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Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
    Table of Contents
        Page i
    Front Matter
        Page ii
    Editorial
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
    Epigraph: Signs, by Merle Collins
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    Back Cover
        Back Cover
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ribbeaniOuarterly
Volume 41, No. 2
June, 1995


SOMETHING TORN AND NEW-The Grenada Revolution


ISSN 0008-6495








VOLUME 41,No.2


CARIBBEAN



QUARTERLY

Torn and New The Grenada Revolution
(Copyright reserved and reproduction without permission strictly forbidden.)
Guest Editorial iii
Epigraph : Signs, by Merle Collins iv
Caribbean Insurrections 1
Brian Meeks
Working by the Book or Playing By Ear: Language, Literacy
and the Grenada Revolution
Hubert Devonish
Adult Literacy and Participatory Democracy in
Revolutionary Grenada 38
Pedro A. Noguera
Grenada Popular Culture and the Rhetoric of Revolution
: Merle Collins' Angel 57
Carolyn Cooper
Grenada- Ten Years and More : Memory and Collective
Responsibility 71
Merle Collins
BOOK REVIEWS 79
Books Received 89
NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS 91
INSTRUCTIONS TO AUTHORS 92


JUNE 1995










CARIBBEAN QUARTERLY
UNIVERSITY OF TIIHE WEST INDIES
Editorial Committee
The lion. R.M.Nettleford, O.M.., Pro Vice-Chancellor, Professor of
Continuing Studies, Mona( Editor)
(;.M. Richards, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Principal, St. Augustine, 'rinidad
Roy Augier, Professor of History, Mona, Jamaica
Sir Keith Ilunte, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Principal, Cave Hill.
Neville McNorris, Department or Physics, Mona
Veronica Salter, School of Continuing Studies, Mona (Managing Editor)
All correspondence and contributions should be addressed to:
The Editor,
Caribbean Quarterly
School of Continuing Studies,
University of the West Indies,
Mona, Kingston 7, Jamaica.
Manuscripts
We invite readers to submit manuscripts or recommend subjects which
they would like to see discussed in Caribbean Quarterly. Articles and book reviews of
relevance to the Caribbean will be gratefully received. Authors should refer to the
guidelines at the end of this issue. Articles submitted are not returned. Contributors are
asked not to send international postal coupons for this purpose.
Subscriptions(Annual)
Price
Jamaica J$150.00 (1993) J$200.00 (1994)
Eastern Caribbean J$ 200.00(1993) J$300.00 (1994)
United Kingdom UK15.00 UKE 20 (1994)
Canada. U.S.A., and other countries US$30.00 US$40 (1994)
Exchanges
Exchanges are conducted by the Gifts and Exchanges Section, Library University of the
West Indies, Mona, Kingston 7, Jamaica.
Back Issues and Microfilm
Information for back volumes supplied on request. Caribbean Quarterly
is available on microfilm from Xerox University Microfilms and in book form from
Kraus-Thompson Reprint Ltd.
Abstract and Index
1949-90 Author, Keyword and Subject Index now available.
This journal is abstracted by AES and indexed by HAPI
Subscription orders may be forwarded to the Editor or the Resident
Tutor at the University Centre in any West lndian Territory served by this Univer-
sity.











EDITORIAL
This issue of Caribbean Quarterly, "Something Torn and New The Grenada
Revolution,' takes a retrospective look at Grenada, now some ten years since the
revolution and the tragic consequences some four years later. We welcome the
significant contribution made by the guest editor, Dr. Carolyn Cooper, who con-
vened a panel on the Grenadan Revolution at the Annual Caribbean Studies
Association meeting in Grenada in 1992. The authors, academics, have in the
words of Dr. Cooper, succeeded in "negotiating the slippery terrain between
academic and testimonial discourse". For in all early analysis, personal testimony
is often the only recourse that the writers of history have available to them. Brian
Meeks, a political scientist with years of experience in media takes the readers on
a journey through Caribbean Insurrections. The next two articles discuss the
often overlooked importance of literacy and therefore education in a truly
democratic society. Hubert Devonish's paper is entitled Working by the Book or
Playing by Ear: Language, Literacy and the Grenadan Revolution, and Pedro
Noguera continues the discourse with his paper, Adult Literacy and Participatory
Democracy in Revolutionary Grenada. Noguera critiques the programme of
adult literacy engaged in by the People's Revolutionary Government(PRG) point-
ing out that the mobilization for adult literacy was part of a larger plan for the
development of participatory democracy in the island. Carolyn Cooper's article,
Grenada Popular Culture and the Rhetoric of Revolution discusses parallels in
Merle Collin's novel Angel with the revolution itself,so that characters are
metaphor for the body politic". She states in her final paragraph that Collin's novel
"clearly documented the social conditions in Grenada that led to the revolution".

It is fitting that the issue which begins with an unpublished poem, The Signs
also by Merle Collins concludes with the traumatically eloquent reflection on
Grenada of 1983 by the same writer entitled Grenada, Ten Years and More!
Memory and Collective Responsibility. For it is surely the collective respon-
sibility of all the peoples of the Caribbean to examine their history and determine
their own destiny.

A number of book reviews complete the issue.

Rex Nettleford











'Something Torn and New:' The Grenada Revolution


flowers bloom
their torn torn sun
heads raising
little steel pan
petals to the music's
doom
as the ping pong
dawn comes
riding
over shattered homes
and furrows
over fields
and musty ghettos
over men now
hearing
waiting
watching
in the Lent
en morning
hurts for-
gotten, hearts
no longer bound
to black and bitter
ashes in the ground
now waking
making
making
with their
rhythms some-
thing torn
and new
Kamau Brathwaite Islands
As I took my early morning walk on the Grande Anse beach in Grenada I got
drawn into conversation with a middle-aged women who ran a small shop. It was
the usual kind of exchange between the native and the visitor. How is the holiday,
where do you come from, how is business. I explained that I wasn't exactly on
holiday. I was attending a conference. I told her about the Caribbean Studies
Association and our project of academic tourism. Join the CSA and see every
single Caribbean island!











Then I mentioned the panel I'd organized on the Grenada Revolution. The
woman's immediate response was arresting. "Revolution" If I see 'revolution' mark
on bread, I stop eating bread." How to account for this wave of revulsion is one of
the fundamental bread-no-butter questions that these papers attempt to answer.
For despite the sense of optimistic certainty, the elation of making something torn
and new out of the history of exploitation in the Caribbean, it is true that the
Grenada Revolution enacted grave contradictions.

The woman elaborated. And though I cannot recall her exact words I certainly
do remember her profound sense of outrage: They had young people watching out
for counter-revolutionaries. And who you think the 'counter-revolutionary?' They
own mother and father! The absurdity of the Revolution's violation of natural ties of
kinship was, for this woman, a clear sign of its inherent weakness. Ideological
posturing has usurped common sense.

When I shared this woman's story with a Grenadian friend who had been a high
profile member of the New Jewel Movement, she recalled a similar sense of
collective disillusionment after the collapse of the revolution. In the words of one of
the alienated: "I am not joining nothing again. Not even my shoe-lace". The
irreverent wit of that heartfelt statement is a classic example of how Caribbean
people take bad things and make joke. Therapeutic laughter sustains sanity in
macabre circumstances.

The majority of the essays collected in this special Caribbean Quarterly issue
on the Grenadian Revolution were first presented at the annual conference of the
Caribbean Studies Association held in Grenada in 1992. It seemed appropriate,
given the conference theme, ... to organize a multi-disciplinary panel on the
Revolution. Political Science, Economics, Literature and Linguistics were the dis-
ciplines selected. Unfortunately, the presentation on Economics has not been
made available for publication. The paper by Pedro Noguera, presented on another
panel at the conference, complemented the Devonish paper so exactly that it had
to be included.

I was fortunate to have been able to solicit later a contribution from the
Grenadian writer Merle Collins. I knew instinctively that the personal testimony of
an activist- novelist-poet of her calibre would enhance the collection. In addition, I
would have like to have included here Nadia Bishop's eloquent tribute to her father
given at the Grenada conference. Regretfully, it has not yet been released for
publication.

Negotiating the slippery terrain between academic and testimonial discourse is
an important issue in this collection of essays. With the sole exception of the editor,











all of the contributors to this collection were active participants in the revolutionary
process. Brian Meeks, the author of Caribbean Insurrections was involved in
Political Education as well as working for some time in the Government owned
media during the PRG regime. Hubert Devonish, author of Working by the Book
or Playing by Ear: Language Literacy and the Grenada Revolution was in-
volved with the National Consultation on Education, Pedro Noguera author of
Adult Literacy And Participatory Democracy In Revolutionary Grenada was
attached to the Centre for Popular Education and Merle Collins, worked in the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the Caribbean and Latin-American Desk.

It is our hope that the essays collected here successfully make the difficulty
passage across the closed borders of conventional academic discourse. We use
as an epigraph to this revisionist collection a disturbing poem by Merle Collins
entitled "The Signs." This poem articulates the sense of dread, the foreboding
hurricane stillness of unheeded premonition It quietly howls the collective grief of a
people who have forgotten the ancient language of ancestral divination. Like the
insistent rhythms of Kamau Brathwaite's ping pong steelband music, these essays
celebrate our collective capacity to create out of the 'painfields' of our Caribbean
history something torn and new.
Carolyn Cooper
Guest Editor











The Signs
I could tell from that time of trouble, long ago
that when some secret despair under there brewing
dogs have a way of knowing, weeks before
dogs look up, crying shame and howling horror
mourning in high hot sun with the blue sky turning red
going yellow, swimming in colour people never even see before
the dogs knew
sometimes I wonder if is really that they hearing
spirit from long time screaming and caterwauling
or if is just dog-knowledge that have them howling
that dog passing on talk from under some chair
so in them have the whole story well early, because dog
howling story to dog and dog-drum message fulling up the air
whatever it is, the dogs knew
lying down low, taking kick, and when talk get hot, stepping out
to howl to their friends how they can't believe, how they
hoping talk of evolution not true, how not
all skin-teeth is good grin, how things gone sour, how big man
and woman can't swallow their pride, so the hour of
destruction is nigh, how all they could do in this kind of trouble
is howl. Believe me, the dogs knew
and with dogs howling so, the spirits that
turning in their grave get more bold, decide
to come out. And people say how their heart
beat to kill when they see a little something like a man
walking and moaning and crying in the night, bawling how some
human cut it down from some tee house that is home
I tell you, the dogs and the spirits did well know
and you know, that was long before human hearing anything
to make them start bawling. So who know? Perhaps if people
had a habit of listening, some other something
Might have come to pass. But then people say what is to is
must is. But look at that, eh! Look how in this tower of
babel, most of us, is only one language we know how to talk.
All I knr- v is, looking back at it now, one thing that sure
is that before talk break, before thing turn ole mass
I tell you, the dogs and the spirits did well know


MERLE COLLINS














CARIBBEAN INSURRECTIONS1


by

BRIAN MEEKS


Theorising on revolutions and revolutionary situations is generally accepted as
having reached a watershed with the 1979 publication of Theda Skocpol's States
and Social Revolutions. Skocpol moved beyond both 'volcanic' and economy-
centred approaches2 to focus on the role of the state. She examined it both as an
actor within its own boundaries and as part of an international system of nation
states as the crucial object of observation for an understanding of revolution. Many,
however, regarded the major weakness in her otherwise innovative approach as
being its too rigid structuralist determinism which appeared to leave little room for
the intervention of human agency. Thus, John Dunn was typically on target when
he suggested that

There is very little about the military or political
activities of state agents which can be clearly
understood except through the categories of
human intervention and action. The military,
diplomatic, economic, welfare and repressive
ventures of states (the range of characteristics
which makes and keeps a state a state) are all
complicated if often poorly integrated human
performances ... the causal importance of
imitation, obduracy and intellectual invention in
the history of twentieth century revolution is very
hard to overestimate [Dunn, 1989].
Indeed, Skocpol was aware of the weaknesses associated with a purely
structuralist approach and sought to solve this with her concept of 'world time':

One possibility is that actors in later revolutions
may be influenced by developments in earlier
ones; for example, the Chinese communists
became conscious emulators of the Bolsheviks
and received, for a time, direct advice and aid
from the Russian revolutionary regime. Another
possibility is that crucial world historically











significant breakthroughs such as the industrial
revolution or the innovation of the feminist form of
party organisation may intervene between the
occurrence of one broadly similar revolution and
another. As a result new opportunities or
necessities are created for the development of
the later revolution that were not open to, or
pressed upon, the former, because it occurred at
an earlier phase of modern world history
[Skocpol, 1979: 23-4].3

But the world time variable ended up 'structuralising the agent', by removing the
element of agency from historically significant breakthroughs, which then appear
as determined, almost inevitable events and not the peculiar outcome of chance,
contingency and human ingenuity.

Beyond Skocpol, a number of thinkers, including Farideh Farhi, Walter
Goldfrank and Rod Aya have sought to combine the advantages to be gained from
a state centred focus with a greater appreciation of the role of the agent as a critical
variable in the making of history [Farhi, 1988, 1990; Goldfrank, 1979; Aya, 1990].
Aya in particular, travelling a route well trodden by rational choice theorists,
suggests that the approach to be taken in understanding revolutionary situations
should be one of 'vicarious problem solving':
...to explain social action through Vicarious
Problem Solving, you just assume the rationality
principle that people do what they think will gain
their goals under given constraints, then
ascertain the actors' goals and constraints, place
yourself 'vicariously' in the same situation, and
figure out what you would do if you were they
{Aya, 1990: 9].
But if Aya's approach seeks to distance itself from overt determinism and
historicism, it suffers precisely because it is too disconnected from the historical
moment by this is meant not just the social and economic structures which
predominate, but the accumulation of ideas and values which inform the
revolutionary agents and provide not only the justification for their action but to
some extent determine the contours and horizons of their intervention into history.

It is suggested then, that a more fruitful approach to the understanding of
revolutionary situations might emerge from the amalgamation of Skocpol's state-










centred methodology with Aya's vicarious problem solving, wedded to an
appreciation of the cumulative and available ideological context. With this, we
might tentatively describe revolutionary situations in the following way.

Due to a variety and combination of factors, including external threat, economic
crisis and questions of succession, powerful and aggressive individuals or groups
at the helm of the state close off traditional avenues by which young, ambitious
state-building elites might have access to state power. This fissure between
dominant and contending political elites is usually compounded by other tensions,
as the dominant elites concurrently use their position in the state apparatus to
make inroads against entrenched social and political groups, namely the oligarchy
and the bourgeoisie. The economically dominant classes resist these incursions,
but it is the enraged and excluded potential state builders, typically young and
relatively highly educated, who form the bedrock which stands in the way of their
accession to the political kingdom, they seek allies and an appropriate mix of
strategy and tactics which will lead to victory. If there is resistance to their peaceful
attempts at changing the status quo, as in this context there inevitably is, they
resort to insurrection. That strategies which young, potential state builders adopt
are not, however, to be understood purely from the perspective of "vicarious
problem-solving", but from an appreciation of the cumulative and available
ideological context. Insurrection is translated into revolutionary triumph when
revolutionary elites are able to forge effective alliances with aggrieved elements
from 'below', among workers, peasants, the urban unemployed, or whatever other
popular social forces are available, aggrieved, and willing to act, on the basis of an
independent agenda, against the dominant, aggressive group/individual.
The extent and character of the intervention from 'below', together with the
horizons for democracy and flexibility written into the cumulative and available
ideological context, are decisive elements in determining not just the actual victory,
but the profile of the post-revolutionary regime, and its potential for greater
democracy and the reduction of hierarchy. Thus, it is suggested that a close
examination of the prevalent ideas which guide and influence the revolutionary
elites is not peripheral, but central to any study of revolution.
All of this, however, is in vain, if at the time of the seizure of power there does
not exist, particularly in the case of small, peripheral countries, a permissive world
context, or relaxation of the vigilance and power of the dominant hegemonic
powers [Goldfrank, 1979: 148]. It is primarily the battle between the various local
forces which determines whether insurrection proceeds to revolutionary victory, but
it is the existence of a permissive world context which will help to decide whether
state power can be held by the newly victorious alliance.











In this exploratory article, we examine three important insurrectionary events in
the post independence history of the Commonwealth Caribbean. While recognizing
the broader canvas of external and national accelerators, the aim is to focus
primarily on the cumulative and available ideological context in order to better
understand why these events occurred and why they had particular outcomes. The
three are: the 1970 Black Power 'Revolution' in Trinidad and Tobago and the
subsequent army uprising; the 1979 insurrection of the New Jewel Movement
against the Gairy government which led to its overthrow and the establishment of
the short-lived People's Revolutionary Government in Grenada; and the 1990
failed coup attempt led by Abu Bakr and the Jamaat al Muslimeen, again in
Trinidad and Tobago.
The 'Black Power Revolution' and Army Coup: Trinidad, 1970
On 21 April 1970, after two months of black power demonstration led by the
National Joint Action Committee (NJAC), a State of Emergency was declared in
Trinidad and Tobago. As leaders of the protest movement were arrested and a
dusk-to-dawn curfew declared in the twin island state, a section of the 750-man
defence force mutinied. After minor confrontations between loyalists and
mutineers, the rebel elements were contained in their base on the north-western
peninsula of Trinidad. Negotiations stretched on for several days, leading
eventually to the surrender of hostages and arrest of the mutineers.4
The background to 1970 can be seen as a series of connected but relatively
autonomous developments. Real wages, starting from a base of zero in 1956, at
first increased, reaching a high of 14 per cent in 1960 and then gradually
decreased to the low point of 4 per cent in 1968 [St. Cyr, 1972]. Unemployment,
following a well established pattern evident in small countries attempting important
substitution, increased steadily throughout the nineteen sixties. In 1955, 6.4 per
cent of the labour force was unemployed; in September 1969 the figure was 15 per
cent [Ramesar, 1972]. This was most acutely felt in strategic sectors of the
economy, including the oil and sugar sectors. Between 1960 and 1965, the number
of workers in the petroleum industry declined by 15.5 per cent and in sugar by 16.1
per cent [Thomas, 1974]. There were ample causes for popular dissatisfaction with
the Eric Williams' government, but the events of 1970 were not initiated by uprising
from below. While there were distinct moments in the decade when trade union
disputes dominated the national agenda, this was not the case in 1970. In 1965,
the threatened unification of oil and sugar workers led to the government declaring
a State of Emergency and in the pivotal transport workers' strike of 1969, contacts
were established between student and trade union organizers [Meeks, 1977:
162-70]. But the first major protest of 1970 was primarily a student affair, a march










on the Canadian High Commission and the Royal Bank of Canada in protest
against the trial of West Indian students who had been arrested in Montreal after a
confrontation at the Sir George Williams University [Oxaal, 1971: 23).
The student march of 26 February was a tiny affair confined to radical
undergraduates, eminently forgettable but for the fact that a section of the
marchers invaded the nearby Roman Catholic Cathedral and proceeded to give
speeches and engage in dialogue with the resident priests. What happened a week
later was therefore unprecedented and entirely unexpected. In support of five
students and four non-students who had been arrested for 'disorderly conduct in a
place of worship', a mammoth black power demonstration of more than 10,000
persons took place in the streets of Port of Spain. Led by Geddes Granger the head
of the NJAC, they occupied Woodford Square, declared it the 'People's Parliament'
and established it in permanent session. Between 4 March and 21 April, with
distinct ebbs and flows, this popular movement grew in scope and intensity. On 12
March, the 'long march' was held from the capital of the hearth of the sugar belt as
a show of solidarity and unity between the predominantly Afro-Trinidadlan
demonstrators of the city and the Indian population of the sugar belt; on 9 April a
massive demonstration perhaps the largest of the entire period was held for the
funeral of Basil Davis, a young demonstrator who had been shot dead three days
before by police in Port of Spain; on 13 April, serious splits began to appear in the
PNM government as Minister of External Affairs A.N.R. Robinson quit the cabinet;
and then, on 19 April, in what was from the government's perspective the most
serious event, 600 daily paid workers at the Brechin Castle sugar factory went on
strike as sugar, oil, transport and electricity workers planned to join black power
groups for a 21 April general strike and march on Port of Spain. Out of fear of the
likely results of a general strike the government then declared a State of
Emergency on 21 April, thus precipitating the mutiny in the army. But before
examining that signal event, we need to characterise the movement as it
developed from 26 February to 21 April.
Middle-class university students had their own social and political agenda. The
nationalist movement led by the PNM and Eric Williams was pre-dominantly
Afro-Trinidadian in its character. But there was a definite and justifiable perception
that despite deep incursions into the state apparatus by black Trinidadians, the
private sector was still predominantly under the control of foreign multinationals
and local white or fair-skinned elites.5 There was a further perception, again
supported by evidence that the People's National Movement had retreated from its
more radical nationalist stance of 1956 and had made fundamental compromises
with foreign powers and local elites. Thus, compromises made at the time of the
Chaguaramas6 agreement, the Mbanefoe Commission into Subversive Activities










of 1963, the State of Emergency of 1965 and the subsequent Industrial
Stabilisation Act, were all seen as part of the 'thunder on the right' which indicated
the exhaustion of the PNM's potential as a genuinely nationalist movement [Ryan,
1972: 224-37; Lloyd Best, 1965]. For young, upwardly mobile, potential state-
builders, there was also another problem: the PNM had been in power for 15 years.
It was the primary vehicle through which Afro-Trinidadian elites might enter the
state; the door to that entry had not been decisively shut, but it certainly was not as
open as it appeared to have been in 1956. Nimeteen hundred and seventy, then
can be seen as an 'incipient fissure' a social and political movement led by young,
black middle class potential state builders to re-establish a trajectory into the state
and society which appeared to have been increasingly frustrated throughout the
1960s. Had these young elites acted alone, their movement might well have been
merely an innocuous social and political reform movement; alternatively, had they
been well organised and imbued with a clearly defined and hegemonic ideology,
they might well have directed the movement from above in their chosen direction.
But there was little organisation, and the cumulative and available ideological
context was defined by flexibility, openness and the absence of hierarchy. As an
outcome of this, and critically, because of the spontaneity, scope and size of the
popular movement, the NJAC, the organisation most closely representative of the
black, student middle class ethos, was never able to shape and define events in its
own way. At best, it acted as a tribune, a sounding board for the mobilised crowd,
now, through the People's Parliament suggesting this or that direction, organising
marches and speakers, but always with an ear to the favoured tactic of the black
urban unemployed, many of whom called themselves NJAC, but acted on their own
volition.

Ivor Oxaal is insightful when he writes that the popular movement in its methods
and direction most closely fulfilled the Jamesian paradigm of spontaneous
revolution: 'In its emphasis on spontaneous action it could qualify as an eminently
Jamesian revolutionary movement, resistant probably more by instinct and action
than by theoretical design to ideological or organisational crystallization' [Oxaal,
1971: 24]. The 'Jamesian' in Oxaal's passage refers to the political positions of the
Trinidadian C.L.R. James, probably the most outstanding West Indian political
thinker of the twentieth century. In a prolific career in which he could have been
variously described as a novelist, historian, literary critic and sports analyst, James
was perhaps less known locally for his central work as an original Marxist thinker.
Never successful in activist politics at home his short-lived Workers and Farmers
Party was a failure in national elections he none the less influenced a generation
of young West Indian political activists who later played leading roles in regional
politics. Joining the Fourth International in Britain in the 1930s, James eventually











migrated to the US as a speaker for the Trotskyite cause, but broke with the
movement in 1940 to form his own tendency. Together with the talented
theoretician Raya Dunayevska, the new movement at first called the Johnson-
Forrest Tendency adopted political positions expressing implacable hostility to
Stalinism together with deep distrust of Trotskyism and all forms of vanguardist
politics [Buhle, 1988; Hall, 1992: 3-16; James, 1986].

