Tim Tim... Papa welcome. And how are you my children? I am going to tell you a story, a wonderful
story, about a beautiful island, about three beautiful islands in the Caribbean Sea. Oh, they
have plenty beautiful islands in the Caribbean Sea, but these three, these three are different, these three are special, especially the one they call Grenada.
And why is Grenada so special? Well, that is what this story is about. Now, its just a
story, you hear? So dont go saying how I telling lies. I just telling you what other
people tell me. But I dont think big people go lie just so, so it must be true.
Paul Keens-Douglas, Twice Upon a Time
Since achieving independence in 1974 the tiny Caribbean state of Grenada, Carriacou and
Petite Martinique has been propelled into the international spotlight by a number of remarkable
events, though its romp on the world stage seems in stark contrast to its small size.
In March 1979 it became the first state in the English-speaking Caribbean to experience
a successful coup d'etat. For the next four-and-a-half years, it figured into the affairs
of superpowers as Cuba and the Soviet Union became ideological and financial supporters and
the United States increasingly became an adversary. US President Reagan, in speeches in March
and April 1983, made references to Grenada and the growing Cuban and Soviet influences there
and the potential threat to democracy in the region. He insisted that "It isn't nutmeg
that's at stake in the Caribbean and Central America; it is the United States national
security," and questioned the possible military uses of the Point Salines International
Airport by Cuba and the Soviet Union. In October 1983 the country exploded into world
news headlines when its charismatic prime minister, Maurice Bishop, was placed under
house arrest and subsequently executed by a faction within his own government.
A few days later Grenada was invaded by the US military, and for the first
time East met West when Cuban soldiers/militia fought against invading US troops.
Having recovered from the political chaos of the 1970s and 1980s, Grenada suffered
a devastating setback in September 2004 when Hurricane Ivan scored a direct hit and left the islands in ruins; in July 2005 Hurricane Emily caused further damage. These events have created immense interest for students of history and politics from around the world as is evident by the numerous books and articles so far written on the Revolution and US military intervention. There is, however, a growing interest in many aspects of Grenada's history and culture, and a book of this nature, incorporating the varied aspects of culture, history, the natural environment and politics, will be a valuable resource to anyone interested in these islands.
The threat of the disappearance of the islands cultural and natural heritage, as in the
cases of Shango and the Grenada dove, respectively, have made it absolutely necessary that
we begin to preserve and conserve these unique attributes for future generations. They are
a valued inheritance to Grenadians as a source of pride and identity, as well as of potential monetary value if managed appropriately as a heritage tourism product that visitors can appreciate and respect. In this fast evolving world where the global village is quickly becoming a reality, it is difficult to define our own particular community because its uniqueness is disappearing before our eyes. This book is meant only as a first step towards establishing a framework for the preservation of our islands natural beauty and cultural heritage.
There is so much more about Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique I could have included,
but I had to confine myself to the people, events and places that have had the greatest impact
on our historical environment. The inclusion of elements of the natural milieu-flora and
fauna-was based on criteria of both beauty and frequency of appearance, and in many cases
their impact on the economy and the ecology of the islands. Though Grenada shares many of
its social and political institutions with the countries of the region, it nonetheless
displays marked differences and uniqueness. It exhibits singular characteristics like the
Big Drum Dance and the Grenada dove because of its geographical separation.
I have tried to represent culture and history across social class lines, illustrating the
evolving nature of the society. I have attempted to capture the overwhelming influences of
Africa and Europe, and to a lesser extent those of India and the Americas on Grenadian identity.
Entries include the Amerindians who first made these islands their home; Anansi stories from
West Africa that have provided entertainment for generations; prominent leaders like Julien
Fedon, T A Marryshow, Sir Eric Gairy and Maurice Bishop; the natural beauty of Grand Etang National Park and Grande Anse Beach, which are so inviting to visitors to our shores; the religious celebrations of Fisherman's Birthday and Easter; the ceremonies of the Big Drum Dance and Shango that beat out the rhythms of Africa; the festivals of Carnival and Carriacou Regatta which unite all in national celebration; the bitter but tangy taste of damsel, the sweet taste of sugar apple, and the red Christmas drink of sorrel, spiced with rum, that all define us as Caribbean, but more specifically as Grenadians (Carriacouans and Petite Martinicans).
A major asset of this book is its arrangement, with entries alphabetically listed as in a
dictionary to afford easy access. Words or phrases in uppercase/capital letters throughout
the book mean that there is an extended entry. To be consistent throughout I have adopted
the standard spellings for patwa/Creole words as presented by Richard Allsopp in his monumental
work Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage. The term Grenada may refer to the major island or
the tri-island state; its meaning will be made clear in its context.
This book, it is hoped, will offer a great deal to many people: to Grenadians, at home
and abroad, old and young alike, it affords a chance to reminisce, pass on a heritage,
or explore a rich legacy; to the researcher it is a source book; to the visitor it is a
guidebook to the islands and its people, culture and history; to the historian it offers
a diverse, but coherent look at the past; and to the trivia buff it is a treasure trove.
Lastly, I would like to comment on the facts and stories I have assembled here. In the over
ten years of research for this book I have stumbled upon facts, figures, folklore and oral
history that were often confusing, conflicting and sometimes absurd, yet fascinating. Oral
history often conflicted with written history, and folklore and facts were jumbled, making
separation often difficult. The reliance on certain secondary sources sometimes, the only
sources available, was unavoidable. Yet, through it all, I have made an exhaustive effort
to verify all the stories, facts and folklore to the best available knowledge. I hope that
when readers detect inconsistencies, they will bring them to my attention so that this book
can become a more complete and accurate repository of a peoples history, culture and the