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.
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.