The mutiny of the soldiers in the Trinidad and Tobago regiment on 21 May can
be seen as part of the broader spontaneous movement of which Oxaal speaks.
Junior officers in the military had their own litany of complaints which mirrored
those of young middle-class potential state-builders outside the army. Many had
been trained at Sandhurst and other prestigious British institutions while their
senior officers were often untrained political appointees who had variously been
accused of nepotism, corruption and inefficiency [Ryan, 1972: 462]. When the state
of emergency was declared, some junior officers with support in the ranks acted
spontaneously without any clear plan against their seniors. While some
commentators have argued that there were plans to divide the island into military
regions and rule under a draconian state of emergency, the limited, if still
unrealistic demands of the leaders as described here, suggested a different
agenda:
When the negotiations got under way, the
soldiers asked for a general amnesty; release of
the soldiers that had been arrested after the
Camp Ogden fire that morning; retirement of all
the short term officers; promotion to Captain for
Lt. Lasalle and Lt. Rafique Shah; an Enquiry into
the Regiment; and the return of Lt. Colonel Joffre
Serrette as Commanding Officer. The soldiers
also wanted to be allowed to travel to Port of
Spain with their arms [Oxaal, 1971: 39].
In 1970, young state-building elites and their equivalents in the junior ranks of
the military were possessed of an eclectic and incompletely developed political
outlook which had no clear perspective on the tactics necessary for the taking of
power. NJAC's Black Power was a loose amalgam of American Black Power
themes, Guevarist slogans, Walter Rodney's thoughts and traditional African
cultural nationalism [Meeks, 1977: 246-93]. It provided the movement with a
tribune from which long held grievances could be aired and political awareness
stimulated. The differentiation between leaders and led, so critical to a vanguard
type organisation was absent, as lan Belgrave, than an important member of the










movement suggests:

'NJAC was a unique type of vanguard
organisation. There was no party and there was
no set organisational structure. People became
NJAC for very curious reasons. Anyone who
marched was a member of NJAC' [Meeks, 1977:
272].

Most obvious in its absence was the Leninist notion of the vanguard, as was
Marxism as a political guide to action. This can be partly accounted for in the failure
of the Left in the cold war period to establish a permanent base in Trinidadian
politics and the subsequent displacement of radical politics in a national direction.7
This freed the movement from the constricting and hierarchical structures inherent
in the vanguard party without an alternative theory which, in revolutionary
situations would provide a strategy and the necessary tactics for the taking of
power. Oxaal has described 1970 as Jamesian, so it might be useful to examine
some of the essentials of the Jamesian position on revolutions and insurrections.

C.L.R. James's main argument is that in revolutionary situations it is the class
that acts decisively and not the often self-appointed leaders. The leadership,
composed of intellectuals with their distinct class interests, seeks to carry the
revolutionary movement in directions contrary to those of the revolutionary class. It
is therefore up to the revolutionary class to find the wherewithal to break the fetters
of the intellectual vanguard, which restrains its true historical potential. These
themes run throughout James's entire oeuvre. Thus, in Marxism and the
Intellectuals he argues for the self-activity of the workers:
'What happens in a revolution is that the class for
the first time finds itself free to think its own
thoughts and give some concrete form to its own
experience accumulated over the generations'
[James, 1980: 117].

In The Black Jacobins, he develops his position against what he considers as
the conservative constraints of the leaders in the Haitian Revolution of 1801:

The dullness and inertia of revolutionary leaders
should be one of the axioms of historical study,
and their conservatism and moral cowardice have
ruined causes more often than the forces of
reaction. The masses were fighting and dying as
only revolutionary masses can, the French army










was wasting away, despair was slowly choking Le
Clerc. But still these black and mulatto generals
continued to fight for Le Clerc against the
'brigands' ... [James, n.d.: 286].

However, on closer examination of James's writings there is some lack of clarity
on the respective roles to be played by class, party and leader in the revolutionary
situation. Thus, in a well-known eulogy and critique of the Guyanese historian and
activist Walter Rodney,8 James begins with his usual assertion that it is the class
which should lead, but ends up in a muddle as to the roles of parties and leaders:

Walter went into that highly charged situation with
people who were familiar with ideas but not with
revolutionary organisation, which has nothing to
do with the party. A party may organize but that is
not it. As Lenin says, the party can be in conflict.
In 1937 and 1938 and in 1970, there was no party
to organize the masses. The Stalinists and the
rest of them have corrupted Marxist thinking and
made the party everything. A party is useful.
Many people think that when I say the party is not
so necessary I mean the leader. There are
always leaders [James, 1982].

James seems here-to retreat from the more purist positions on spontaneity to be
found in Black Jacobins. He does not, in the end, so much present an alternative
strategy of insurrection but one closely wedded to the traditional Marxist and
Leninist framework. This, at the point of insurrection, is less concerned with the
overall political situation, which it assumes as favourable, but rather with the
specific military 'order of battle', captured in this famous statement from Engels that
'insurrection is an art':
Now, insurrection is an art quite as much as war
or any other and subject to certain rules of
proceeding, which, when neglected, will produce
the ruin of the party neglecting them...Firstly,
never play with insurrection unless you are fully
prepared to face the consequences of your play.
Insurrection is a calculus with very definite
magnitudes, the value of which may change
every day; the forces opposed to you have all the
advantage of organization, discipline and habitual











authority; unless you bring strong odds against
them, you are defeated and ruined. Secondly, the
insurrectionary career once entered upon, act
with the greatest determination, and on the
offensive. The defensive is the death of every
armed uprising...Surprise your antagonists while
their forces are scattering, prepare new success
however small, but daily; keep up the moral
ascendancy which the first successful rising has
given to you; rally those vacillating elements to
your side which always follow the strongest
impulse...force your enemies to retreat before
they can collect their strength against you; in the
words of Danton, the greatest master of
revolutionary policy yet known, de I'audace,
encore de I'audace! [Engels, 1933: 100].

The obvious requirement of a sense of direction and a centre of leadership,
implicit in Engels' words, is brought out explicitly in Lenin's work. Thus, in Marxism
and Insurrection Lenin recognizes the need for a popular uprising and the support
of the 'advanced class', but is unambiguous on the need of the establishment of a
headquarters [Lenin, 1973] for the pursuance of the insurrection and for the
direction of the revolutionary detachments. James raises the issue of the negative
consequences of middle class leadership, but fails to suggest an alternative to the
Marxist tactic of concentration and the Leninist strategy of the vanguard both
potential vehicles for the dousing of popular initiative and the elevation of (middle
class) specialists.

It was the absence of Marxist and Leninist insurrectionary tactics which
contributed to the centre-less, indecisive and ultimately defensive character of the
movement and therefore its defeat.

The New Jewel Movement (NJM) and the Grenada Revolution

In Grenada, Eric Gairy, the leader of the 1951 worker/peasant revolt against
estate condition [Smith, 1965: 269], had by the early 1960s made significant
incursions against the traditional middle classes in the state and the economic
base of the landholding oligarchy, by replacing white and brown-skinned civil
servants with black people like himself, but more critically, by granting contracts
and other favours to previously excluded black businessmen [Singham, 1968].
Gairy, within the limitations of late British colonialism came to dominate the
commanding heights of the state apparatus. And, in his 'land for the landless'










programme carried out in the late 1960s, he was able, through legal means and
force, to break the back of the landed class and consolidate agriculture on a state
farm basis under government control [Coard, 1978]. But, in making his incursions
against the top, he also created many enemies below. As he sought to dominate
the important cocoa and nutmeg associations, he undermined the power of the
big planters, but also that of the small growers who felt that they too had been
disenfranchised [Brian, n.d.]. Dissatisfaction below was further compounded by
worsening living conditions in the early seventies. Increasing unemployment in
1973 was accompanied by serious inflation. The index of retail prices which stood
at 130.7 in 1969, had risen to 189.5 in 1973 and by 1975 had moved to 269.4
[Abstract of Statistics, 1979].
Open hostility from above emerged with dissatisfaction below when Gairy
decided to use his victory in the 1972 general elections to move to independence
without having sought a distinct mandate from the people. The oligarchy and the
middle classes resisted this move, which they saw as leading to the unchecked
paramountcy of Gairy and his clique over them. Among young people, many
workers and the unemployed, independence under Gairy was also perceived as
against their interests, and likely to lead to increased police brutality and
arbitrariness.
The organisation that was to play the leading role in channelling the
dissatisfaction of these forces was typically, however, based not among the poor,
but the young, aggrieved middle classes. The Movement for the Assemblies of the
People (MAP) and the Joint Endeavour for Welfare Education and Liberation
(JEWEL) had merged in 1973 to form the New Jewel Movement (NJM). NJM filled
the same niche as NJAC did in Trinidad in 1970, but its leadership, composed of
lawyers and returning graduates fit far more neatly the notion of the state-building
middle class than the younger, student leadership of the Trinidadian organisation.9
But unlike NJAC, the NJM was, at least initially, self consciously Jamesian in its
outlook, opposing the notion of the vanguard, believing in spontaneous revolution
and advocating 'assemblies of the people' instead of central planning [MAP
Position Paper, 1972].

When resistance to Gairy grew to a climax after the November 1973 beating of
Maurice Bishop and other NJM leaders, that organisation was the leading, though
not hegemonic force in the movement. Guided by Jamesian spontaneity however,
NJM was never able to carry the street struggle beyond the period of mass
mobilisation and demonstrations to take power from Gairy, and by March 1974, the
struggle had been defeated [Meeks, 1992]. By the middle of that year then, the
lesson had been learnt: if Eric Gairy was to be removed, new tactics would be











needed. The answer, for the young, potential state-builders, was to be found in
Marxism-Leninism.

The consolidation of Marxism-Leninism in Grenada was the result of the defeat
of the Jamesian position in 1974 as well as other regional and international
conjunctures. The Cuban regime, after a decade in power had consolidated, and
boosted by high prices for sugar and Soviet aid, was able to provide generous
social programmes. The Manley government in Jamaica and the Burnham regime
in Guyana neither yet in overt crisis had legitimised "socialism" by adopting this
title in their respective programmes. In Vietnam and the Portuguese African
colonies, liberation movements guided by Marxism-Leninism were making
advances against colonialism and imperialism. The shift from Bandung-style non-
aligned nationalism was further confirmed as a result of the lessons drawn from
every revolutionary victory and defeat in the seventies. The cumulative and
available ideological context was informing the young, radicalised potential state-
building elites that Marxism-Leninism was the "correct" way. As a result between
1974 and 1979, the NJM adopted all the Leninist organisational forms and
methods, including centralism, elitism in the selection of cadres, clandestinity, and
the need for prior military preparations (Meeks, 1993: Ch.3). Each of these tactics
changed the nature of the NJM, from being a flexible popular tribune, to a far more
rigid, hierarchical and centralised Leninist type party. But at the same time it
sharpened the cutting edge of the organisation as a tool of insurrection.

When in the face of a suspected Gairyite plot to eliminate NJM leadership, the
military wing acted on 13 March 1979, they were possessed of tactics and some
weapons, which in the appropriate situation gave them the greatest possiblility of
victory. Clandestine planning; concentration of forces against the military barracks
and the sole radio station; incremental victories throughout the day without going
on the defensive; and audacious steps, such a calling on the people to assist in the
takeover of the rural police stations, all helped to ensure the conquest of power.
Ultimately, however, victory was consolidated because of a permissive world
context which meant that after national power had been taken, an international mix
of circumstances existed which stayed the hand of the hegemonic power. But on
the day, national power was taken because the potential state-building elites were
possessed of the requisite tools which allowed them to employ the most favourable
tactics. It also left them with a legacy of hierarchy, of top-down commandism, and
elitism, which would last throughout the revolution and contribute immeasurably to
its ultimate fall.10

Abu Bakr and the 1990 Muslimeen Uprising in Trinidad and Tobago

Abu Bakr's attempted coup of 1990 was different in many respects from the











situation in 1970, yet the underlying Trinidadian cultural and political themes are, in
many respects, very similar.

The economic downturn of the 1980s mirrored, indeed, was far more intense,
than that of 1970. According to the central bank, per capital GNP had fallen from
US$7,560 in 1982 to US$3,480 in 1987. Between 1982 and 1990, structural
adjustment policies carried out first by the PNM and then the National Alliance for
Reconstruction (NAR) had led to an increase of 66,000 unemployed persons,
taking the national figure to somewhere between 22 and 25 per cent of the labour
force [Ryan, 1991].

This combined with what Ryan describes as a legitimacy crisis the withdrawal
of support for the regime by a wide cross section of organizations, due to the
perceived harshness of its austerity measures and the feeling that they were being
implemented by an uncaring leadership. A poll carried out by Selwyn Ryan in June
1990, some three years after the NAR decisively defeated the PNM at the polls to
end an unbroken 30-year tenure, found that only 27 per cent of the people wanted
the government to have another five year period in office. Only 29 per cent felt that
the NAR should retain its leader and Prime Minister A.N.R. Robinson for the next
elections; 56 per cent rated the ruling party's performance as 'poor' or 'very poor'
{Ryan, 1991: 32-3]. Patience with the NAR government had grown thin by 1990.
The main issue which seems to have sparked the coup attempt surrounds the
dispute which existed between the Jamaat al Muslimeen organisation and
successive governments over access to a piece of land on Mucurapo Road on the
outskirts of Port of Spain. Abu Bakr and his supporters claimed that the land had
been legitimately given to them by the Eric Williams PNM government, while those
in and around the government who opposed this position argued that the
Muslimeen, who had transformed the property into their headquarters with
mosque, shops, and residences, were in effect, squatters.11 Abu Bakr had gained
increasing support, particularly among the black, urban dispossessed. He and his
supporters had waged a somewhat brutal, if effective campaign against drug
dealers. Indeed, many fervent members of the movement had been reformed drug
addicts. Bakr and his group had, for the most part, abandoned the traditional
structure of party politics with its well-established channels of clientelistic relations.
His centre at Mucurapo Road had moved somewhat instinctly in the direction of
Latin American basismo [Lehmann, 1990] if on an Islamic foundation, with its
emphasis on self reliance and abandonment of traditional forms of dependence on
the state. As Bakr himself said in a 1985 interview: 'We have an organisation and
these things are not the norm for African people and such independence threatens
those people who are used to having us depend on them'.12 To many in the urban










underclass, Abu Bakr was a larger than life Robin Hood-style hero, but to the
middle and upper classes, his flamboyant style and sometimes violent language
was anathema.

A decision taken by Trinidadian High court Justice Blackman just two days
before the insurrection, seemed to finally close the option of legal access to the
land and appeared to have been interpreted as the last straw by Bakr [Ryan, 1991:
74].13 The military wing of the organisation which operated clandestinely, had
imported arms and made careful preparations for just such an eventuality. Moving
boldly, some 42 members seized the local parliament building the Red House -
and took the Prime Minister and most parliamentarians hostage. Another
contingent of some seventy-one persons with Bakr himself as the leader, seized
the only television station, from which he announced that the government had been
overthrown.

Much controversy surrounds the question as to whether Bakr acted alone or as
part of a wider conspiracy. In a series of interviews conducted in 1991, a range of
public personalities, including the then Prime Minister A.N.R. Robinson, supported
some version of a conspiracy theory. It is true that Bakr had been a member of the
Summit of People's Organisations (SOPO), a loose alliance of trades unions and
small leftist groups which had been carrying out a programme of protest action
against the austerity measures of the NAR government. But it is highly unlikely that
SOPO could have been involved in the planning of the coup without compromising
the critical element of surprise, which turned out to be the Muslimeen's main
advantage. Bakr, until contrary evidence is forthcoming, appears to have acted
alone, though with insufficient political preparation and without the existence of a
revolutionary fissure at the top. Thus, not only was he unable to gain the requisite
support from within the army or other sections of the state but when he called on
the populace to rise up, they ignored him, instead using the opportunity of a
distracted military to make up in a spree of looting the material goods they had
foregone in the long and deep recession.14

Without active popular support, holed up on the defensive in two exposed
positions in the capital city, and with a re rouped army and police force, Bakr was,
by the second day of the six-day siege, forced onto the defensive and could do
nothing but ignominiously seek to negotiate the most favourable terms of
surrender. This he did in a manner strikingly similar to that of the army rebels of
1970, with guarantees of amnesty for the insurrections,16 which, as in the earlier
incident, were immediately ignored once arms had been laid down.
The growth and consolidation of the Jamaat al Muslimeen was a particularly
Trinidadian response to the political conjuncture of the 1980s. Indian muslims, of










course, comprised a distinct and important part of Trinidadian society, but Afro-
Trinidadian muslims have had a small but significant presence, particularly in the
wake of the defeat of the 1970 movement. The growth of Abu Bakr's influence, can
be seen in the context of the failure of secular 'progressive' organizations to gain a
hegemonic position in Trinidadian politics. The defeat of NJAC, the fractured and
tenuous nature of Marxist politics in Trinidad; the defeat of the revolution in
neighboring Grenada and with it the feasibility of a Marxist-led movement,
coupled with the international collapse of 'actually existing socialism' all contributed
to a cumulative and available ideological context which could not be Marxist or
even secular and therefore, to the attractiveness of a militant, but religious
alternative.

Thus, the Muslimeen can be viewed as a 'post-political' movement; an
organisation at the end of history where statism is abandoned along with
secularism but which, Janus-faced, also looks back on an older more entrenched
notion of authority and divisive leadership, personified in Abu Bakr, the charismatic
leader writ large. I asked Abu Bakr in an interview in 1991 at the Royal Gaol why
he acted and he answered 'simple: overthrow!' Of course, there is more to it than
that, but the statement does reflect a certain reality. It is almost a caricature of the
well-organised plans and methods of the Grenadian movement of 1979, at the
same time as it must indeed reflect other currents so typical of Trinidadian society:
the masque of carnival; the illusion and quality of 'grand charge' which is to be
found, as sketched here, in such traditional carnival characters as the Midnight
Robber:

"The Pierrots engaged in verbal battles before
exchanging blows, but the midnight robbers do
not fight and seldom converse with each other.
Their speeches are monologues rattled off at
prospective victims who are harangued until they
are payed a ransom to secure their release. The
language of the robber is full of empty threats and
bragadoccio that it has added to Trinidad
vernacular the colloquial expression 'robber talk'.

...For the day my mother gave birth to me, the sun
refused to shine and the wind ceased blowing.
Many mothers that day gave birth, but to
deformed children. Plagues and pestilence
pestered the cities, for atomic eruption raged in
the mountains. Philosophers, scientists,










professors said 'the world is come to an end' but
no, it was me, a monarch was born. Master of all
I survey and my right where none could dispute"
[Hill, 1972: 91]

These peculiarities of Trinidadian society cannot be seen as epiphenomena,
but point towards a particular political culture on its own historical trajectory.17 The
regular threats against the government made by Abu Bakr with a feeling of
impunity; the decision to attack without careful preparation of the mass base; the
eventual retreat with amnesty in hand and the obvious feeling that it would be
respected; all point to a sensitive understanding on Bakr's part of a certain state
form and political culture which might, once again, tolerate insurrection without
draconian consequences, as indeed, had occurred after 1970.

Bakr had done some of the right things for successful insurrection. He had
obtained his weapons and trained his soldiers under a clandestine veil; on the day,
he had followed many of the insurrectionary rules, including acting with audacity,
striking where the enemy is weakest, and using superior force. But in the end he
suffered the consequences, as he had ignored the classical Marxist (and C.L.R.
James's) fundamental warning that the insurrection must ride on the back of the
popular wave. He had mistaken what was a case of deep dissatisfaction with the
policies of a government for a revolutionary fissure a far rarer event entailing a
decisive, irreconcilable split in the ranks of the dominant political elites. Indeed,
Abu Bakr, the ex-policeman, from more humble origins18 and with definitely lower
expectations than the university students of NJAC and the returning professionals
of the NJM, does not really fit the bill as an example of the state-building middle
class elite. In many respects, Bakr is an updated, urban version of Eric
Hobsbawm's 'social bandit' or 'noble robber', described here:

First, the noble robber begins his career of
outlawry not by crime, but as the victim of
injustice, or through being persecuted by the
authorities for some act which they, but not the
custom of his people, consider as criminal.
Second, he 'rights' wrongs.

Third, he 'takes from the rich to give to the poor'.

Fourth he 'never kills but in self-defence or just
revenge'.
Fifth, if he survives, he returns to his people as an











honourable citizen and member of the
community. Indeed he never actually leaves the
community.

Sixth, he is admired, helped and supported by his
people.

Seventh, he dies invariably and only through
treason, since no decent member of the
community would help the authorities against lim
[Hobsbawm, 1981].

The noble (or midnight) robber seeks to redress wrongs as he asserts his
manhood in a cruel world, but this drive for state power is blunted by the fact that
he is not part of a group which from birth is trained in the knowledge that one day
they will rule. At the same time, despite the absence of deep fissures in the ruling
elites, the racially divided, plural, fractured nature of Trinidadian society creates the
illusion that individual mavericks, if they are sufficiently prepared, might be able to
take the power. In this Myzantine world, very different from the layered and
crystallised social structures of a Grenada, or further north, a Jamaica,
revolutionary carpetbaggers still ply their trade; but when the insurrection has
failed, they discard their costumes and seek shelter in the surety of Ash
Wednesday.

To retrace our steps then, we can suggest that in 1970 in Trinidad there was a
popular movement, but only incipient crisis up above, and no developed
programme of insurrectionary tactics. In 1990, again in Trinidad, a simplified but
clear notion of appropriate tactics existed, but there was definitely not a
revolutionary situation. In 1979, in Grenada, there was a revolutionary situation and
effective insurrectional tactics were adopted. These, together with a window of
opportunity the permissive world context accounted for the success of the
insurrection and the initial consolidation of a revolutionary government. But
because of the inevitable way in which power was taken and the structure of the
(Leninist) NJM, a pattern was set which affected the future direction of the
revolution.

Marx and Engels' assessment of revolution as an art and Lenin's fine tuning of
this framework, and not Black Power, C.L.R. James's thought or Islam, provided
the most feasible blueprint for the seizure of power as attested to in the success of
the Grenadian example. But in its very act of clandestinity, hierarchy and
centralism, insurrectional, Leninist tactics, lay the basis for a post revolutionary
hierarchical order fraught with negative consequences for the future of the










victorious revolutionary movement. The paradox is that Leninism in Grenada may
have led to success in 1979, but contributed immeasurably to defeat in 1983.

Concluding Remarks

One of the central problems in understanding revolutions as in any other social
issue, is to arrive at some common agreement on the meaning of the central terms.
While one might, with some imagination, seek to find the common thread which
joins Trinidad in both 1970 and 1990 and Grenada in 1979, it becomes even more
difficult when one ventures further afield. Is there really any common link between
a minor mutiny in Trinidad with virtually no casualties and the prolonged and bloody
civil war in El Salvador? Can the Grenada Revolution, involving less than fifty in the
initial overthrow, be discussed in the same breath as the sanguinary Sendero
Luminoso uprising in Peru? Or are these all separate and discrete events, united
only by a common title given to them, leading to the conclusion that any causal
theory would inevitably be tautological and ideological [Taylor, 1984]? While there
are often vast quantitative and historical differences between these events and
others too numerous to mention, there seems to be at least one underlying theme.
At some point, persons, and in some instances, large numbers of them, feel
sufficiently aggrieved to abandon their normal obedience to the state and to take up
arms against it without the assurance of success, and with the likelihood of drastic
consequences if they fail.

Volcanic approaches and structural approaches of various kinds can at best,
give only partial explanations of why uprisings and revolutions occur if they do not
frontally address this dimension of human agency.

While our Caribbean trio, with their compressed periods of actual uprising and
physical confrontation may not provide the best examples, the relevant, and still not
yet adequately answered question is why do men (and women) revolt? The most
favourable ground for answering such a question would seem to lie in an
examination of the cases where open-ended insurrections have persisted for years
without any likelihood of early success, but yet with significant popular support.
Clearly, if a rapid insurrectionary movement appears to be gaining ascendancy,
then there is likely to be a bandwagon effect, with uncommitted persons eventually
coming over to the side of the revolutionaries. But if there is no immediate victory
in sight, why should large numbers of people support the movement with the
likelihood of great personal privation and possible death? Jeff Goodwin [1992], in
an important study of the Peruvian, Guatemalan and Salvadorean insurrectionary
movements, reaches novel conclusions as he debunks more traditional
perspectives.











