By E Stephen Alexander
The issue of the name of Carriacou and Petite Martinique on the cover of the Grenada passport has become a contentious issue in the ongoing consultations for the revision of the Grenada Constitution.
A few days ago, there was a consultation meeting in the town of St George’s where several persons expressed their view points on the issue. I was exceedingly impressed by the case made by the two presenters on the delegation from Carriacou. My question, though – why do we even have to make a case for putting the name ‘Carriacou and Petite Martinique’ on the cover of the passport?
At the recent consultation, one person asked the questioned why Carriacou and Petite Martinique should be on the passport when there are several other islands within the geographic boundary of the state. Well, what that observer failed to remember is that Grenada consists of fifteen political constituencies with fourteen on mainland Grenada and Carriacou and Petite Martinique forming the fifteenth constituency. That in and of itself, points to the constitutional validity of the case that is being made for the global recognition of the sister isles.
As a Grenadian national who has spent most of my adult life outside of Grenada, it always amazed me whenever a foreigner, hearing or perceiving an accent, would ask me if I was from Jamaica. It was until 1983 after the intervention in Grenada by the Americans that I had less of a task explaining my Grenadian nationality. However, in many instances, I had to explain that the name is pronounced ‘Grenada,’ and it is a country in the Caribbean and not as ‘Granada’ in Spain. I still have much explaining to do whenever I am asked what part of Grenada I came from and Carriacou gets into the picture. Will the name Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique on the cover of the passport change that? I don’t think so. But I will feel a better sense of national pride when I explain, as I usually do, that the state of Grenada consists of three islands: Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
What is at issue in the minds of WE, the people of Carriacou and Petite Martinique, is not just a name. It goes much deeper in our psyche; it is that sense of national pride that we as a people need to enjoy as every other member of our beloved nation. We have been deprived of that recognition for too long. We have always seen ourselves being treated as second class citizens of the state. Carriacou and Petite Martinique for years have made major contributions to the economic growth and development of the state. I will argue that our contributions to nation building goes beyond the taxes we pay. We have always done our share in providing political leadership as well as our increasing contributions to both the legal and medical professions.
The state of Grenada has benefited from the contributions of prime ministers and governors general whose origins are directly from Carriacou and Petite Martinique as well as a number of other political figures. Over the past few years, there have been at least five parliamentarians who were either born in Carriacou and Petite Martinique or from Carriacou and Petite Martinique decent; and even the president of the senate and an attorney general during that period originated from the sister isles.
We are not asking for much just the recognition that we deserve. One might argue that the cost of putting the name on the passport might outweigh the benefit. Well, I wish to postulate that national pride cannot be measured in dollars and cents and the intrinsic value of the global recognition of the people of Carriacou and Petite Martinique as equal citizens of the state far exceeds the economic cost whatever it maybe.
I think it is high time that the citizens of Carriacou and Petite Martinique should be given the recognition that they deserve, not only by adding the names to the passport cover but the understanding of our brothers and sisters on mainland Grenada that we are not just Kayaks but equal nationals of one great country.