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Grenada's Renaissance, updating an old post.

Will someone please tell me that students in Grenada, and indeed the entire Caribbean, are no longer still being fed exclusively as required reading with literature books written by European and American authors.

The plethora of books by Grenadian authors today makes it impossible for me and I suppose for many others too, to understand why the powers that be are not promoting and using works written by our own people, in all of Grenada's schools. Sometime ago at a Luncheon reception in Newark, NJ commemorating Grenada's Independence, I asked that question of my old GBSS and Hostel colleague and "old partner in crime", Elvin Nimrod, the Deputy Prime Minister of Grenada. To say the least his answer was much too vague.

Anthony Wendell DeRiggs' REFLECTIONS & OLE TALK is but one of his many publications that can surely be a starting point for our elementary pupils. Humorously told, students would have the added benefit of reading stories partly written in their own colloquial language and most of all encountering places and themes with which they are very familiar.

Regardless of which part of the Caribbean you happen to come from, you are likely to have grown up hearing scary stories about Lajablaise, Madam Malady, Ligarou/Soucouyant etc. CARIBBEAN TWILIGHT by Clyde Viechweg will add to those memories.

Mr. Wolf's determined attempt to clear his name of the image given by the three pigs will have any elementary as well as upper class roaring with laughter and waiting with anticipated breath for its outcome as they read William & Marie Guillaume's hilarious and unusual tale in MR. WOLF V. THE THREE PIGS.

I remember when my GBSS literature master was trying his darndest to get us to see behind the words of poems like John Milton's PARADISE LOST and LYCIDAS among others. Looking back at it, I wonder if it was too hard for us Caribbean students to relate to the European settings, and perhaps blinded us to what he wanted us to see.
To get his point across, if only Mr. Baptiste had used a poem like THE WORDS NAMED POEM written by our own Arnie Steele, who has identified himself as Mangodog on the Talkshop, the beloved and venerable "Daddy Bakes" just might have produced far more interested and brilliant English Literature students.

History, Sociology, Customs and Literature are all rolled into one in Dr. Wendy Craword-Daniel's fascinating UNVEILING ISLAND PASSION, as well as my own A PLACE CALLED GOUYAVE. Reviewers are claiming that they should be mandatory reading in Grenada’s schools.

The romantics would love how Nordica Francis used her fertile imagination to weave a fictional tale about Black-White relationship in WHITE PAINT ON HER FOREHEAD. And for the legal minds, Rowley Jeffrey's GEMS IN THE CRACK will reveal the intertwining of race relations and the law.

For those who want to know a little more than the scant rumors surrounding the mysterious Julien Fedon, I invite you to read Herman Hall's BELVEDERE ESTATE - FEDON'S HOUSE.

Finally for the more mature there is Joseph Ewart Layne's WE MOVE TONIGHT, and Dunbar Campbell's BLOOD OF BELVIDERE among others to try getting an understanding of what happened during the tumultuous and fateful years of Eric Gairy, Maurice Bishop/Bernard Coard and the subsequent invasion of Grenada by the Americans who President Reagan claimed were there to rescue the medical students at St. George's University.

Times are changing. People, some of staunch Christian beliefs, today are questioning many of the old beliefs we used to hold fast and close to our chests. Even Latin is becoming a thing of the past in of all places the Roman Catholic Church, where steel-band music is fast becoming an integral part of the Mass. Most of all Grenadian authors, many of whom are from Gouyave/St. John's area, are telling our people's stories for us to laugh, learn, and relate to. Let's remember that Sparrow did captivate us with calypsos. And didn't Mark Twain did that for Americans, and Shakespeare for the English?

Therefore I am asking in case we are still not as yet doing so, why aren’t we exposing our children to the unbelievable writing talents of what can be justly called the GRENAIAN RENAISSANCE?
As we are now looking more and more inwardly to better understand and appreciate who we are, shouldn’t works by Grenadians be among the main ingredients in the cauldron that is molding our school children’s minds?

Your thoughts are welcome.

Re: Grenada's Renaissance, updating an old post.

It is an unfortunate but universal truism, that a prophet has no honor in his own country.This was borne out in a hundred ways recently by Anthony Bourdain's "Parts Unknown" program on Brazil. He went into the State Capital of Belo Horizonte, to investigate what is widely accepted in Brasil as the Creme de la Creme of Brazilian culinary artists.