Goodwin argues that there has been a narrow dichotomy in the study of
revolutions between those that have succeeded and those that have failed. There
is a third category, he suggests, and these are persistent insurgencies, such as in
Peru, Guatemala and El Salvador, which have shown their ability to persist despite
severe governmental repression. Goodwin argues that the critical factor which
leads people to support the movement is not economic. Even when land reform is
initiated, the mainly peasant support remains committed to the cause. Equally,
persistence cannot be attributed to some abstract notion of the role of external
assistance, as movements like those in El Salvador and Peru have remained viable
without significant foreign assistance and, particularly in the case of El Salvador,
where the government has been in receipt of massive military aid. Not even the
initiation of electoral reform by itself, Goodwin suggests, leads to an erosion of
support for the insurgents. The critical factor seems to be the degree of military
repression:
Mass-based insurgencies...will not be defeated outright if the armed forces of
such regimes do not broadly tolerate dissent and peaceful political protest, but
instead, indiscriminately repress virtually all presumed regime opponents, armed
and unarmed alike. the continuous, massive abuse of human rights, in other words,
especially the indiscriminate repression of social sectors presumed to be
sympathetic to the rebels, will serve however unintentionally to prolong and
perhaps even strengthen a mass- based insurgency, even if incumbents have
introduced competitive elections [Goodwin, 1992: 31].

Goodwin's hypothesis has been introduced because it provides stark empirical
examples which fit almost seamlessly with Aya's "vicarious problem-solving" ap-
proach. While Aya's analysis would seem to refer primarily to the actors above-
those who lead the revolution, Goodwin is also suggesting that from below, an
equally rational choice is taken. Faced with an arbitrary, repressive and unforgiving
state, peasants or urban poor in a zone of confrontation have no option but to fight
with the revolutionaries or face death at the hands of the government troops
anyway. Such was the position of the mother in Nicaraguan town of Esteli at the
height of the Nicaraguan insurrection of 1978-79;

"and I told my children that it would be best for
them to go into the Fente (FSLN) because, if they
didn't, the Guard would kill them anyway just for
being young, y'know" [Vilas, 1986:22].
The converse of this point would also seem to have some validity, and that is
that in situations in which the line between the military and the people has not been
so sharply defined; in which the rule of law has not totally yielded to arbitrary power;











then the likelihood of deep, persistent, popularly supported insurrections will be
less. Thus, while groupings of frustrated, potential state-builders, or maverick
contenders for power may plot revolt as a result of accumulated grievances against
the state, they are unlikely to gain the mass support which they require to give
themselves legitimacy, unless the people themselves decide from their own
agenda of grievance in which the economic may be very low on the list that there
is no rational alternative but to act.

If a focus on the state and its location in a system of nation states is a necessary
element in the study of revolution, it is none the less insufficient to explain why
revolutions occur without a more detailed focus on the human actors, their
motivations and their motivating ideas. And if a genuine appreciation of the human
actors is to be attempted, they cannot be disembodied from the peculiar political
trajectory out of which they emerge.


NOTES

1. Insurrection is used as in the Concise Oxford Dictionary to mean 'rising is open
resistance to established authority; incipient rebellion'. Thus, an uprising may be the first
intermediate, or.last act in a revolutionary sequence, or alternatively, it may take place
outside of the context of a revolutionary situation.
2. See Aya [1979] for a discussion of volcanic approaches to the understanding of
revolution. For the classic economy-centred approach to which Skocpol was opposed, see
Barrington Moore [1967]. Skocpol's position can be found in Skocpol [1973].
3. For a recent critical comment on Skocpol's approach in this vein, see Laitin and Warner
[1992: 147-51].
4. Work on the 1970 Black Power Revolution is notoriously inadequate. See, for example,
Oxaal [1971]; Best [1970]; Meeks [1977]; Craig [1982]; Ryan [1972].
5. Camejo's study [1971] of the business elite in Trinidad and Tobago showed that 78 per
cent of those interviewed fell into the category 'fair' or 'very fair' while only three per cent
were considered to be 'black'.
6. In the mid-1950's, Eric Williams had led a classic and effective anti-imperialist initiative
to remove the US naval presence at Chaguaramas on the north-western tip of Trinidad.
When negotiations were finally concluded, however, Williams settled for a renewal of the
agreements instead of the original demand of immediate withdrawal. This was the
beginning of the decline in his relationship with the left-wing of the nationalist movement,
whose most celebrated representative was C.L.R. James [Ryan, 1972].
7. See John Gaffar LaGuerre [1982]. For a literary and insightful account of left-wing
politics in Trinidad in this period, see de Boissiere [1981].
8. Walter Rodney, prominent Guyanese historian and political activist, was killed by a
bomb in Georgetown, Guyana in June 1980. A leader of the opposition Working People's
Alliance (WPA), Rodney had purportedly taken personal delivery of an army walkie-talkie
from a member of the Guyanese army. The walkie-talkie had been wired with explosives
and was detonated in Rodney's car shortly after it had been handed over. It was strongly
felt though not decisively proved in court that the soldier had been a double agent and
the bomb had been placed by the ruling People's National Congress (PNC) government,
then led by Forbes Burnham.











9. For the leadership's interesting analysis of its members' social backgrounds, see the
New Jewel, Vol. 2, No. 8, (1974).
10. There are sharply divergent views on why the Grenada Revolution collapsed. The
dominant view, roughly stated, is that a small, ultra-left clique conspired and were
successful in overthrowing the more moderate and popular leadership of Prime Minister
Maurice Bishop. See, for example, Lewis [1987] and Marable [1987]. My own view is that
the very Leninist nature of the party increasingly isolated it from the people and that the
causes of collapse are to be sought, firstly, in the nature of vanguardist politics and not in
conspiracy. See Meeks [1992; 1993].
11. For a detailed account of the legal and other issues surrounding the contested land at
Mucurapo Road, see Ryan [1991: Ch. 3].
12. K. Smith, 'Conversations with the Imam', 25 Aug. 1985, in Daily Express, Trinidad
Under Siege, [Port of Spain, 1990].
13. From as early as 1985, Bakr had warned in an interview with reporter Keith Smith that
any attempt to demolish the mosque would be the beginning of serious conflict. In Bakr's
words: 'that will be the trigger. That would be it. No more talk. No more dialogue' (K.
Smith, 'Is Abu Bakr Fighting a Holy War?', 8 Sept. 1985 in Daily Express, Trinidad Under
Siege, (Port of Spain, 1991, 13).
14. Estimates of the costs of damage from looting and fires varied between TT$300 million
and $500 million. According to Daily Express reporter Marlon Miller: 'Radios and amplifiers
were a dime a dozen, there was every brand of liquor available, corn oil, shoes and
clothing. Plastic hangers were strewn all over the road along with old, discarded sneakers.
Even the vagrant at the corner of Charlotte Street and Independence Square put on a new
tie and tried on a different pair of pants, and there were the fires. The first one was at the
bottom of Charlotte Street just after eight o'clock and it lit up the night sky' (Daily Express,
Trinidad Under Siege, 1991, 49).
15. For a useful chronology of the coup attempt and siege, see Sunday Guardian: Special
Report on the Six-Day Siege, 2 Sept. 1990, pp. 2-3.
16. Is there a common lesson to be drawn here about the culture of Trinidadian politics?
Why on both occasions did Trinidadian insurrectionists feel that, after attempting to
overthrow the state involving in 1990 some loss of life, they should be given amnesty?
Perhaps an analogy might be drawn with the masquerade of carnival Monday and
Tuesday and the return to reality on Ash Wednesday. After carnival, the mask is removed
and all is forgiven.
17. For a discussion of the role of 'trajectories' in understanding current 'Third World'
states, see Bayart [1991: 51- 71].
18. Born in 1941, Lennox Phillips was the eight of Ma Carmelita Phillips' 15 children. He
grew up in Rich Plain, Diego Martin, a mixed community of poor and middle class families.
At eighteen he joined the police force where he stayed for nine years, after which he
migrated to Canada. There, he became a Muslim and studied for a time towards an
engineering degree. Bakr can only at a stretch be considered to be a member of the state-
building middle class. See Sunday Guardian: Special Report on the Six-Day Siege, (2
Sept. 1990, p. 9).


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WORKING BY THE BOOK OR PLAYING BY EAR: LANGUAGE,
LITERACY AND THE GRENADA REVOLUTION


by

HUBERT DEVONISH
Introduction
In 1834, slavery was abolished in the British West Indies as a result of an Act of the
British Parliament. Parliament had declared in 1833 that financial provision should
be made '... for the religious and moral education of the Negro Population to be
emancipated.' (Gordon, 1963, p. 20) As is stated in a 1835 report to the British
government their civic rights, the task of bettering their [the emancipated slaves]
'condition can be further advanced only by education.' [emphasis is original]
(Gordon, 1963, p. 21) The London Missionary Society, in its 1836 appeal in
England for voluntary donations to support the effort, points to '... the importance of
immediate and vigorous efforts to encourage them [the freed slaves] to read for
themselves the Holy Scriptures the best and only sure foundation of social order,
industry and happiness.' (Gordon 1963, p. 25) The unstated assumption was that
this literacy was going to be acquired in English. The largely unwritten low status
Creole languages spoken by the slaves did not even qualify for consideration. To
have had to specify English would have required a recognition that there were
other languages spoken in these societies.
On March 13,1979, with the seizure of power by the New Jewel Movement (NJM),
a new era of freedom was proclaimed in Grenada. In a radio broadcast to launch
the Centre for Popular Education (C.P.E.), in revolutionary Grenada, the Prime
Minister, Maurice Bishop states, 'If we are to defeat disease and poor health
conditions we need to understand their causes and conditions.' He further argues,
'Education is a tool for understanding this struggle ... Only an educated and
productive people can build a new and just society. Only a literate people can
create the New Man and Woman.' (Searle, 1984, pp. 84-85) As previously, the
unspoken assumption was the language of literacy would be English. Grenadian
English Creole, for example, was not even thought of as a possible candidate.
In the periods preceding both these points in Grenadian history, the mass of the
population had made significant cases, the immediate means by which they gained
their new rights was by gift from an external source. In one case this through the
proclamation of an act of the British Parliament. In the other, it was through a radio
broadcast announcing the seizure of power by the People's Revolutionary Army, at
that point a group of about 50 NJM militants.










As is the way of the world, there are no gifts without strings. The gift of these new
rights were, in both these cases, tied with the ideological strings of the givers. The
recipients could not be trusted to exercise their new found freedom without
guidance and control. To properly exercise this new freedom, the recipients had to
become literate and, as a result, gain access to the written ideas, values and
morality of the donors.
Clerks, Clerics and Writing
Writing is a form of technology. It employs marks on a surface to represent
language. It provides for human language, a high degree of permanence when
compared with spoken word, which like the sped arrow, comes not back again. The
written word remains for as long as the marks and the surfaces on which they are
made survive. Because of this remarkable property, writing came to be regarded
with great reverence in almost every society where it was either invented or
introduced.
There is another significant feature of writing. Learning spoken language takes
place naturally for every child living in a community. By contrast, writing, even in
societies where it is widely used, is usually acquired only through some degree of
formal instruction and conscious effort. This peculiar feature of writing gives an
effective monopoly over this technology to those who already possess it. In order
to enter the literate world, one has to be initiated into its mysteries by processes
controlled by the already literate.
Against this background, it is not surprising that earliest development of writing was
linked to religion. The first examples of writing are from Ancient Egypt and
Mesopotamia. In both these cases, the earliest written records seem to have been
produced in the temple. In Mesopotamia, these were records of temple transac-
tions of an economic nature. In the Ancient Egyptian case, the bulk of surviving
texts are directly religious, involving lists of gifts and offerings used as substitutes
for the real objects in tombs. (De Francis, 1989, p. 72; Coulmas, 1989, p. 59). In
both these civilisations, the temple played a central role in the development of
systems of record keeping, accounts and systems of administration. These
developments were not restricted to use within the temple but spread to the state
system as a whole. (Goody, 1986, p. 66).
The mystery and elitism of religion and the priesthood had, from these early times,
come to cloak writing technology. Then, the use of writing began to spread. In
Ancient Egypt, for example, the priests had other functions apart from promoting
the royal cult and maintaining the temples. They operated as teachers of scribes
and as custodians of old texts. Similarly, in Mesopotamia, the temple came to
dominate the teaching of writing to not only to its own scribes and bureaucrats but
to those functioning within the government machinery. (Goody, 1986, p. 32, p. 64).










A large and well organised administrative class emerged in both these societies,
operating in both the religious and secular domains. Such a class could only
function if it had access to a sophisticated means of record keeping. Writing
provided that means. The gates to writing technology and, as a consequence, to
membership of the administrative class, were manned by the priesthood in their
role as teachers. Even in these early years, acquiring literacy was not a process
separate from that of religious indoctrination.
The emergence of the 'religions of the book', Judaism, Christianity and Islam,
simply strengthened the link between literacy and religion. The religious texts
encoded for posterity the fundamental beliefs of these religions. The priests, by
virtue of their training and literacy, had privileged access to these texts. The line
separating the literate from the illiterate tended to coincide with that separating the
clergy from the laity. (Goody 1986, p. 17). It was the role of the priest to read the
written word of God for the illiterate mass of the population. The case of Christianity
in Medieval Europe followed this pattern exactly.
The clergy had other tasks, however, resulting from the very nature of a written
text. Unlike a real speaker, a text cannot answer questions asked of it or respond
to changes in situation over time. It was the role of the priest to provide updated
commentary on the scriptures and answer questions on its behalf. Another feature
of writing is that it chains language to the page for posterity. The Classical Arabic
of the Koran, the Latin translation of the Bible in Medieval Europe, and the 17th
century English of the King James Version of the Bible in Anglo-Christianity, have
long ceased to be spoken. A major task of the priesthood in all these religions is
translate the written word into the kind of everyday language which the often
illiterate laity can understand.
As in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, literate elites originating within religious
institutions extended their functions into the administrative area, both religious and
secular. Hence the English words 'clerk' and 'cleric' both originate from the Latin
'clericus', i.e. a priest. This dates back to the period in medieval European history
when clerics, as the only literates in the society, monopolised areas of administra-
tion involving written language communication.
The tendency has been in Christianity as in the other religions of the book, to
widen access to literacy. The trend has been to democratise access to writing.
Even where the priest retains privileged rights to interpret the book, all believers
should be able to read it for themselves. In Christianity, particularly among its
Protestant sects, it has become extremely difficult to be a practising Christian if one
does not regularly read the word of God. In these circumstances, literacy had to be
spread among the laity.
Within the Western Christian tradition, conversion to Christianity has come to be










closely tied to acquiring literacy skills. Learning to read meant learning to read the
Bible and with this came the revelation of the truth and the light. Until the advent of
modern mass secular education, literacy instruction and education in general was
usually under the control of the religious authorities. In Europe, schools, colleges
and universities were either run by or under the control of the Church. In the face of
the inevitable spread of writing technology, religious control of education meant
that those who became literate did so under the ideological control of the Church.
This was to ensure that they used their skills in a manner which supported rather
than subverted the social order.
The Secular Clerics
Humanity has seen the invention of writing and subsequently the printing press, for
transmitting human language. These have made it possible to communicate with
and hence govern larger and larger numbers of people from a single centre. As a
result, centralised states have become the norm at the international level. The state
has come increasingly over the centuries to rely on its administrative classes.
Written language has been the major medium of administration, used in conjunc-
tion with printing to communicate with large potential audiences over an unlimited
area. The fact that writing is relatively permanent allows for the keeping of records,
another key element in administrative system based heavily on written language
means an increased dependence on the literate classes who run this system. In the
20th century in particular, this class has come to see its role as not simply running
the state on behalf of others. Rather, it sees itself as further consolidating the
power of the state and taking control of it. This literate, educated class with its base
in its control of written language, has emerged in control of the state in a range of
different societies. (Skocpol, 1979).
As with the priesthood, this class has two related functions concerning the texts
which serve as ideological justification for the state, e.g. the constitution, the laws,
literary works, etc. This class tackles the problem of such texts not being able to
answer for themselves or update themselves by acting as interpreters of these
texts. In the case of the first two examples, this is normally done by lawyers and
judges within the legal system, in the last through literary criticism.
Also, as with the priesthood, the state class often finds itself having guiding texts
written in a language variety not in written language over time comes. Even in
monolingual societies, written language over time comes to diverge considerably
from that which is commonly spoken. Texts written in a language variety not
spoken by the mass of the population need translators. The literate educated elite
perform this function. This class, like its predecessors among the clergy, plays a
central role as intermediaries between texts and the general population.
Not surprisingly, the language ideology of this class is one which places writing at










the centre of its definition of what is language. Language is for them essentially that
which is written. No form of spoken language not backed by a standard writing
system and a well established body of writing is worthy of being regarded as a
language.
Ideological Control and the Secular Clergy: The Grenada Case
Like the British Government on the Abolition of Slavery, the Grenada Revolution
saw itself as providing 'mental improvement' for the uneducated mass of the
population. One Grenadian volunteer in the Centre for Popular Education (C.P.E.)
adult literacy programme Grenada has also spent some time serving in the
Nicaraguan English language literacy Crusade on the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua.
He claims in Nicaragua to have won the people he was working with to a pro-
Revolution position and drawing parallels between 'the darkness under Somoza'
before the Nicaraguan Revolution and 'the darkness under Gairy' before the
Grenada Revolution. (Hodge and Searle, 1982, p. 65). Implicit in this is that his
function has to provide the light. This association of illiteracy with darkness in very
traditional and has been employed by other literacy programmes functioning in
situations which were definitely not revolutionary. For example, the JAMAL Foun-
dation in Jamaica, a national adult literacy programme, has long used a lamp as its
logo and the motto 'From the dark into the light'.
The Grenada Revolution saw itself as creating true democracy in the country. It
saw ignorance as the enemy of democracy and illiteracy as the source of ig-
norance. This is neatly summarised in a work published by the PRG and intended
to justify to the rest of the Caribbean what was taking place in the Grenadian
revolutionary process. It states:
'In all underdeveloped countries to which
"democracy" is exported from capitalist countries,
the continued presence of illiteracy and ignorance
is the most glaring evidence of the undemocratic
and exploitative nature of the society.' (Hodge
and Searle, 1982?, p. 30).

The document then goes on to ask the question,
'What is the meaning of "democracy" in a situa-
tion where people cannot read, write or under-
stand any of the issues which affect them?' (p.
30).
The above implies an association between reading and writing, on one hand, and
understanding issues on the other. According to this position, the main source of
knowledge and information about issues which affect people is writing. Therefore,











illiterates can have no grasp of these. Such a person could only move to a state of
understanding when they become initiated into the community of literates. Consis-
tent with this line, the document proceeds to pour scorn on those Caribbean
governments who, instead of making their ballots next to pictures or symbols
instead of written names of candidates. (Hodges and Searle, 1982, p. 30). This
hostility to illiteracy is rabid. Carried to its logical conclusion, it would require that
illiterates be denied the right to vote until they join the world of the literate!
In its practices in the area of adult literacy teaching, the P.R.G. was strongly
influenced by the work of Paulo Freire. He, in fact, operated as a consultant on the
operations of the C.P.E. One aspect of his writings on what has been variously
described as 'Education for Liberation', 'Emancipation Literacy', etc. is neatly
summed up by Giroux (1987, p. 11) who states, in discussing Freire's work,
'Literacy ... is not the equivalent of emancipation
for engaging in struggles around both relations of
meaning and relations of power. To be literate is
not to be free, it is to be present and active in the
struggle for reclaiming one's voice, history, and
future.'

The Freire approach argues for the very special role of writing in liberation. Without
writing, liberation is not possible. This is an understandable prejudice from some-
one who belongs to the scribal elite within the population of the world. To such
persons, the secret of their special status is their control of writing. For them, it
becomes a mysterious precondition for the advancement of everyone else. In
reality, however, writing is a mere technology for representing in a permanent form
a language message. The true mystery is that of human language itself, possessed
by all humans, of which writing is but a pale though important shadow. Dominant
literate elites have shifted the mystery from that which is possessed by everyone to
the shadow possessed by only some.
Freire's literacy activities in Latin America, first Brazil and then Chile, out of which
his theoretical writings developed, placed him in two overlapping streams of
literacy theory and practice. The first of these was that of the secular left-wing
political activism of Latin America in the 1960s and 1970s. The second was that of
the left wing Roman Catholic of Latin America often linked to the term 'Liberation
Theology'. It was with this second tradition that Freire is more strongly associated.
Secular Marxist-Leninists historically owe their notions of the role of literacy and
writing as much to the Church as do the left wing Church activists of Latin America.
It is not surprising, therefore, that Freire influenced approaches to adult literacy
were adopted by a series of secular revolutionary and liberation movements.
These ranged from Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe, Angola, to Grenada,











and as well to Nicaragua where his influence would be more expected. What unites
the revolutionary elites in all these situations is the idea that written language
provides a route to ideological and political consciousness. Without writing, such
consciousness is impossible. These assumptions could only be made by people
operating in a culture where, for centuries, core values and ideas were stored in
books and transmitted by a cadre of clerics turned intellectual elite. This has a
devastating effect when applied to societies where orality was/is the predominant
medium for storing and spreading ideas and values. Orally transmitted values and
ideas are totally devalued and marginalised. The only ideas and values which are
valid are those which are written, i.e. those sanctioned by the revolutionary elite.
In Sao Tome and Principe, a book entitled 'The Second Popular Culture Notebook'
was used in advanced post-literacy text work. It was quoted with approval by Freire
and Macedo (1987, p. 87). The following extract is taken from a passage entitled
'Thinking Correctly":.
'To think correctly means to try to discover and
understand what is found to be hidden away in
things and in facts that we observe and analyze.
To discover, for example, that it is not "being
poorly regarded" that makes little Pedro sad, but
rather that he has worms. Therefore, we will bring
happiness to little Pedro not through incantations,
but through medical guidance.' (In Freire and
Macedo, 1987, p. 87).

In this passage, we assume that the phrase 'being poorly regarded' is simply an
infelicitous translation from the Portuguese of what would be referred to in Carib-
bean Afro-English Creole as 'bad eye'. This text is stating that, in 'thinking
correctly', one had to conclude that Pedro has worms and that modern medical
science, with its knowledge stored and transmitted through books, will cure it.
There is the alternative diagnosis made in the oral Afro-Portuguese Creole culture
of the country. According to this, he suffers from 'bad eye' and he can be cured by
oral incantations. This is, however, dismissed as 'incorrect thinking'. However, a
range of criticism within Western medical science has been surfacing in recent
years. According to its critics, established Western approaches to healing con-
centrates totally on the physical sources of ailments and too little on psychological
aspects which may be just as important. This leaves the line of thinking involving
the 'bad eye' diagnosis and the incantation cure with the potential to be as valid as
any other. Maybe, little Pedro needs both cures.
What is remarkable here is that any group within a society could conclude that, by
virtue of its control a particular language, and writing in it, it had a monopoly on










'correct thinking'. This speaks loudly for the arrogance of literate intellectual elites
who find themselves leading revolutionary struggles on behalf of the mass of the
population.
The ideology of the N.J.M. was Marxism-Leninism. This system of beliefs, certainly
as it was applied in Grenada, may aptly be described as a secular religion. It had
its Church, the vanguard party, the N.J.M. There was, as well, the major prophets
of the religion, Marx, Engels and Lenin, and the major texts of this religion, the
writings of these prophets. There were, in addition, a host of minor prophets and
their texts. It had its laity in the form of the party members and its clergy in the form
of the members of the inner party organs such as the politbureau and central
committee. These latter had as part of their functions to interpret the word of the
political scriptures to the laity within the church and to potential converts outside it.
Much of this was done orally at meetings carrying out the same kind of function as
services perform within the Church.
The leadership of the Revolution was largely from the educated professional
middle classes. The rest of the party membership tended to have a minimum of
secondary school education. People of these backgrounds represented a tiny elite
within the entire Grenadian population. Education in the Grenadian context implies
the ability to read and write and function in a network that uses written English and,
where necessary, other European languages as a major means of communication.
It involves initiation into a culture in which writing in these languages is the sole
medium which is valued as a source of knowledge. Within this tradition, knowledge
derived from oral communication which is not itself backed up by writing is suspect.
All this is consistent with the Euro-Christian origins of literacy and education in
Grenada already discussed.
Throughout history, the class of clerks and clerics have as their mission to ad-
minister. The Revolution was, at least to some extent, an uprising by a younger and
more educated group who saw their path to political power and control of the state
blocked by an older and mainly less well-educated elite. The revolution produced a
situation in which the secular church, the Marxist- Leninist vanguard party, exer-
cised control over the state in the form of the P.R.G. The entire belief system of the
new governing elite was text based. Therefore, the sole way in which it felt it could
legitimise itself was to provide access to versions of its own belief systems. The
ultimate authority for these belief systems were that they existed in text form.
Those who could not read were as yet outside of the value system. This system
gave special status to the written word and the culture and values associated with
it. The illiterates, therefore, not having been taught to revere written texts, could not
fully achieve an understanding of the issues and ideas involved in this new
revolutionary ideology.
The purpose of the literacy programme of the Centre for Popular Education was not











to allow people to read the great theoretical works. There were people with even
tertiary education within party who were looking higher up the party hierarchy,
notably to Bernard Coard, for explanation and analysis. The purpose of the literacy
programme was primarily to imbue everyone with the appropriate attitude to the
written word and hence to authority which derived from such a source. The
technical literacy skills were themselves taught wrapped up in a package of ideas
and values supportive of the revolution.
The Crusade
We have already discussed the strong association during the Grenadian revolution
of illiteracy with darkness and literacy with light. These images are consistent with
the close relationship between religion and literacy over thousands of years. Within
this tradition, only those initiated into the mysteries of the written word can have the
inner workings of the belief system revealed onto them. The image of dark versus
light was closely tied up with another religious image, that of the crusade or the holy
war. The close link between these two sets of images is vividly illustrated in a poem
by Merle Clark, a full time parish co-ordinator of the C.P.E.
"Moving on with Grenadians' neutron bomb,
Ready to explore and literate the lan',
Sharpened pencils and alerted minds,
Who ent join the line go get lef' behind.

