Monthly Archives: February 2015

M.Z. Mark, a Grenadian icon – Anthony Wendell DeRiggs 1

February 2015


Michael Zephyrine Mark, popularly known as M.Z. (the Z is pronounced zed) Mark was born in Mamma Cannes, Saint Andrew’s, Grenada on December 9th 1905. This Brilliant Grenadian was a philosopher, educator, motivational speaker dedicated husband, public lecturer and more. He had such a positive influence on people in Grenada and elsewhere that is our duty to remember him and lift his name high so the world would know about his accomplishments.

Once I asked a well- known Grenadian politician if he was familiar with the name M.Z. Mark. He looked puzzled and then told me it was the first time he heard that name. Right then, I knew it was just a matter of time before I write a piece on this special Grenadian. We religiously read about the good that people do in various countries so we must not let those who have lived exemplary lives among us fall into the historical dustbin. We must lift them up high. I will therefore resurrect a few pertinent details regarding the life of M.Z. Mark. You can read more if you get your hands on his inspiring autobiography “The Struggle to Construct and Disseminate a Philosophy of Life.” I urge you to try and get a copy.

The gifted man, endowed with wisdom, the teacher, the orator was known for organizing mass meetings all over Grenada in a persistent effort to educate the people. The term “University of the Masses” was coined and those words appropriately describe his efforts to enlighten and uplift the people. He began in the various villages but his talent propelled him to lecturing halls in Trinidad, England, and the United States. He spoke at Howard University, the Chaote School in Connecticut and Springfield College in Massachusetts. He was often the keynote speaker at many Grenadian and West Indian Organizations in New York. He once uttered the profound words, “Life is an adventure, and sometimes the adventure turns out to be great or outstanding.” Mister Mark’s adventure surpassed outstanding. He credited “persistent preparation, strong faith, hard practice and unyielding dedication” for his success. This emanated from a man who had to get up early in the morning and walk miles to look after animals and the garden then make it to school before the morning bell sounded.

At the age of eighteen, M.Z. mark became the youngest headmaster at the Munich Catholic School. The year was 1923. He served as principal at various other schools including Grand Roy Government School in the parish of Saint John as well as Dover Model School in Carriacou. He was the inspector of schools in 1956 and he acted as Education Officer on various occasions between 1958 and 1960. But it was his motivational and lecturing career, his involvement in the debating societies and tea room meetings that were popular in Grenada at that time that sealed his name in the hearts of so many Grenadians. Even at the age of eighteen he was able to organize a literary and debating club in Sauteurs. He journeyed to Trinidad and lectured to groups and civic clubs in MZ Mark BookPort of Spain, Arima, San Fernando and other places. He also gave an address over Radio Trinidad.

On February 16th 1938, there was a huge public debating session held in Gouyave, Saint John. The St John‘s Literary League and the Birchgrove Literary League opened the session. A large crowd was in attendance. It was chaired by Mister G.A. Glean, a resident of Gouyave who played a key role in the Civic and cultural life in Gouyave during that time.

Not everyone was pleased with the lectures M.Z Mark was giving in the churches, schools, streets, estate boucans and market places in Grenada. There were individuals who were not delighted with his addresses to the Mother’s Union, the Y.W.C.A. and the Sisters of the Convent. They did not all appreciate the influences he was wielding and the large crowds he was attracting. The government of Grenada placed a ban on him in 1957.The education officer it was alleged, prevailed on the Administrator Mister J.M. Lloyd to put a stop to his public lectures. He was not even allowed to speak in a Sunday school class. A ban was placed on a man who was telling young men to stop their laziness, support their children, respect their elders, become good citizens and to put “butter before rum.” Mister Mark noted, “Unfortunately, neither the educational officer of Grenada nor the Administrator seemed to see anything good or wholesome about my public lectures.” He stressed, “How quickly did those supposedly powerful officials cower and succumb when a certain political leader took the challenge in the name of truth and Justice.” The political leader was Eric M. Gairy who attacked the ban at a meeting held in the Market Square. Others including Barrister George Clyne spoke out against the action until the Administrator lifted the ban. A few days later, M.Z. Mark was in the Market Square speaking to a large crowd on the topic “Am I my Brother’s keeper.” The river Sallee Choir sang ‘Faith of our Fathers” and Mister Jerome Mc Barnette sang the song, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” The Government band was there to play also.gRENfLAG

M.Z. Mark appreciated his friendship with the famed (and often feared) headmaster J.W. Fletcher and he often recollected the occasion he walked ten miles from the country to Saint George’s with Mister Fletcher and how he picked Mister Fletcher’s brain to gain information regarding geography. When they parted on Church Street he was a brighter man. He spoke also of his close relation with “Uncle Joe Gibbs” the father of Dr. Hilda Bynoe who became Governor of Grenada. He loved to recall the inspiration he gained from a man called John Harbin who was once an inspector of schools. He was fond of pointing to an incident that took place in Victoria.