What he found was that all the top chefs had been trained in Europe, on their return, they struggled to offer local foods to their customers, and had to often disguise it as something European. That despite their deep desire to offer authentic home-made menus which originated from African Traditional cooking, no credit was ever given to those who were responsible for heavily influencing Brazilian cuisine,and that it was a struggle to get patrons to pay for food, that their grandmas will serve at home.

Which somehow brings us to your concern about books in schools.I do not know of the teachers you speak, not having attended institutions of higher learning, but I have been aware from an early age, that the system which was charged with the acculturation of savages from slavery into erstwhile servants of the Colonial powers, mandated that they were taught,religion, proper manners and deportment, and the literature of their sponsoring countries. They opened the door, and along with the "three wise men", came Milton, Chaucer and Shakespeare who I suspect were the three wise men hiding behind sobriquets?

Well after all, it seems to have served you guys well, judging from the enlightened discourse, served up on this forum.The new people though, the Gren Exers of the digital age seem less into books, electronic or otherwise, and more into social media and video games. The thought of feeding them a diet of Nursery rhymes and Nancy stories, would probably be treated with derision and howls of laughter by toddlers with cell phones sticking out of their pampers. By the time they get to Kindergarten, they would be asking,"What is this thing called a book? The horse may have already left the barn, hard on the heels of Poke Mon.

Re: Grenada's Renaissance, updating an old post.

There isn't much that one can use to dispute the points that both Downstreet and Vernon have used to pooh-pooh the idea of a real Grenadian Renaissance. But maybe if we were to use the back-drop of my childhood to make that argument, it may begin to make sense.

When I was growing up as I related in A PLACE CALLED GOUYAVE, Gouyave used to be perceived as backward, barbaric, and ready to fight any and everyone who dared to cross our paths. When Sparrow sang “Ah young and strong, ah eh fraid a soul in town” he might very much have had Gouyave people as his reference point.

Thus there was a certain loathing about "things Gouyave" that were pervasive throughout Grenada. Even the daily catch of fresh fish along with their vendors that the town-folks depended on, were nonetheless met with scant regard. They were summarily dismissed as "dem jacks woman."

It was virtually impossible for a Gouyave-man to be included in a Grenada national football or cricket team. And who would have ever thought that a Governor General, much less two could follow each other almost consecutively!

One could easily make a claim that the dramatic changes what were sweeping throughout the colonial world were also manifesting themselves in our own Gouyave, Grenada and indeed the entire Caribbean. It was like a rebirth!

Uncle Gairy opened the eyes of the long-advantaged estate workers to make them realize that if not they themselves, at least their children would one day conquer new heights. No need to outline as Gouyave is littered with evidences of that truth.

In time, Grenadians began to realize that without the inclusion of a Peter "Perry" Pounder and Seon "Beginner" Francis, our national football team was nothing more than a silly joke.

Unlike past times when the Black worker in the bank was definitely the clean up woman, today he /she is likely to be a teller, and oh yes, even the manager.
The artistic world was likewise bombarded by the likes of Sparrow and Bob Marley. When "if you sister talk to a steel-band-man, you family want to break she hand" that was once so pervasive, began to be replaced by DAN IS THE MAN being used as the topic of a lecture and discussion at UWI, it became abundantly clear that a shift in Caribbean people's appreciation of themselves and their heritage was well underway, notwithstanding that there were still many miles to travel.

Even in the wide world of sports, Sir Garfield Sobers, Rohan Kanhai, Basil Butcher, Lance Gibbs, along with their other unbelievable supporting cast made it clear to cricket lovers that the style of the "sunshine boys" was how cricket ought to be played and enjoyed.

But while those various changes were taking place, the Caribbean writing world was a long way off, yet to be developed. Of course there were Samuel Selvon, Edgar Mittleholzer, V S Naipaul and others but Caribbean authors were very far and few between. They were not as prolific, revolutionary and captivating as their singing counterparts. Sparrow and Bob Marley were making their imprints on the world, while the authors were yet to emerge.

Emerge they did. In Grenada alone the outpouring of sophisticated, yet amusing tales of Caribbean Twilight Tales, We Move Tonight, Blood of Belvidere, Mr. Wolf v. The Three Pigs, and Gems in the Cracks among many, many others, were becoming reasons for Mrs Carnice Modeste to stage a Caribbean literary evening in Brooklyn two years in a row with resounding success on both occasions.