Take you' pencil in you' han'
All over the lan',
Light up the C.P.E. bomb
And literate the land'!"
(Merle Clark, quoted in Searle, 1984, pp. 56-57.)

Religions of the Book are religious of conversion. followers of such religion are,
therefore, often impelled to take up arms in the crusade of Jihad, the holy way
against the unbeliever. A Marxist-Leninist party such as the N.J.M. which has just
come to power by means of an armed insurrection is in an analogous situation.
Having gained physical ascendancy by means of the sword or gun, the stage is
now set for the victors to gain ideological dominance by means of the Book. The
literacy campaign is part of the formula of 20th century left wing revolution, from
Cuba to Nicaragua, and from Mozarbique to Guinea-Bissau. It is a continuation of
the revolutionary war by other means. The fact that in Nicaragua the term 'Crusade'
was applied to such a campaign is clearly no accident. Rather, it reflects both a
military and quasi-religious approach to dealing with those sections of the popula-
tion who do not possess writing. By being illiterate, such persons are unable to
participate fully in a belief system which derives its legitimacy from written texts.
Literacy campaigns follow left wing revolutions for another reason. They serve a











political purpose. Large numbers of educated people, mainly youth, are mobilised
to go out amongst the underprivileged and teach them to read and write. Both
those who teach and those who learn are involved in a process which delivers one
of the fruits of the revolution, literacy, to those who do not have it. In Grenada, the
revolution did not come to power through the mobilisation of large numbers of the
population prior to victory. Large numbers of young people had to be drafted into
the process after the revolution. What better way to do this than in a quasi-military
campaign to obliterate illiterates by 'literating the land'? The combatants are armed
with sharpened pencils rather than swords, marching in line, exploring enemy
territory with alert minds, armed with their special weapon, 'the C.P.E. bomb'.
These are the images employed of the Merle Clark poem already cited.
The illiteracy statistics for Grenada makes interesting reading. At the time of the
revolution, a 1979 World Bank report gave the size of the illiterate population as
15%. A preliminary census carried in April, 1980, before the C.P.E. campaign got
under way, indicated that 7-10% of the population had received no formal educa-
tion. (EPICA Task Force, 1982, p. 82). These figures are very small by comparison
with other revolutionary situations such as Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau or even
Cuba or Nicaragua, where mass literacy programmes were also introduced. The
Grenada Revolution, for political reasons, needed an illiteracy problem. If there
was not one, it would have to be defined into existence. This they did by referring
to the concept of 'functional literacy'. EPICA Task Force (1982, p. 82) refers to
functional illiteracy rates of 33% of the total population. figures such as these
provided the justification for the launching of the C.P.E. adult literacy programme.
On the Fallibility of the Book
Maurice Bishop, in a 1979 speech to open the National Seminar of Education,
states,
'But the reality that in fact confronts us is that the
vast majority of our people are still unable to read
or to write in a functional manner, are still unable
to take a newspaper and to appreciate what is
written on that paper, are still unable to listen to a
radio broadcast and to discern in an intelligent, in
an inquiring, in a serious way what is being said,
because they have not been given the oppor-
tunity of such development.' (Bishop, 1982, p.
82).

If people do have control of written symbols and are aware of the relationship
between these symbols and sounds, how come are they unable to exercise their
literacy skills to interpret written language?











The difficulty for many people in the Grenadian situation lies in the fact that the
language they normally encounter in writing differs considerably from that which
they speak. Unless they receive special training in English, they normally find it
difficult to exercise their literacy skills. To succeed in a situation like Grenada, a
mass literacy campaign would also need an accompanying mass English Lan-
guage teaching campaign. The theoretical works of Freire which provided the
underpinning the C.P.E. assumed the existence of relatively monolingual situations
such as confronted by him in Brazil and Chile. (Freire, 1970; 1972; 1973).
The work by Freire, 'Letters to Guinea-Bissau', on the literacy programme in
Guinea-Bissau was published in 1978. it made some reference to the language
question. Guinea-Bissau, in addition to several indigenous African languages, had
an Afro-Portuguese Creole language groups. Creole coexisted with Portuguese,
the official language even after independence. When confronted with the reality of
teaching literacy in Portuguese to speakers of Creole, he immediately recognized
that a fundamental pedagogical problem was being existed. He, in fact, suggested
to the Guinea-Bissau authorities in a letter that Creole be standardised and given
the status of a national language. (Freire, 1978, p. 127).
The officials involved in developing the C.P.E. were, by June 1979, in possession
of what was then Freire's most recent work. Though reference to the language
question were there in the work, it was fleeting and seemed only a peripheral
concern of the author. In 1987, long after Luis Cabral had been deposed as
president of Guinea-Bissau, Freire (in Freire and Macedo, 1987, pp. 103-119, pp.
160-169) found it possible to publicly discuss the nature of his discussions with the
P.A.I.G.C. leadership on the language question. He had argued long and hard with
the leadership that it was both politically undesirable and practically impossible to
use Portuguese as a medium from mass literacy teaching in Guinea-Bissau.
For Freire, it was politically undesirable because the access to literacy would be
only available to those who had control of Portuguese, a minority group within the
country. This would produce privileged access to literacy and education for the few
while excluding the many. This would simply reproduce an elite dominant class.
(Freire and Macedo, 1987, p. 111). It was, in addition, technically impossible to
teach people to read and write creatively in a language they did not know. He
pointed out,
'... that those who became literate, after months
of work, were only taking "a tiring walk" around
generative words. They marched on from the first
to the fifth; by the fifth, they had forgotten the
third. They returned to the third and perceived
that they had forgotten the first and the second.'
(Freire and Macedo, 1987, p. 163).










He proposed that a standard writing system be devised for Guinea-Bissau Creole.
In addition, he argued that deliberate efforts be made to expand its vocabulary to
cover the new concepts it would be required to express when used in the education
system. (Freire and Macedo, 1987, p. 116). Freire felt strongly that activities in
communities ought not to grind to a halt awaiting the standardisation and expan-
sion of Creole. He began groping for the possibilities of community activity which
would have the same effect as literacy learning. He looked at the case of Senengal
where, as was common across Guinea-Bissau, the literacy campaign had suc-
ceeded in teaching very little literacy in Portuguese. Nevertheless, members of this
same community had produced a collective vegetable garden and had begun to act
in a conscious manner. He states, 'Senengal is already a concrete example of the
multitude of things that can be done in a country by means of cultural action without
literacy; revolutionary step for someone who spent much of his life arguing for the
centrality of literacy in the process of liberation.
The mass literacy campaign in Guinea-Bissau had been a failure. Freire's letter to
Mario Cabral, the then Minister of Education, outlined reasons for the failure as
presented in the preceding discussion. This letter was written in June, 1977. The
language question was a very sensitive one within the ruling P.A.I.G.C. The
leadership had decided to opt for Portuguese as the official language. The Guinea-
Bissau authorities firmly signalled to Freire that, as a foreigner, this was one issue
on which he would not be allowed to publicly challenge the wisdom of the party.
(Freire and Macedo, 1987, p. 109).
Freire states that the reason he did not include his letter to Mario Cabral in the
published collection of 'Letters to Guinea-Bissau' (1978) was that the language
issue had become heavily politicised and was the subject of some secrecy. He did
not feel that, 'with respect to greater political concerns', the timing was right for the
publication. Freire gives an account of the last meeting he had with Luis Cabral
before Cabral was ousted. Freire reports Cabral as raising the language question.
Freire expresses an understanding of why so many of the party leaders were
hostile about the national language issue. He then enjoins Cabral to have courage
and take a stand against the use of Portuguese as the medium of literacy instruc-
tion. (Freire and Macedo, 1987, p. 112). Even after all this time, Freire still remains
quite reticent on the internal P.A.I.G.C. politics on the language question. Never-
theless, it clearly played a central role in internal party conflict. One cannot help but
suspect that one of the 'greater political concerns' referred to by Freire was the
problem of the government and party having it publicly known that its mass literacy
programme had failed. Given the important role of such programmes in revolution-
ary situations, such a failure would have been politically disastrous for those
deemed to have been responsible.
The non-publication of the letter in the 1978 work did the Grenada Revolution a











grave disservice. The 1978 Freire work was greeted with great reverence by those
responsible for literacy questions in the P.R.G. However, Freire or no Freire, the
language realities of Grenada ought to have forced those responsible for the
C.P.E. mass literacy programme to directly confront the language problem. For
literate elites, however, there is the problem of the Book. It is for them not simply a
source of knowledge but the source of all knowledge. Grenadian realities might
more easily be faced if supported by a statement from the Book. In the face of the
inability of the Book to be interrogated or to adapt itself to new conditions, an
enormous problem is created for literate elites and their ideologies in societies such
as Grenada.
Conclusion
That the leadership of the Grenada Revolution should be so hooked on the primacy
of writing and literacy in the revolutionary process is ironic. This was a Revolution
which relied on orality in a way that few others have done since the invention of the
printing press. One of the first acts of the March 13, 1979 insurrection was to seize
the radio station. The N.J.M. and its military cadres then used the broadcast
facilities at the radio station to call out their supporters, co-ordinate their forces and
arrange the surrender of police stations and pro-Gairy forces across the island.
They also used the radio to promulgate both 'The Declaration of the Grenada
Revolution' and the 'People's laws' which followed it during the course of the day.
These, only some time later, appeared in print in the Official Gazette.
A state class such as the one which ruled revolutionary Grenada, derived its
revolutionary legitimacy from its access to and control of writing. It would have
betrayed itself if it had accepted the principle that every illiterate cook can govern.
This class sees its historical role as that of bringing about liberation by putting
everyone in touch with the Book. Access to the highest concepts and ideas are
provided through the most educated and literate members of this class mediating
between the central texts and the laity. In situations like that in Grenada and
Guinea-Bissau, restricted literacy in a language not spoken by the majority of this
laity, gives extra power to this class. This class is able to retain for its members the
privileged positions of high priests guarding the inner sanctum.
The revolution has been accused by its critics of being too dogmatic. It may very
well be that where written texts exist, there does dogma dwell also. Dogma is, after
all, simply the treatment of texts as embodying unchanging and eternal 'truths'. In
these circumstances, the sections of the Grenadian educated literate elite which
took power in 1979, may have had no choice. As a class, they were created to work
by the book. They could not, even if they so chose, play by ear.












REFERENCES


Bishop, M., 1982, Forward Ever: Three Years of the Grenadian Revolution: Speeches of Maurice
Bishop, Pathfinder Press, Sydney.
Coulmas, F., 1989, The Writing Systems of the World, Basil Blackwell, Oxford.
DeFrancis, J., 1989, Visible Speech: The Diverse Oneness of Writing Systems, University of Hawaii
Press, Honolulu.
EPICA Task Force, 1982, Grenada: The Peaceful Revolution, EPICA Task Force, Washington.
Freire, P., 1970, Cultural Action for Freedom, Penguin, Harmondsworth.
Freire, P., 1971, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Penguin, Harmondsworth.
Freire, P., 1973, Education for Critical Consciousness, Seabury Press, New York.
Freire, P., 1978, Pedagogy in Process: Letters to Guinea-Bissau,, Seabury Press, New York.
Freire, P., and D. Macedo, 1987, Literacy: Reading the Word and the World, Bergin and Garvey Pub-
lishers, Massachusetts.
Giroux, H., 1987, 'Introduction: Literacy and the Pedagogy of Political Empowerment', in Freire, P.
and D. Macedo, 1987, pp. 1- 27.
Goody, J., 1986, The Logic of Writing and the Organization of Society, Cambridge University Press,
Cambridge.
Gordon, S., 1963, A Century of West Indian Education, Longman, London.
Hodge, M. and C. Searle, 1982?, Is Freedom We Making: The New Democracy in Grenada, People's
Revolutionary Government of Grenada, Grenada.
Searle, C., 1984 Words Unchained: Language and Revolution in Grenada, Zed Press, London.
Skocpol, t., 1979, States and Social Revolution, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.










ADULT LITERACY AND PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY IN
REVOLUTIONARY GRENADA


by

PEDRO A. NOGUERA


Introduction
Following a strategy adopted by several other revolutionary states, the Peoples
Revolutionary Government (PRG) of Grenada launched a national literacy cam-
paign within weeks after assuming power in March 1979. The campaign was
introduced as part of a package of social welfare programmes that were initiated by
the new government for the purpose of promoting economic and social develop-
ment on the island. Free health care and public education, rehabilitation of the
island's roads and port facilities, and a variety of assistance programmes in
housing and social services, were some of the major features of this ambitious
reform effort. (Sunshine, 1982: 75-112) The literacy campaign was one of the most
daring of the reform initiatives undertaken by the PRG in that it required large scale
voluntary participation on the part of students and teachers, and came at a time
when the legitimacy and credibility of the new government was still in question.
The lure of the benefits that may be gained from promoting adult literacy has
prompted many developing nations to embark on mass literacy campaigns. Often,
these efforts have been supported with financial and technical assistance from
international agencies such as UNESCO and the World Bank. This was particularly
true during the two decades following World War II, when the optimism of the
post-colonial "nation building" period produced grand visions of rapid progress for
the newly independent nations of the Third World.' The promotion of adult literacy
became popular largely because of the prevailing notion among development
scholars and technocrats that investments in adult education could serve as an
effective means of enhancing human capital by increasing the productivity of
individual workers and by serving as a "modernizing" influence which would
generate greater adaptability to technological innovation (Harbison, 1967; Schultz,
1970; Berg, 1972 and Thurow, 1970; see also Unesco 1973 and 1978, and Phillips,
1974; Inkles, A. and Holsinger, D., 1975).
Beginning with Cuba, which launched its campaign to eradicate adult illiteracy in
1961, literacy campaigns have been undertaken in the aftermath of social revolu-
tions in other less developed countries as part of a socialist-oriented development
strategy. Following socialist and nationalist revolutions in countries such as Iran,










Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Nicaragua, the promotion of adult literacy was
declared a top national priority by newly established regimes who implemented
massive literacy campaigns to achieve this goal.
Whereas economic motivations provided the primary impetus for earlier efforts to
promote mass literacy, jn post-revolutionary developing societies the spread of
literacy has been more directly linked to political objectives, namely, political
socialization and regime legitimation. In presenting their explanation of this
phenomena Carnoy and Samhoof (1990) have argued that in transitional states2,
education and mass literacy in particular, play an important role in establishing
ideological hegemony. "Through education...the state attempts to give a new
meaning to citizenship, one that is largely political and sociocollective rather than
economic and individualistic.... mass education serves this ideological objective by
bringing all the population into direct contact with the state's ideological apparatus.
(Carnoy and Samoff: 75) As a concentrated and intensive undertaking in mass
political socialization, an analysis of literacy campaigns can provide important
insights into the evolution of political culture during periods of rapid and dramatic
social change.
Though similar in many ways to these earlier efforts, the Grenadian case differs
significantly from the others. Although the broader economic and political objec-
tives common to literacy campaigns in other socialist oriented developing societies
were present in Grenada, the mobilization for adult literacy was also an integral
part of a larger plan for the development of a system of participatory democracy on
the island. Fundamental to the plan was a call for the replacement of Westminster-
style democracy, a legacy of British colonialism, with a system of governance that
increased the amount of direct contact between leaders and citizens, and greatly
enhanced the role of citizens in decision making. Adult literacy was envisioned as
the critical element that would make popular participation in the political process
authentic and meaningful insofar as the articulation of popular interests was
concerned. While still in its early stages of development, this plan ended abruptly
with the collapse of the PRG and the U.S. invasion of the island in October 1983.3
As a result of the PRG's demise, the plan was aborted before it had been
formalized, either constitutionally or in practice, and hence had not actually be-
come a viable model for governance as PRG leaders had hoped. Nonetheless,
during four and one half years of PRG rule, elements of the plan had already been
put into effect, and the form of this new system for governance had begun to take
shape.
This paper examines the role of the adult literacy campaign in the development of
participatory democracy in Grenada. In so doing, we will analyze the rationale put
forward by the PRG for linking the two initiatives, and critically assess the viability
of the strategy as a means for increasing genuine, unmanlpulated participation on










the part of citizens, in decision making and governance. This will entail an examina-
tion of the literacy campaign itself as well as an analysis of the process utilized for
developing this new form of popular democracy.
Much of the information presented in this paper was obtained through several
months of field research carried out in Grenada in 1982. During that period, I
worked as an evaluator/consultant to the Centre for Popular Education (CPE) as it
launched the second phase of the adult literacy campaign. In addition to collecting
data that I received from village and parish operations pertaining to enrolment,
attendance and progress reports, I also visited classroom sites across the island,
extending technical assistance to volunteers who administered the programme at
the local level. These visits provided me with the opportunity to witness firsthand
the obstacles encountered during the course of the campaign. It also allowed me
to meet with and interview teachers and adult learners; interactions which were
important for me as I attempted to understand the factors influencing adult par-
ticipation in this unprecedented national undertaking.
During my six months on the island I was also able to attend several public
meetings which reflected, to varying degrees, the form that participatory
democracy in Grenada would eventually take. These included zonal council meet-
ings,4 meetings on the national budget, worker education meetings and meetings
with the Prime Minister. Throughout this paper my firsthand observations of these
meetings are used to create an ethnographic -interpretation of the significance
attached by the participants to their involvement in both the literacy campaign and
the fledgling structures of participatory democracy. Such an interpretation will
enable me to root my analysis in the reality of those who were the objects of these
endeavours, and for whom this undertaking ultimately had the most meaning.
Central to this analysis is a larger question related to the role of literacy in the
transformation of Grenadian society as envisioned by the revolutionary leadership
and actualized through the campaign. In critically examining the role of literacy in
Grenada we must determine to what extent mass literacy was intended to serve as
a mechanism for ending the marginalization and social isolation of adult illiterates
by incorporating and including them as critical subjects in public discourse over the
direction and transformation of society. Answering such a question necessarily
involves a critical assessment of whether literacy was used primarily to reinforce
and reproduce existing social relationships and alignments of power in society.
Martin Hoyles writes that "Literacy is a two-edged sword. It can be repressive or
liberating." (1977:29) This point is extremely important for understanding the role of
literacy in any society. Depending upon the desire and intention of those in power,
literacy, and education generally, can either serve as a force for liberation or
oppression. Particularly during periods of dramatic societal change, the way in
which educational programmes and institutions are utilized can play a major role in











determining the kind of society that will ultimately be produced. Leaders preoc-
cupied with retaining power are more likely to see in literacy a tool for subjugating
and controlling a population through mass indoctrination. Conversely, a leadership
committed to eliminating social relations that are based upon various forms of
domination are more likely to view literacy as a means of empowering those who
have historically been oppressed.
Recognizing the power of education in societal transformation, Karl Mannheim
makes the following point:
In a society in which the main changes are to be
brought about through collective deliberation, and
in which re-evaluations should be based upon
intellectual insight and consent, a completely new
system of education would be necessary, one
which would focus its main energies on the
development of our intellectual powers and bring
about a frame of mind which can bear the burden
of skepticism and which does not panic when
many of the thought habits are doomed to vanish.
(1943:23)

To achieve the objectives described by Mannheim, the content of such a new
system of education would have to engage and problematize existing and historical
social configurations of power. Beyond teaching the mechanics of literacy, issues
of status and wealth, politics and ethics, as well as societal and individual interest,
would have to be central to the content of an educational project which sought to
end the marginality and alienation of those who have historically been disem-
powered. However, beyond cultivating the capacity for individuals to critically
reason, an educational endeavour of this kind would also have to address the need
for agency and praxis on the part of those who had previously been treated as the
objects rather than subjects of social change.
In raising these issues and questions, there can be no doubt that any state which
undertakes a mass literacy campaign is motivated largely by a desire to promote its
own interests. These interests, which tend to be related to issues of control,
legitimacy and the construction of a new ideological hegemony, need not neces-
sarily be in opposition to the individual and collective interests of subordinate
groups. The power of education lies in the fact that even when the aim of instruction
is to produce conformity and passivity, these outcomes are never guaranteed
because individuals have the capacity to use knowledge for purposes other than
what may have been intended. In describing this capacity, Paulo Freire writes:










"The normal role of human beings in and with the
world is not a passive one. Because they are not
limited to the natural (biological) sphere but par-
ticipate in the creative dimension as well, men
can intervene in reality in order to change it."
(1973:4)
As we analyze how literacy was utilized in Grenada, both by those with power as
well as by those without, we will also consider how the social context created by
Grenada's revolution influenced the role of literacy in transforming the society.
Background and History
Grenada is a small tropical island (133 square miles) located in the eastern
Caribbean, approximately 200 miles north of Venezuela. It has a population of
approximately 103,000, comprised of Afro-West Indians (91%); East Indians and
individuals of Syrian-Lebanese extraction (6%); and a small but significant number
of people of European descent (3%). Its main exports, cocoa, nutmeg and
bananas, account for 80% of export earnings and 33% of the GDP. Tourism is also
responsible for a significant portion of the foreign exchange and 14-16% of the
GDP. (Census of Commonwealth, 1980).
Prior to the arrival of French settlers in 1650, the island was inhabited first by the
Arawak, and later the Carib peoples. Under French rule the indigenous population
was annihilated through a combination of murders and disease, and the importa-
tion of African slaves commenced shortly thereafter. In 1763 the British assumed
control of the island from the French under the provisions of the Treaty of Paris.
Grenada remained a British possession until 1974 when it was granted inde-
pendence.
Though the British abolished slavery in 1838, the island's peasant majority ex-
perienced little change with respect to their political and economic status on the
island until 1951. In that year, Eric Gairy, a trade union organizer of peasant
origins, led agricultural workers in an island-wide strike that lasted several weeks
and disrupted economic and political activity on the island. In the aftermath of the
uprising, Eric Gairy and his Grenada United Labour Party (GULP) were able to take
advantage of new constitutional guarantees enacted by the British which brought
adult suffrage and increased power to the Legislative Council on the island.
Over the years, Grenada has experienced drastic and frequent shifts in govern-
ment that have not been common to the Anglophone Caribbean. Gairy served as
Chief Minister of government from 1951 to 1957. He was later defeated twice by
Herbert Blaize, leader of the pro-business Grenada National Party (GNP), in 1957
and 1962. Gairy was later re-elected in 1967, whereupon he served continuously
as head of government until he was overthrown in 1979 by the New JEWEL (Joint











