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Culture under attack | NOW Grenada

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by Livingston Nelson

Has war been declared on traditional masqueraders in Grenada?

If that is true, then I am prepared to join with others and go all out to reverse that situation through public discourse. If it is a coincidence, then I am here to help lift some awareness to address the present but dangerous trend. Irrespective of the status, all conscientious Grenadians need to come out from their comfort zone and join this conversation.

Who are we?

Carnival is the greatest physical demonstration of our freedom from slavery. It is through carnival that we express resistance openly to the symbols of colonialism. It is through carnival that we adorn our African attire with pride. It is through carnival that we play the drums freely and we display characters that our ancestors knew intimately. Carnival is more than frolic and fun. It is the recapturing of lost identity and the interpretation of present reality through our own cultural eyes. 

Creators and architect of carnival targeted

So if that is carnival, why then has SpiceMas Corporation, initiated policies that are geared at killing the very spirit of freedom? They have made it extremely difficult for organizers of Traditional bands to go about their business unperturbed. Permission must be sought to host an event from St George without any input from parish base organisations. This procedure is facilitated by some of the most arrogant service providers on island. The procedure is the same if you want to host an event in the back of Darvey, or La Fillette with their Jab Jab or Hermitage Shortknee or Tivoli Drummers. The makers of traditional bands that directly expressed that freedom inherited from carnival are now being targeted by SpiceMas. Our great ancestors fought for that freedom. They led many uprising to gain that freedom but now their actions are being condemned in Grenada. As Hilary Beckles stated what happened during the era of European colonialism “They banned the use of African drums and ceremonials; they also introduced slave codes that controlled the movement and activities of enslaved Africans.” It is a bit of an irony that after 180 years after emancipation we still have to fight our own to have free black expression on the single most important days fought for by our ancestors. 

My Position

Before you get me wrong, let me state my position. I believe that the entire carnival as a street show should be produced. I believe that there should be a start time and an end time so as to regulate the chaos and overlapping in our carnival. I believe there should be street marshalls with a view to maximising the total experience. I just do not believe that the makers, the architects, the creators of carnival need to seek permission and to be charged by a body whose sole purpose was to aid that group’s growth in the first place. 

Colonial Bureaucracy

The SpiceMas Corporation has now outfitted its office with persons that have a serious disdain for Grenadian traditional mas and institutions. The Shortknee, Jab jab, Vieux Croix etc are relics that emerged after slavery. They all represented expressions of freedom and for Grenada they are the strongest cultural identifiers. It is the traditional mas that separates us from all other carnivals in the region. Yet, it is the traditional mas they want eliminated and finally die with their unspoken policy of “no mas in rural Grenada.” Here are some examples.

  • Andy Purcell (Lakay) has been the leader of the Hermitage Shortknee for over 20 years. The band has won pageant eight times; they won traditional band title four times and band of the year three times. Lakay supplied outfits and costumes for SpiceMas to travel to China, Cuba, Trinidad, St Lucia and England to showcase and display Grenada’s Shortknee. Not once did they offer Lakay a trip. Yet, he gave selflessly. Guess what? He has to apply and pay fees to SpiceMas so as to launch his short knee band this year 2019. The humiliation went further. He submitted his application and travelled from Hermitage three days after to get his permission. His letter was returned by the secretary informing him that he would have to resubmit it because they are too busy at the moment. So with $24 for bus going down the drain, he requested a meeting with the CEO. Again he was informed that the said CEO is signing some cheques and cannot see him at the moment. 
  • Grenada Jab come under heavy manners: La Fillette Jab also had to seek permission from SpiceMas. The police who work hand in hand with SpiceMas, declared no drumming on the street for the band launch. The RGPF need to do their homework, because under the leadership of band leader Pilot for the last 23 years, there was never any report of fighting in the jab, traffic always flowed and the band has a policy of not defacing buildings. The La Fillette Jab Jab was the first group to accompany Tall Pree to Trinidad and they help spread the jab vibes in a big way in Trinidad. So why the jab jab cannot play during their launch? Private promoters are having fete from 10 pm to 10 am yet the Jab Jab that is getting the most international attention, cannot practice their artform openly for two or three hours? 

Massa colour change but Massa still dey

Are we still afraid of the drums? Tivoli Drummers have been in existence for the last 24 years. They represented Grenada in Canada Drum Festival, Gwoka in Guadeloupe, Antigua, Cuba, Guyana and Trinidad Carifesta, etc. Their contribution to carnival is known to all those that are cultural and true carnival lovers. They have graced Calypso and Soca stages throughout the years and their drumming has been recorded for both soca and calypso. Due to Tivoli Drummers influence, Specky did a tribute to them in song, Tall Pree’s concept of trees in the West Indies and Terror D Governor’s sang “Capital”. Yet, Tivoli Drummers had to apply and pay to do carnival activities. 