He was scheduled to address a crowd in Victoria around the pre carnival season in 1955, a very hot year and the year Hurricane Janet devastated Grenada. There were stones already placed along the roadside, a clear indication that the customary stone throwing was looming. “Year after year bloody battles were fought at carnival” in Victoria. Disregarding the pessimist who advised him to postpone his lecture, he went to Victoria and spoke on the topic “The stones of Victoria”. Among the crowd was Father A.M. Bowring, parish priest of Birchgrove and Mister L.C.J. Thomas (in those days everyone had three or more names in Grenada) who was a member of the legislative for Saint John. He drew reference to the Biblical passages to point out that the stones they pelted could be put to good and better use. He eloquently stated, “Ladies and gentlemen, I invite you to have another look at the structures and designs formed by the stones of Grand Pauvre. His stirring speech moved the people so much that not a stone was thrown in Victoria during the carnival that year.

Mister M.Z. Mark retired from the education department in 1961 and he migrated to the United States. He is no longer with us. While he lived, he often referred to the people who remembered the tea party debates and public lectures in the Deluxe Theatre and other places where he spoke on topics as “ Rum before butter”, “come and make yourself a cross bearer” and inspiring words such as “ Where there is no vision the people perish.”

I read Mister Mark’s book and I will end this piece with a quotation:
“Why is this disinclination on the part of our young people of today for hard work? I have never known hard work to hurt anyone. My father at eighty-nine , who lives in Saint David still works in his garden and produces the finest yams and eddoes in his district, to the shame of the youngsters around who prefer to idle their time in aimless gossip on the bridges or in the vicinity of the liquor shops. I have never known in all my life any substitution for hard work.”

© 2015 Anthony Wendell DeRiggs


Anthony Wendell DeRiggs is a Grenadian writer living in Brooklyn, USA. He is the author of three books, Recollections of an Island Man, Island Reminiscences and Other Selections, and Reflections and Ole Talk. Emerging from a long family tradition of writers, storytellers, and folklorists, Mr. DeRiggs holds a BA in History from Brooklyn College.

Etching our Consciousness With Music: DJ Gus Pays Independence Tribute to our Artists and Musicians


February 2015


As a testimony to the patriotic pride of Grenada’s songwriters, entertainers and performers, Grenada is certainly a leader among the Caribbean Islands when it comes to anthemic odes. Lord Cassimere Pitt’s “Grenada May God Bless You” is most certainly an inspirational piece that has kept the contributions coming at a steady pace. I can’t imagine what an independence celebration would be like without it.

Classics anthems from Rhythm Riders, Levy John, Original Inspector, Black Wizard, Ajamu, Val Adams, Randy Isaacs, Inspector, Carriacou’s Country Boys, just to name a few, give true meaning to our Independence celebrations year after year and resides permanently in the hearts and mind of every true Grenadian. More so than any Carnival composition.

On this our 41st anniversary of Independence, let’s all salute the contributions of our composers. Oh Grenada, Beautiful Grenada, I Love My Grenada, Take A Walk Or Take A Ride And I Know You’ll Be Delighted. We’re moving “Brighter Out Of Darkness”.

Happy Independence!


Affectionately known as “Gus”, Wayne Augustine is a former Music Executive at EMI/SonyATV Music Publishing. Former manager of Ajamu, Gus is host of “The Consciousness Party”, which airs Saturdays 7-10pm on 105FM (Brooklyn, NY), and globally @

The Literary Elements of Carriacou Carnival

Big Drum Nation interviews Nicholas Cox

February 2015

Big Drum Nation (BDN): This year the Carriacouan Carnival comes under this scintillating theme, “Celebrating the Legacy of Shakespeare: Embracing the Splendor of our Traditional Mas”, what is the Shakespeare Mas?

Nick Cox (NC): As I know it Shakespeare Mas stems from the use of speeches adapted from the writings of William Shakespeare in a duel of words between masqueraders. The theme appears to be battling European armies who attempt to outwit each other using speeches from Shakespeare’s plays, most commonly “Julius Caesar.”

The costumes are colorful and mask the entire body.  Small, body bells are attached to the costumes to jingle with every movement.

The face mask is made of a fine wire mesh, with eyes, nose and mouth painted on and positioned to give the impression of looking away from the opponent, a form of deception. A group of small circular mirrors, two to three inches in diameter, are attached to the front of the chest and upper abdominal areas.


Laluna. “Carriacou Shakespeare Mas”. (accessed February 24, 2015).

A thick head cushion the “Kotta”, made from hanging tree roots, is covered by the “Crown”, which is a glorified cape, made of colorful fabric, glued to coarse packaging paper. The Kotta acts as a shock absorber for being hit on the head by the weapon, the “Stick.”  The stick is a cylindrical, wooden club, approximately one yard long and one inch in diameter.  The crown was good protection from being hit by the secret weapon, the “Bull Pistle”, about the same dimensions as the stick, but flexible and springy.

Early on the morning of Shrove Tuesday (the day preceding Ash Wednesday)[1], armies of masqueraders gather in their villages, spar with each other.  The battle is a combination of the Shakespeare speeches and the African Stick Fighting Kalenda.  Respected elders oversee the sparring like referees, to ensure it does not get out of hand.  They then move on as a unit to the challenge the next army on the way to town accompanied by onlookers and supporters.

