By Lloyd Noel
The King came back home to visit with his loyal subjects – and they came out in their thousands to pay their respects, and recognize his reign as “King Kirani James the First”, from the tiny Kingdom of Grenada and its dependencies. To God Be the Glory.
Lloyd Noel is a former attorney general of Grenada, prominent attorney at law and political commentator
But while the people as a whole are so united in their support for their national hero, those who are in charge of our nation’s affairs are so disunited, and engaged in wars of words that can only do further damage to our already fragile and declining economic situation that the whole atmosphere seems strange and not real.
What we really need at this time is not a society based on division, especially among those that the people elected to take charge and run their affairs. What we want is a society founded in co-operation, shared responsibility, mutual recognition of dignity that summons or enables everybody to work together for the common good, because all will benefit commonly together.
It was so good to see the different political faces gathered together on the occasion of the airport welcome home for the Olympic gold medal hero. And the atmosphere was so uniting and genuine, that when the prime minister in his welcoming remarks, recognized the presence of Dr Keith Mitchell as Her Majesty’s “loyal” opposition leader, both the goodly doctor and the crowd burst into a spontaneous roar of laughter and applause.
But this is our Grenada and as a people we have to keep on learning to live in it, and to co-exist from our different political standpoints for the benefit of all our people.
The victory by our national hero, as the world’s fastest 400m athlete and Olympic champion, should be more than enough to give us as a people the necessary boost to help us move from where we seem to be standing still to some place ahead.
Champion Kirani’s efforts, from his very tender years in the surroundings where he grew up and progressed to become who and what he is in today’s sporting history, must provide the perfect example for our youngsters to go all out to try and emulate his achievements.
No young person in our Tri-Island State can truthfully say that he/she is living in any area that is as depressed and lacking in basic necessities than the Gun Battle surroundings where Kirani grew up and lived until two or three years ago.
So that the incentive should be, if Kirani could have lived and grew up in that setting, and still reached the very top of the tree of success, then so can anyone who puts his/her mind and determined efforts to move up the ladder of success.
The champion was as cool and unassuming as always, amidst all the well organized set up, and the pomp and red carpet welcome laid out for his homecoming at the MBIA – and the appreciative crowd surely made their presence heard and felt, as he walked among them and shared the handshakes and the hugs from all and sundry.
I am writing now before the motorcade, and the Sunday activities planned for his home-town appearances in Gouyave – so I’ll come back to those later in this article.
But of equally important interest to our people in Grenada at this time is the chaos and confusion surrounding our government and the politics as existing within the party.
The story making the rounds last week was that the prime minister had gone to see the Governor General, and Parliament had been suspended indefinitely. And the reasoning for that move was to avoid the motion filed by MP Karl Hood to have a vote of no confidence taken against the prime minister and his remaining few ministers in government.
That story was not true, because parliament is in the usual recess at this time – so the motion will have to wait for the re-opening of the house and to be placed on the order paper for the debate and vote.
But as an observer mentioned to me in discussing the state of affairs now existing, the entire government operations are in recess, with very little hope of recovery.
And to add insult to the chaos, month end of August prison officers and loads of police officers, among other areas of government workers, did not receive their salaries and are hoping this week will see some improvement to feed their families.
The cash flow at the Treasury is in dire straits, according to the grapevine news, and there are no signs of improvement any time soon. Because the whole economic operations are at a standstill, payments of taxes of all sorts are down to zero.
Unemployment must be the highest ever in the Tri-Island State, and the business places are operating at below fifty percent sales and intake – so payments of all sorts into the government coffers are in the same situation.
And in the political chaotic dog-fight taking place among those in control of the nation’s affairs, things like grants and short-term loans, and monthly overdrafts to make ends meet, are all of the distant past.
The Peoples Republic of China has recently made a grant to government to build some more low-cost houses, and the emphasis now seem to be on rebuilding the athletic side of the National Stadium – which is to be re-named the Kirani James Stadium – again as promised by China.
But to go back to the Olympic champion’s home-coming celebrations – after he had a quiet day with his family at home in Gouyave on the Friday.
The motorcade started at Kirani James Boulevard in St George’s on Saturday am and proceeded up the Western Coast to Gouyave and, when the vehicle in which Kirani was traveling reached the main street, it seemed as though every vehicle on the Western side was on the road, and it took well over an hour and a half – with the short stops here and there for greetings to Kirani – for the motorcade to pass through Gouyave.
It eventually reached the National Stadium in the early evening, where a crowd had already taken their seats in anticipation of the planned program to end the day’s activities.
The gathered thousands were not disappointed and the television audience islands-wide also had a treat.
The highlights were the prime minister’s announcement that the government was donating half a million dollars to Kirani, and Republic Bank also donating $100,000.
In addition, the Ferguson family, whose parents owned Palmiste Estate, has also donated a lot of land in Palmiste to Kirani. And on Sunday 2nd September, at a Thanksgiving Mass at the Roman Catholic Church in Gouyave, a plan for the land was presented to Kirani as coming from Ruggles and Sandra Ferguson with the conveyance to follow.
Of particular interest in connection with that lot of land is that it is in boundary with the lands owned by the governor general and his wife, where they are currently building their retirement home at Palmiste.
So that down the years to come, we will have the retired governor general and the once world famous Olympic gold medalist living next door to each other in the parish of their birth in St John.
A beautiful gesture from the Fergusons, to say the least; and am sure that the very humble Lance Boy from Gun Battle in Gouyave fully appreciated everything.
And as we walked through the Lance in procession from the church on Sunday, singing hymns and dancing to the music, there was the Olympic 400m champion, King Kirani James the First, in his very familiar surroundings taking a full part in the proceedings.
Now he has gone back to continue his studies at Alabama University in the USA, may he continue to succeed and To God Be The Glory.