Endeavor for Welfare, Education and Liberation) Movement (NJM) headed by a
young lawyer named Maurice Bishop. During his years in power, Gairy obtained an
international reputation for his eccentric beliefs and the repressive character of his
government.
Maurice Bishop led the New Jewel Movement in a coup against the Gairy govern-
ment on March 13, 1979. His People's Revolutionary Government held power until
October 19, 1983. During the four and a half years of PRG rule, relations with the
United States were strained due to U.S. objections over Cuban and Soviet in-
fluence on the island. Following a dispute between the leadership of the ruling NJM
party in October 1983, which resulted in the arrest and later the execution of
Maurice Bishop, the United States dispatched over 6,000 troops and invaded the
island. After a relatively short battle, an interim government was installed by the
U.S. to administer the island until an election was held nine months after the
invasion. A new government headed by former GNP leader, Herbert Blaize, was
then placed in office.
Blaize served as Prime Minister until his death in 1989. Following elections in 1990,
a new government headed by Nicholas Brathwaite, the former head of the Interim
Government that had been established by the United States, was installed in
coalition with remnants from the GNP and other centrist and conservative political
forces on the island.
While former supporters of the PRG have not yet been able to organize a sig-
nificant challenge in the electoral arena, there is evidence that a substantial portion
of the population continues to support the ideals of the revolution and to hold its
martyred leader, Maurice Bishop, in high regard. Opinion surveys conducted in
Grenada since the U.S. invasion (Brathwaite, 1984; Ryan 1984; Noguera, 1989)
have found that one of the most important reasons for the ongoing support of the
PRG is the widespread appreciation for the social welfare programmes that were
created during its tenure. There also appears to be a widespread sense that the
PRG was genuinely committed to improving the lives of poor people.
Literacy and Regime Legitimacy
Shortly after coming to power the PRG made the implementation of the national
literacy campaign one of its highest national priorities. This was an unusual
decision both because the rate of illiteracy in Grenada was relatively low5 and
because the potential for failure was high due to the government's need to rely
heavily upon volunteers for most aspects of the campaign. Undoubtedly, PRG
leaders chose to undertake this ambitious effort due to its linkage to larger political
and economic goals and objectives that had been devised. Following the ouster of
the former Prime Minister, Eric Gairy, the PRG was under considerable pressure to
obtain international acceptance for the new government. Despite Gairy's lack of











credibility in the region and internationally,6 the PRG's seizure of state power
represented a substantial deviation from the Westminster traditions of the British
West Indies.7 As such, there was no guarantee that the new regime would be
accepted as legitimate in the international arena unless elections were held.
Shortly after the takeover several of Grenada's Caribbean neighbours began
making demands that a date for elections be set, a demand that could not easily be
ignored due to Grenada's dependence on its neighbours in the region on matters
pertaining to trade, finance and higher education (O'Shaughnessy, 1984:66).
However, the PRG leadership resisted the pressure to seek and obtain an electoral
mandate. The leadership of the NJM had long criticized the practice of democracy
in Grenada as a sham; rum and roti politics as they called it. (Will, 1989)
Throughout the region Gairy obtained a reputation as a megalomaniac and a
dictator as a result of numerous human rights violations.8 Gairy's lack of legitimacy
externally made it possible for the PRG to take control over the government without
being immediately ostracized or isolated by Caribbean governments or even the
United States.9 Hoping to turn the anti-Gairy sentiment into support for itself,
shortly after taking power the PRG announced that it intended to introduce a new
form of participatory democracy to the island as a replacement for the Westminster
system of government. Influenced by the system of Ujamaa-African Socialism -
that had been implemented in Tanzania during the 1970s, (Marable, 1984:210;
Lewis, 1984:28-31) since the early seventies the NJM had called for the creation of
a form of participatory democracy on the island. However, prior to coming to power
their ideas about the role and content of a constitution, the function of the judiciary,
and the types of appropriate legal procedures for this new form of democracy were
largely undefined.
After a brief respite, internally, patience toward the new regime gradually began to
wear thin. The PRG's unwillingness to schedule elections, and its detention of
several political opponents, led to an increase in criticism both at home and abroad.
As the criticisms increased the threat of political isolation, economic sanctions and
military intervention loomed as growing possibilities. In response to these pres-
sures, the PRG leadership sought to find alternative ways to establish the
legitimacy and credibility of the new government.
In the absence of elections, the PRG attempted to secure credibility through a two
pronged strategy that emphasized popular mobilization and increasing the "social
wage" (i.e. health, education, housing, social welfare). The mobilization effort
included large demonstrations that were organized on a regular basis as manifes-
tations of the popular support enjoyed by the revolution. In addition, mass or-
ganizations were formed for women and youth who supported the goals of the
revolution, and a People's Militia was created; all of which provided further
evidence that large numbers of people actively supported the new government and











were willing to defend it, even with their lives if necessary. These efforts were
buttressed by several socio-economic reforms in areas such as housing, health
care and education that brought tangible benefits to ordinary people and generated
a reservoir of support for the government throughout the island.
The literacy campaign fit into both of the strategies employed by the PRG. Like the
other mobilization operations the campaign necessitated the active involvement of
hundreds of people into roles as teachers and students. Additionally, the literacy
campaign provided the PRG with a means of extending a social benefit (i.e. adult
education) to rural areas and therefore contained the potential for strengthening
the regime's base within a critical sector of the population. With their hold on state
power secure but tenuous, the mass literacy work became the PRG's first major
attempt to win the support of the rural peasantry who constituted the majority of the
island's population.
Literacy and Participatory Democracy
By eliminating illiteracy on the island the government hoped to achieve two goals:
one political, the other economic. In terms of the economy, the PRG largely
accepted the notion advanced by literacy proponents: that the promotion of adult
literacy and adult education generally would add value to the nation's human
capital, and in the long term would result in greater worker productivity and
eventually increased economic development. Part of its reasoning was based on
the hope that adult education would serve as a means of enabling agricultural
workers to adapt to technological innovations, particularly in agriculture. The fol-
lowing passage taken from one of the literacy primers illustrates how this expecta-
tion was conveyed to the students:
Our farmers will have to improve their agricultural
skills if production is to be increased. They will
have to begin to use scientific approaches when
cultivating, harvesting and storing their crops.
They will have new machinery on the farms,
moving away from the cutlass, hoe, spade and
fork, to mechanical mowers and plows.

Agriculture is one of the priorities of our country.
Therefore farmers should arm themselves with
the proper skills and knowledge to build agricul-
ture. (Adult Education Primer, 1981 Book Three)
More important to the PRG was the manner in which the mass literacy campaign fit
into a larger political strategy aimed at establishing ideological hegemony for its
socialist oriented policies and deepening support among the populace. The PRG
hoped that this could be done while simultaneously using the success of the











campaign as evidence of its benevolent intentions. The PRG viewed the national
literacy campaign as its primary means for reaching out to sectors of the society
that had traditionally been marginal to the political process and who had previously
not been supportive of the NJM during earlier elections. Through ongoing adult
education the leadership of the PRG hoped to influence the political attitudes and
values of the rural poor and thereby establish a base of political support among a
constituency that had traditionally been loyal to their nemesis, Eric Gairy.10
The literacy campaign was one of the means used by the PRG to win over
dissenters and others who viewed the new government with skepticism. The threat
of destabilization or invasion by foreign powers, particularly the United States,
made the PRG extremely concerned about maintaining a high degree of popular
support. The campaign provided the government with a way to utilize its active
loyalists in a process of engaging segments of the peasant population in a dis-
course about the revolution and their relationship to it as individuals. In so doing, it
created an opportunity for mass political socialization that was far more extensive
and far reaching than anything it could have devised through other channels.11
This was particularly important to the PRG, for unlike the Nicaraguan and Cuban
revolutions that it sought to emulate, involvement in the Grenadian revolution had
been largely confined to a relatively small group of ideologically committed cadre.12
The campaign provided the PRG with a means of expanding its core of activists
and created an opportunity for the adult learners who participated to learn and
simultaneously participate in the unfolding economic and political process of the
revolution.
Active participation of the citizenry in certain aspects of government was one of the
central political reforms the PRG attempted to introduce. In economic planning,
local government, and the provision of social services to the population, the PRG
attempted to create a new process for popular participation. In Is Freedom We
Making, a pamphlet published by the PRG, the reason for creating a system of
participatory democracy is put forward:
The system of government that we inherited in
the Caribbean invites us to hand over our political
rights to a small group of people who (we hope)
will speak and act on our behalf...We are called
upon at five-yearly intervals to choose one person
to represent upwards of 10,000 people, and here
endeth our political power, for the great majority
of us have nothing to do with what is called
politics from one election to the next. (Is Freedom
We Making, 1980: 24).










While the reforms were never actually formalized beyond the experimental level
achieved during the four and one half years of PRG rule, the plan was to be based
upon four basic principles: 1) Ongoing contact between leadership and people; 2)
public discussion of national issues; 3) adult education; and 4) fostering group
activity.13 For the PRG leadership, adult education represented the key element of
this new political process for it would prevent what they referred to as "blindfold
democracy", manipulation of voters through clever campaigning and sophistry,
without the actual articulation of popular interests. Advocating a greater role for
citizens in the process of governance, the PRG promoted adult literacy as a key
ingredient.
"There is no power without knowledge,
democracy and ignorance cannot co-exist the
one negates the other." (Is Freedom We Making.
35).
As the following statement by Maurice Bishop suggests, the political vision
embraced by the PRG conceived of political participation and adult education as
related:
"Today, since our glorious March 13th revolution,
more and more education is being given its right-
ful place and importance in the developments of a
free and just society. It therefore behoves each
and everyone of us as adult citizens and patriots
of Free Grenada to play an active part in the
process, from which we, future generations to
come, and the whole world will benefit tremen-
dously." (Marcus et al., 1984: 27)
The decision of the PRG leadership to establish new channels for public participa-
tion in government, was influenced largely by its organizing efforts against the
Gairy regime during the 1970s. To counter Gairy's support among rural agricultural
workers, the NJM organized massive demonstrations and people's tribunals which
were used to draw attention to injustice on the island.14 The NJM's interest in
participatory democracy grew out of these oppositional strategies.
There is also evidence that the ideas of Brazilian educator, Paulo Freire, on the role
of adult education in social change, were also influential. In meetings with the
co-ordinators of the literacy campaign during the summer of 1979, Freire em-
phasized the need for the literacy work to be used as an opportunity to establish
dialogue between the revolutionary leadership and the people. He admonished the
leaders to avoid arrogance in carrying out their work, as well as excessive reliance
upon militarism. He warned that "If the revolutionaries become militarys" in their











zeal to defend the revolution they risk becoming new oppressors in the eyes of the
people"15 To avoid that risk, Freire called for adult education to serve as the
beginning of a dialogue between the leaders and the people, and he encouraged
the leadership to think of ways to expand opportunities for participation in the
process of transforming Grenadian society.
Freire's views on adult education fit in well with the plans of the PRG. The PRG
established zonal and parish councils which were intended to serve as the vehicles
for a new form of participatory democracy. Similar in many ways to Poder Popular
(People's Power) in Cuba,6 the zonal councils were planned to serve as a form of
local government, and also as a venue where national and local leaders would
appear before citizens for discussion and questioning on issues of local, national,
and international concern.
I was able to attend several of these meetings while I was in Grenada in 1982, and
I was impressed by the interaction which took place. At one meeting, the former
Foreign Minister, Unison Whiteman, explained the PRG's decision to vote against
the resolution condemning the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan at the U.N. General
Assembly. He was followed by the Chief Engineer responsible for construction of
the International Airport, who fielded questions concerning the role of Cuban
workers on the project. During the question and answer session I noticed that
minor officials representing various public agencies received more questions, and
in some cases were harangued for their lack of response to local concerns (i.e.
road repair, water service, medical services, etc.). In interviews that I conducted
with citizens after the meeting I found that the lack of questions on the more
controversial issues was not due to lack of interest. As one older man told me "We
glad to see them here explaining themselves. So long as they keep that up we
know them can't do but so much that is wrong."17
Waging the Literacy Campaign
While the percentage of illiterates in Grenada was actually small when compared
to most developing nations, the PRG identified illiteracy as a major obstacle it
sought to overcome. Maurice Bishop justified his government's emphasis on adult
education in the following way:
"Without adult education no genuine people's
democracy can be built since real democracy al-
ways assumes the informed, conscious and edu-
cated participation of the people. Without
education there can be no real worker participa-
tion...no genuine independence." (Marcus et al.,
1984:64)











As an administrative unit, the Centre for Popular Education (CPE), was created to
oversee the operation of the campaign. Within three months 4,070 adult students
were registered, which represented approximately one third of the estimated num-
ber of illiterates. At the same time, 2,800 individuals were recruited to serve as
volunteer teachers in the campaign. This made it possible for the campaign to
achieve a 2:1 student-teacher ratio (in some cases it was 1:1). The large number of
volunteer teachers made it unnecessary for regular school teachers to take leave
from their jobs in primary and secondary schools as had been the case during the
literacy campaigns in Cuba and Nicaragua. (Torres, 1990).
Co-ordination of the campaign was organized at a national, parish and village level.
At each level, two individuals were designated to co-ordinate technical (i.e.
transportation, materials and supplies, facilities, etc.) and educational (i.e. teacher
training, compilation of statistics, etc.) responsibilities. In most cases, campaign
co-ordinators had no prior involvement in adult education and little administrative
experience in massive undertakings of this kind. Furthermore, most of the
campaign's leadership, including the leadership staff directing the CPE, were not
members of the ruling NJM party, nor were they familiar or necessarily supportive
of the socialist ideology of the revolution. For these reasons, although the PRG
placed considerable importance on ensuring the success of the campaign, im-
plementation was often haphazard and the elaborate administrative structure was
in many cases unable to respond to problems that arose.
The campaign's reliance on non-cadre also made it less likely that the instruction
of adults would become a form of political indoctrination. As an evaluator of the
campaign, it soon became clear to me that most of the literacy campaign workers
and students did not regard their involvement as "political", nor did they necessarily
view their participation as part of the government's effort to promote support. My
job was to provide an objective assessment to the central office on the effective-
ness of local efforts, and to assist parish and village co-ordinators in devising
strategies for addressing problems that they had encountered. During the period of
my observations I interviewed several teachers and students about their feelings
towards the literacy work and the revolution itself. From a personal standpoint, I
was interested in learning whether or not the government's report on the success
of the effort matched what was actually happening in the field. Moreover, I wanted
to understand how the participants, both teachers and students, explained their
participation in the effort.
Over the course of several interviews and conversations I found that most of the
participants did not express their reasons for participating in political terms. When
I asked why they were participating I generally did not hear that they were
interested in promoting the goals of the revolution, nor did they perceive the
campaign as a way of increasing support for the government. Instead, the par-











ticipants were more likely to connect their role in the campaign to the general effort
that had been initiated by the revolution to improve the country. As one adult
learner put it: "All of we must do our part to make Grenada rise up a little higher."18
The ambiguous political orientation of those involved in the work was even true
among several of its leaders. On one occasion I visited the home of a middle-aged
woman who served as village co-ordinator in New Hamshire, a rural village located
in the parish of St. George's. As we discussed the progress of the work in her area
I noticed pictures of Pope John Paul II and Queen Elizabeth of England that hung
on the walls of her living room. On the other side of the room, portraits of Maurice
Bishop and Fidel Castro dressed in military fatigues were hung side by side. When
I asked this woman about the significance of these prominent individuals to her she
told me that they were her heroes. Despite what might have appeared to have been
a case of conflicting loyalties, admiration for the four leaders was perfectly logical
to the woman; she saw no contradiction. Similarly, she explained her involvement
primarily in humanitarian terms, though she also made it clear that she supported
the goals of the revolution.
This experience and others like it make it clear to me that while the PRG conceived
and implemented the literacy campaign at least partially to cultivate political sup-
port, the participants often had their own reasons for supporting the effort, some of
which were not necessarily consistent with the aims of the government. It is not
surprising that there was some concern on the part of PRG officials about how to
sustain the enthusiasm of the participants, since it was recognized that political
exhortations might not be sufficient should the willingness to volunteer decline prior
to completion of the effort.
To maintain interest and support for the campaign it was run with a great deal of
fanfare and publicity. Rallies, marches, sporting and cultural events, were or-
ganized to generate interest in the campaign and to recruit students and teachers.
As a result of the success of these efforts, local businesses, churches, civic
organizations, the Governor General, Sir Paul Scoon,19 and others who were not
supporters of the revolution, actively supported the literacy campaign added to the
credibility of the new government which desperately needed to demonstrate broad-
based support on the island.
Before the end of the first phase of the campaign it became clear that participation
was uneven. Among Grenada's seven parishes some had relatively high rates of
participation, while in others the rates were significantly lower (see Table 1.). The
reason for the regional differences in participation appeared largely related to the
attitudes of area residents toward the revolution and the PRG. These attitudes in
turn were based to a large extent on whether or not the residents of an area
perceived themselves to be receiving material benefits from the revolution.










For example, in the parish of St. David's where the rate of participation was lowest,
I heard several complaints by residents that they were not receiving their share of
benefits from the free milk programme or the house repair programme. They were
also concerned about the PRG's intention to construct a new main road to Green-
ville (the second largest city on the island) which would divert traffic and business
away from the parish. Conversely, on the island of Cariacou where participation
was highest, residents expressed appreciation for the PRG's efforts at improving
roads, and expanding the availability of electricity and running water. It is historical-
ly significant that whereas St. David's was traditionally a stronghold of support for
Eric Gairy's GULP in past elections, Cariacou had consistently opposed the
Grenada United Labour Party in every election since 1957. (Brizan, 1984:326)


TABLE 1. Participation in Literacy Campaign by Parish
Parish Registered Actual Registered Enrolled
volunteers Volunteers Students Students
St. Andrews 248 102 (41%) 350 134(38%)
St. Mark's 113 58(51%) 254 83(32%)
St. David's 256 101 (39%) 556 152 (27%)
Cariacou 154 112(72%) 154 85 (55%)
St. George's 320 160 (50) 377 200 (53%)
St. John's 203 144 (71%) 408 206 (50%)
St. Patrick's 295 95 (32%) 421 202 (48%)
*Data collected by the Center for Popular Education, September 16, 1980.


Invariably, participation in the campaign was also influenced by political events on
the island. For example, CPE co-ordinators in the village of Tivoli reported a drastic
decline in participation following the mass arrest of several young men who had
been accused of cultivating marijuana for sale on a local estate. A similar downturn
occurred in the village of St. Paul's following the death of a local leader who was
killed by members of the People's Revolutionary Army (PRA) after he was accused
for of attempting to assassinate the Prime Minister and several other PRG
leaders.20 In both cases, the individuals targeted by the government had previously
been active supporters of the revolution and had been popular figures locally. The
government action taken against them had an immediate effect upon literacy work
in the area, and served as a reminder of the political nature of the educational
campaign.











By the time Phase I of the literacy campaign had been completed in March of 1982,
nearly half (7,347) of the identified illiterates on the island had completed the ten
week course of study and were enrolled in CPE classes for continuing education.
Phase I was to be followed by Phase II during which efforts were to be made to
recruit additional adult illiterates, and to raise the level of literacy of those enrolled
to approximately the fifth standard in reading, writing and arithmetic. Despite
several setbacks along the way, PRG leaders proclaimed the campaign a success
and declared 1983 "The Year of Academic and Political Education" to demonstrate
their ongoing commitment to adult education.
Conclusion
The year 1983 was indeed a fateful one for the PRG, but now it is more likely to be
remembered for the collapse of the government and the U.S. military intervention
than for the efforts in adult education. Nonetheless, during the four and one half
years of PRG rule, there had been relative success in the fight against illiteracy. A
substantial number of the identified illiterates had enrolled and completed the CPE
course of study, and arrangements had been made for the continuation of this
effort in the future. By linking the goals of the mass literacy campaign to the broader
political objectives of the revolution, the government was able to transfer some of
the enthusiasm that had been generated in support of the revolution to the cam-
paign itself.
The significance of the participation elicited by the Grenadian campaign is all the
more salient when viewed in comparison with other countries that have undertaken
similar endeavours. With few notable exceptions, most countries that have at-
tempted mass literacy campaigns have failed for two reasons: 1) an inability to
attract and sustain the involvement of adult learners; and 2) an inability to recruit
sufficient numbers of teachers on a voluntary basis. David Hartman, an Israeli
literacy expert, offered the following explanation to Jonathan Kozol for the failure of
literacy efforts in other developing nations:
"Education of adult illiterates without some paral-
lel form of socio-economic transformation is un-
thinkable. It has to be accompanied by food and
land and health care and the rest. Without these
items no endeavour of this kind has ever
achieved even marginal success" (Kozol,
1978:74).
In Grenada, the success of the national literacy campaign was directly related to
the fact that it occurred simultaneously with major social and economic reforms.
The promotion of adult literacy was part of a package of reforms that brought
tangible benefits to the Grenadian peasantry and improvements in living condi-










tions. The provision of new services and opportunities in education, health and
housing, made possible largely through the PRG's successful efforts at obtaining
foreign aid (Pryor, 1986), enabled the new government to win over segments of the
population that had previously been unsupportive of the revolution.
Unfortunately for the PRG, it was unable to sustain the level of financing needed to
continue the reforms. As sources of foreign aid became increasingly difficult to tap,
balance of payments crises emerged almost immediately, leading the PRG to seek
a loan from the International Monetary Fund in 1982. By 1983, the government was
facing major difficulty in meeting the payroll of the greatly expanded public sector
(Pryor, 1986: 112-123). The reduction in unemployment, the construction of the
controversial but popularly supported international airport through Cuban assis-
tance, the development of an Agro-Industrial Plant, and other Iajor projects
undertaken by the PRG, were all imperiled by the fiscal crisis. By the spring of 1983
it had become clear to the PRG leadership that the economic problems could lead
to a reduction in political support. Minutes obtained from the Central Committee
meetings of the party leadership reveal that they understood that support for the
revolution was "soft", meaning that it was largely not based upon popular embrace-
ment of the socialist ideology advocated by the regime. (Grenada Documents,
1984; 134)
Hence, despite the successful efforts of the PRG to execute the literacy campaign,
the pay off in terms of political support was minimal and directly linked to material
conditions. Moreover, while there was initial enthusiasm for participating in the
channels of participatory democracy that had been created, by 1983 participation
had dropped off considerably. In fact, no member of the NJM Central Committee
attended any zonal council meetings during the last eighteen months of the
revolution. In criticizing the implementation of participatory democracy Marable
writes:
...the NJM's version of mass participatory
democracy contained many serious flaws...ac-
countability requires the ability to recall or remove
officials who are responsible for unpopular
policies. Agendas of parish and zonal council
meetings were frequently set in advance, and no
institutional mechanism existed to insure that
local decisions would be acted upon by those in
power. The Council's executive committees were
chosen by the NJM, and not democratically
elected by the participants. (1987: 227)











Despite these serious flaws with the new system of democracy that was being
devised, the PRG's success in confronting illiteracy cannot be denied, particularly
given the degree of failure that has been experienced elsewhere in the Third World.
The new channels for public participation in government created by the PRG did
contribute to a willingness on the part of the participants to sustain their involve-
ment in the campaign. Because participation in the campaign was equated with
support for the revolution, the literacy campaign was able to take advantage of the
widespread support for the political changes occurring on the island. The involve-
ment of large numbers of people in the campaign was guaranteed for as long as
support for the revolution remained high. While it now seems clear that the PRG
leadership was mistaken in its belief that participation in the zonal council meet-
ings, mass organizations and other mobilization efforts, could serve as a replace-
ment for elections, objections over the disruption in the traditional political process
did not emerge as a major challenge to the regime until later, and therefore did not
deter the literacy work.21
Finally, the literacy campaign held tremendous symbolic importance to the PRG
because it provided the regime with proof of its popular support and further
evidence of its intentions. By pointing to the relative success of the effort, PRG
leaders could not only claim to have addressed a significant social problem within
a relatively short period of time, they could also assert that they had succeeded in
an area where so many other nations had failed. By sustaining the involvement of
large numbers of teachers and students the PRG could claim that theirs was a
popularly supported government, one which could rely upon the mobilization of the
people to attain social and economic objectives. While such a claim did not deter
Grenada's critics indefinitely, it did help to provide the regime with a positive
international image in many quarters, and in so doing, temporarily undermined
those who sought to destabilize and eventually invade the tiny nation.