Writing in Voices from the Harlem Renaissance, Nathan Irvin Huggins noted:

"Symbolically then, the Harlem Renaissance stands for something more than the actual works of art it produced. Like all symbols, its primary significance is the deep emotional force it embodies. .... The Harlem Renaissance tells us that we are to be taken seriously-by ourselves as well as by others."
He went on to conclude that the Harlem Renaissance was nothing short of a confirmation of "a people's culture and underwriting their identity and self-respect."

When viewed as a part of the vast changes that took place in the post colonial world, it's my opinion that the plethora of current written works by Grenadian authors is, like the Harlem Renaissance, an awakening of our capabilities through our own choosing, how we identify ourselves whether the critics like us or not, whether politicians choose to accept and recognize us or not.

Who knows? Maybe time will make the difference.

Re: Grenada's Renaissance, updating an old post.


At lease for me, it was not a matter of " poo-pooing" the idea of a Grenadian Renaissance but rather, an acknowledgment of the difficulties in getting us to that point, given the mindset of some. And as I had recognized a renaissance to be the transcendent adaptation of a peoples' culture into accepting practically every aspect of it as their creation, I stated that the efforts of those who continue to try should be recognized. I also implied that maybe the focus ought to be one of a re-education initiative among those who are of the mindset that our contributions are inferior. But my intention in making those points was not to deminish any of the achievements made thus far.

Equally so, the trappings of having illusions of grandeur is always ever-present when one believes that his/her creations are the best. I am sure you must have remembered my statement some years back when I opined that "Gouyave, having the best tasting fish in the world". Aside from the fact that I was only speaking in hyperbolic terms, I was keenly aware of the learning opportunities to be had from the different cultures of the world.
Conversely, I stated that we should never accept mediocrity as the standard of excellence, simply because it is ours.

Now as to your follow-up, it is indeed noteworthy to highlight the works and contributions of all you had mentioned and give credit to those who had advanced their level of thinking to accommodate them. However, from a Caribbean perspective, one cannot deny that a common unity among our Brothers and Sisters are still lacking despite some cultueal acceptances among a few of us. All these factors are needed to be in place in order to make that leap forward towards a renaissance but are made more difficult by our political and geographical design. I do not believe a renaissance could be fully accomplished with a "micro-state designed" like ours; unless one can point to a model. Do you know of one?

Our History reminds us that we had failed miserably from an economic perspective and there is hardly any evidence to show any measured educational accomplishments that has impacted our region beyond our individual borders.

So yes Bro, we are trodding along, taking baby steps while leaving behind a legacy of advancement. Hopefully that leap would come one day but I doubt it is going to be in our lifetime.

I wish there was better news.


Re: Grenada's Renaissance, updating an old post.


On reintroduction of your previous post,

In my humble opinion, by way of a mere introductory experience with the literary accumulation of works, may not be enough to support a leap forward towards achieving any educational revolution to qualify as a renaissance; the sort that is required for a transition towards another phase of our sociopolitical and cultural transformation .

I say so with the best intention of an optimist and as someone who would have loved to see  recognition be given for the efforts of those who have tried. But in reality, the fact remains that as a micro country, still in its embryonic stages of learning and struggling to establish an identity away from the influences of "Mother", the task of accepting our own as a replacement of the established order remains a daunting one.

In my response to your initial post, I had made reference to the mind-set of our supposedly educated leaders who remain hell bent on maintaining the status quo, where the acceptance of "class" still dominates their thinking. Downstreet's food analogy through the experience of Anthony Boudine points to the very essence of the captured minds of our people. It is ingrained in our DNA to establish worth by paying others yo give us the very same things we already have.

Said Street in bringing home this salient point,

>>>>>>.....What he found was that all the top chefs had been trained in Europe, on their return, they struggled to offer local foods to their customers, and had to often disguise it as something European. That despite their deep desire to offer authentic home-made menus which originated from African Traditional cooking, no credit was ever given to those who were responsible for heavily influencing Brazilian cuisine,and that it was a struggle to get patrons to pay for food, that their grandmas will serve at home......<<<<<<<

And therein lies the dilama, they prefer to pay for a corrupted version of their traditional cooking, simply because they think it is better. The same could be applied to every aspect of our lives; foreign is better; the Whitier, the better and more trustworthy.

