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At the Mountain looking at the Fountain

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By Hudson George

 

You standing at the top of the mountain

Watching the water as it flows through the fountain

You feeling the breeze coming from the sea

And shaking the leaves of the trees

 

You watching the river running down the valley

You see the village

You hate civilisation

You hate society

 

You dressed like the first human beings

You admire creation

You consider society as corruption

 

You standing at the top of the mountain

Looking towards society with pity

Saying it should not be a world of selfishness and vanity

Not knowing you are selfish too

You running away from the struggle which is life

 

You standing at the top of the mountain

Looking at life, the world uncertain

You don’t want to struggle any longer

You think tomorrow it will be all over

But you don’t know the fountain is a positive water

It springs life which is normal

(C) 1988

 

 

 

 

 

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Shango leaders Norman Paul and Tan Po Po versus Roman Catholic Priests in Tivoli

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By Hudson George

Tivoli is a village in St. Andrew, Grenada, bordering St. Patrick. It has a Roman Catholic Church and a Roman Catholic School. However, decades ago there was a conflict in Tivoli between the Roman Catholic priests and Orisha worshippers better known as a Shango worshippers during the last week in lent known as Holy Week.

The religious conflict had it roots in colonialism. The French had already established their version of colonisation with Roman Catholicism as the new religion for more than a century before the British took control of Grenada.

Therefore, the majority of Grenadians were Roman Catholic but deep inside the heart and soul of most Grenadians they are still tied to their African spirituality, that creates religious duality within the population and Tivoli became the centre of religious duality conflict during the last week in lent, known as Holy Week.

Basically, I remember as a small boy walking from Hermitage, St. Patrick to Tivoli R. C. School with exercise book, a textbook and no shoes on my feet, crossing the border that separate St. Patrick from St. Andrew over the Palm Bridge that creates the divides.

However, as a small boy those days I find the distance was very far to travel but I had no other choice but to pound the road barefooted morning and evening, even when the sun was very hot and I could have felt the heat at the bottom of my feet coming from the hot asphalt road.

I remember there were two Orisha shrines in the community. One of the shrines was controlled by well-known worldwide Orisha leader Norman Paul and the other shine was controlled by Tan Po Po. The two shines were not far apart from each other. They were walking distance apart, about seven minutes for the most, even though Norman Paul shrine was situated in Conference village.

On the other hand, the Roman Catholic Church is not far away from the two shrines either. The walking distance from Norman Paul shine to the Catholic Church is about less than fifteen minutes. And from Tan Po Po shrine to the Catholic Church is about six minutes.

The parish priest in Tivoli had strong influence on the people who attended church service. On the other hand, The Shango leaders had great influence on their followers too. And what makes the conflict even more complicated some Grenadians who are Roman Catholic are Orisha worshippers too

I remember during that time Father Pyke was the parish priest at Tivoli R.C. Church. His influence spread beyond the village. He served as parishioner for Catholics in other villages in St. Andrew and even in some villages in St. Patrick, including Hermitage, Mt. Rose, Pointzfield and Observatory.

Father Pyke used to ride a motorbike scooter. Those days some people were scared of him. He had once physically abused an old lady called Ms. Anne Mumu from Tivoli by slapping her in her face. During those days it was common for priests to physically assault church members.

Not too long after I started school at Tivoli R. C. School, Father Pyke had left. He was replaced by Father Bowen and the church members were happy. However, after Father Pyke left, he died a couple months later and the people within the Catholic community did not mourn over his passing, they said he was a wicked priest.

Father Bowen was a better community priest. I remember hearing those faithful Catholic saying he was a nice priest. I remember he was a good draught board player and he used to visit the Handicraft Centre at Tivoli R.C. School to play the game draught with Mr. Valentine Viechweg who was head of the Handicraft Centre and then later on became principal of the Tivoli R.C. School.

In addition, during Holy Week lent time, Tivoli junction used to be a lively hot spot, as those wooden colourful buses such as Study Your Head, Leader G, Easy Going and Welcome loaded with Shango worshippers dressed in beautiful bright colours clothing with their heads rapped, passed through the junction heading to Norman Paul’s shrine and Tan Po Po Shrine, ringing bells, singing and chanting.

And while the drums are beating we could hear the rhythm of the different drums, while we were in the classrooms in the school. On the other hand, the Catholic priest was not happy with the Shango activities. I heard stories about some Catholic priests who confronted the Shango leaders about their religious activities, but they ignored those priests and there was nothing else those priests could have done to stop the Yoruba rituals.

During our lunch break as students, we used to take a walk past Ramdhanny shop to go see the religious activities at Tan Po Po shrine. Some students used to go past Tan Po Po shrine and walk towards Mr. Rengear shop and then walk through the side road towards Norman Paul’s shrine to see the activities.