When the army is some fifty yards from the battlefield, usually a cross roads, they would have their gear inspected and strategize the attack.  One masquerader would attack at full running speed and be met by a chosen masquerader from the waiting army.   Their sticks will touch violently and the insulting duel of speeches will begin. The masquerader should be able to quickly and eloquently respond with an appropriate speech.  The other masqueraders will join in and duel with the members of the opposing army.

My favorite speech is from “Julius Caesar”, scene one, on a Roman street when Marrulus tells off/insults the commoners;

” Wherefore rejoice? What conquest brings he home?
What tributaries follow him to Rome,
To grace in captive bonds his chariot-wheels?
You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things!
O you hard hearts, you cruel men of Rome …”

Another popular speech from “Julius Caesar” is Marcus Antonius at Julius Caesar’s funeral;

” Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar …”

After about half an hour of “fighting”, both armies will join unmask, join forces and move on to the next battlefield on their way to town.  In town the grand battle is fought.

BDN: Going back to your childhood, did the mask-wearing Shakespeare character inspire fear in you?

NC: The Shakespeare masqueraders did not cause fear in me.  They were looked at as brave warriors with great give of “speech making”.  The movements, the grandstanding, the accents in the speeches, the noise of the bells, the colors of the costumes, and the bull pistle fights were all very entertaining.  When the battle was over, we all got to see the faces of the masqueraders.

BDN: Why is it important to “embrace” the Shakespeare mas and as well other Carnival characters?

NC: The artistry of the masqueraders developed naturally and is therefore culture.  It gives us a glimpse of the history of our people. Many masqueraders even into the 1970s were completely illiterate, but recited perfect and appropriate speeches. It is cultural theatre, resulting from a clash of Africa meeting Europe, though not under the best of circumstances.  The masquerades are chapters in a living history book.


Carriacou Grand View Hotel. “Discover Vibrant Culture”. (accessed February 24, 2015).

BDN: Carnival is a colorful overthrow of conventions: Is this inversion a good thing for the moral/psychological health of a community?

Carnival gives a platform for anyone to create their stage and play the role that their chose. This is indicative in the many individual masquerades that are acted out in the villages, door to door and on the streets and the crowds of the towns.  It is a theatre that puts many a spin on the realities of life and beliefs of the communities. Importantly, no one is excluded from being a player. Even the shy get on stage using the mask.  Morality, if taught in the home, prepares one to deal with the reality that is exposed on the carnival stage.  Some masquerades are meant to instill fear.  That too is a reality that members of the society must be prepared to deal with.

BDN: Can we use Carnival characters to link our past to our present? And what value might there be in such linking?

I repeat here that our history is exposed in the characters of carnival. Carnival is the theatre of the people. No one owns it. The stage is wherever the masquerader decides it should be.  Everyone has a chance to tell their story on carnival day.

[1] Pancake Day in Britain.

Nicholas Cox is one the leaders of Carriacou and Petite Martinique 2000 Inc., a Brooklyn-based not for profit organization made up of Carriacouans and Petite Martiniquans living in the United States.

King Man Ajamu Cyber-side Chats with Big Drum Nation

February, 2015

Ajamu wGuitar Pic

AJAMU is one of Grenada’s most accomplished musicians. He holds the unprecedented national honor of seven-time Calypso Monarch, winning in 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1995, and 2004. A certified sound engineer, AJAMU plays guitar, keyboards, and drums. He has written, arranged, and produced songs for a number of top Grenadian calypsonians.  In 1997 he was crowned “Male Vocalist of the Year” at New York’s “Sunshine Awards”.  Evidence of AJAMU’s recognition by the international music community is his regular entry in Billboard Magazine’s “Bible of the Music Industry”. At ease in both the soca and reggae music genres, Ajamu’s discography spans 21 albums and multiple 12” releases.

Ajamu knows too well that celebrating Grenada’s independence is celebrating its people. In his patriotic tribute My Grenada, Ajamu pays homage to the centrality of human capital in building a proud nation “The standard of skills and talents we have down here in this land/it is too much for me to mention…”

Big Drum Nation ‘sat down’ for a cyber-side chat with King Ajamu in the midst of celebrations of Grenada’s 41 anniversary of independence.

Big Drum Nation (BDN): Who is King Ajamu?

Ajamu: Ajamu is Edson Mitchell from Mama Canne in St Andrews. Son of Lyris David and Rudolph Mitch

BDN: “Ajamu”, can you tell the origin and meaning of the name?

Ajamu: The name Ajamu is originated from Africa. It means a man who fights for what he wants.

[Editors’ note: The name Ajamu comes from the Yoruba people of West Africa, chiefly today’s Nigeria. Thousands of Yoruba came to Grenada aboard the slave ships. And many more Yoruba people came to Grenada in the 1840s. Many came from the town of Ijesha. In Grenada there were Yoruba communities at Munich, Rose Hill and Concord. In Munich, Yoruba chiefs were elected until the 1930s. Munich’s Roberts family, of which Lord Kitchener is a member, provided the last of the chiefs. African cultural retention in Grenada such as Esusu (susu), a savings institution, and Shango, the God of Thunder, Drums and Dance, are derived from the Yoruba.]
Yoruba Map

[Map of Africa: Yoruba region]. Scale not given. “Yorùbá“. <> (25 February 2015).
BDN: What is your definition of calypso?

