by JC Jan
Independence, simply put, is the opposite of dependence.
A dependent one has little or no free will, freedom or liberty to decide for oneself but rather takes order from external or internal forces operating, in most cases, against one’s will. It is a life without influence or absence of constraints. But can there be a life without constraints? Yes or No. There can’t be absolute independence because no man is an island. And any absolute dependence will violate the sense of liberty, which is the power to choose or not to choose. An absolute dependent person is equivalent to a robot which has only a sense of operativity and not a sense of voluntary judgement, just like a rubber stamp. We can be independent without cutting ties and we can be dependent with respect to other people’s right to liberty. A baby depends on the mother for sustenance but has right to live. Dependence shows signs of vulnerability and fragility, but not absence to one’s right to freedom.
The early 1970s witnessed Eric Matthew Gairy announce his intention to seek Grenada’s independence from the colonial master, Great Britain. Though his leadership style brought him so many political opponents, enemies and opposition yet he pushed on with his independence agenda for Grenada. One does not have to be a mind reader to note that in his mind was “Grenada must be free”. But, free from what? Freedom from what? For sure, freedom from excessive dependence on colonial master or freedom from any form of political constraints. Eric Matthew, did not only talk about his ambition and desire for freedom but showed it in his passion and actions. He maintains that it is “independence or nothing.” It is either he gets the independence or he “die trying.” What a man with determination. I think he believes that freedom or liberty is worth dying for, if it is a case of death. This is because, according to Martin Luther King Jr, “If a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”
Irrespective of some militating forces against Eric he continued with his unrelenting and just course. Although he suffered setbacks as a result of his political sanction between 1957 – 1961, which his colonial masters may have orchestrated. But that notwithstanding he maintained that “Enough is Enough”. Pharaoh let my people go. But what could have been the reason for British political suffocation in Grenada? Could it be that the latter and his Grenada United Labour Party (GULP) have seen the ‘Achilles heel’ of the country Grenada? That is to say their level of vulnerability, fragility and weakness in the good people of Grenada. If there is Brexit today why couldn’t we have had Grenadexit then? My dear, ´What’s good for the goose is good for the gander’. Ignorance of my rights doesn’t deny me right to justice. Justice to one is justice to another. Actually, the way the country is going, consulting Gairy’s ideological viewpoint may not be a bad idea, after all, we are still independent in our state of dependency.
Our dependency on Great Britain before 7 February 1974, seems preferable to some till date. Many who wanted Britain to keep babysitting Grenada saw Gairy’s independence plans and ideas as “political” without economic benefits, hence, they focused on what they called “Gairy’s previous abuses of power and political corruption” as a stoppage. Give a dog a bad name or accuse it of stealing meat then it will be easy for you to hang it. Other independence opposing groups did not see in Gairy’s independence strategy a worthwhile enterprise. For somebody like Maurice Bishop and his supporters, there was no need to go ahead with the pursuit of an independence that lacks the basis or tenets of economic principles, let alone political vision. Therefore, for them it is a leap in the dark lacking in vision and in mission. Maurice Bishop in order to buttress his arguments and further his onslaught said, “…We wanted the government to take the popular sectors into account in working out the Constitution and the principles on which the economic system of independent Grenada would be based…” This position is very prophetic, distinctively stated, and very correct too. This Maurice idea looks like the story for the gods, lacking in evidence and persuasive spirit. What an utopic fantasy!
However, the leadership of Herbert Blaize under the platform of the Grenada National Party (GNP) and that of the New Jewel Movement (NJM) of Maurice Bishop did not see reason for Grenada to be free from “outside controls” at least at that time. “Over the objections of the opposition, and an eventual boycott of the ongoing talks with Britain by the opponents, Mr Gairy persevered and Grenada was granted independence.”
Looking at the various events before, during and after our independence (not excluding the current dispensation) one can rightfully define: “Grenada independence” as “political independence” a political decoration. Independent without a domesticated economic backbone. It’s like having a juicer without any fruit. A minister, without a ministerial portfolio. Working without “instrumentum laboris” (instrument of labour). If independence does not come with an independent economy in vain is our freedom from “outside controls”. In vain is our freedom from wealthy countries interference. Interference on our way of life as a people. Whoever takes intellectual flight to African pool of wisdom concerning our independence will definitely come back with this adage: “A bird that flies off the earth and lands on an anthill is still on the ground”.
Grenada, at different stages and at different levels of her history, battled with the babel of controlling voices from countries like Cuba, United States Of America, Russia, Britain and others. There is no doubt that our independence did not carry in itself a stop to these “outside interferences” rather, in recognition of our independence, these outside controls assumed a new dimension(neo-colonialism) and increased in numbers. This is different from normal country to country relationships, (bilateral relations) which is good for every country.
However, any school of thought suggesting that independence is not good for Grenada, Grenadians should not sign up for such class. Our independence is good and should be celebrated with the understanding that every Independence comes with a sense of responsibility. We are responsible for the kind of leaders we have produced since independence. We should, therefore, bear the consequences of their actions. We can choose or not choose to make them accountable. There are some arguments that suggest that we are a small country, therefore, cannot survive on our own. Some say the mother nature is not on our side. Some even blame God. Some after 46 years still blame it on the leadership style of our “founding fathers of independence”. Some of the government, many in America and other countries. The blame-list goes on. No one else is blameable except us. It is only we, and by us and through sincere collaboration of others that we will realise our dreams. A journey of one thousand miles begins with a step. A flight to greatness could never be a sudden flight. Let us get Grenada working. It is now or never. Let us take our destiny in our hands and stop blame games. We are the architect of our future.
Nearly 46 years ago, our independence gave us the right to decide our own fate. But is our fate good for the few or good for the many? Our independence should be “freedom with rules” not “freedom from rules”. We have had “political independence” let us now work towards becoming “economically independent.” If many Grenadians become financially independent, Grenada will gradually become economically independent, which is the real independence with the real and normal bilateral relations with other countries. Can we achieve this without industries? No. Let all hands be on deck to build economic-driven policies and agendas for a better and happy Grenada. Let us not give our people fish, rather let us teach them to fish by providing fishing materials and enabling environments. Building houses for people who are not working is like banks giving loans to unemployed people. Grenada must work again but not without our sincere efforts. Long live Grenada.
HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATION.
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