But part of the religious conflict is that, while the Shango people were doing their rituals, the priest makes it mandatory for all students who are Roman Catholic by faith, must attend one hour from 11:00 AM to 12:00 Mid-Day, inside to church to participate in the Station of the Cross rituals. However, I was lucky not to be included in the service because I am not a Roman Catholic.

Those of us students who were not Roman Catholic were told to remain in our class and do some reading, while all the teachers are in the church with the Catholic students. During that time all teachers at the school were Roman Catholic, so they had no other choice but to follow the rules of the church.

Even though those of us who were not Roman Catholic were happy to be free from the religious activities at the Church, we had to be vigilant that the school Principal Mr. Braveboy “Bravey” don’t sneak up on us and see us doing anything that is not educational. If he catches us idling, we getting some real leather belt blows. Those days “Bravey” was more interested in going to get his drinks at Mr. Lyons shop after school.

In addition, some of us students who were not Roman Catholic had an option if we want to participate in the Station of the Cross rituals. I participated a few times when Father Bowen was the parish priest just to see what was going because he was a people’s person.

After Father Bowen left Tivoli, then came Father Zed who was much younger. Father Zed was originally from Czechoslovakia. It is said that he ran away when the Russians invaded Czechoslovakia to stabilize and installed a new socialist’s regime.

One day I saw Father Zed boxed a student for talking inside the church, so I never went back. The student was originally from La. Poterie. I can never forget that day. However, I find the service was long and boring because I never really like going to church. I find the one hour service was like five hours.

Now that I am older and I understand that Roman Catholic rituals are similar the Orisha rituals and this is the reason the African slaves were able to use the Catholic saints in disguise, in order to practice their African spirituality and rituals.

Therefore, Norman Paul, Tan Po Po and the Roman Catholic priests were all worshipping the Almighty Creator, but colonialism was the only difference.

 

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Grenada carnival is an entertainment package

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By Hudson George

The contents of Grenada Carnival is a package of cultural entertainment and those of us who love the activities should have all the rights to participate and enjoy every aspect of it without no apology.

However.  those who are not interested in the celebration activities should go and find their own niche and stop complaining.  Grenada is supposed to be a secular society, whereby citizens have the right to participate in events and activities that suit their taste and desire.   

Nothing is wrong when people and communities come together to have a good time in a carnival atmosphere, once the environment is safe and there is no major threat towards individuals safety and well being.  Therefore, there is no need to promote and advocate conservative moral values as an excuse to distract carnival lovers.

We must remember that our carnival package is not only isolated inside Grenada for visitors to  enjoy. Our soca artistes and calypsonians have a long history of selling the package in the various Caribbean carnival celebration events  in North America and Britain, within the Caribbean Diaspora communities.

In addition, we must always remember that every  society contribute to culture because all cultures are tied to the history of society.  However, due to the fact that we are living in a global village, we cannot isolate ourselves from the wider world.  We are part of the global village family.

The world population census information  shows that we are a majority black people whose origins are mostly  sub-Saharan African people. Therefore, it is impossible for us to reverse society to the past centuries that set the course for  this present era of time.

We are already visible  in the modern world of science and technology, where news spread very fast by electronic media, such as Facebook, Instagram, messenger,  twitter and telephone calls.

On the other hand, we love to boast and say, “Grenada to the world”.  So, if we want to promote Grenada to the world as a place of beauty, peace, harmony and historical sites, we must be able to showcase and sell our natural homegrown talent on the international market.

For example, when visitors come to Grenada they want to see and enjoy things that are unknown to them. They want to experience  things that are unique to Grenada. If we cannot create such an attraction, the visitors will not come to Grenada.

We cannot expect to sell Grenada to the world as a place to visit, if we decide to take a conservative approach in almost everything that we are doing.   We must focus on creativity to survive. Our creative is our homegrown talent in terms of what we produce locally.

Presently, our soca artiste Mr. Killa song “Pick Up Something” is having a big impact globally,  the lyrics in his song makes its way into the NBA finals between Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors as well known Canadian rapper Drake upload the song in a video to celebrate the Raptors achievement.

 

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Eating The Flesh of Your Brother

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By Hudson George

 

Eating the flesh of your brother

And protecting the skin of your neighbour

Eating the flesh of your brother 

Eating it raw

While he is screaming in pain 

Never know you are a savage

A human flesh eater 

Eating the flesh of your brother 

And digesting it into your stomach

And you never vomit

Wonder how the hell you chew it

With your teeth

 

Eating the flesh of your brother 

And smiling before your friends

Without any guilty conscience

How long will you continue

To eat your brother’s flesh

His blood will fill your chest

 

You are an animal

You are a cannibal

Dressed in jacket and tie

But before you die 

You would be dead a long time 

Because of your deeds

 

You sit down with your neighbour

And plan to eat your brother

You said he should be dead 

Long, long, time ago

And you did it 

 

You eat your brother’s flesh

Your belly is a graveyard

You consume human flesh 

Inside your chest 

You eat the flesh of your brother

And you tell your neighbour

How nice it is

 

(c) 1988

 

 

 

 

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This Car Reminds Me of Antique political Activists

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I shoot the photo in Detroit and I decide to share it with a poem.