Ajamu: My definition of calypso is story telling in a musical form, entertaining and informative.

BDN: Calypso and soca, are they different things? How?

Ajamu: In my opinion calypso and soca is thing dressed in different outfit. A traditional calypso can be played at a faster tempo and be called soca, so it has much to do with the musical arrangements and the bounce in the beat.
BDN: How has calypso changed since the advent of the Ajamu?

Ajamu: I think calypso is still what it was before Ajamu but I might say my musicality had added something to calypso in my native country if I should say so.
BDN: What brought you calypso singing?

Ajamu: My first trip to Trinidad and my experiences in the calypso tent there had a great influence on me getting into calypso singing.

BDN: Is calypso still a story-telling form?

Ajamu: Yes calypso is still a story telling form.

BDN: How would you want us (listeners) to respond to an Ajamu song?

Ajamu: As a lover of humanity and a very passionate musician, I would like responses to both the music and messages in my songs.

BDN: Once again, you are appearing in a calypso tent (Revue): How have you been received by Trini audiences?

Ajamu: My experience at the revue and performing to Trini audiences has always been well received, i am grateful to Trinidadians and the people from all over the world for the support they have been giving me over the years.

What is a Nation?

A Nation is the dance around the mythic navel of our world

A Nation is a vigorous embrace of the Past, the Present, the Future

A Nation is the Book of Remembering and Forgetting

A Nation is the spirit that circles the Maypole- circles despise hierarchy.

A Nation is defined in its play: we are what we play


Caldwell Taylor

February 23, 2015

Eric Gairy: Working Class Hero

Eric Gairy: Working Class Hero

Caldwell Taylor


“On 19th February, widespread strikes began, and there have been many acts of

intimation and sabotage .An emergency order was made and two of the

leaders of the strike [Eric Gairy and Gascoigne Blaize-ct] were detained”

-The Secretary of the State for the Colonies, James Griffiths, responding to Mr. Eden.

Grenada Riots, HC Deb 26 February 1951 vo. l 484 cc 1748-50


Grenada’s first general strike tolled on the early morning of February 19, 1951 and ran for four tempestuous weeks. The so-called “Sky Red” days transformed long-suffering “labourers” into trade union militants, shoved a spice-scented island into high drama and debates in the imperial Parliament; and made a hero of a 29 -year-old” firebrand” named Eric Gairy.

Gairy’s heroic status was proclaimed-perhaps for the very first time in print-in Archibald W. Singham’s 1968 sociological study titled “The Hero and the Crowd in a Colonial Polity“. The colonial polity was the pith- helmeted structure which at the top seated the Governor/ Administrator and other high colonial officials; its basement was reserved for the sweated mass-Gairy’s “little people”.

Gairy was a son of the little people. He was dark-skinned. He was bright and ambitious. Such   attributes in a black man were cause of significant turmoil at the apex of Grenada’s colour-coded pyramid.

The local boss of the colonial society and Governor of the Windward Islands, Brigadier Sir Robert Arundell, expressed his unease in a note to his superiors in London. The note of March 11, 1951 observes in part:

“Gairy, an egoist, ambitious for power and with an inferiority complex apparently

because of his dark colour.”


Perhaps Gairy did have an inferiority complex, but was this any surprise in a place that consigned blackness to the bottom of its social ladder?

Governor Arundell, shackled by his superiority complex, could not abide Gairy’s challenges to the King’s white administration in which class and colour colluded to create a nearly impregnable wall in the way of black-skinned “natives”. American economist Simon Rottenberg saw that wall during his 1952 visit to Grenada [see Economic Development and Cultural Change, December 1952, a journal of the Research Center in Economic Development and Cultural Change of the University of Chicago]:

“Employers are a social class. Class values and class interests intervene in labor relations and complicate the relationships of workers and employers ….. The stratification of society into classes in Grenada is more rigid than in more developed economies and opportunities for mobility between classes more limited….Class status is, in part, a function of race”.

Rottenberg continues: “In such a system, violence is done to planter class values if workers lay claim to equality in the bargaining process, if workers share in the making of economic decisions, and if their bargaining representatives are, like themselves, black and lower class”

Gairy challenged a rigid race/class system. His challenge was by no means that of a programmatic revolutionary; he was at best a rebel and history shows that rebels favor spontaneity. They tend also to be prickly and highly self-centered. The Rebel fights injustice and inequality.

“The spirit of rebellion exists where a theoretical equality conceals great factual inequalities”, said Albert Camus. It is interesting that Camus’ “The Rebel: An Essay on Man in Revolt”, was first published in 1951, the year of the Gairy-led answer to Massa`s slavery in the hush-hush.

And 1951 saw the strangest thing under Britain’s imperial sun – the steel band struck England, beating out the rhythms of rebellion: the creativity of a colonized people colonized the colonizer.

