Sir Eric’s legacy as Father of Grenada’s Independence has not received the level of recognition it deserves
Going forward, calls for a more unified and self-sufficient nation
The contribution of Sir Eric Matthew Gairy in Grenada’s History is undeniable, but for some Grenadians, his legacy as the Father of Grenada’s Independence has not received the level of recognition it deserves. 20 years after his death on 23 August 1997, the Government of Grenada unveiled a monument in last September in the Botanical Gardens, which was renamed the Sir Eric Matthew Gairy Botanical Gardens.
Despite this, some Grenadians have expressed their desire to see that the legacy of Grenada’s father of Independence is consistently entrenched in the minds of younger generations. As Grenada celebrated the 44th anniversary of political independence from Britain, random people attending the celebrations at the National Stadium were interviewed to find out what they would like to see happen in the country, going forward.
Taxi operator, Joseph Simon Nelson better known as Joe Pepe, said growing up he had the opportunity to witness several speeches by Sir Eric in person and grew to admire him as a leader. Sadly, he said, years later little is known of Gairy’s contribution. “I humbly believe that the good he has done for this country, he is not fairly treated…what they are doing to celebrate our great achievements is not enough. We need more. People have to be more self-conscious of the history of Grenada. We need more education; we need to separate the good he has done from the bad, and both must be taught to the people, to decide.”
A gentleman who preferred to remain anonymous criticised the lack of civic education in schools. “In Washington, every kid can tell you about George Washington. Every kid could tell you from the 1st to the 44th presidents of the United States. In our schools where they don’t teach our history, our history is being severely eroded.”
Reflecting on Grenada’s 44th anniversary of Independence, some Grenadians are of the view that Grenada still has a long way to go before we can truly call ourselves independent. Apart from the improvement in Grenada’s economy through the creation of sustainable livelihood, promotion of local entrepreneurship, and local investment in manufacturing, people have called for a more unified nation.
Brian Grimes asked, “What is the reality? Are we truly independent as a nation? One of the things that concerns me greatly as a citizen of this country is the amount of money we spend on imports…so even though we state that we are an independent country, our self-sufficiency leaves much to be desired. So, I would just like to see going forward that we need to do more in manufacturing and as a people we should become far more united. It is being preached from all corners but in terms of tangible evidence of unity is lacking; you see it on social and general media.”
Author and educator, David Ambrose says despite overcoming many challenges and political turmoil at times, Grenadian resilience has shown that much can be achieved through adversity. Ambrose is of the view that more can be accomplished especially throughout the education system which he says needs to be equipped with technologically advanced teaching facilities.
“I would like to see improvement in our education system: better schools not necessarily more schools but better-equipped schools. We always talk about being in a technological era, so let us see reflections of that in classrooms, [and] better-trained teachers.” He also added to the call for more unity among Grenadians, saying, “Sometimes we only think that we are one people when we celebrate the success of some Grenadians here or abroad, then we are all one Grenadian. Otherwise there are things here that continue to divide us.”