 

   
This Car Reminds Me of Antique political Activists

By Hudson George

 

If this car was a human being

It will be very old

And it will be walking around with a walking stick

But sadly, it has no brain and mindset

It has an engine that needs a  mechanic to repair it

When it is not working properly.

 

This car is old.  

I don’t know the brand or the model

Or what year it was made

And the company that manufactured  it

All I know it is an old car

It is an antique model

 

This car looks conservative

In the days when it was classy

It was a conservative car

Rich people and  celebrities

Were its lovers, while the poor people

Could only  look at it with envy eyes

Hoping one day,  they can enjoy its comfort

 

So I shoot this photo of it

Because it reminds me of some people

Who have various versions of conservative mindset

And they are getting of age now

But they always find themselves in the scheme of things

Still trying to influence society with their conservative thoughts

In order to make it society norms

 

So, if this car was a human being today

It will play the role of a vintage politician

Who lost touch with the many decades of global changes

And the youths of today

The artificial intelligence that becomes the new revolution

Now this car has become historical

But if it was a human being with some old vintage political ideas

I am sure it will end up in the scrap yard, sooner or later

 

This car reminds me of the same old time leftists and rightists

I am still hearing  talking as a activists

With their old time political mindset that is now outdated

 

But unfortunately, they sound like the engine in this car

Same kind of noise pollution and black smoke coming from the muffler

 

(Copyrights) May 14, 2019

 

                

 

 

                

 

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Conservative elements will always criticise Carnival celebration

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By Hudson George

 

When the European slave ships left West Africa coast with captive Africans on board as human cargo, under the control of European slave traders sailing across the Atlantic Ocean towards the Americas, there were spirituality on board.

The slave traders were Roman Catholic Christians but they were thieves and the Africans had their spirituality but they were held in bondage at the bottom of slave ships.  This is the original story of black people in the Americas

However, from that day on the Africans were labelled as primitive, ungodly and lazy people.  And up this present era there is no solution to bring closure to that unfortunate period of history.

Furthermore, it explains why we love to dance, sing and create different genres of music and body movements to the beat of musical sounds. So, we can easily say: “It is, as it is”

So, whenever we as black people come together to have a good time or to decide what is best for our future, there must be some critics who will make negative comments to degrade our needs and wants.

Now, within our Grenadian population as a people, we have elements of cross cultures that need to coexist in our secular society based on the Westminster version of British democracy but it appears as though some people of influence within the subcultures seem to want a society that function within their own personal moral values.

But then again, within the various subcultures there is a commonality among the conservative elements, regardless of their political and religious beliefs and affiliations.  They tend to create an alliance to discredit activities and events that are not inclined with their social class.   Therefore, the main function of conservative minded people is to label activities that they do not like as public vulgarity and nuisance to society.

On the other hand, the vast majority of Grenadians believe in the existence of a supreme being, while there is a small percentage who are atheists.  However, sometimes Christian believers and atheists share the same social values and opinion about what is considered to be appropriate for society and what is vulgar in society based on their class socialisation.

In addition, in our present house of parliament there are elected and selected parliamentarians, who do not share the same religious moral beliefs but their role as parliamentarians is to make sure that the society is stable. Therefore, in order for the society to be stable, people must learn to respect secularism but the conservative elements will never accept openness as the norms.

So, as Spicemas Corporation launched the carnival May 4th, 2019, it is expected that the conservative elements within society will protest as usual, throughout the carnival season about loud music noise pollution, abuse of alcohol and indecent dressing by masqueraders. And this is where the conflict of secularism ends up in public melee.

Therefore, I personally believe that if the conservative elements are not participating in carnival culture, they should not condemn others who chose to play mas for entertainment and enjoyment.

However, it is expected that the show will go on and foreign visitors will be coming to Grenada to enjoy themselves in the carnival activities, and as usual our African spirituality will be the highlights. And as long as the African spirituality is present in our culture, the conservative forces will continue to criticise.

But the big question is: How can we as black people “de-Africanised” ourselves, when we were born with our African spirituality? We were not born conservative.

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Kite flying noise pollution is affecting some Grenadians health?

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By Hudson George

 

As society constantly keep on changing, some people change too because human beings create behavioural patterns that affect society.  Now we are hearing some people in Grenada complaining against kite flying in their neighbourhood community. They are saying that kite flying noise pollution is affecting their health pattern of sleeping.

Well if what these anti kite flying noise pollution activists are saying is true, a lot of us who are grown up men today, who had once enjoyed our boyhood days flying kite in the dry season during the lent period, must have caused many injuries and deaths among older folks within our villages and we were not aware of it.