Back in Grenada Eric Gairy drove a steel band through an opponent’s political meeting and for this act of “hooliganism” he suffered the loss of his right to vote for five years. This very hard sentence earned much sympathy- enough to rally the Leader’s base and giving him the elections of 1961. Headline, No Boast: Gairy Beats Pan and Beats the Bourgeoisie in Electoral Battle.


The rebel lives for challenges and confrontation. 

Rebel Gairy sought better wages and better conditions for the poor workers- mere” hands” in language of the bosses. He demanded the respect he thought owed to a man of his caliber, a one that spoke “the king’s English” and a loyal subject who led his public meetings with the singing of the “God save our king”. Archie W. Singham [see Singham’s Hero in the Crowd] addresses the psychology of the leader-hero in a colonial polity. Singham writes:

“No matter how radical their stated goals may appear, the leaders are seldom emancipated enough themselves to really want to see the social structure drastically changed, and particularly the patterns of authoritarianism. They tend to be much more concerned with proving their own capabilities to run the existing system, and hence their right to membership in the elite.”

Elsewhere, Singham writes: “… The colonized individual continues to imitate, not only because it is necessary for the advancement of his career but because also the authoritarian personality produced by colonialism encourages imitation rather than creativity”.


But flaws do not deny the title of “Hero.”  

“Heroes are not required to be altruistic, or honest, or even competent. They are required to inspire confidence and to appear, not good, necessarily, but great”, writes Lucy Hughes-Hallett.

Hughes-Hallett continues: “virtue is not a necessary qualification for heroic status: a hero is not a model.”

In 1951 Grenada`s agricultural workers asserted- for the first time- a collective identity. The Grenada Manual and Mental Workers` Union and the Gairy-led Grenada United Labour Party were the key expressions of that group identity.



Caldwell Taylor was founder and first president-general of the Grenada’s Agricultural and General Workers` Union.

©2/19/2015 Caldwell Taylor 

Comments: Senator the Honorable Brenda Hood

Sen. Brenda Hood

Image source:


Our theme of this BDN issue is “Moving Forward in Unity to Build a Stronger Nation.”

We  are compiling the contributions of writers, artists, poets, photographers, our leaders, and everyone with a voice and view to share on Grenada’s 41st anniversary of independence.


Senator the Honourable Brenda Hood

Ministry of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture



QUESTION: What is the culture ministry’s definition of culture?

The definition of culture has been clearly outlined in the Grenada National Cultural Policy and I believe it gives us a better understanding of our vision for the work being done and needed to be done by our ministry.


“In its simplest form, culture is defined as the “way of life of a people”. It is the dynamic reservoir of ways of thinking and doing, accumulated over time, which has been agreed upon and transmitted across generations in a community. It includes the knowledge, experience, beliefs, folk ways, values, customs, and traditions as well as institutions we create in our efforts to determine who we are.”

QUESTION: What forms/practices define Grenadian culture?

Like most Caribbean territories our cultural landscape is so diverse, so to limit our forms and practices to a listing may result in alienation of non prominent forms or practices, which may have significant impact on our culture. With this in mind I would think I would go out on a limb and make mention of a few influential forms and practices that have in some way defined Grenadian indentify.

Our repository of belief systems, which have stemmed from our peoples exposure to Christianity, our code of behaviors which resulted in a continued generation of peaceful warm and law abiding citizens. Our language, I do not speak of English or French, but our creolized versions we have created to communicate with its colorful expression.

There are the things that have been handed down to us by our African, European and Asian ancestry like traditions, proverbs and sayings, folktales that are present in our daily even unaware to most. It must also be noted that due to the geographic location of our population the traditions and practices unique to one region will vary, differ or only exist in a particular location but is recognized as part of the Grenadian culture. A very typical example is present between Carriacou and Petite Martinque.

QUESTION: What are the key responsibilities of the Culture Ministry?

The key responsibilities of our ministry have to be facilitation. One needs to appreciate the magnitude of culture in any society and to specify the responsibilities by a listing would be ineffective. We articulate the role of facilitation simply because like culture, which is ever evolving, our role as a ministry evolves with time, needs and societal demands. Our focus at this time has been training in the areas of the performing arts, with the intent of developing human capital resources for the possibilities the creative industries offer in area of job creation. It is also the ministry’s responsibility to preserve, protect and promote both our intangible and tangible heritage and to ensure continuation and awareness of our traditions. The ministry plays an integral role in guidance to government on bilateral agreement with international bodies and country’s
and must represent the interest of the peoples of Grenada in ensuring the promotion preservation of the Grenadian identity.

At present the Ministry plays a signification role in the funding and planning of National events through the Grenada Cultural Foundation, Spicemas Corporation and National Celebrations Committee. It assists with the relief of government taxation to our stakeholder who are building businesses in the area and need to import much needed equipment.

QUESTION: The calypso is among the most accessible of our creations. Can calypso be used as a pedagogical tool in our schools?

The issue of the use of arts within the education system has been a continued debate with the facilitators of education. The art of learning has been reduced to the art of passing and examination and as such the integration of art into the curriculum is being met with much resistance at this time. We at the ministry, however, continue to penetrate these institution with programs including the teaching the art of calypso. The response has been good in certain pocket areas and it is hoped that the results of this program will in the future be fully integrated. There can be no doubt that the calypso art form has enhanced the products we call student in the past, with the example of Akima Paul being the most prominent.