NOTES AND REFERENCES

1. In 1967, Unesco launched the Experimental World Literacy Program, a massive educational un-
dertaking which aimed at eliminating illiteracy in eleven developing nations: Ecuador, Mali, Iran,
India, Madagascar, Guinea, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Algeria, Syria, and Sudan. Of the eleven
countries that participated the Tanzanian effort was the most successful. For a critical assess-
ment of EWLP see Bataille, L A Turning Point for Literacy (London, Pergamon Press, 1976) pp.
38-56.
2. Carnoy and Samoff use the term transitional states to refer to states in revolutionary societies that
are pursuing a non-capitalist development strategy. These new states are often under consider-
able pressure because they undertake massive social and economic reforms while they are at-
tempting to consolidate political power. See Martin Cornoy and Joel Samoff Education and
Social Transition in the Third World (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990) p. 22.
3. For a discussion of the factors that led to the collapse of the PRG and the military invasion by the
United States see Heine, J. A Revolution Aborted (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press,
1987); O'Shaughnessy, H. Grenada.












4. Zonal Council meetings were equivalent to town hall meetings. Organized in regions throughout
the country, these fora were intended to eventually serve as a form of local government.
5. According to a 1978 report of the World Bank approximately 15% of the Grenadian population
was illiterate while another 15% were identified as functionally illiterate. In comparison to most
developing nations, these are relatively low illiteracy rates. The vast majority of Grenada's il-
literates resided in rural areas and were employed in a variety of unskilled and semi-skilled oc-
cupations (eg. fishing, agriculture, road construction, etc.) For a discussion of world literacy rates
see Phillips, H.M. Literacy and Development (Paris: Unesco Press, 1974) p. 22.
6. The erosion of Gairy's credibility in the Caribbean and in internal fora was due largely to the
repressive tactics utilized by his regime to combat its opponents. Gairy's proclaimed belief in
UFOs and his support for military dictatorships in South Korea and Chile, also contributed to the
isolation of his government. See Sunshine: 42-50; Jacobs R. and Jacobs I. Grenada the Route..
to Revolution (Havana, Cuba: Casa de las Americas, 1980) pp. 91-117; Dabreo, S. The
Grenada Revolution (Castries, St. Lucia: M.A.P.S. Publication, 1979) pp. 50-67.
7. In the Newer Caribbean, (Carl Stone described the political culture of English speaking societies
and the influence of British colonialism on the system of government that had developed since
independence.
8. For a description of the human rights violation committed by the Gairy regime see Lewis, G. The
Jewel Despoiled (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1984) pp. 11-15 and Sunshine, C. Grenada
the Peaceful Revolution (Washington, D.C.: EPICA, 1982) pp. 36-50.
9. While the U.S. was never supportive of the PRG, initial meetings with the representatives of the
Carter administration were not as hostile. For a description of these meetings see Valenta, J.
and Ellison, H. Grenada and Soviet/Cuban Policy: Internal Crisis and U.S./OECS Intervention
(Boulder, Co: Westview, 1986) pp. 248-256 and Pastor, R. The U.S. and the Grenada Revolu-
tion in A Revolution Aborted, edited by Heine, J. (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press,
1990) pp. 187-198.
10. For decades, agricultural workers and small land owners provided the former Prime Minister, Eric
Gairy, with unwaivering support, enabling him to remain a dominant political figure on the island
for three decades. Gairy's strong following among the peasantry was due largely to the role he
played as a leader of the island-wide strike of 1951. (Brizan, 1984:320; Lewis, 1984: 14)
Moreover, Gairy developed a system of patronage during his years in office that was based
upon a network of patron-client relations. (Singham, 1966; Jacobs and Jacobs, 1981) This sys-
tem contained many of the features common to patron-client relationships that existed on the
large estates (Smith, 1965:223) and proved to be especially effective for Gairy as a way of
retaining support while he held political power. In the parishes of St. Andrews and St. Thomas
David's in particular, Uncle Gairy, as he was affectionately called by many of his followers, was
widely revered as the champion of the poor. His continued following among older rural folk to
this day stems from the fact that he was seen by his followers as a leader who had placed the
needs of the poor above those of the white 'plantocracy' and the brown skinned middle class.
11. The PRG was unable to utilize the mass media as effectively for propaganda purposes due to the
underdevelopment of the communications sector on the island. Although the PRG took control
of the only radio station and eventually held a monopoly over the print media, a shortage of
trained personnel made it impossible for these outlets to be put to use immediately. Local
programming for television was almost non-existent, and relatively few Grenadians owned
televisions at the time.
12. Prior to the takeover in 1979, the NJM had no more than one hundred members. By 1983, party
membership was barely three hundred including non-voting members. The party's emphasis on
ideological clarity and conformity constrained its ability to recruit new members. See Marable, M.
African and Caribbean Politics (London: Verso Press, 1987) p. 227.
13. Freedom We Making, p. 24.
14. In 1973 the NJM organized a People's Court to try Lord Brownlow, an absentee landlord, for deny-
ing the public access to the beach adjacent to his property. Similar tactics were used in their ef-
forts to prevent Grenada from becoming independent under Gairy, and in their support for
striking workers. For a description of these tactics see Jacobs and Jacobs, 1980: 62-83 and 0'-
Shaughnessy, 1984:57-72.












15. Obtained from a taped interview with Paulo Freire in 1980.
16. Prior to the elections of 1992, PoderPopularserved as forum for representatives who were
elected in communities and at work sites. The scope of authority for the assembly was limited
largely to domestic affairs, particularly some economic issues and social service concerns. See
Cuba Reader by Brenner, editor (New York: Grove Press, 1989) p. 146.
17. Interview conducted in August, 1982, Vendom, Grenada.
18. Interview with adult literacy student in Birch Grove, October 12, 1982.
19. Paul Scoon's support for the U.S. invasion in 1983 figured prominently in the Reagan
administration's justification of the military aggression. However, while he later disavowed any
connections to the PRG, he was a supporter of the literacy campaign.
20. Many of those arrested in Tivoli had formerly been soldiers in the People's Revolutionary Army
(PRA), as had Strachan Phillips, who was killed by the army shortly after an attempted assas-
sination of the Prime Minister in 1981. See Grenada the Peaceful Revolution by Sunshine, c. p.
78.
21. Polls that have been conducted by Ryan (1984) and Brathwaite (1984) have shown that a sub-
stantial number of Grenadians believed that the PRG should have called elections.


Bataille, L. (1976) A Turning Point for Literacy (London: Pergamon Press) p. 38.
Berg, Ivar (1970) Education and Jobs (New York: Praeger Press)
Brathwaite, F (1985) The 1984 Grenada Elections (Cave Hill, Barbados: University of the West In-
dies).
Brenner, et al. (1989) Cuba Reader(New York: Grove Press).
Brizan, G. (1984) Grenada: Island of Conflict (London: Zed Books Ltd.).
Carnoy, Martin and Samhoff, Joel (1990) Education and Social Transition in the Third World (Prin-
ceton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press).
Dore, R. (1976) The Diploma Disease (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press).
Fagan, Richard (1969) The Transformation of Political Culture in Cuba (Stanford, CA: Stanford
University Press)
Free West Indian Newspaper, April 16, 1980.
Freire, P. (1968) Pedagogy of the Oppressed(New York: Continuum Press).
Freire, P. (1970) Education for Critical Consciousness (New York: Continuum Press).
Grenada Documents: An Overview and Selection (1984) Released by the U.S. Department of State
and Department of Defense, Washington, D.C.
Harbison, Frederick (1967) Educational Planning and Human Resource Development (Paris:
UNESCO).
Heine, Jorge editor (1990) A Revolution Aborted (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press).
Inkles, A. and Holsinger, D. (1975) Education and Individual Modernity in Developing Countries (The
Netherlands: Leiden Press).
Jacobs, R and Jacobs, 1 (1980) Grenada: The Route to Revolution (Havana, Cuba: Casa de las
Americas).
Jolly, R. (1964) "Literacy Campaign and Adult Education" in Seers, Dudley Cuba: The Economic and
Social Revolution (Durham, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press).
Kozol, J. (1978) Children of the Revolution (New York: Dell Publishing Co.).
Lewis, G (1984) The Jewel Despoiled (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press).
Marable, Manning (1987) African and Caribbean Politics (London: Verso Books).
Sunshine, C. Grenada the Peaceful Revolution (Washington, D.C.: EPICA, 1982)











GRENADIAN POPULAR CULTURE AND THE RHETORIC OF
REVOLUTION: MERLE COLLINS' ANGEL


by

CAROLYN COOPER


Merle Collins' intriguing novel Angel, which articulates the growth to political
consciousness of its female protagonist, simultaneously traces the evolution of
radical nationalist politics in Grenada. Focusing on three generations of Grenadian
women, the novel uses the life of the individual as a metaphor for the body politic.
Issues of colour, class, gender, (dis)empowerment, voice and identity are explored
in this compelling first novel that helps to illuminate the processes of social change
in Grenada that culminate in the Revolution and its disillusioning aftermath.
Despite the useful fictional disclaimer "This is a work of fiction and any
resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental" the novel does
suggest correspondences between events in the narrative and the general trajec-
tory of Grenadian political history over the three-decade period it documents.
Indeed, the novel's two major fictional political leaders do resemble "persons living
or dead". We recognize the novel's "Leader" and "Chief" as prototypes, each of a
different political stripe, of that recurring figure in regional Caribbean politics the
charismatic leader whose personal style elicits general approbation (or general
revulsion) beyond the reach of ordinary party politics.
Collins' subtle portrayal of Leader and Chief focuses less on delineating two
specific individuals and more on extracting the essence of the type. Leader and
Chief are not fully realized characters for very good reasons. The politics of
representation require particular fictional tact, especially when the writer is dealing
with a subject as sensitive as the Grenada Revolution. Collins, both poet and
novelist, effectively uses the mask of artifice to both protect herself and extend her
account beyond the merely factual. It is an archetypal tale that she tells; a globaliz-
ing fiction. In the words of Doodsie, Angel's mother: "Is the same story all over. Is
vye neg on the groun an bakra beke on top. We always starting, always in the
beginning."'(11)
Within the narrative there are embedded songs, proverbial statements, and poems
that give the People's perspective on events. These collective fictions, cunningly
presented as operating beyond the domain of the controlling creativity of the
individual novelist, suggest yet another level of authentication of Collins' fiction.
The truth she attempts to articulate is not only her personal vision; the novel affirms










a sustained tradition of suffering and struggle and creativity that is encoded in the
oral histories of the Grenadian people who speak their wisdom in ritualized song,
story and proverb.
It is in the mouth of Sister Miona Spencer, a grandmother and belated student in
the revolutionary Government's literacy programme, that Collins puts a calyp-
soesque poem that amusingly encapsulates the preconditions of revolution that
lead to the rise of the Horizon movement. Sister Miona's introduction of the poem
locates the Grenadian struggle within the regional/global context of international
movements for political change:
'Long live the struggle! she shouted. There was a
scraping of chairs. People leapt to their feet.
'Long live! came the answer. Fists went up into
the air. 'Long live the struggle of the Nicaraguan
people!' 'Long live!' 'sisters and brothers, long live
struggling peoples the world over!, 'Long live!'

Having made the politically correct ritual introduction, Sister Miona proceeds to
give a much more personal introduction that humorously underscores the heartfelt
nature of her statement; the benefits of the literacy project are acknowledged, but
it is Sister Miona's memory, the collective memory of struggle that will sustain her
performance:
'Sisters and brothers, this poem that I will do for
you I write jus a few weeks ago when ah siddown
an really tink bout wey we is today an wey we
coming from! I have it in me pocket here, but de
eyes not too good today, you know. I forget de
glasses, so I hope I could remember it well. But
ah sure ah could remember it.'

The language of sister Miona's heart, as of her poem, is Grenadian Creole, a way
of speech resonant with the history of both deculturation and reacculturation. This
language, like the French Creole that is used throughout the narrative, is an
expression of the collective creative capacities that shape the creolization process.
Sister Miona does not really need glasses for vision; her oral insights are sufficient-
ly penetrating. The spirit of Miona's performance is expressed in one of the novel's
many proverbs, "Sense make befoh book:"
Ah! Well we try it in '51!
We say come pa come
Ting bad for so
Take up we burden
We go help you go!











Pa take up we burden
He take up he purse
And when he purse get so heavy
He caan carry de burden
An hol on to purse
He throw down we burden
Down on de groun!
So we can im over!
De Horizon come up
Pa star go down!
An we watching de Horizon
Like is really a dream
Becus
Hear, non!
Me at me age in school again!
Wey you ever hear dat
In dis country here!
Me granchilren in secondary
Dey not paying a cent!
Ay! Wey you ever hear dat
In dis country here.
So Horizon go on
We neck an neck wid you
Don throw down we burden, non!
We depending on yu
Don throw down we burden, non!
Ting too sweet for dat! (247-48)

Sister Miona's poem is performed at a zonal council meeting, the main burden of
which is to deal with reports from the Head of the Water Commission and a
representative from the Public Works Department on erratic water supply and on
the poor conditions of the roads. The public officials of the Revolutionary Govern-
ment speak a bookish English, politically obtuse: "Now the position is this. In a
situation such as the one in which we find ourselves, there are certain variables to
be considered..."(249) The speaker is immediately cut off by an impatient listener
who forces him to consider the basic variable of comprehensibility:
'Mr. Wellington, ah jus want to say dat what you
start to say dey ain make no sense, comrade. We
want you to break it up! We don want you to wrap










up nutting in big word so dat we caan understand.
Is information we want, an we want it clear and
simple!' (249)

The vivid metaphor of subterfuge employed by this anonymous man is an excellent
example of the way in which primarily oral speakers use metaphorical language to
convey abstract ideas. The lucid metaphor implies that there may be a clear
intention to deceive on the part of the high flown speaker; big words can be used to
wrap up/obscure meaning because clear and simple information may prove to be
problematic for the bearer of bad news. A female speaker, similarly refusing to be
silenced by her lack of literacy, unapologetically goes straight to the heart of the
matter:
"I just want to say that I in the literacy programme.
Not all of us did go to High School, through no
fault o we own. So jus give us de ting straight an
simple, like, an ting settle."'(249).

A clear threat.
Mr. Wellington quickly acknowledges the legitimacy of the criticisms:
"Yes. Yes. I accept that.' Mr. Wellington laughed,
passing his hand round the back of his head.' We
learning too, you know. But you're right. You have
a point there. I'll break it up"'(249)

Wellington's admission that the leaders of the movement themselves have to learn
new ways of speaking the abstract ideology of revolution, points to a fundamental
contradiction in the process of transfer of power to the -masses. The imported,
globalizing language of text-book liberation is often oppressive, if not deliberately
alienating. Conversely, the locally produced language of Sister Miona's intimate
poem, coming spontaneously out of the specific history of culture contact in
Grenada, speaks directly to the people; it frees them up to think about their
experience naturally. Intellectual activity is not an alien ideology; it is an everyday
function of the Grenadian people's lived reality.
The responses to Sister Miona's poem make this clear:
Sister Miona bowed. Whistles. 'Woo-o-y!' 'The
sister really good, you know.' 'Thank you sisters
and brothers!' Miona left the stage, walking back
down into the audience. People turned, applaud-
ing her as she passed by, shaking her hand. 'You
could give me a copy of it, sister?' 'Heavy, sister.'
'Yes. Thank you very much, Sister Miona. Sisters










and brothers, that is the kind of talent that was
there hidin all de tine, dat the revolution bringing
to light.'

That final self-satisfied comment from the Comrade Chairman of the evening's
meeting seems to claim too much for the revolution. The organizational machinery
of the Party may have created a forum for the expression of Miona's insight in the
form of performance poetry at a public meeting; but the insights she voices predate
the revolution. She speaks with the authority of generations of Grenadians who
intuitively understand the circumstances of their own lives. Indeed, the Chairman's
long-winded summary of the debate around the Party's failure to provide good
roads and a regular water supply is again cut off by dissenting voices:
"...chair de meeting, comrade, an let de people
give dey speech."(250)
Leader's rise to fortune comes at a time in Grenada when people are tired of having
their labour exploited by the big landowners. The novel opens with a theatrical
event the burning of the De Lisle estate which is eagerly applauded by expectant
onlookers. The spirit of carnival prevails. With wicked wit Maisie, one of the
spectators who works on the estate, reduces the grand scale of events to a much
more personal level. Responding to the noises of the fire she laughingly asks:
'All you hear dat? Ah sure is me basket a cocoa
an dem dat bawling dey.' Her voice cut through
the laughter. 'You hear de juice? You hear how it
squelchin scroom, scroom, scroom?' They
laughed. Some sucked their teeth. Turned laugh-
ing faces in Maisie's direction. They slapped cut-
lasses against waterboots as they enjoyed the
joke. 'Maisie, you could talk too much stupid-
ness!' 'No joke non, cocoa. Ah plant you, ah pick
you, ah dance in you, but you so damn ungrateful,
you don even know you mudder. Dead, you nas-
tiness! You tink ah wounta ketch you? 'Hoy- hoy!'
'Woy!' 'Ah tell you!' 'Maisie, you don good, non!'
'Ay-Ay!' 'Tongue an teeth doesn laugh at good
ting, non!(2)

That final proverbial statement, affirming the necessity of laughter in difficult
circumstances, encapsulates the complex mood of the people: anger and a simul-
taneous capacity to take bad things and make joke.











Maisie's humorous metaphorical description of the burning cocoa as ungrateful
children who don't acknowledge their own mother and therefore must be punished,
foreshadows the theme of generational conflict that the novel will develop. More
importantly, the analogy suggests the distortion of the organic relationship between
the worker and the products of labour. The worker, alienated from the fruits of
labour is forced to rebel.
Leader, promising reforms in the labour market, rises to power on the backs of
unionized workers. It is Doodsie, Angel's mother, who intuits Leader's potential for
betrayal.
'That man?' Doodsie put the green bananas
down on the dresser. 'Watch yourself, you know,
Regal. Ah hear you was part o de group dat set
fire to dose people plantation. Ah not making
noise. Jus as a sister ah tellin you. Don follow dat
man lead too close, you know.' She looked
around, found the stained, handleless provision
knife and stood leaning against the dresser.
Regal said nothing. 'Dat man like a lotta flash.
You should a see he weddin in Aruba. Real pap-
pyshow. It was so flashy dey make up a song on
it.'(13)

DoodsFe's statement is significant on two counts. It suggests that for Leader the
showy surfaces of things are more important than substance. Leader's flashy
clothes, like the obfuscating rhetoric of the politician, cover up his lack of commit-
ment to fundamental social change. He, like his wedding, is a real pappyshow.
Further, the statement reminds us of how anonymous song is used as an instru-
ment of censure and satire in Caribbean societies. A derisive song, taken up in full
voice by a whole society, becomes an effective substitute for more formal sanc-
tions.
It is also Doodsie who in a letter to a friend abroad summarizes Leader's fraudulent
career as union organizer; she points to the failure of the electoral system to effect
change when the homogeneity of candidates makes voting pointless:
We friend Leader reach the top where he was
aimin for and he have a lot of support but me, I not
supporting him at all. Allan does say is because I
just playing big. Ezra, that man Leader just want
everything everything for himself. His union is a
big thief organisation. On all the estates people
have to make purse to him regularly. And now he










is big hefe too. I feel that what the paymasters do
is when they see they have to raise pay they just
bought him out by taking him into their company.
With the election he become big man in Grenada
and some of these very same paymaster kind of
people is senators and now when the people get
squeeze by the paymasters there is no one to
turn to because he Leader is in whisky company
with them. Anyway is as if people feel that be-
cause Leader in power they in power so things
quiet. Between me an you, girl, I never even
bother to vote. I did well want to vote when was
the first election because for the first time
everybody could have a say but to tell the truth I
didn even know who to vote for. (53)

The letter format allows Collins to demonstrate on an intimate scale, and in the
voice of the people, the significance of events that are occurring in the wider society.
It is Doodsie, for whom letter-writing is an act of intimacy, who chides her husband
for wanting to be too particular about spelling when he's writing a letter to a friend:


"Advancement! Advancement, Doodsie! Dat have
an "e" in it? Two "e" or one? Ah does never
remember." 'Well, advance have an "e". Don
mine. Is a letter. Not a exam.' (44)

The real exam is knowing which political leader to vote for.
The proverbial statements used as headings for the sections of the novel that
document Leader's rise to prominence tend to be warnings. They indicate that
appearances can be deceptive. The warnings are complemented with philosophi-
cal statements that indicate the need for caution in trying to effect change:
When better can't be done let worse continue

Not all skin-teet is good grin!

Gade mize mwen, non! (look at my trouble)

Take win but you lose
Not all wag-tail is promise not to bite

Sa ki fe'w? (what's happening?)

One day one day congote










Nutting doesn happen before it time

Look at de fingers on you hand! All of dem different length!

Something in de mortar besides de pestle!

You never get more dan you can handle

Something boun to turn up

Spinnin top in mud

Empty crocus bag caan stan up

Make sure you no livin on nobody eyelash so dat when dey wink
you fall
Somebody walking over my grave

Keep a eye out for de rain if you know you have clothes outside

All you blow shell! Stranger in de place

Never trouble trouble until trouble trouble you! But if trouble attack
fend for yourself

Sometimes you have to take de worse an call it de best

Indeed, the Grenadian people are forced to take the worst and call it the best. They
follow Leader because he is the best option they have at the time:
Up on the hill, Leader clapped and sang too as
the voices merged in a confident dirge to fast-
fading days:
'We shall over co-o--me
We shall over co-o-ome
We shall overcome
Some day-au-ay...'

And as they sang Leader shouted: 'We shall
stand together, we shall die together!' The crowd
roared its approval, chanted its approval of this
new hope in song:

'We shall never let our leader fall
Cause we love him the best of all'

Leader's slender form, dressed all in white, move
gracefully on the balcony in front of the Parlia-
ment Building.











'Watch im, non! Watch boy, non! one woman
shouted. 'Dat is man!'

Leader held up both hands, a calm gesture
demanding silence. His spotless white suit glis-
tened in the sunshine.

'He look like Mr De Lisle, eh! Maisie whispered to
her companion. Is just so Mr De Lisle does dress
neat when he playing tennis!'
'Yes. Or when he going on de golf course. De
only ting is he prettier dan Mr De Lisle!' (24)

Retribution is swift once the people come to recognize Leader's ideological
resemblance to Mr De Lisle. Again, it is Maisie who makes the subversive com-
parison. Leader's downfall is heralded by irreverent song:
'Run Leader Run!
The people's on your way!
Run Leader Run
For a spot in an open ba-a-ay!
You got to frown yourself dey
Hide yourself wey
Lewwe pull we country straight!
Run Leader Run...'

The tune spread throughout the crowd. People
knocked bottles, picked up sticks, knocked them
together, blew the tune on bamboo flutes. Two
steelbands had come on the march. The women
and men flashed their pan-sticks, picking out the
tune. (210)

Another pointed song invites Leader to experience first-hand the problems that the
suffering people have to face:
Leader-o-o-oy-y!
Me bucket have a hole
In de centre!
An i-i-if you tink ah tellin lie!
Push you finger!
Leado-o-oy!
Me rooftop have a hole










In de centre!
An i-i-if you tink ah tellin lie
Spen a night dey!' (211)

Asserting the people's awareness of their collective power, the following song is a
clear threat:
'We will always let our leaders fall!
When dey treat us de worst of all!
'We will always let our leaders fa-a-all!
When they treat us
Like shit an all! (212-13)

The carnivalesque mood of the novel's opening when the De Lisle plantation is
burnt recurs as the people take to the streets en masse to protest Leader's failure
to help carry the collective burden. It is the Horizon movement that engineers the
overwhelmingly successful public rally that precipitates Leader's downfall:
Singing the song of the carnival bands Leader
had banned from the streets the year before, the
bands in which people covered themselves com-
pletely in black grease and paint, clattered
through the streets with cans, pans horns,
celebrating like their African ancestors had
celebrated emancipation, parading the blackness
that gave so much fear and making sure it left its
mark on anything white.