So, maybe we must have innocently killed our grandparents, grandaunts, grand uncles, elderly cousins and other old men and women in the villages whom we had loved and they had loved us too, due to our ignorance about Kite flying noise pollution that affect vulnerable people’s health.

On the other hand, if kite flying is creating noise pollution that is affecting some people’s health, I am now wondering why so many rich people chose to spend their monies buying land property and building large luxurious homes and guest houses close to Maurice Bishop international airport, where the modern sophisticated hi-tech noisy jumbo jets make arrivals and departures flight every day of the week throughout the year.

Furthermore, the issue about noise pollution could trigger other subgroups within society to raise more complaints. For example, if some villagers start complaining about jumbo jets noise pollution is disturbing them, will the government close down the international airport and stop large aircraft from coming to Grenada?

The noise coming from the jumbo jets is so much louder than the kite’s “marvel” voice that creates excitement for kite flyers and kite lovers, who enjoin hearing kite singing as the wind blows.

I am sure that these anti kite noise pollution activists are very much aware, about the big jumbo jets that keep on flying very low over the residential areas in the southern parts of the country with the sound of noise coming from the engines vibrating through the roof top ceiling of houses as the pilots approach the landing strip at the international airport.

In addition, I am not living in Grenada presently, so I am wondering if the complains about kite flying as a nuisance to citizens health is not an imported cultural moral value imposed on the Grenadian local population, because there some Grenadian returnees who lived most of their productive working for many years abroad who have different cultural values from the majority of local citizens.

The vast majority of these returnees by choice are sort of wealthy or upper class by social status and most likely there is a possibility that they want to enforced North American and European cultural values on the majority of citizens who never travel beyond the shore of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.  Some of these returnees believe that the traditional ways of living in Grenada is outdated and primitive.

Now, this is just my opinion on the issue because I was born and raised in Grenada, where kite flying was a seasonal activity during the dry season that coexists with Christian values for the preparation to celebrate Good Friday and Easter Sunday as holidays for Christian worshippers, based on the  crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour.

I can remember parents telling their boy children, that they are allowed to fly kite but if the kite fall on a tall tree, do not climb the tree to retreat the kite because Good Friday is not a good day for climbing tall object structures and swimming in the river and the sea. We were warned that if we disobey these rules something bad will happen to us. So, I am wondering if this new complaint about kite flying noise pollution is not a copycat imported culture brought to Grenada by returnees and other wealthy new citizens who want to set their own rules and moral values with an excuse.

 

 

 

 

 

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Grenada’s history should be taught without political bias

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By Hudson George

It is not a big surprise why some of my critics are very quick to make personal at me, for saying boldly in my last article, “Eric Gairy led Grenada’s only successful revolution.” However, I am challenging them to prove me wrong with historical constructive written scholarly proof and facts.

Basically, while my critics are wasting their time attacking me for my opinion, pertaining to the former PRG regime, the political “Sore Foot” burst again between Maurice Bishop supporters and RMC/OREL political faction during March month 2019 celebration activities. The two groups are quarrelling for ownership of the 40 years anniversary celebration of Grenada March 13, revolution.

Their attitude of showing some kind of entitlement behavioural pattern, looks as though they really think the Grenadian people will believe that God sent a telephone message from heaven saying, Grenada belongs to them.  On the other hand, some of the less diplomatic and ill-discipline arrogant ones within their fold, are roaming the internet Facebook trying to pick fights with opponents of the celebration.

While they wasting their time making negative comments about my opinion, they are not making an effort to write a paragraph on the topic to support their political values, but they foolishly keep on exposing how ignorant they are about Grenada’s history. They prefer to act like “bad-johns” and “Lawah” citizens who are always living with anger and arrogance.  However, I have a good message advice for them.

I am advising them to purchase some scholarly books written about Grenada by Grenadian scholars, with information from the period of slavery during the French and British colonial era unto the Eric Gairy GULP political era, so that they will be able to get a better understanding about our present political culture.

In addition, if their intention is to educate younger generation of Grenadians about our history, they supposed make it their duty, to  explain the Julian Fedon rebellion as a conflict, whereby  two European colonial powers fought against  each other to exploit free labour from captive African slaves.  They supposed to explain the role and status of mulattoes, who were fighting to gain superiority status over the African slaves within the slave society system.

They supposed go into details and explain what  were the causes that led to the Fedon rebellion and why the vast majority of African slaves support Fedon’s rebellion, while another French Creole mulatto named Louis La Grenade joined alliance  with the British to crushed the rebellion. Unfortunately, they are using our history as political tools to achieve their political goals.

Therefore, I am advising them to read these three historical scholarly book written by Grenadian intellectuals.   The books are as follows:  (The role of the Free Coloreds in the Slave Societies of St. Kitts and Grenada, 1763-1833. by Edward L. Cox).   (The Gairy Movement, A History of Grenada 1947-1997, by George Griffith).   (Belvidere Estate Fedon House, by Herman G. Hall).