The ministry of culture understands the powerful and influential nature of our calypso in our society and will continue to provide alternates to learning through this medium within the institutions that provide education to our people. We are optimistic that the results of our programs presently in existent will provide a beacon of enlightenment to our educators and propel the full integration for this art form into our schools curriculum.

Comments: Honourable Derrick James

Honourable Derrick James                Source:

As you are fully aware, Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique will be celebrating its 41st anniversary of political independence from Britain on February 7, 2015. Birthdays are times to reflect on life lived, paths traveled, and upcoming opportunities to take advantage of. As it is for the individual, the same is true for a nation. Big Drum Nation (BDN) is joining the festivities as we celebrate our nation’s accomplishments, appreciate our shared ideals, and assess our potential.

We are seeking the contributions of writers, artists, poets, photographers, our leaders, and everyone with a voice and view to share. The theme of this BDN issue is “Moving Forward in Unity to Build a Stronger Nation”.

Over the past decade, we have been constantly re-imagining the BDN brand so that we can fully realize our potential as a repository of our tri-island arts, culture, and letters.

As we dedicate our latest issue to Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique’s 41st anniversary of independence, are seeking fresh voices and new visions. We rest assured that voices, stories and perspectives like yours are necessary if we are to indeed remain united as a people and fulfill the ideas of our ancestors.

In these regards, we are seeking your contribution. We would like you to respond to the following set of questions:


a) Hon. Derrick James you were recently appointed Ambassador for Humanitarian Affairs and the Diaspora. Congratulations! How does your function/role contribute to the theme of Grenada’s 41st independence celebrations?

Ans: The theme calls for unity and the efforts to bring all nationals of the tri- island to rally under one flag is critical for our survival. Our entire program for the celebration is structures to do such

b) The most common definition of the term‘Diaspora’ is a scattering of a people. Do you agree with this definition? Or, what is your government’s concept of diaspora?

Ans: That definition we agree with and it one we have used over the years with some success.

c) Why does the government want to organize the Diaspora?

Ans: No longer can we ignore the significant of the contribution made by our diaspora. There are much more Grenadians living outside Grenada than on the island with huge economic, political and skilled potential.

d) Is there any reflection of the diaspora in current constitutional reform debate?

Ans: No

e) Grenada certainly has one of the world’s highest ratio of diaspora per home population. Psalm 137 is essentially a lament about Diaspora people utilizing culture in order to maintain unity in ‘foreign’, “…how can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?”What role do you see culture playing in the mission of the diaspora desk and in forging national unity?

Ans: Culture plays it’s part even as we celebrate the 41st anniversary most of the activities are around culture. It is also use for the promotion of our nation and the connection between the diaspora and home

f) There have been some apprehensions in how home based Grenadians and those abroad perceive each other. What are some of the ways in which your organization can help Grenadians at home and those abroad re-imagine the relationship between each other?

Ans: Education is most important and we need to have much more cultural and sporting exchange when we visit each other.

We need to embrace each other just as to do to foreigners

g) Israel, Italy, India, Ireland, China are some of the countries that are noted internationally to have benefited greatly from integrating their huge diaspora. Are there any lessons or best practices that Grenada has considered from these experiences?

Ans: Yes, structures and engagement

h) Do you have significant time lines, deadlines, goals that have been set for the goals of the diaspora initiative?