'Ole Ole 0
Djab Djab (212)

The self-liberation of the people from Leader's stranglehold is thus contextualized
within a long carnivalesque tradition of hierarchy investion. The diabolical energy of
the Djab Djab is the assertion of an emancipatory blackness that seeks to leave its
indelible mark on anything white. Dirt thus becomes a sign of power, the antithesis
of purity, both literal and ideological.
The Horizon movement will itself become vulnerable to the people's subversive,
blackening power. The anti-Horizon songs in the novel indicate that the people are
not unanimously committed to purist party politics. The pro-Leader forces assert
their right to challenge the policies of the Horizon movement which seem to come
from outer space.
This reference to "outer space" with its emphasis on the alienness of the movement
clearly contrasts the Revolution with the indigenous traditions of resistance that are
annually celebrated in the rites of carnival:











Horizon, Horizon
Go far away ah say!
Lose yourself in the ocean boy!
We go murder you today!


Horizon Horizon
Wu! Wul
Horizon Horizon
Go far away ah say!
Horizon place
is out de in space!
We don want you here ah say! (214)

Conversely, the pro-Horizon forces express the difficulties of making the transition
from one form of political organization to another in terms of proverbs that affirm the
necessity to embrace change:
As long as you have life you could turn you han to
something
You have to move to help yourself! You caan
siddown dey like de livin dead

Wel yes, wi! You live an learn!

Man proposes; God disposes

Is not everything everything you could believe but
some dream trying to tell you something!
Sometimes we have to drink vinegar an pretend
we think is honey!

Several of the proverbs used as chapter headings in the section of the narrative
that immediately precedes the coup focus on the children as the hope for change.
These proverbs optimistically assert the necessity for radical social transformation,
and affirm the possibility of a viable alternative to Leader's dissembling pappyshow
politics:
If wasn for de children, eh!

Ah have nutting to leave for you when ah dead.

All ah have is in you head so make de best of it!

Ah give as much as ah could, chile, an den you on
you own!










We looking to you young ones to raise we nose

Open up you head an take in what dey teaching
you!

But don get grand grand an do as if you foot caan
touch de groun! dat is wey you ha to walk!

You of age to see after yourself now! So pull up
you socks!

Some potato jus doesn follow de vine

The mud dey take an make you dey, dey throw it
away when dey finish
Me? I always in the middle like a maypole, an
both sides pullin!

Never damn de bridge you cross

The proverbs used in the sections of the narrative
that recount the heyday of the Revolution are
generally optimistic:

When God caan come, he does send

We doin we own ting!

Everybody putting dey grain o salt!

You tink was a easy lesson?

Pwangad waya pike mwen! (Take care lest the
wire pricks me)

Is a sure sign! Enemy in de bush

Something boiling under de surface!

We running neck an neck wid you!

The trauma of the impolsion of the Revolution and the opportunistic Invasion is
effectively record in proverb:
Papa-met oh! (exclamation, literally, my father)

Secure all you fowls! Galin in de area!

Tout,oun ca playwai! (everyone is crying)


None of us din born big!










When water more dan flour!

The Bush-gram busy

Never say never!

It have more ting is (sic) dis world dan what we
know about

Today for policeman, tomorrow for tief

Look how trouble could come right inside people
house an meet dem eh!
In cow-belly crossways!

Don look so see who behind you! look in front to
make sure you see wey you goin!

You not no egg, girl! You caan break so easy!

We never get more dan we can handle!

A particular poignant -metaphor is that of the invasive, predatory galin swooping
down on the scattered chickens. Earlier in the novel the image is used allegorically
to affirm the need for cohesiveness to counter the collective enemy:
'Youall so stupid!' Doodsie looked around the
yard empty of fouls which were hiding in the
bushes, up on the steps, under the house. 'If
youall would stay togedder, the chicken-hawk
won come down an do nutting! Stupes!' She
stamped her foot, distressed, shielded her eyes
and looked skywards again. The chicken-hawk
had disappeared. Slowly, the fowls began to
regroup. Stupes!' (255)

In spite of Maisie's perennial capacity to laugh in circumstances of dire distress, the
proverb "Today for policeman, tomorrow for tief" philosophically accommodates
even the Invasion as part of a dialectical process that is ultimately egalitarian. The
proverb can also be deconstructed somewhat more controversially to illustrate how
Today's global policeman, becomes Tomorrow 's thief, swooping down on lesser
nations in acts of extravagant overkill.
Merle Collin's novel Angel clearly documents the social conditions in Grenada that
lead to the Revolution. It asserts the people's intutive knowledge of the legitimacy
of their struggle to improve their lot in life. Though several folk sayings suggest a
fatalistic acceptance of the inevitable there are others that articulate the need for












radical change. The folk traditions of the Grenadian people thus provide the
ideological justifications needed for each stage of political development.


Appendix:Proverbs/Proverbial Statements Used As Section Titles


When better can't be done let worse continue
Not all skin-teet is good grin!
Gade mize but you lose
Not all wag-tail is promise not to bite
We come out de same crab hole
Sa ki fe'w?
One day one day congote
Nutting doesn happen before it time
Look at de fingers on you hand! All of dem different length!
Something in de mortar besides de pestle!
One han caan clap!
You never get more dan you can handle
Something boun to turn up
Spinnin top in mud
Empty crocus bag caan stan up
You make you children, you don make dey mind
Make sure you no livin on nobody eyelash so dat when dey wink you fall
Somebody walking over my grave
Keep a eye out for de rain if you know you have clothes outside
Allyou blow shell! Stranger in de place
Never trouble trouble until trouble trouble you! But if trouble attack fend for yourself
Sometimes you have to take de worse an ca:l it de best
As long as you have life you could turn you han to something
Hol you hen
We ha to hol one another up
Tim Tim
You have to make a move to help yourself! You caan siddown dey like de livin dead
If wasn for de children, eh!
Ah have nutting to leave for you when ah dead. All ah have is in you head so make de best of it!ln a
bush, in a bush In a bush where beasts can talk
Vini ou kai vini, ou kai we!
Suffer the little children
Once in a blue moon
Don play de ooman wid me
Make de most of you young days, chile! You doh know how lucky you is! Dey won come back again!
Ah give as much as ah could, chile, an den you on you own!
We looking to you young ones to raise we nose
Well yes, wi! You live an learn!
What is joke for schoolchildren is death for krapo
Man proposes; God disposes











GRENADA TEN YEARS AND MORE: MEMORY AND
COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY


by

MERLE COLLINS


Grenada 1983 and after is not a subject which I find it easy to approach as an
academic exercise. Here I give what are essentially reflections ten years later.
Grenada has moved ten years and more away from the tragic days of October
1983, when, as a result of conflict within the ruling Party, the New Jewel Movement,
(NJM) several people including Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and other govem-
ment leaders were murdered. In spite of a long trial and the imprisonment of other
government leaders implicated in the events, it would appear that much of the story
remains untold.
A new generation has come of age since 1983. My friend's daughter, now a
personable seventeen-year-old, was six when the events occurred, a fact which
struck me forcefully when she broke the public silence on those issues to comment,
in company, that a visitor to Grenada, apparently concerned about what he per-
ceived to be U.S. manipulation of public opinion, has been trying to elicit responses
from her about the events surrounding October 1983. Very disturbed, she kept
insisting, but I was only little at that time. I don't know anything. I just tell him all I
hear is that Maurice Bishop was a good leader.' Her mother and I subsequently
attempted a discussion, but stirred so many memories in the process that by
unspoken agreement, we pulled the covers again over the discussion.
However much the U.S. may have manipulated public opinion, the impression that
Maurice Bishop was a good leader not one that helps to achieve what might be
expected to be a U.S. government aim discrediting the Grenada revolution is
widely held.
The NJM collapsed around a crisis of leadership within the Party. The two major
figures were Maurice Bishop, then Prime Minister and Bernard Coard, then
Finance Minister. Maurice Bishop was killed and Bernard Coard services, in prison,
captured by forces of the United States of America during an invasion of the island
allegedly designed to rescue American students and, by extension, perhaps, the
Grenadian people, from a Revolutionary Military Council installed after the mur-
ders.
In addition to Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, among the major political figures
killed in October 1983 were; Minister of Foreign Affairs. Unison Whiteman, Minister











of Education, Youth, Social and Women's Affairs Jacqueline Creft, Minister of
Housing and Construction Norris Bain and Trade Union leaders Vincent Noel and
Fitzroy Bain. All except Jacqueline Creft and Norris Bain had served as members
of the Party's Central Committee. There has been a trial. Fourteen people con-
demned to death later had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment. Among
those in prison who had also served as members of NJM's Central Committee are
Bernard Coard then Minister of Finance and Planning, Phyllis Coard, Deputy
Minister for Women's Affairs and President of the National Women's Organisation,
Selwyn Strachan, Minister for Mobilisation, Hudson Austin, General of the People's
Revolutionary Army, Liam James, Chief of Security, Ewart Layne, Army Chief,
Leon Cornwall, Kamau McBarnette and Tan Bartholomew. Broadly, those names
appear to represent major elements on the "two sides" identifiable in the aftermath
of the collapse of an attempt at revolutionary transformation.
Ten years later, the traumatic fall-out of the internecine conflict suggested here is
still very much a part of the Grenadian consciousness. But there is a new genera-
tion which knows of the events only from hearsay, which has had its responses
shaped by the opinions of parents, friends and relatives and by the lingering sense
of horror which is very much a part of the legacy.
For those like me who were in grenada during that 1983 period and have lived
largely outside of Grenada since then, the October 1983 events occupy the
consciousness in a manner perhaps to some extent frozen in time and intensity.
People who since 1983 have lived in Grenada, who may have been intimately
involved in the conflict themselves or who in any event are meeting constantly with
those identified as being on both sides of the conflict, have had to work out ways of
existing satisfactorily with everyone, including brothers, wives, husbands, friends
who may hold different opinions. The socio-political circumstances specific to small
states make every public crisis personal and many personal solutions public.
Few people knew anything for sure, but most know of a sequence of events and a
display of attitudes among leaders which have given the strong opinions. Many
would know of someone who claims to know something for sure. And while there
are questions about foreign involvement in the development and horrible solution
of the Grenada crisis, many Grenadians remember the radio announcement, in the
voices of the survivors, claiming that Maurice Bishop, Jacqueline Creft, Vincent
Noel and others had died in a crossfire. Few believed this, but this was the official
version of events and, in the face of the fear of reprisals, a dissatisfied silence
replaced vocal commentary. The leaders had themselves subverted the much-
vaunted working class openness of expression.
Then came a period of curfew, when the nation was inside and the surviving side
busy outside planning a restoration of what order might be possible in the cir-
cumstances.











Broadly, this is the sequence of events that Grenadians remember, so that wen the
United States forces arrived, it was really largely all over for the NJM as far as
support from its local constituency was concerned. The U.S. forces arrived at the
perfect moment for an easy psychological victory. Unless they are credited with an
unfamiliar altruism, it must be agreed that theirs was a cynical exploitation of a
tragic situation.
While U.S. intervention helped deepen the alienation of the Grenadian people, the
blow against left political organisation in Grenada was struck, as far as the eye can
see, from the inside. As far as the eye can see, because details of covert action that
some conjecture may have been involved are naturally not public knowledge.
What is obvious now is that following 1983 in Grenada, organisation on the left of
the political spectrum has been muted and has certainly not managed to attract the
support of the pre- 1983 days. Outside of Grenada, too, Grenadians have not been
attracted in numbers to either of the parties which appear to have arisen from the
ashes divided broadly along the lines of the 1983 conflict and regrouped to
formulate around the ideas of the pre-1983 New Jewel Movement.
In England, neither the Maurice Bishop Patriotic Movement, during its days of
organisation there, nor the New Jewel Movement Support Group, which continues
to organise, has been able to attract large numbers of Grenadians to their ranks.
Still less have they been able to attract those Grenadians now living in England
who were present and part of the enthusiasm about political and socio-economic
transformation in Grenada during the 1979-83 period. In these post-1983 days,
responses to pleas for condemnation of invasion and support of prisoners are few
and appear to be more forthcoming from those more removed from the heart of the
conflict, and those who frame of reference is theoretical analysis and not images of
faces, of crowds, memories of curfew, of radio announcements that reduced a
people to bewildered silence.
Still, while the announcements made after the October 19 killings suggested some
triumphant satisfaction about the outcome by the surviving side, responsibility for
the development of the 1983 conflict in Grenada does not lie with one side or the
other. In his long letter of 17 October 1983, written in evident distress when he was
under house arrest and addressed to the Central Committee and Party, Vincent
Noel wrote, "We began our march forward with our Glorious Revolution but, today,
by our own collective irresponsibility we have begun to cannibalise ourselves."
(Crozier, 1987).
It was certainly a collective irresponsibility. In the aftermath of it all, the uncertain-
ties, petty in-fighting, militarism and personality politics of the period make a tragic
story. Some of those who were then rank-and-file Party applicants and members,
who may have supported what emerged as the Party analysis of the Joint Leader-











ship situation but disagreed fundamentally with the handling of the situation by the
more forceful elements within the Party, were too bewildered by the militarist
tendencies being uncovered, too confused about the complexities of loyalty to
Parties and ideals to express their fears openly. Some were too intimidated to voice
an opinion. All subsequently lapsed into silence amidst the rubble, to consider their
own roles and the politics of Party organisation and Party participation. In the
circumstances, it is hardly surprising that little is being written by those who were
active participants in this tragedy.
Then there are those within the Party who sincerely felt that what happened in
October 1983 was that "the masses.....were led by Maurice Bishop and his petty
bourgeois and bourgeois friends as cannon fodder to cause bloodshed", and that,
in the end, on Wednesday October 19th, "counter-revolution, the friends of im-
perialism were crushed". (Political Department Bulletin, 20/10/83). I used the words
sincerely felt, because there is something rather frightening in this sincerity.
There must be silence from this group, because theirs is a view both unpopular
and frighteningly 'correct'. It neatly divides the sides into text-book correctness,
good and bad (pro- and counter- revolution) and appears to take no account either
of the sense of dismay and confusion which attended the events of September/Oc-
tober 1983 or of the fact that those suddenly identified as 'counter-revolutionaries'
had in the very recent past been presented to people s firm revolutionarie. In its
revolutionary earnestness, dividing responses neatly into text- book correct pro-
and counter-, it leaves no room for the involved responses that necessarily
emerge, especially given Caribbean political history and the personal nature of
politics in a country of Grenada's size.
And perhaps all of those complex and contradictory responses feed into the
silences of the Grenadian people on many political issues of that period and
subsequently.
It is a rather sobering reflection that there was evident sincerity on all sides, that all
appeared convinced of the correctness of their views i the face of, on the one hand,
"petty-bourgeois opportunism" and, on the other, "ultra-leftist militarism".
However the Grenadian people analyse it, is is the notion of collective irrespon-
sibility, mentioned by Vincent Noel, that remains in the memory and works against
left-inclined political organisation, arguably a natural inheritance for a country with
colonial history not striving for independent development.
A great deal has been written about Grenada since 1983. In addition to the filing
cabinets filled with microfiches of documents taken out of Grenada during the
United States invasion of the country, and designated "the property of the Govern-
ment of the United States," there have been analyses of the situation within the
framework of what was then perceived as "Soviet imperial policy" (Crozier 1987)











and numerous analyses focusing on revolutionary pre-history and the politics of the
revolutionary period (Ambursley & Dunkerley, 1984; Brizan, 1984; Henfrey, 1984;
La Rose, 1985; Mandle, 1985; Munroe, 1983; Mills, 1988 Thorndike, 1985; Meeks,
1992).
It is evident from this that formal political organisation and the international reper-
cussions of the Grenada events have had much publicity. Less attention has been
focused on the emotional and psychological effects on the Grenadian people of
the events of October 19th, 1983. Arguably, this is less quantifiable and so more
likely to be conjectural. Still, the NJM, at the height of its popularity, recognized as
democratic and even as a viable alternative to the electoral process fovoured by
parliamentary democracy, more informal methods of testing the barometer of
public opinion rallies, zonal councils, parish councils and similar groupings. In
these days of restored parliamentary democracy, such methods are no longer the
mode, but it must be remembered that even in the pre-1979 period, before the NJM
assumed control of government, people found ways, other than the mistrusted
parliamentary democratic process, of informing government of their opinions. In
October 1983, and since the, whether people vote or not, the bush-gram has been
busy recording the barometer of public opinion.
In the early days of October 983, responses by the people to those within the party
considered or feared to be anti-Bishop were sometimes vociferously antagonistic.
At other times, recognizing their vulnerability in situations where they had no formal
political authority, people simple closed ranks and said little, resorting to tactics
long tested by experience playing dead to see what funeral they would get.
And when 19 October 1983 came and went, and many of the people who had
popular support were dead and were getting no funeral, the United States of
America did not need to say a word to stir public opinion. It has been suggested in
various publications that the United States government may in fact have been
instrumental in developing the subjective conditions for the Grenada crisis (Clark,
1987; Nitoberg, 1984).
Whatever might be the untold story, to many Grenadians, when those dark days of
October 1983 were over, those who remained in the popular imagination as villains
were those known as "the Coard faction" those who had emerged as "the other
side" in what was viewed, in broad terms, as a Bishop/Coard confrontation.
No authoritative survey has been carried out to determine the extent of this
rejection of the "Coard faction", but in addition to views expressed in popular
meeting-places, the lack of enthusiasm for political organisation at the left of the
political spectrum and the prevalent silence about the prisoners (Coard and others)
might serve as a reliable indicator. The tragedy is that some of those in prison for
the October 19th murders may well be as bewildered about the course of events











that led them there as the Grenadian people still are about those events and radio
announcements that attributed the killings to a crossfire.
It was a roller-coaster to disaster. Many may have got onto th roller-coaster,
shouting and being cocky and self-assertive as the wind rushed by, not realising
that the rooler-coaster was in control and there was no way of stopping. There are
no winners, except perhaps the Government of the United States. Ten years and
more after the Grenada events, these considerations are important because they
have influenced the psyche of Grenada and the entire Caribbean, because growing
up in Grenada and throughout the Caribbean now there is a generation which was
not even born during the conflict but which is influenced by the silences and the
intensity of emotion regarding the subject of the conflict.
And with all of tat, if today we consider images that must have some impact on the
imagination, one that must loom large is a plaque just outside Grenada's Point
Salines International Airport. The plaque is dedicated to those American soldiers
who died, it is stated, fighting in Grenada with the "liberation forces". This monu-
ment to a new colonialism, unveiled by the President of the United States, and, it
must be stated, welcomed by many Grenadian people, is a tragedy in itself. No
such visible monument exists to the Grenadians who have died for the country.
Still, given the circumstances of the Grenada tragedy and the part played by local
political participants, unknowingly or otherwise, political organizers at the left of the
political spectrum would do well to find ways of concentrating on issues which must
be affecting the Grenadian psyche the events and attitudes of political leaders
during those pre-invasion days. The effects won't go away simply because people
bury themselves in silence about those issues. The oral tradition is strong. History
becomes myth becomes history again. People might lapse into silence and appear
vague about events and uninterested in details, but this apparent apathy is again
the response of experience, a closing off of events too distressing to recall, and
perhaps even the everyday operation of the maxim "play fool to catch wise",
because "sense make before book."
People do not forget that when the invasion actually happened, it came as a relief
even to some who had supported the revolution simply because things had come
to such a frightening pass. The fact that this may be unpalatable does not mean it
should be ignored.
It is a major tragedy that this embryonic process in Grenada and the Caribbean
crumbled from the inside, that a lot of trust was lost when Grenadians saw on the
streets and in select meetings, in those sad days on October 1983, the arrogant
and militaistic attitudes of those who were leading a revolution, supposedly in trust,
for the people.
Grenada, ten years later, still carries on its closed face shadows from the scars










etched deep inside after that October 1983 loss of innocence. By 1983, the New
Jewel Movement and the people's Revolutionary Government (PRG) did not have
the level of support that was there in the early days of the revolution, but still
generally seemed to enjoy the confidence of many that the leaders were committed
to the country's progress. One of the more sobering aspects of the Grenada
scenario is not that there were villains and innocent bad "guys" (largely guys)
ranged against good "guys", but that all, regardless of the opinions and actions
taken, known and unknown, were committed to the idea of revolutionary change in
Grenada, to working towards building within the country a sense of greater self-es-
teem.
Whereas in the late 1970s members of the NJM may have been moving progres-
sively away from the early populist organisation which led them to eschew the idea
of "party" politics and were progressively defining themselves as socialist, the
majority of Grenadians were still not too interested in the ideological terms. The
NJM and PRG were attractive because they appeared to understand the everyday,
ordinary stories of socio-economic need and disadvantage and to be part of a
collective dream for change.
The internal dissension of October 1983, as individuals within the leadership of the
Party and government focused on each other, on broad ideological concerns and
ignored the wishes of 'the people' who were suddenly treated as an un-informed
and unimportant mass, shattered that illusion. People have not forgotten because
they are silent. They vote by clothing themselves in what is usually referred to as
"apathy". Circumstances will doubtless change again, as the years go by, and
particularly as people born during the last ten years, unhampered by the images
formed from actual experience of those October 1983 days, become increasingly
vocal in their criticism of the country's political and socio-economic circumstances.
At present, for any political organisation, the lessons are important. Because
people are saying, in the usual informal democratic ways, that if those October
1983 attitudes were about being revolutionary, then no thanks to revolution. Hope-
fully, as other example of political organisation come and go, this will not also mean
no thanks to self-determination.
Ten years later, the accent is necessarily on people re-creating among themselves
the trust destroyed. In 1979, with its dream of change, the NJM and the PRG gave
to the Caribbean and in particular to Grenada and its youth the hope of a viable,
self- respecting alternative. There was tremendous excitement, both inside the
country and outside. Four years after 1979, the pressures, internal and internation-
al, led the Party itself to play a key role in snuffing out that hope.
It is likely that major political actors of the period have more information than is
available to the general public. However that may be, one can only say that












Grenada's present tragedy is the irretrievable loss of all these people of those
dead and of those imprisoned. Another generation will continue the search for
meaningful political organisation.


BIBLIOGRAPHY


Clarke, Steve, 'The Second Assassination of "Maurice Bishop', in New International, Pathfinder
Press, 1987.
Coard, Bernard, Grenada: Village and Workers, Women, Farmers, and Youth Assemblies Their
Genesis, Evolution and Significance, Karia Press, 1989.
Crozier, Brian, The Grenada Documents, Sherwood Press Ltd., 1987.
La Rose, John, Lessons of the Grenada Revolution, Race Today Publication, March 1985.
Meeks, Brian, Caribbean Revolutions and Revolutionary Theory: An Assessment of Cuba, Nicaragua
and Grenada, MacMillan Caribbean, 1993.
Mills Charles, "Getting out of the Cave: Tensions between Democracy and Elitism in Marx's Theory of
Cognitive Liberation', Paper presented at the 13th Annual Conference of the Caribbean Studies
Association, May 25-27, 1988, Guadeloupe.
Searle, Chris, Grenada Moming Karia Press, 1989.