I hope that after they read these books, they will be inspired to search for more historical knowledge about Grenada’s political conflicts and stop relying on political propaganda from educated folks, who have personal interest and ambition to create another recycle revolution, with people who have strong family ties to the old oppressive class.

Additionally, as a black person myself, I think it is unfair, when black and brown Grenadian scholars keep on trying to paint Eric Gairy as Grenada’s worse  political  ruler, by trying to highlight the mongoose gang as the  only vigilante group in our political history.  I think it is time that young Grenadians should know that the  free coloureds in St. George parish had their own vigilante militia groups to protect their mulatto status over black slaves and to track down runaway slaves and punished them.

I think it is time for young Grenadians to know that Louis La Grenada Sr. and his son Louis La. Grenade Jr. were compensated by the British for their role in suppressing slave rebellions  and by so doing, they were compensated with money   and honours titles by the  British. They were able to purchase large acreage of agriculture estates. However, up to this present era of our time, their offspring’s are enjoying the fruits of our ancestors labour.   Therefore, I think it is my rights as a Grenadian to give my opinion on the issue and negative comments cannot scare me.

 

 

 

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Grenada needs a new political party to end the oppression

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Grenada’s ruling New National Party (NNP) government deducted money from striking public workers salary. The vast majority of these workers are black Grenadian women and some them are single mothers, plus they have extended families to support based on our society family structure inherited from our African fore-parents. So, when will the oppression end from slavery to this present time?  

Basically, this form of oppression is not new to the vast majority of  Grenadians. It started when the French colonists committed genocide against the native population of Caribs and after that, the French political writers wrote fake history and tell us that the native people jumped to their death during the last battle with the French army in Sauteurs because they did not want to surrender.  Now, today Sauteurs town is known for its historical site Leapers Hill.

After the native population was extinct, the French colonialists brought captive Africans bound in chains and shackles to work on the tobacco and sugar plantations as slaves, in the most inhuman conditions that lasted for more than two centuries.

During the period of slavery, there were many rebellions but the most popular rebellion was Fedon Rebellion that took place in the latter part of the 18th century.  The majority of black slaves rebelled against the British after the French gave up Grenada to the British in the Treaty of Paris in 1763 and the French planters were not happy with the British authorities.  

So, the big question is:  Why did the slaves put their trust in the French planters, and they despised the British as their new coloniser?  

One can only suggest that the French planters must have promised the slaves some kind of freedom, or maybe the British slave system was more brutal than the French.

The conflict between the French and British planters escalated and the black African slaves joined the French planters in the rebellion against the British.  The rebellion lasted for almost two years and the rebel fighters captured almost the entire island, except the capital city today known as St. George’s

In the battle, the British Governor Hume was captured and executed by the rebel fighters.  After the British launched a successful counterattack under the command of Sir Ralph Abercromby,  his troops recaptured Grenada with the help of some urban opposition fighters under the command of a French Creole man named Louis La Grenade.

Louis La Grenade who was also a slave master was compensated by the British for his loyalty. He was allowed to have his own militia in St. George’s and he became the first local creole to own a shipping company. In addition, there is a possibility that he was involved in the slave trade within the island with his merchant ship too.  In addition, he had many black African slave women as his concubines. His favourite slave women named Iris, whom he made sure that the British declared her a freed black woman.

Grenada remained a post slave colony until February 7, 1974, when the country got its independence from the British, under the leadership of Eric Matthew Gairy who was a descendant of black African slaves. Gairy was never liked and accepted by the mulattoes and local white ruling class even though he defeated them in the Sky Red Revolution in 1951. Gairy’s revolution was against the plantocracy.

One can argue that Gairy completed the Fedon revolution in 1951 because the British colonialists had no other choice but to recognised him as a black politician fighting in the interest of his people.

After Gairy championed the working class struggle for almost three decades, there was a vacuum for change because his ideas were no longer accepted by a younger generation who wanted a political change.  The new generation created a new movement for change in rural communities.

The movement was a rural base grassroots political organisation called the Jewel Movement that was very popular. The Jewel Movement popularity attracted urban intellectuals and they formed an alliance.  The urban-based intellectual organisations were MAP and OREL.

The leaders of the smaller urban movement were intellectuals. They merged with Jewel Movement and created the New Jewel Movement. The grassroots rural youths were comfortable with the inclusion of the urban intellectuals.  They accepted the intellectuals as their guardians but unfortunately, those intellectuals were thinking bigger than Grenada. Their ideas were not inclined with the historical and traditional culture of the masses.

However, on March 13, 1979, the New Jewel Movement over-throned Eric Gairy’s government but things did not work out as most rural supporters expected.  The intellectuals abandoned the New Jewel Movement manifesto and set up a socialist-communists style government with a Central Committee as the highest decision-making body and they brought some of their intellectual comrades from the other Caribbean islands as experts to help them create the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG).