Ans: We are in the process of developing a five year plan

2015 Independence Address to the nation by Prime Minister of Grenada Dr the Right Hon. Keith Mitchell

hon_keith_mitchell_grenadaFellow citizens,
Today, on this 41st anniversary, we recommit ourselves to deepening our independence so as to give purpose to the next generation. 
Today, let us as a people march forward into the future — ready to take on the next 41.
Our biggest asset in going forward will be the unity of our people.
Let it be clear, when we speak of unity, and as we continue to sound the clarion call, we are not asking for others to join our political party.
Everyone has the right to their own political affiliation, and indeed, there will be a time when we will join in political debates; but the interest of country must not be sacrificed at the altar of political posturing and maneuvering.
This is not about an individual, or a political party, or a religious group.
This is about our country. 
We have been encouraged by the progress we have made in the last two years; and the projections for 2015 are even better. But we are not satisfied.
We will never be satisfied until more of our young people find work; until more of our people are taken out of poverty; until we modernize our services; train and educate our citizens; provide avenues to reduce the basic costs of goods and services; and until every family has a decent place they can call home.
We have to dedicate our work to finding solutions for the everyday problems that our people face.
The cost of energy continues to be a major concern for us. We cannot continue to support monopoly services that do not result in real costs reduction in basic goods and services for the consumer; whether it is for water, telephone, internet or groceries.
To that end, we are partnering with our friends regionally and internationally to find ways to invest in diverse services that yield more opportunities for competition; thus building that stronger nation—not just for today, but for a sustainable future.
The needs of our people are urgent and they are varied.
Housing continues to be a major challenge, but we have made significant strides in that regard. Only a few days ago, the first batch of residents moved into their new low income homes. In the coming days and weeks, we will see more of the same.
Determined as we are to not rest until we secure solid housing solutions, we have already moved forward to sign an MOU with the People’s Republic of China for the construction of more houses.
This is how we build a stronger nation. From the foundation.
And as we solidify that foundation, let us not forget the ones who worked tirelessly to pass this legacy on to the next generations.
On this anniversary, government commits itself to giving comfort to our retirees who are now in their twilight years.
Regarding the issue of pensioners post 1983, who have only been receiving pension since then through NIS, the Court has now moved that Government too, has to contribute. We recognize the ruling, and we will set up a committee to engage the Trade Unions in finding a compromise solution.
My fellow citizens,
This proud nation of ours cannot be built by those of us in the political directorate, or those who work in government service administration; but by all of the ordinary people who continue to do extraordinary things in their communities. 
Grenada owes a debt to the teachers and the policemen, the public servants, the farmers, the business owners — and the people out there in the communities who have repeatedly shown the toughness and sacrifice, that gives the nation its new character.
That is the flexibility and the country-first mentality that convinced our social partners—the churches, the business community, the trade unions, the Non-governmental organizations—to work together with Government, to chart the way forward for the future of this country.
The resolve of that group to unite for the sake of country has seen us attaining a feat of historic proportions a few weeks ago, when most of the parties signed on to a Social Compact—a binding agreement that we will always champion the cause of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique ahead of self interest.
Make no mistake about it, brothers and sisters, the signing of the Social Compact and the demonstration of its precedents for our sustainable economic growth has caught the attention of the international community.
We have sent a message to everyone that we are serious about development—enough to make the tough decisions collectively that are necessary to get us out of the economic slump.
We have been encouraged by the promises of support from our international partners.
In fact, we have been able to secure more than the expected funds to expand our safety net programmes that take care of our poor and marginalized.
It is because of that “buy-in” that we are gaining the confidence of investors and visitors alike to want to come to Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, and lend to our economic growth.
I commend our partners for doing what is in the best interest of this country.
I commend you for being leaders who believe that the work is bigger than us; and who believe that a united endeavour is the only worthwhile endeavour.
 Fellow citizens, I am proud to report that PROJECT GRENADA is off and running.

We have set the markers down for different interest groups working together — and we are continuing to do so in the context of our democracy.

PROJECT GRENADA is social partners coming together around the common table to work for the collective betterment.

PROJECT GRENADA is the buy-in we have spoken about, and the sacrifices our people have made in our efforts to turn around the economy.

PROJECT GRENADA is the understanding our trade union leaders have shown in coming to terms that even their just demands must be addressed in the general context of all of the common good.

A successful implementation of PROJECT GRENADA will change real lives in Mama Cannes and Mt Horne; in Harmony Hall and Harvey Vale.

Most Grenadians and our leaders have got it — PROJECT GRENADA means one for all, and all for one.
It means moving forward, in unity, to build a stronger nation. 

Later this year, we aim to stake a fresh claim to our sovereignty.

The aim at constitutional reform is set to bring Grenada into the modern era; and to deepen the rights of its people.

We believe that this process must be completed this year otherwise it will subject itself to increasingly useless partisanship.

Consequently, we encourage all our citizens to participate in the referendum, and set the context for the future of this nation.

The true testament of our success in charting the way forward will be in the tangible benefits derived for all our citizens across the sectors.

Our citizens now have more exposure in education than they did 41 years ago—thanks to the advent and rapid expansion of Information Communication Technology. As a government, we will continue to invest in education and ICT—for we believe that those are the bases for the attainment of true independence, and the bases for enabling our children to be globally competitive.

This is why we are bringing technology within our schools, public service and services in general, and embarking on training our people appropriately to use those services.

The world has changed. The way we educate our children has changed. The way we do business has changed, and we need to ensure that we change also.

This is how Grenada takes its place among the community of nations, and makes its name on the international stage.

In April, we will host a cricket Test match between England and the West Indies. The reports coming in are that we are set for a good time. The people in the hotel sector are reporting heavy booking for the period. There is indeed a satisfying buzz about that event in mid April.

We are now asking our citizens to open their homes for the home-stay programme to facilitate the expected influx of visitors.

By the middle of the year, we will open the doors to the new Athletic and Football stadium.

Our first rate young people, the likes of Kirani James, Melanie Rodney…and others, will be able to train and perform in first class facilities right here at home.

In recent times, Grenada has been asked to play a leading role in the reorganization of the governance of West Indies cricket.

For the first time, we have also been asked to be on the CONCACAF steering committee—because of our vision for sports and youth development island-wide.

We have also been leading the region in ICT and the promotion of renewable energy across Small Island developing states.

What these roles have in common is that they recognize Grenada as been serious about all-round development.

Ladies and gentlemen, Sisters and Brothers,

As we enter our 42nd year as an independent nation, we must deepen the traits that have defined our Grenadianness – not divert from them, in the name of development.

Safety and personal respect have been qualities for which we are known.

When a young mother’s life is violently cut down, this is one incident too many.

The blades of anger are not the way to settle a dispute.

When a young man loses his life in a senseless argument: we refuse to take comfort in the fact that we have one of the lowest crime rates in the region.

