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Opinion
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Commentary: Lessons of 1979 Grenada Revolution
Published on March 17, 2017Email To Friend    Print Version

By Arley Gill

Thirty-eight years after the Grenada Revolution, what are the lessons learnt? What are the lessons ignored?

If I may borrow an analysis from a comrade and a former captain of the People's Revolutionary Army, we – as a people – must go past the stage of “who for” or “who against” the Revolution, and speak to the issues arising out of the revolution; the pros and the cons.

arley_gill3.jpg
Lawyer Arley Gill is a magistrate and a former Grenada minister of culture
The fact remains, that we had a Revolution on March 13, 1979; whether you disagree with the men and women who led the Revolution, it does not change the fact that it actually took place. No amount of denying will change that.

I am of the considered view that our national consciousness must be developed sufficiently to seriously teach our students – from as early as primary school – about the March 13th Revolution.

“We Move Tonight”, written by Joseph Ewart Layne, gives an excellent insight as to the inner workings of the revolutionary movement in the making of the 1979 Revolution. This should be a must-read for every Form 1 student, in every secondary school, in the state of Grenada. After all, I read “Emile and the Detectives”. It was a good read but it was set in Germany and it was fiction. Let us give our children an opportunity to read and learn something about themselves in their own society.

Why, as a society, are we so scared to embrace our history? Why? The Americans ensure that their students learn about the American Revolution. What about the March 13th Revolution that we do not want our children to learn?

We need to have a mature and reasoned approach in understanding the Revolution. That should include putting an end to the demonizing of some of the revolutionary leaders and making others saints. They all must take responsibility for the foolishness that took place, and also take credit for the positive things that were done.

The Grenada Revolution at the end of the day, is much bigger that those who created it. It is much bigger than we, as Grenadians; and, the historical significance of it would not be whittled away by us quarreling and blaming each other. Why allow a fact of history to continue to divide us?

The Grenada Revolution has regional and international significance. It remains an important event in the Cold War era and the ideological struggle between the west and the east, “back in the day”. October 1983 will always remain part of the analysis in reviewing the end of the Cold War. In essence, the Revolution is beyond us!

William Rievere, the legendary Caribbean historian and scholar, noted in a speech he delivered in New York on March 14, 1984, that because of the Grenada Revolution, “Caribbean revolutionaries take courage in the knowledge that the solutions to our age-old problems are no longer a practical mystery. The all-round, universally-acclaimed achievements of the Grenada Revolution during the four-and-a-half years of its existence; it’s dramatic successes in the areas of education, health, in agricultural restructuring, in job creation, women's rights, in the protection of labour, in popular democracy.”

These are just some of the achievements of what some persons refer to as the “Glorious Revolution” of March 13, 1979. If others acknowledge it, why do some of us continue to deny it?

We can all agree that mistakes were made, so why can’t we learn from them and move on?

I have written elsewhere, of the significance of the Revolution as part of our tourism product. I am of the considered view that we continue to miss a bonanza by not making that part of our history; as one of the main reasons why persons should visits our shores.

It remains an untapped economic resource. In some respects, maybe the way we view the Revolution as a nation, prevents us from fully appreciating its economic potential.

It is time that we place the March 13, 1979, Revolution, firmly on the national agenda and acknowledge it, for what it means to us as a people. It deserves much more than a non-governmental organization commemorating our history.
 
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Comments:

C. ben-David:

From the way you argue, some uninformed readers might think that the revolution was a success rather than an abject failure with no lasting effects.

anthony david:

Mr.C.ben-David wouldn't know success if it was kicking his ass down a back road. Ask the scores of Grenadians who benefited from higher education degrees, the construction of our international airport, agro-industry production,free secondary school education,illiteracy eradication along with the huge socail wage that was delivered to our people. We moved from being a country that was usually laughed at to a young Nation that people around the world fighting for freedom looked towards. As the writer suggest the Revolution happened and it's pros and cons should be both examined by today's scholars and then taught in our schools.

That's a conversation to be had among reasonable, thoughtful, honest and forward thinking folks. Mr. C ben-David might have some difficulty meeting those requirements. The Grenada Revolution remains relevant today and they're still lessons to be learned. Long Live Grenada and the spirit of the Revolution.

C. ben-David:

The only enduring legacy of the wicked rule of the Bishop gang of thugs was the airport which was completed free of charge by the liberators, the United States of America, under the leadership of Ronald Ragan.

Death to communism and God bless America!

Bruce Potter:

The Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLoC-- maintained by the University of Florida -- has .PDF images of most of the editions (1974-1994) of The Grenada Newsletter published by Cynthia and Alister Hughes on-line, at no cost. Alister was, by his own admission, a prince of journalism who wrote about Grenada with the love of a native son, which he was. See , a web site he and Margaret Hughes inspired in 2001.

The URL for the Newsletter is -- you may have to register with the Digital Library of the Caribbean to access the Library.
When you get to the URL above you will see one copy of the Newsletter from 1974 -- the dates of the other accessible volumes will appear when you click on the "Other Volumes" tab in the bar across the top of the page.


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