They suspended the constitution and create new laws that citizens were scared to challenge. One of the new law was the Pension  Plan Act of 1983.

Again, one can only presuppose that the PRG wanted to take full control of the public sector, with the aim of destroying civil servants as a petty bourgeoisie class, in order to hire new workers in the future, who are indoctrinated within the PRG socialist-communist ideology.

In terms of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) the PRG created, it was a very good safety net for workers who are employed in the private sector industries. So, it is very difficult for those of us who are not covering up the PRG political intention, to say openly that we are very suspicious about the regime future plans.

On the other hand, it is very easy for all Grenadians who are not playing politics with this present industrial strike by public workers, to say it loud and clear, that the government should give the workers their money that they are asking for and they are entitled to get.

The simple fact is that the PRG regime is no longer in power. Westminster style democracy has been restored in 1985. Therefore,  both the New National Party (NNP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and some Trade Union Leaders are guilty of robbing public servants.

So, I personally think that there is a vacuum for a new political party to fill in the void and do the right thing in the interest of the public servants and to get rid of tribal politics, and all those political opportunists who feel that they are entitled to govern the Tri-Island State of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.

 

Janet House

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By Hudson George

After the destruction of Isle Of Spice in 1955 by Hurricane Janet, the Janet house(s) became a popular building structure in the Tri Island State of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. The house got its name “Janet House” because of the time it was built and the purpose it was built for. It was built to shelter homeless people, who lost their original homes during the hurricane disaster. According to what my father told me about the Janet- House, is that the lumber that was used to build the houses came from Surinam, (Dutch Guiana), South America. During that period of Grenada’s history, the late popular leader Sir Eric Gairy was the leader of the country. Although Gairy political strength and power came from the working class, there was some bourgeoisie in the GULP
party, who had some power and influence. These upper class GULP were corrupted, so they gave some of the houses to their friends and family, while the people who needed shelter the most were deprived. (Grenada always has this class problem)

The Janet house was an open “cepulka”. Everything in one; as Grenadians would say: ” All in one” A sort of ‘Jupa’ kind of house. After the houses were built , people had a problem living in them, because the wood or board had an unpleasant odor…A stink smell. A Grenadian comrade told me that some people were not able to get a Janet-House because they were living on the estate property and the estate owners did not want them to build wall pillars on their lands. (A Janet-House was built on four concrete pillars pined to foundation running board) For example, in Hermitage, I can remember there was some Janet-Houses, but people who had middle class houses and middle class life style owned the majority of them. Some of these people were descendants of the plantocrats. So they were using the Janet-House as a “Bucan” to store their agriculture products, such as nutmeg, mace, cinnamon and clove. (Hermitage has lots of spices)

My father also told me that these plantocrat people were the middle class GULP who took these ‘Janet Houses’, although they were not homeless. Therefore, they robed the victims of the hurricane. He also told me that Sir Eric Gairy promised the people better houses with room and hall separated, by saying: ” I will give you houses with privacy so that the children won’t see what daddy and mommy doing in the night” However, Sir Eric Gairy never fulfilled his promise. In spite of all those political and social problems in relation to the Janet-House, the building becomes part of our history. People used to say that the Janet-House is very strong, but anytime you break it and rebuild it somewhere else, it never looks the same again. (visible spaces usually appear between the groove and tongue of the board and reflection of the bedroom lights become visible at night)

There is also cultural history tied to the Janet-House. For example, one of the baddest Shortknee mas band in Grenada (In the Mt Fendue-Mt Rich area in St Patrick) was called Janet. The brothers were tough. Real Bajohn! They had their belly. “Janet Shortknee” had warriors such as Vance Best and Dandoray. Vance was the fastest razor man Grenada ever had. Before you say: “Jack Robinson” Vance would give you about fifty razor cuts. The reason why the band was called Janet, is because one of the bajhon inherited a Janet-House from his fore-parents and all the ‘bajohn’ used to congregate in that Janet-house as a community centre. They used to cook people fowl, make fish broth and tannia log in the house. So they called their Shortknee band “Janet”. Those days, for a young man to play Shortknee with “Janet band”, he had to be a criminal. His resume must be a prison sentence or the prerequisite.