Emancipation celebration under attack

The worst case though is the treatment meted out to SADO, the St Andrew Development Organisation which came into existence in 1986 and was gazetted into legislation. For years SADO was the only institution that kept the flames of emancipation alive. So, to play drums, dress in African attire, put on cultural acts and sing tributes to our heroes, they must apply to SpiceMas to get permission to celebrate emancipation. The RGPF would have it no other way. They only listen to SpiceMas. The act is there, so the police need to research the legislation that gave SADO sweeping powers to host Emancipation and Rainbow City Festival. So here we are again, after 180 years the only difference is that the colour of our Massa has changed. 

Let us go back into the 1840s when it was against the law for ex-slaves to gather in the capital, to make merriment in celebration of their freedom, their culture and their ancestors. Has anything changed? Are you on board to help in this fight? We need voices.

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UK tourist 'shot dead' in robbery in Argentina

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One man was killed and another injured during a suspected robbery in Buenos Aires, according to local media.



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Claudette Joseph receives pre-action protocol letter from PM Mitchell

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by Linda Straker

  • Seven days from 13 December 2019 to respond to pre-action protocol letter
  • Letter demands cease and desist from repeating the claim; apologise and pay compensation of EC$350,000

Claudette Joseph, the Public Relations Officer of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has seven days from 13 December 2019 to respond to a pre-action protocol letter from Prime Minister, Dr Keith Mitchell. If she fails to comply with the demands, a defamatory lawsuit will be filed against her in the civil court.

The letter to Joseph said that on 2 December in a live news conference from the headquarters of the NDC, she uttered words that can have negative effects on the Prime Minister who is the Minister for Finance and is also the person under whose ministry the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme falls.

“You made certain statements on behalf of the NDC about our client which we believe are defamatory in nature, and geared to impugn on his good name, his standing and reputation,” said the letter from the law firm of Nigel Stewarts and Associates. “These statements are therefore completely false and malicious in all respect and were intentionally made by you to cause damage to our client’s reputation.” The letter demands that Joseph, who is a lawyer by profession, cease and desist from repeating the claim; apologise and pay compensation of EC$350,000.

In the news conference whose speakers were former Political Leader and Prime Minister, Tillman Thomas, and Joseph — who was elected to the PRO role in early November 2019 — they expressed concern about the recent Al Jazeera production called “Diplomat passports for Sale.”  The documentary is claiming that several Caribbean islands with citizenship by investment programmes are selling diplomat passports.

The segment on Grenada focused on the failed Grenada Sustainable Aquaculture project which was to be located in St Mark. While speaking on the matter, Joseph said that the Prime Minister was also an investor in the project and directed members of media to watch a Youtube video where he is disclosing the information.

“Our client denies uttering those words but merely to say that he has invested in the parish,” the letter informed Joseph.

The Prime Minister is known to own a historic house in St Mark which is undergoing significant refurbishing and upgrading.

As for the project, in October 2018, government placed a notice on its CBI website announcing the suspension of applications in respect of the project until further notice. In March 2019, the Prime Minister announced that an investigation was been conducted. An update is yet to be provided.

The letters ended by informing Joseph that failure to comply with the demands of the letter will give the firm no choice to proceed with legal action.

Calls to Joseph for a comment on the development proved futile as her telephone went unanswered.

NOW Grenada is not responsible for the opinions, statements or media content presented by contributors. In case of abuse, click here to report.

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Request for Pension Certificate | NOW Grenada

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All government pensioners and ex-gratia recipients and advance payment recipients are reminded that the deadline for submission of Pension Life Certificates for the period 1 January to 30 June 2020 is 31 December 2019.

Pensioners who have not yet submitted their Life Certificates are asked to do so immediately so that their pension payments can be processed.

Kindly ensure that the correct information is included on the Life Certificate and that it is signed and stamped by an Official Certifier: a Justice of the Peace, Medical Practitioner, Minister of Religion, Barrister-at-Law or Permanent Secretary.

Additionally, pensioners who are able to present themselves in person to the Ministry of Finance can have their certificates, certified, by the Permanent Secretary or Deputy Permanent Secretaries, with proper national identification, such as passport, driver’s licence or voter’s registration card.

Pensioners residing in a foreign country are to be attested by a Notary Public, Head of Overseas Mission or Consulate Office of Grenada.

Ministry of Finance

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