This is precisely why our esteem Honorable PM, an educated leader in all rights, had some years ago, placed the backings of our entire treasuary(the peoples' money) as collateral to support the business venture of an investor who presented him a photocopy of a Ruby as proof of his(the investor) legitimacy.

The rest was History.

"I can see Downstreet rushing to take ah shot of Rivers, straight up! upon reading this"....lol

But in keeping with the food theme as established; the mind set attributed to it and the desire to experience something different, I too had fallen prey to that state of mind, when some years ago, unbeknownst to me, I paid over $30 for dining on a plate of what we in the French Quarters colloquialy refer to as "Sea Koon-Koon".....pardoning my ignorance of the correct name for this Crustacean...Arthur already gave me permission to exercise my literary rights with caution on this, so an apology is not necessary here.

So why on earth did I ever think that this "grub" served over Linguini would satisfy my culinary experience, I had no idea but I was convinced that the ambiance of the evening had called for a an introduction of my pallet to something..... "more sophisticated", hence the Barnacle.

The late Maurice Bishop some years back, made another food reference to our mental malady in his Ovaltine analogy, albeit from an economic perspective.

Paraphrasing, said he,

" they took our cocoa to England, they grond it up (shell and all), put it in a tin, then sell it back to us as Ovaltine". The implication here is that we abandoned our good nurishing cocoa and paid dearly to drink a lesser inferior product with all its contaminants.

All these analogies have one commonality that goes back to our classification as subjects in need of assimilation, the crux of  imperialist mentality. We are pre-conditioned at an early age that as a conquered people, we must "class up" while still accepting our second class designation with a culture and education as inferior to those of our subjugstors. Hence we develop a inferiority complex that transcends to our decision making process, regardless of our achievements. Therefore in order for us to proceed along that path of a renaissance, we must first rid ourselves of that malady of infetior thought processes and re-learn how to accept our own on even par as any other. Alternatively, we must be able to distinguish the difference between mediocrity and exceptional and accept that outcome for what it is. Until then, all efforts towards achieving that end should be regarded as a step forward in the right direction with our renaissance being the ultimate achievement.


Re: Grenada's Renaissance, updating an old post.

Ahem, Vernon, you talk a book there my boy.We are the products of European brain-washing which would probably endure for another several generations.of course as the European influences fade, they are being quickly replaced by the American strain. This leads one to ponder whether we will ever be able to find ourselves.

A friend shared a story of his trip to West africa with a mixed group of Caribbean and Afro Americans. After arriving on the Continent, grumbling arose about the lack of creature comforts that the members were accustomed to back Stateside.

The African tour leader had to put and end to this by declaring," Welcome to Africa, You have travelled here to learn about your Motherland, if you were expecting America, you should have stayed there, and saved yourself, the time and the money."
A serious adjustment to our social and cultural compass would probably start with a visit to the Motherland for reorientation. In short we have to replace our foster "Mutha" with our biological Mother.

As for our passion for "Tings from Foreign" as I said before, in the Spice Island, "KFC talks" and Grenadian born and bred "yard fowl" walks,... unafraid of ending up in a pot.

And speaking about food, ah hear, because I do not go up dey, that two species known as Bowbowipus L'ansepus, and pussycatipus maximus, have been extinct from the North Side since Mama San set up her culinary establishment hard by Boykeville. Vern the proper name of the creature which you so happily placed into your mouth for $30. is probably the "limpet", after which "Limpet mines" circa World War ll, was named. Divers attached them to enemy ships below the water line and, Kaboom!

Whether you were driven by your warlike nature responding to that subliminal message or by your primal urges to ingest something that you fantasize as "Koon Koon of the Sea," i am sure you enjoyed it and considered it money well spent.

Re: Grenada's Renaissance, updating an old post.

>>>>>>Whether you were driven by your warlike nature responding to that subliminal message or by your primal urges to ingest something that you fantasize as "Koon Koon of the Sea," i am sure you enjoyed it and considered it money well spent.<<<<<<

When Tony De heard dat, he said to me,

"boi! You have money to waste!?
Ah en spending ah black cent for it, ah does get it for free".

Some people lucky we?

>>>>>And speaking about food, ah hear, because I do not go up dey, that two species known as Bowbowipus L'ansepus, and pussycatipus maximus, have been extinct from the North Side since Mama San set up her culinary establishment hard by Boykeville<<<<<
You see you!?
You have cuss!
Ah have to watch me self wid you because
you is ah dangerous fella......lol