As a young boy growing up in Hermitage, St. Patrick, I remember when Janet Shortknee took over the Hermitage police station and beat up the police. Vance cut a policeman’s belt with his razor. If the police were not wearing his thick belt, the razor would have cut his belly. That was the first time I saw civilian with so much guns. (This is why I believe the Shortknee spirit played a part in the Grenada revolution) Janet Shortknee waved their guns and feloto in the air and sing the song: “Six O’ Clock gone already, Rose Hill mas dam had to come. If Ah did know was so, any dam thing could of happen.” Those days Janet and Rose Hill had the baddest Shortknee mas in Grenada. (Most of Janet Shortknee members were from Mt Rich Village. But there were rumours that Rose Hill Shortknee had stole some dynamite on the construction site in Bathway, where the Canadians were building houses. Plus they had guns too and they were taller. So the Janet-House is really part of our history. Although its real purposes were to shelter the homeless, the bourgeoisie and Shortknee used it as bucan and community centre. Even today, our young men are still using the Janet-House as a place to socialised, sleep and ‘snick’ in their girl-friends at night when their parents are sleeping in the family house.

There is also stories about how the Janet-House was a good habitat for bed bugs. Most Grenadians who lived in Janet-Houses prior to the hurricane would tell stories about bed bug hiding in the crevice of the board. When night comes and they turned of the kerosene light, those bed bug used to come out. During their sleep, those bed-bug used to bite them and drink their blood like vampire. They say when children peeing in bed, the bed bug used to be more vicious and numerous.
Those days people used to sing a song: “Bug O Bug O, Bug O in the island”

(C) 2001

Grenada carnival is bacchanal affiliated with politics, culture and business interests

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By Hudson George

 

Grenada carnival has multiply events of  bacchanal affiliated with politics and and cultural activities. The street celebration festival is no more an event of entertainment for people who only come out on the street, to dance to the music and have fun in a celebration atmosphere.

It is nothing like five decades ago, when the two days of the street festival was a time when food and drinks were almost free and the government and other interest groups were not involved in the activities of the celebration for political and financial gains. Carnival was just the people celebration with no strings attached.

Today’s carnival events is corrupted with all kinds of opportunists looking to gain something personal from the celebration.  It is no longer a community-based event with villagers participating in activities within their individual villages. Masqueraders are now attracted to big money prizes to participate in events at the national stadium in the capital city St Georges.

Now we have Spice Mas’ Corporation (SMC) which is the governing body of the celebration.  The SMC is not an independent body free from politics and it does not matter which political party that is in power governing the country, the SMC will be driven by political values of the ruling party and their friendly interest groups.

Then again we have a fast-growing tourism industry with an increase in numbers of large luxurious hotels recently constructed in the southern parts of the island. These hotel owners have an interest in the carnival celebration events, due to the high volume of visitors coming to the country for the festival. Their sole interest is to make money from the celebration by providing top class accommodation for the visitors at the highest at most secured standard.

In addition, for the past two decades or so, calypsonians and soca artists are involved in the political bacchanal of carnival due to tribal politics.  Presently, there are two different active calypso associations that are led by some influential calypsonians with opposite political interest. Therefore, the calypso fraternity is divided and politicians are ones who are benefiting from the divides.

It is speculated that the two different calypso associations are aligned to the two major opposing political parties. So, presently calypsonians are openly involved in party politics and those calypsonians who sing negative songs about the government are not likeable by the government supporters, while the opposing party supporters show them love and application. And if the there is a new government take control of state power in the next general election, the conflict will continue. Nothing much will change because of the mindset of the people

In terms of persons selected as judges to judge the various competitions such as soca monarch, groovy soca monarch, calypso monarch and queen show contests, it is speculated that most of the time, the judges make bias decisions based on their individual political affiliations and liking for some contestants.

The only good thing I see happening in the pre-carnival events is that, villagers are given the privilege and opportunity to practice mas’ on the streets in the rural community villages, as it used to be traditionally many years ago before some religious converts and a new bourgeois class became anti carnival, by complaining about noise pollution.

Furthermore, even though our local jab jab music artists are making new waves on the international entertainment market, there are some critics who are still opposed to the indigenous genre of music. And whenever they are asked for another alternative, they cannot explain what they are complaining about because they are just addicted to opposing things that are popular.

Anyway, t is expected that this year carnival celebration will be bigger than in previous years. And it is expected that some of the critics will attend the J’ouvert mas’ parade in the various parishes just to find fault and excuses fault to criticise.

 

Shortknee Mas’

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Shortknee   

By Hudson George

7:30 Monday morning, Shortknees came out dressed in their traditional costume. Grandma came out to see her grandson. He is playing Shortknee for the first time. Her husband and sons played it before.

The warriors sang their spiritual songs. Grandma cried with joy. She was showered with sweet white powder. The entire village sang the chorus, as the warriors chip the mas. They sang revengeful songs. They sang about what is going on in the community as they tumbo to touch the sky.

The warriors left the village for the rest of the day. They sang songs like, “More blood on me clothes than mirrors, leave me mother home she bawling. Leave me mother home she homeee!”

“Ruff as sea eggs sour as gospo, we go leave ah man to bury, we go leave ah man to bury.”
“Copper chest against 303, we go leave ah man to bury, we go leave ah man to bury”

After they are all gone, Grandma looked to the sky and ask God to protect the Shortknee for the rest of the day.