By the same token, tolerance and respect for authority have always been part of the Grenadian culture. As we cope with revolutionary changes in modern society, it must not mean an abandonment of our very character.

History has taught us that we get ourselves in trouble when we stray from the very tenets that have made us who we are.

In recent weeks, several incidents reminded us that we could be in danger of ripping apart the soul of the nation if we are not careful.

The public attack on a member of the security forces is not the fodder for idle joke; but should be an incident worthy of our collective rebuke.

An attack on any member of the security forces is an attack on all of us; it is a threat to peace and stability at home; and it is a blemish on our national character.

So too is the attack on a government minister.

The recent verbal attack on our church leaders is of a different character but of the same kind of meanness that must be denounced.

We can disagree with positions and even challenge them; but we must not reduce leaders to the type of ridicule, slander and vileness that we have seen.

And all those who condone it are as guilty as those from whose mouths the hateful words were uttered.

When we as leaders refuse to reprimand our own, we forfeit our moral authority to be the conscience of our nation; and we undermine our opportunity to lead.

To all those, even our own political supporters, who are not happy because they are not allowed to do wrong, or not allowed to facilitate perpetrators of wrong, I say to them: wrong is always wrong, and right is always right.

This is a new era. Because something has always been a particular way, does not mean that we cannot change course.

There is never a bad time to change direction, when it is a change for better.

Because you were wrong yesterday, does not mean that you cannot be corrected today.
We are moving forward, and we are doing so with purpose.

Our country’s image must not falter on the table of political patronage.

We must take a stand for the rule of law. We must take a stand for country.

We can have a robust democratic society that challenges ideas, but is neither selfish nor mean spirited; a democracy that questions authority but does not devolve into chaos.

Respecting other people’s position is not equivalent to bailing out on ours.

The jostling for political advantage is part of the art of every one of us involved in politics; but that must not be held hostage to the idea that we must do so by any means necessary. At the end of the day, we all have a stake in this beautiful nation of ours.

For what will it profit a group to gain power and suffer the destruction of its nation?

And neither must we be comforted by telling ourselves that we are all guilty of that in the past.

What we are talking about is the future. And as much as we have learnt from the past; we cannot allow it to hold us hostage.

When a people face the choice of going back, standing still or moving forward; they must choose to move forward.

At this crucial juncture in our history we must march forward as a proud people.

We are not daunted by the challenges ahead, but excited about the opportunities.

It is still morning in Grenada – and the day is ours to behold; and the moments that will unfold are for all of us to achieve.

Together we aspire. Together we achieve. Together we build.

Together – we march forward.

I thank you.


The NDC’s 2015 Independence Address


Tyrell House, H.A. Blaize Street,
St. George’s, Grenada.
Phone: 473 409 1621 E-Mail:

Sunday, 08 February 2015 St. George’s, Grenada


Fellow Grenadians: On behalf of the National Democratic Congress, I wish to extend to you heartiest congratulations on this the 41st anniversary of our independence.
The raising of the Grenadian flag on Fort George at Midnight on February 6th gave us the power to manage our own affairs, including the resources that were and still are crucial to the shaping of our destiny.
The history of human civilization shows that the struggle for genuine national independence is never an easy one. We must therefore be forever mindful of the very difficult road Grenada has travelled on its way to gaining freedom from our colonial masters.
And as we celebrate this milestone, we must pay tribute to those who championed our country’s right to stand on its own, to join the community of independent nations and to free ourselves from the colonial yoke.

We must remember and pay tribute, in particular, to Sir Eric Matthew Gairy, whom we all rightly consider as the father of our independence.
In the years since our independence much has been achieved. We have, through struggle and continued vigilance, established a foundation that will serve us well as we move forward.
At the same time, as a people, we have missed many opportunities to take up the mantle and build on the foundation that was provided for us on February 7th 1974.
At 41 years old as a nation, our young people are still seeking the leadership that will challenge them to be creative, to find solutions that are truly home grown and to begin to play a meaningful role in Grenada’s future.
We must therefore resolve, in this period, to harness the talents and aspirations of all our people to move our country forward for the benefit of all our citizens. After all, our human resource is our greatest asset and must be put to good and productive use for our collective benefit.
It is our hope that as we celebrate, we will take some time to reflect on our successes, our challenges and the ideals and values that make us who we are.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we cannot lose sight of the fact that that this country is ours. It is therefore crucial that we each take personal responsibility for ensuring that we do better and achieve more.
Our resolve must be urgent and our commitment firm. We must work together, despite our differences, in a spirit of mutual respect to provide and expand opportunities for our people to learn, to earn and to become prosperous.
Our patriotism must be year round, not just in February. Our colours must first show in our attitude to family, to community and to country as we stand shoulder to shoulder to work hard, to produce and to enjoy the benefits of our country’s success.
The National Democratic Congress salutes the people of our tri-island state as we celebrate the historic milestone of 41 years as an independent nation.
On behalf of our party, I wish every Grenadian, at home and in the Diaspora, a happy independence day.
We look forward to working together as we aspire, build, advance and achieve as one people.

Thank you and May God bless our nation.