by Marguerite-Joan Joseph
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana 1905.
As a Grenadian whose ancestors came to this island many generations ago, I have been watching – and will continue to watch – with interest, the events surrounding the River Antoine activity of last week, 27 April, 2017.
In many historical happenings, there are winners and losers. What history notes is not just who won and who lost, but how the winners and the losers went forward, and what developed as a result of the happening(s). Because of the conflicted nature of certain historical happenings, varied and intense emotions are inevitable; anger being a prominent one. The final stage of grief is sublimation, where the highest ideals possible to the human mind are extracted from sad experiences.
Historical events are re-enacted globally: The Battle of Waterloo is re-enacted annually at Waterloo field on 18 June; The American Civil war is enacted all over the USA annually. The intention in such activities is to have the populace be educated about, and fully aware of the historical events.
Usually heroes are recognised. The bravery and determination of the vanquished is usually to be revered. When we reflect on slavery, we should recognise how our enslaved ancestors used their wits to resist, their resilience to survive and their faith to carve out a future for their children in the face of such adversity.
Remember Bwa Nèg Mawon. The location of the secret almost inaccessible Bwa Nèg Mawon (Woods of the Runaway Slave) though sought for by the authorities in the days of slavery, and later by historians in this era, was only found hidden in the seriously endangered language. It was kept by the people of the village of Concord for 250 years, and was only unmasked by a study of the language working within The Grenada Creole Society in 2012. Though the keepers kept the secret they didn’t actually know what it meant until deciphered/interpreted in 2012.
Do not miss an opportunity to recognise our survival against all the odds that faced our forcibly enslaved forefathers: we would surely learn a new respect for them and for ourselves.