Evening time came, and as the sun sets behind the mountains, rumours came earlier that there was a fight in Sauteurs town, between Chantimelle.Mt. Rich and Darvey shortknees. Gunshots were fired and a girl from Mt. Rich got shot in her leg down low town. Hermitage village was worried.

Grandma cried for her grandson.

Then came the sound of voices, and the music of the wooloo. The warriors came back to the village once more. Grandma began to tumbo too. She even chips the mas’ as power whiten the shy.

The Shortknees are back again! They were greeted by their girlfriends. Everybody was happy to see them. Then they sang the song: “Rock of ages cleared for me. Let me hide myself in thee.” And darkness cloud covered the village, as the Shortknees walk towards their home to rest for the next day carnival.

Tuesday Morning came. The Shortknees came out again, dressed in their traditional costume. Grandma came out again to see her grandson. She cried out loud with joy and said, “ Son, follow the footsteps of your father.”

And all the Shortknees came around her. They sang the song: “Grenadmama won’t cry you won’t see your son anymore. You won’t see you son!”. With that song, Grandma cried again. She cried for her Grandson.

The warriors sang, “Put more bed inside the hospital. Grandmama you bawling”

They jump the mas’ up and down the street. Then they sang a song, “If them police playing hooligan, we go leave ah man to bury. We go leave ah man.”

And the villagers answered the chorus, and many women cried as the Shortknees went away from the village for the las today carnival.

Later on, the evening came once more. And the villagers came out once more at the crossroad near the junction to see the Shortknees for the last time.

Then came the sound of the wooloo and voices singing. The warriors came back to the village once more. The entire village came together to welcome them, and there were dancing on the street until the sun went behind the mountains and carnival is over.

But the spirit of the Shortknee still exists in hearts of the people St. Patrick, as it always, since our forefathers came from Africa to the land of Grenada.

(Copyright 1986) Published in different collections

 

Some Grenadians importing American English

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By Hudson George

As we keep on importing new words into our Grenadian vocabulary, some historical and traditional words are fading away. Therefore, it creates a new copycat culture for this present generation of Grenadians to gravitate towards North America version of English Language.

Growing up as a small boy I remember the word “nana” was frequently used by residents within the rural villages to express certain behaviours during some activities. However, the word “nana” had two different meanings.

For example,   the word “nana” was used frequently during kite flying season, when a young boy robbed another young boy kite and thread. The young boy whose kite was stolen in his absence used to say, somebody “nana” his kite and thread.

Nowadays kite flyers are not saying another somebody “nana” their kite because young people today do not know that word.  So with time over the years the word “nana” is no longer popular within our local Grenadian English usage as a means of communication to describe an activity.

In addition, the word “nana” was also used to tell little children to come and eat some food.  It was very common to hear grandparents especially the grandmothers telling their grandchildren to come and “nana” some food, or come for your “nana”. In that specific context, “nana” means to eat. And the little children will follow their grandparents command to come and sit down and eat some food.

Now, we are using imported North American words such as “kids” to describe children from adults. Parents, teachers and other adults are calling children “kids” and it has become part of the norms because we accept the word into our Grenadian language of communication.

We accept the word “kids” because it is more commonly used in North America and now it is sort of accepted in the English dictionary. So, we do not have a problem calling Grenadian children “kids” because it sounding cool. It is not a Caribbean patois word, or an isolated Grenadian word coined into our local vocabulary.

In addition, we are using the word “like” too regular within our Grenadian vocabulary.   Whenever I listen to younger Grenadians speaking, they tend to use the word “like” very frequently as North American youths.  Every sentence they make, when they are speaking, they keep on using the word “like” as a form of sequencing.

In addition, a lot of our young educated Grenadians are using the new phrase “and stuff like that” on a regular basis to prove their point in discussion and argument.  However, “and stuff like that” is a North American phrase newly imported into our local Grenadian English.

On the other hand, there are some educated Grenadians living in North America who hate to hear Grenadians back home using the word “persons” instead of saying people.  But these are the same Grenadians in North America who prefer to spell certain words as Americans, rather than spelling in the original British correct method, that they were taught at school in Grenada.

For example, Grenadians living in the United States spell the word  “labour” as “labor”  and “neighbour” as “neighbor” but they quick to make negative criticism about Grenadians back home  using the word “persons” more regular that “people”.

So you see me! I do not want to get involved in this English Language argument. I believe that language is communication.  The main thing  is to understand each other through the language communication because the first time I heard Americans saying “I Rock” for “Iraq” and “I Ran” for “Iran”, on their television broadcasts, I was totally confused. However, I come to realise that is the way Americans speak to communicate with each other.

Therefore, if the Americans can create their own version of speaking English and spelling some English words different from the original British English  Language, then why some of us Grenadians living in North America keep on criticising Grenadians back home for saying “persons” instead of people?  I believe we have our own version of English too and it is good.