Although Grenada is blessed with a rich and diverse history spanning several centuries, beginning with our Amerindian ancestors unto the pre-Columbian era up to 1498, when Grenada was discovered as part of the European expansionist movement, and slavery was established as the vehicle for building European wealth and prosperity; followed by colonialism, the Fedon rebellion, indentureship, the Marryshow era of the 1940–50s and 60s, statehood, including Gairy’s Social Revolution of 1950–1, onto independence in 1974, then the overthrow of Gairy by the Bishop’s communist revolution in 1979, and the implosion of his organisation (the People’s Revolutionary Government) in 1983, which led to the invasion or rescue mission by the Americans (take your pick) in 1983, and the return to democracy in 1984 through the astuteness of the late Governor General — Sir Paul Scoon; and yet, for all of the above Grenada does not appear to have many, if any heroes.
This dilemma in the Sentinel’s view, could be as a result of the absence of documented events (history) as researched and recorded by Grenadians. Apart from George Brizan, Beverley Steele and within recent times, “Island Caribs and French Settlers in Grenada” by John Angus Martin, not much is written on contemporary Grenadian history, for example not many of our primary, secondary and tertiary students, and for that matter adults under 40 years know much, if anything, about Gairy’s Social Revolution including SKY RED and Bishop’s Communist revolution (1979–83), and their consequential influence and effect on present-day Grenadians who experienced these traumatic events.
It could be argued that heroes emerge out of the crucible of time as outstanding patriots and trailblazers. At this point in time the names emerging from the crucible are Fedon, Louis La Grenade, Donavan, Marryshow, Gairy and Bishop — all connected to politics, as if politics alone could build a nation. In fact in the Sentinel’s view, our local and regional politics are the most divisive element in Caribbean unity. Take for example CARICOM, after 40 years in existence, and supposedly the successor to the dismantled West Indian Federation in 1962, by Norman Manley of Jamaica and Eric Williams of Trinidad and Tobago, our regional approach to Caribbean and world affairs is still insular and a pipe dream, with little prospect for change in the near future, given the personalities and political agendas of our present crop of regional politician, despite the compelling demands for regional cohesion in order to successfully compete in a polarized world.
It is for this reason that the Foundation which was established in 1994 and bears the name of Wilfred (Willie) Redhead, who was a playwright, public servant, columnist, author, scouts and prison Commissioner for both Grenada and Barbados, astronomer, historian and guardian of our cultural heritage – in short, a Grenadian hero and a RENAISSANCE MAN, is highlighted, in order to recall the life and times of this revered Grenadian, whose name would otherwise have disappeared into the forgotten dust-bin of Grenadian history.
There are other outstanding Grenadinas who could be included in this category, who are now departed and long forgotten, such as Dr. L.M. Commissiong (Physician, satirist and poet), in education — J.W Fletcher, who fortunately has a school named after him, in the clergy – the late Archbishop of the West Indies, Sir Cuthbert Woodroofe; and in law and jurisprudence, the late Professor Randy McIntosh. It must not go unmentioned, much to the credit of the then governments that our only tertiary institution has been named after T. A. Marryshow and our international airport in honour of Maurice Bishop.
Among the living, there are many Grenadians who could be possible unsung heroes, but the Sentinel would like to take this opportunity to salute, no other than a media personality — LESLIE PIERRE by name.
Leslie is one of the founding members of the Willie Redhead Foundation, and it was at his office, then on Melville Street, St. George’s, that the Foundation blossomed and grew. His newspaper, the VOICE and others, gave the organization in the early days and up to today, a voice and a public platform to bring our concerns regarding our natural and cultural heritage to the Grenadian public.
Besides being a newspaper editor and publisher, Leslie was in his earlier years a scouts commissioner — successor to Willie Redhead (skipper), was involved in publishing the TORCHLIGHT newspaper during the revolution which led to his arrest and imprisonment by the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG), president of the Grenada Media Workers Association (MWAG), president of the Jaycees and the St. George’s Rotary Club; was involved in the formation of Rotaract, was an independent delegate on the international whaling commission (Green Peace), and organized and managed the Caribbean Archaeological Society conference held in Grenada in 1999, under the auspices of the Willie Redhead Foundation.
At present, Leslie is not enjoying the best of health, and it is in this regard that the President, management and members of the Willie Redhead Foundation join in wishing him a speedy recovery, and hope that his wife Clytie and his family are coping. The Sentinel also joins in sending best wishes, and for the return to good health of a Grenadian Patriot, and one of our many unsung heroes.