Friday, March 1, 2013

New Beginnings: Grenada’s Prime Minister Vows to Leave Turbulent Past Behind

Grenada Leaving a Turbulent Past Behind
By Cheryl Gittens-Jones
“Along the way, we have consistently demonstrated our will and perseverance as a nation. 
It can be said that a 
test of an independent nation is not in its ability to triumph when times are good, but in its ability to endure and overcome when the going gets tough and the winds beat our sails at every turn. Prime Minister Grenada Hon Tillman Thomas February 07, 2013

Celebrating 39 years of Independence this year, Spice Isle Grenada is charting a new course forward in the 21st century with renewed determination and hope. 
Prime Minister Hon. Tillman Thomas’ Independence Day address on Thursday February 07, 2013, sounded a clarion call for Grenadians.  He thanked those who helped the island nation rise again after many setbacks; he implored his countrymen/women to move forward into the future with confidence in their country’s ability to handle the trials and tribulations awaiting them in a new Global reality.  In essence the Prime Minister told his people the time had come to move forward as one while learning from their past.
Grenada exports spices, ginger, cocoa, mace, cloves and especially nutmeg.  Known as ‘The Spice Isle” Grenada is a three island state” comprising of two smaller islands Petite Martinique (only boat) and Carriacou (ferry and plane).Total area, including the dependent islands is 133 sq. miles or 344 km2.  Located in the Eastern Caribbean, Grenada is sandwiched between Trinidad and Tobago to its south, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the north.  The island has a West Minister Style Parliamentary form of Government”  . Elections are due to be held on February 19, 2013.
The Grenadian Government and The Organization of American States (OAS) have signed an agreement allowing the country’s elections to be observed. Grenada’s latest population estimates established by CIA World Fact Book are 109,011 (July 2012 est.). People of Grenada speak mainly English with a French Patois. They are descendants of African, European and East Indian with a mix of Carib Amerindian and Arawak heritage.
Turbulent Past
Christopher Columbus first discovered the island in 1498 but it was inhabited centuries before by the Arawak Indians. Grenada was seized from the peaceful Arawaks by the warlike Caribs “who named the island Camerhogne”.  The Caribs fought against the French until “the mid-1600s” when the French finally were able to oust them.  Earlier the British tried to gain power in Grenada but the fierce Caribs retaliated.  The French traded “in an expedition from Martinique traded beads, knives, and hatchets” with the Caribs but fighting broke out between them and the Caribs lost.  Less than 50 of them survived.  They jumped to their deaths from a place known to Grenadian natives as Leapers Hill because they did not want to be enslaved.
The British and French fought over the island until 1762 and the British took full control in 1783 when the Treaty of Versailles was signed.  Quickly after that slaves from Africa were shipped to the island and used as the main workers.  They were enslaved on plantations up until 1834 when they were emancipated. Grenada eventually became a Crown Colony gaining acceptance as an associate in the British Commonwealth in 1967
Independence arrived in 1974 under first Prime Minister Sir Eric Gairy.  The country was destabilized in 1979 when Maurice Bishop, who was once a close consort of Gairy, took over in a coup.  In 1983 Bishop was deposed by Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard who was helped by a Commander Hudson Austin.  Bishop was held under house arrest and later freed by his supporters but was then imprisoned again and shot execution style along with five others. The USA intervened and returned stability to the island. Bishop’s body was never found. The men responsible for the killings were jailed but released in 2008.
 Grenada was slammed Hurricane Ivan devastating 90% of homes and 12 people died.  Convicts escaped from prison when the structure was compromised.  Fortunately, the men who murdered Prime Minister Bishop and his followers weren’t among them.
Forward Ever
Today Grenada is a vibrant nation recognized worldwide.  The island was selected by National Geographic Traveler as one of the best places to travel to in 2013; it was honored in Scuba Diving Magazine with the top two awards in 2012; Grenadian citizen was awarded Gold at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show in England in 2012. Kirani James won an Olympic Gold Medal 2012.    
Grenada is on her way back with a vengeance. Prime Minister Grenada Hon Tillman Thomas ended his speech with words that will go a long way to encouraging Grenadians, “…regardless of how you start, it is important to finish strong. Grenada will finish strong. We are on the right track.  Let’s stay the course.”

original article of Grenada updated to "Spice Isle Grenada on Winning Streak" at Island Vibes Mag


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