BOOK REVIEWS
Review of Inward Stretch Outward Reach, Rex Nettleford, Macmillan, 1992


As the 20th century draws to a close, Caribbean island nations, their governments,
peoples, and social thinkers are taking stock of their achievements, assessing their
problems, and devising solutions to move effectively into the next century.
This stock-taking and transition is taking place against the background of persistent
economic and social crisis. The crisis is marked by IMF-mandated austerity
programmes in some islands; non-stop cost of living increases and outbursts of
social protests in others; and a general disaffection with the inability of political
parties and governments to solve urgent social and economic problems.
In Jamaica, for instance, a collapsing social order- typified by intractable
economic difficulties, violent crime, raging nihilism among the dispossessed, and
the erosion of the cultural authority of the civic-minded middle class has shaken
the celebrated confidence of the citizens of that country and heightened despair
among all classes.
Elsewhere, the deepening political crisis in Haiti and instability in Suriname, remind
us that where the challenge of development is not met and popular demands for
change are frustrated, repression, social anarchy, and immobilism soon become
the norm. In these turbulent times, therefore, the Caribbean needs sane voices
and visionary thinkers to show the way forward.
Rex Nettleford is one such voice offering hope and an historical vision. For more
than thirty years in his work as essayist, teacher, cultural artist and social engineer,
Nettleford has played a leading role in defining the particularity of the Caribbean
and assisting its peoples in the task of cultural self-understanding.
Those who know Nettleford's work, will not be surprised by the range of concerns
in this collection. The book addresses such topics as the uniqueness of Caribbean
civilization; the challenges facing these societies from within and without; the role
of cultural resistance in relation to the expressive arts; the need for a renewal of
creative sensibilities; and the options for transcending the current stalemate situa-
tion in the region. The common thread unifying these diverse essays is Nettleford's
emphasis on the cultural factor as a mediator of outcomes.
Those conversant with the ideas in Nettleford's several books will also find in these
essays a familiar historical portrait of the Caribbean peoples. This portrait shows
them not only surviving the travail of slavery and colonialism, but engaging that
formative experience to forge a culture and sensibility to take them beyond de-
pendency. The essays make it clear that in the struggle against oppression, the
peoples of the Caribbean have responded with resourcefulness, imagination, and











creativity. For Nettleford, a defining feature of Caribbean civilization has been the
people's ability to forge emancipatory traditions out of oppressive conditions.
Nettleford locates this creativity in patterns of resistance to power and in the forms
of social living Caribbean peoples have conjured up in response to a historically
demeaning experience. Nettleford argues for a historical norm of inventiveness
which can be found in varieties of Caribbean languages, family structures, musical
styles, entrepreneurial and religious practices, dance forms, and the achievements
of cultural artists.
Nettleford also finds a norm of inventiveness in forms of popular resistance to
power. Where analysts of popular protest in the post-colonial Caribbean have
despaired of finding a tradition of militancy that threatens state power by way of
combative, riotous acts, Nettleford has insistently observed that popular protests
still take fugitive forms rather than overt, demonstrative militancy. Several of the
essays in this collection remind us that those who appear to be powerless do wield
enormous political and social influence, though this covert power is not always
recognized for what it is.
Two provocative essays in this collection, "Dance and Survival" and "The Battle for
Space" make this point. The former reminds us of the covert and subterranean
strategies of resistance that the poor employ against their tormentors. This
defiance is marked by quiet, cunning strategies including evasion, flight, pilfering of
the master's goods, non-compliance, and wicked gossip against the powerful.
Nettleford maintains that these fugitive strategies typified by masking and
camouflage, confront the society with an insurgency and a social power from below
which must be reckoned with.
Although Nettleford does not apply this model of resistance to the current crisis in
the Caribbean, there is little doubt that the model is of immediate relevance to the
crisis of governance in the region. Unfortunately, few social scientists have ad-
dressed the phenomenon of non-compliance, evasion, and biting gossip against
the powerful as a strategy of power from below in the current period.
Fewer still have addressed the themes advanced in "The Battle for Space." There
Nettleford lays out the thesis that the struggle for power in the Caribbean is a
spatial phenomenon and not just about who wins elections or who holds state
power. A spatial approach to power, Nettleford suggests, discloses the actual
terrain of power inner and outer space and opens up for analysis the struggle
over each, and the relation between them. This approach to power offers a fresh
perspective on old issues such as the connection between psychological coloniza-
tion (inner space) and behaviour (outer space).
A spatial approach to power is also useful in making sense of conflicts such as the
one taking place in relation to the body as a site of social contestation. Current










conflicts over language, sexuality, modes of dress, styles of speech, and norms
regarding the public and private uses of the body, disclose the complicity of the
body in contemporary power struggles between classes.
While there is now a growing realization that social actors in conflict bring a cultural
armoury in which the expressivity and dramaturgy of the body are vital resources,
Nettleford's special position as social critic and performance artist grounded in
popular expressive traditions, gives him a privileged vantage point on this ever-
widening battle for personal and political space.
That many social scientists are only now appreciating the development of a
subversive "body politic" as a form of social power is an unfortunate testimony to
the lag between the insights of culturally sensitive analysts of power and the
knowledge of social scientists who have remained transfixed by traditional ap-
proaches to politics and power.
But apart from redefining arenas of social contestation and showing atypical routes
to the analysis of power, these essays also take up a persisting anomaly in
Caribbean culture: the disparity between the abundant achievements of the
region's cultural artists and ordinary citizens, and the meagre results from the
"work" of postcolonial political leaders, technocrats, and economic planners.
Nettleford approaches this conundrum by pointing to the inventiveness evident in
other areas of Caribbean culture the arts, music, religion, and the people's
solutions to everyday challenges. He then extrapolates from this inventiveness to
show that artists and the poor peoples of the Caribbean have fashioned ways of
living which are adaptive and responsive to challenges. He then makes the claim
that these innovative ways are capable of being imitated or reproduced in other
domains such as politics and economic planning.
How is this possible? Nettleford answers by citing the practice of imagination and
intellect in the Caribbean. Nettleford implies that indigenous models of creativity
already exist and ought to inspire further creativity, especially in the stubborn
domains relevant to development such as governance and economic policy. Net-
tleford argues that the penchant for imitation so evident in the culture does not
always extend to imitation of the Caribbean's own rich heritage.
The difficulty, Nettleford seems to suggest, is a psychological one. Sections of the
Caribbean population leaders, planners, and economists seem to be experienc-
ing a mental state similar to neurosis and cultural amnesia; they belong to a
creative civilization but cannot seem to remember their own heritage. They there-
fore approach local problems using models and ideas from without and ignore
immanent models and solutions available from within.
This collection of essays could be seen as offering a therapeutic approach to











getting such "patients" to dispel their amnesia and see with fresh eyes that they
already have the resources to solve local problems. They only need look at their
own lived experience for answers.
A major purpose of these essays, and a central goal of Nettleford's entire career
then, is to get all such "patients" in the Caribbean to recognize this creative
heritage and draw on it to solve seemingly intractable problems. The result,
Nettleford implies, would be true development and effective cultural ease in the
region.
Despite the value of this thesis on the role of cultural processes in social develop-
ment, Nettleford's claims remain problematic. Firstly, the sweeping character of his
assertions risks reducing social outcomes to problems of cultural timidity, and
civilizational frailty. A too close application of the argument to existing problems
could ignore the exigencies of real politic and the major geopolitical constraints
facing even the most imaginative and creative displays of leadership in the region.
There may be a difference in kind between the ecology of the creative artist and the
ecology of political leadership which puts the latter at a disadvantage.
Secondly, the voluntarism and optimism underlying Nettleford's argument tends to
ignore contrary and inimical tendencies in popular culture. Self-annihilating tenden-
cies can arise from the pulverizing impact of harsh economic circumstances; social
repression and the withdrawal of strategic, civic-minded elites from the political fray
can intensify social disorganization among the poor. Rather than inventiveness and
creativity from below in such moments of oppression, what is often generated is
hopelessness and nihilism. Nettleford's oppression-driven model of creativity
needs to distinguish between different moments of oppression and the variations in
cultural response they engender.
Finally, the absence of an illustrative case to document the general argument in
this collection weakens the force of Nettleford's argument. Though he admits that
"No one creates from the void," the collection does not offer a sustained illustration
of the connection between current social struggles and the creative responses they
elicit from below. Documenting such instances of social conflict and elaborating on
their cultural outcomes would have enriched the collection and made it more timely.
Notwithstanding such drawbacks, these essays are invaluable for their emphasis
on the unique cultural resources which Caribbean peoples have relied on to
navigate circumstances far more turbulent than our own. Whether these resources
are still intact and capable of transitting the current maelstrom in the world system,
is a question readers will.want to ponder on reading this provocative book.
OBIKA GREY










Panama: Made in the USA by John Weeks and Phil Gunson. London: Latin
American Bureau, 1991.
This book is one of a series published by the Latin American Bureau which is
concerned with human rights and related social, political and economic issues in
Central and South America and the Caribbean. In case there was any doubt about
the orientation of the book, the first two lines emphasise the point:
The United States invasion of Panama on 20
December 1989 was a crime both in international
law and against civilised values. It was also a
spectacularly successful crime, bringing prestige
to the perpetrator and apparently received with
enthusiasm by the victim. (p. 1).
The opening chapter gives a brisk narrative of the invasion, the physical destruc-
tion of Panama City, and the resulting destitution of thousands of Panamanians
who lost everything as a consequence of vicious bombing, described by the
Americans euphemistically, as "overwhelming force." U.S. casualties were light. Of
twenty-three killed, nine died by the guns of their own comrades in arms.
What were the reasons behind the invasion which took President Manuel Noriega
captive and placed him behind bars in the U.S.A. for drug trafficking? President
Bush gave among his reasons the standard ones used in every U.S. invasion in
this hemisphere the desire to protect American lives. As usual, there was no
evidence that American lives were in danger, not with 13,000 U.S. troops in
Panama. Bush gave a second reason: to defend democracy in Panama. The same
reasons were offered by President Wilson earlier in this century: "to teach them to
elect good men." In Wilson's time, teaching them (the Latins), or as Theodore
Roosevelt sometimes called them 'the jack-rabbits', resulted in military dictator-
ships in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. But at least those older
Presidents were attempting, in theory, to establish something (democracy) that did
not exist. Bush was making a more curious claim "to defend Panamanian
democracy" which had never existed from the time that the colossus to the north
seized Panama from the Colombians in 1903. As for Bush's claim that the invasion
of Panama was designed to combat drug trafficking. The claim can only be
described as hypocritical since not only had the Reagan administration colluded
with the dictator but had worked very closely with him, fully aware of the brutal and
cynical nature of the regime. The U.S., long before the invasion, had known about
Noreiga's double-dealing with respect to drug-trafficking. Bush also claimed that
the invasion was intended to protect the integrity of the 1977 Canal treaties worked
out with President Omar Torrijos, Noriega's patron and predecessor. Weeks and
Gunson insisted that the 1977 treaties were never in danger since the treaties still
allowed the U.S. some rights to defend the canal even beyond the year 2000 when










the canal was due to come under "complete" Panamanian jurisdiction.
The authors, who write in a clear, brisk style which reflects their mastery of their
theme, suggest that Operation Just Cause "resulted more from blunders and
miscalculations than from grand design".
Panamanian nationalists believed that the United States turned against their
former ally because they wished to renege on the 1977 agreements. Reagan's
attitude was reflected in his declaration that the Canal belonged to the U.S.
because the U.S. had bought it. Panamanian nationalists argued that the U.S.
wanted to ensure that the May 1989 election would bring to power a government
subservient to U.S. interests and "this in turn would mean the prior removal of the
General" (p. 64). The authors, while conceding some legitimacy to this position,
dismiss it, on the grounds that the pragmatic Noriega routinely dealt with major
issues on the basis of opportunism rather than from deep-seated ideological
commitment to Panamanian nationalism. In other words, Noriega would have been
willing, given his style of operations, to make concessions.
Weeks and Gunson suggest that the U.S. was surprised by the defiance of Noriega
who held on to power despite harsh economic sanctions, "cash starvation",
propaganda, and pressures of various kinds. The "tin-pot dictator in a banana
republic" had successfully resisted U.S. preferences to have him removed. The
difficulty is not to determine whether the U.S. wished to unseat Noriega. It is
altogether clear that they did. And in the twilight of the Reagan administration,
negotiations were on the way to have Noriega step aside quietly. The demands of
U.S. politics in an election year frustrated negotiations, and created the situation
where military intervention became the only way out, for the U.S.
The U.S. considered kidnapping Noriega. Disagreements in Washington between
different branches of the government and even between Reagan and Bush explain
the failure to unseat Noriega by peaceful means. By the time that Bush succeeded
Reagan, the U.S. was firmly committed to removing Noriega who had successfully
resisted U.S. imposed sanctions.
There is a fascinating chapter which narrates the life-story of Manuel Noriega. The
authors are clearly not concerned with making Noriega look good. A man of humble
origins, he developed through a natural sharpness of intellect, and an obstinacy in
carrying out the most difficult assignments. He excelled at intelligence, counterin-
telligence and ruthlessness. He could work closely with the CIA while providing
arms for the Salvadorean communist guerrillas and the Nicaraguan Sandinistas.
He could "cooperate" with the USA in the latter's struggle against its newest
enemy- Narcotics. With an eye for his own profit, though, Noriega increased his
own take from the narcotics trade, Manuel Noriega was the link between Panama
City and the Medellin cartel.











What has Panama gained from the ousting of Manuel Noriega? The new President,
Guillermo Endara, was clearly in a difficult position since he was not only a puppet
of the North American administration, but looked very much the puppet. The U.S.
did not make his position any easier when it took important decisions concerning
Panama without consulting Endara, or when it sought to force Panama to pay war
indemnity. The new government faced severe pressures for compensation from
those families that had been left homeless and destitute as a consequence of the
invasion. Washington's Congress approved $420 million (out of the $2 billion
requested by Panama) to assist with repairing the damage to the economy. Of
course, the U.S. was also anxious to impose a neo-liberal economy on Panama.
Whether the abolition of the army (the FDP) will prove positive in the long run
remains to be seen, especially since the new police force (FP) recruited retiring
FDP people, and there is no guarantee that the FP will not do what the FDP used
to do.
If we accept that there is a relationship between means and ends, it will be difficult
even to imagine Panamanian democracy coming about by "overwhelming force,"
accompanied by patent violations of international law.
As for the defeated Noriega, whose fate has been that of the conquered people in
a Roman "Triumph", Panama misses him not. But the words of the Colombian
magazine Semana summarises what perhaps, many Latins feel:
"For many, that transfer [of Noriega to the U.S.A.]
went far beyond the limits of personal humiliation
into humiliation of a country, or even a continent"
(p.106).

The authors have done an excellent job of dissecting U.S. policy, of explaining
Panama's turbulent history, of communicating to readers the bases of Noriega's
power in Panama, and of explaining the enormous difficulty of this hemisphere in
surviving in the shadow of a colossus, whose imperial behaviour has demonstrated
once again the principle of imperium et libertas empire abroad and liberty at
home.
PATRICK BRYAN











Whispers from the Caribbean : I Going Away, I Gone Home by Wilfred Cartey.
Centre for Afro-American Studies, University of California, Los Angeles. 1991.
I was going to Trinidad in January 1994 to spend five months teaching sociology at
the University of the West Indies and to learn about the people who inhabit the two
Islands which make up the country Trinidad and Tobago. So when I saw the
book, Whispers from the Caribbean: I Going Away, I Going Home by Wilfred
Cartey, on the shelf of the Schweitzer International Resource Centre, not yet out of
its plastic wrap, I asked to borrow it.
Cartey, a Trinidadian who died last year, had a long and distinguished career
teaching comparative literature at many prestigious universities. He was a poet and
a scholar. The bulk of the book is a serious and detailed analysis of a mass of
literature written during the mid-20th century by twenty-six Caribbean novelists.
Cartey chooses quotes from approximately 70 different novels to reveal what
sociologists might call the modal personality type of the Caribbean. For the reader
who wants to become acquainted with West Indian literature relatively quickly, or
for those who already know the literature, this book is a treasure both for its
analysis and for the themes and samples of writing given.
Cartey's powerful paradigm for analysis depends on his sense that outside forces
shape personality but big transformative vision is in the struggle for a Caribbean
self, or I would add any authentic self. Cartey uses the term, "personality" to equal
those traits that reflect a history of slavery, colonialism, oppression, arrogant
hierarchy, racism and violence; what V.S. Naipaul called, "the mimic men" to
describe people validating self through others, outsiders. Cartey's term "presence"
suggests selfhood as bestowed by one's own people, one's own geography and
landscape, and one's own energy and nature. He says,
"we must root ourselves
Within the singing blue mists
Of our mountains
Indigenizing
All our waters..." (Embryos).

One indigenizing force according to Cartey has been music, dance and song which
relieve pain, soften harsh social reality, evoke both sorrow and joy. Music in the
making that requires co-operative sharing of spirit and harmony.
Cartey's transformative vision reflected in his poem, "Embryos," and in the
phrases, "I Going Away, I Going Home," is a movement from personality to
presence away from the impact of historical forces such as colonialism,
economics and world power politics on personality and self identity.
Thus to achieve professional success a Caribbean person has had to excel
academically in a highly stratified and tracked system, then go to England or to










North America to become more educated.
I am not sure if Cartey believes presence is an underlying layer of personality
waiting to be released or discovered or if it is an entity that must be created.
Nevertheless, the goal is to indigenize, to become oneself as a people and as an
individual.
The Caribbean people must find their own way, He says,
"... We must sing beholden to the singing
Of our lands
Our rivers
Beholden to our flowing dreams
Beholden not to mastodons
And finding our way
To cross the rivers
We must find that ultimate geology..."
Cartey uses the term "presence" to describe a deeper layer of identity, a term that
suggests spiritual depth and selfhood, something to be striven for and attained,
something in constant tension with personality.
Cartey's vision for the future reminded me of Frantz Fanon's Black Skin, White
Masks, in which Fanon argued that "the black man is in a zone of nonbeing
because he needs to prove at all cost to whites that he is their equal.' Both works
contain a psychological analysis of personality based on social and economic
realities of the past and present. Fanon believes that with courage to
"recapture the self and to scrutinize the
self...men [people] will be able to create the ideal
conditions of existence for a human world."
(p. 231 Fanon, 1967);
And Cartey shows through his analysis of some West Indian novels the capacity of
Caribbeans "to become."
Cartey succeeds in his intention to analyze consciousness and identity set in the
political, historical and cultural context of the Caribbean area. He shows that the
"world intersects" these islands; that "one cannot speak meaningfully without
speaking at once of Africa, Asia, Europe, and America." In one sense he complete-
ly justifies the need for a global perspective, making clear that we must see
everything in context historical, cultural, sociological. In another sense, though, he
may be suggesting that his people should turn inward rather than outward to the
world; global forces not withstanding. Perhaps he is suggesting as the late Clinton
Jean did in his book, Behind the Eurocentric Veils the Search forAfrican Realities,
(1991) that to indigenize is to reinterpret the meanings of African civilizations in











such a way as to reemphasize the communal and the possibility of stratified
societies that are not exploitative and violent; that we must turn away not from the
world but from the European traditions of imperialism, cruelty, racism and "Anglo-
Saxon techno-logic" (Clinton Jean, 106) in the name of progress.
I recommend Cartey's book for anyone who would understand not only Caribbean
people but the connection between biography and history, between self and
society. Whispers from the Caribbean is a major endeavour of sociology through
literature, in which Wilfred Cartey explores a wide range of topics: the class system
and colour, education and alienation, violence toward women and children, loneli-
ness and madness. Cartey also expresses a powerful, heartrending hope for the
future of the Caribbean and the wo'1d, a world where divided selves can become
whole and healed.
The book is difficult only in the sense that it is so rich, so detailed and moving- a
book that needs to be studied and contemplated over a period of time. It gave me
a new way of seeing beyond the dark faces, British accents and manners, through
the facade of friendliness and propriety that during my previous two visits to
Trinidad I had felt was extended toward my white face.
HARRIET MILLER










BOOKS RECEIVED
(Reviews of these books are invited. Interested persons should write to the
editor quoting the titles) of the books) concerned, prior to reviewing them.)
Caribbean Poetry Now, S. Brown, July 1992, Edward Arnold, Hodder & Stoughton
Publishers
Economic Development and Social Change : United States Latin American Rela-
tions in the 1990s, A. Jorge(ed) US$15.95(P) 142pp. Jan. 1993
Philanthropy in the Americas: New Directions and Partnerships, Bruce Henderson
(Ed.) US$18.45 (P) Jan.1993,Transaction Publishers, Rutgers-The State Univer-
sity of New Jersey
On the Margins of the Art of Exile in V.S. Naipaul,Timothy Weiss, 256pp,
US$29.95 (soft), Jan. 1993, University of Massachusetts Press
Political Constraints on Brazil's Economic Development (ed. S. Marks) Rio de
Janiero Conference Proceedings and Papers North-South Center, University of
Miami, Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, USA 1993, pp 179
Caribbean Economic Policy and South -South Cooperation, ed. R. Ramsaran,
pp.305, Warwich University Caribbean Studies, Macmillan Press 1993
Trends in Linguistics, Documentation Dictionary of St. Lucian Creole, Jones E.
Mondesir L.D. Carrington (ed), Mouton DeGruyter, Belin, NY 1991 (HB) pp.621
Calabash of Gold: Selected Poems, by Howard Fergus pp.110, Linda Lee Books,
London and Plymouth, Montserrat, 1993
Philantrophy in the Americas : New Directions and Partnerships, Proceedings of
Symposium Sessions, Ed. Bruce Henderson, North- South Center, University of
Miami, Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, USA,1993, ppl62.
Caribbean Economic Development: the First Generation, ed. S.Lalta and M. Freck-
eton, lan Randle Publishers, Jamaica 1993
Difficult Liaisons Trade and the Environment in the Americas, ed. H.Munoz, R.
Rosenberg, Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick 1993
Caribbean Hoops: The Development of West Indian Basketball, Jay and Joan
?Mandle, Gordon Breach, Penn. USA, pp120
Deferring A Dream: Literary Sub-versions Of The American Colombiad, Gert
Buelien and E. Rudin, Birkhauser, Basel ICSELL, 1994
From Kingston to Keyna: the Making of a Pan-African Laywer, Dudley Thompson,
The Majority Press, Mass. 1993
Democracy In The Caribbean, Political, Economic And Social Issues, ed. J. Domin-











guez, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1993.
Poverty, Natural Resources and Public Policy in Central America, ed. S. Annis,
Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick 1993
The Killing Time: The Morant Bay Rebellion in Jamaica, Gad Heuman, U. of
Tennessee Press, pp.197, 1994
V. S. Naipaul: Displacement and Autobiography, Judith Levy, Garland Publishing
Inc. NY, 1995
Security, Democracy and Development in US- Latin American Relations, Schoultz,
William Smith and Augustus Varas, Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick 1995
Our Rightful Share: The Afro-Cuban Struggle for Equality 1886-1912, A. HeIg, The
University of North Carolina Press pp. 361 1995.
Integrating the Americas : Shaping Future Trade Policy, Sidney Weintraub (ed)
North-South Center, Transaction Press, New Brunswick (USA) 1994
Tobago in Wartime, 1793-1815, K.O.Laurence, The UWI Press, pp.288 1995
Drug Trafficking in the Americas, Bruce Bagley and William O.Walker III, (eds.)
North-South Center, Transaction Press, New Brunswick (USA) 1994
Death in the Pasture, a novel by Simon Jones-Hendrickson, Easten Caribbean
Institute, (HB) pp. 294 1994
Cuba's Second Economy, Jorge Perez-Lopez, Transaction Publishers, New
Brunswick (USA) (HB) pp.221 1995
Venezuelan Democracy Under Stress (eds. J.McKoy et al) North-South Center,
Transaction Press, New Brunswick (USA) 1995
The Economics of Emancipation: Jamaica and Barbados 1823-1843, Kathleen
Mary Butler, U. of North Carolina Press, NC pp. 198 1995
A New Movement in the Americas, Robert S. Leiken (ed) North-South Center,
Transaction Press, New Brunswick (USA) 1995
Cuban Communism 1959-1995 (Ed.) I.L.Horowitz, pp. 873 North-South Center,
Transaction Press, New Brunswick (USA) 1995
French and West Indian, Martinique, Guadaloupe, and French Guiana, (Eds.
Richard Burton, Frank Reno) Macmillan Caribbean Warwick University Caribbean
Studies pp.202 1995
Jean Rhy's Historical Imagination, Reading and Writing the Creole, Veronica Narie
Gregg, U of North Carolina Press (USA) pp. 228 1995














NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS


Merle Collins

Carolyn Cooper


Hubert Devonish


Pedro Noguera


Brian Meeks


is a Grenadan writer

is a Senior Lecturer, Department of
English, UWI, Mona

is a Senior Lecturer, Department of
Linguistics, UWI, Mona

is a Professor of Sociology,
University Of California, Berkley

is Senior Lecturer, Department of
Government, UWI, Mona












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