributed two Prime Ministers to lead our nation. How then can we achieve that status if we fail establish an identity within our geographic locale? And, what then, is that locale—that part of the nation that we seek to highlight & include in its name? “The Southern Grenadines”, of course!!! But you may ask: why the Southern Grenadines, and why not just Carriacou and Petite Martinique? The answer to that question lies in the fact that we are a multi-island nation. And while only three of the islands in our nation are inhabited on a permanent basis there are other islands that are capable of sustaining a population if the desire or need arises. On the basis of that realization we cannot now assume that the islands that are currently uninhabited will remain that way. It would be quite short sighted and irresponsible of us to engage in an exercise geared at recognizing only two islands (Carriacou and Petit Martinique) while omitting an entire region—the larger Southern Grenadines area. If we fail to include the entire geographic space we would have done exactly what Gairy did to us. And that, my friends, would be unconscionable!!!
The Grenadines are considered gems or pearls on the chain that links Grenada to St. Vincent. St. Vincent, seeing the value of these islands, has adopted the Grenadines into its national name and has reaped tremendous benefits because of that decision. These islands are tranquil and beautiful and are surrounded by sandy beaches, torquoise waters, colourful reefs, and dense mangroves that support a variety of marine life unrivaled elsewhere on the planet. The islands are a haven for yachts’ people who sail their waters in search of relaxation and fun. The inhabitants of the Grenadines earn their living mainly from the marine and maritime industries. This fact is very evident in Carriacou, Petite Martinique, and many of the other islands like Bequia. The peoples of these islands have inter-married for generations and have formed complex interpersonal and trading relationships. The Northern Grenadines (often called the Grenadines) has made significant strides with its yachting sector such that Grenada now wants to declare the entire Grenadines bank a single yachting space so that it can benefit economically from the advances of our northern neighbours. I therefore submit to our people that on the basis of Grenada’s desire, it is quite obvious that there is much value in the name “Grenadines”. I propose then, to the Government of Grenada that instead of just attempting to declare the Grenadines a single yachting space why not also adopt the name “Grenadines” into the nation’s official name, thus giving Grenada that added advantage in marketing its tourism product? After all, Grenada has as much right to the name as does St. Vincent.
I would conclude then that a change in the name of our state to Grenada and the Southern Grenadines isn’t just something of esoteric value but one with real tangible value and an economic asset to our nation. This change has the potential to be big and to transform our nation in ways previously unimaginable. Quite apart from the need to recognize the identity of the citizens who reside in the Southern Grenadines, which of course will be great joy to them, Grenada owes it to itself to be a true in correctly reflecting its makeup. Thus we say, let it be “Grenada and the Southern Grenadines”.
‘Here is a list from “A-Z of Grenada Heritage” – DEPENDENCIES Along with Grenada, some thirty islands, islets and rocks constitute the state of Grenada, the majority belonging to the GRENADA GRENADINES. Immediately off the NE coast of Grenada are Green Island (formerly Islet du Milieu: ‘Middle Islet’, 22 acres or 9 ha), (Islet de) Levera or Sugar Loaf Island (17 acres/7 ha), and Sandy Island (formerly Islet Haut: ‘Upper Islet’, 17 acres/7 ha). Off Grenada’s east coast are Black Rock (formerly Islet d’Antoine), Pearls Rock (formerly Islet de la Conférence, 2.50 acres/1 ha), Telescope Rock (formerly La Baye, 5 acres/2 ha), Marquis (7.5 acres/3 ha), and Bacolet or Hope Islands. Off Grenada’s SE coast are (Islet Jacques) Adam, GLOVER ISLAND, CALIVIGNY ISLAND and Hog Island (formerly Islet à Cachon: ‘Hog Islet’, 50 acres/20 ha). In the Grenadines, just north of Grenada are London Bridge (formerly La Pierre Percée: ‘stone opening’, a reference to the hole through it forming a ‘bridge’), Three Sisters (formerly Les Rochers: ‘The Rocks’, 5 acres/2 ha), RONDE ISLAND, Les Tantes (historically Islet de la Tante for the larger islet, 44 acres/18 ha; and the other 35 acres/14 ha), Bird (formerly Mouchicarri from Fr mouchoir care: ‘square handkerchief’), Diamond Rock, Kick-em-Jenny or Gwizô (formerly Les Grison, 50 acres/20 ha), and CAILLE Islands. Off Carriacou’s south coast are Bonaparte (2.5 acres/1 ha) and Rose (2.5 acres/1 ha) Rocks, Frigate (74 acres/30 ha), Large (12.5 acres/5 ha), Saline, Mushroom (2.5 acres/1 ha) and White Islands. Off Carriacou’s west coast are Jack-A-Dan or Jack Adam, Mabouya (15 acres/6 ha) and SANDY ISLAND (the latter two formerly known as Les Deux Freres: ‘Two Brothers’). And off Carriacou’s NE coast are PETITE MARTINIQUE and Petite Tobago (74 acres/30 ha). Some of these islands are privately owned, and a few, including Green, Levera and Sandy Islands are protected as part of the NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM. Many are home to wildlife populations of BIRDS, LIZARDS and MOROCOY, and their CONSERVATION will protect key habitats and ecosystems from human development.’