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#1 May 05, 2022 7:08 pm

New Historian
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Grenada's Red Sky Days

From my forthcoming book "The White Knight Box". Out late 2022 - for sure for SURE!!

What my parents hadn’t realized, when they landed in Grenada in July 1950, was that they had landed on an island on the brink of rebellion. Darwin’s decision to return home coincided with another Grenadian’s decision to do the same, a man who would go on to play a central role in the affairs of Grenada over the next four decades: Eric Matthew Gairy.

Gairy was born in the parish of Saint Patrick’s in 1922, the same year as my father, and like my father, had left Grenada as a young man, in Gairy’s case to the oil refineries of Aruba. Love him or hate him, no one can deny the incendiary and immediate impact that Gairy made, upon his return in December 1949. Within months, Gairy had founded the Grenada Manual & Mental Workers Union (GMMWU) and immediately set about making a name for himself on the labour scene. In other words: causing trouble. After a series of skirmishes, in which he rapidly built up an avid and sometimes violent following, Gairy made his boldest move yet: a general strike. When addressing his adoring crowds, Gairy liked to refer to himself, with mock self-deprecation, as ‘this little black boy’. In other words: I’m from the same rural poor as you - cue rapturous applause.

“So, those planters won’t talk with this little black boy, eh? Well, let them watch this same little black boy shut down this whole blasted island!” Which is exactly what he did.

Attempts by all parties to avert the general strike failed, and on 19 February 1951, the entire country came to a standstill as workers stayed home or gathered in demonstrations - which often turned violent. Two days later, Gairy and his second-in-command Gascoigne Blaize were arrested, and imprisoned on a British battleship stationed offshore, the H.M.S. Devonshire. A contingent of British Marines was sent ashore, plus extra police forces flown in from Trinidad and Saint Lucia, to restore order. This would not be the last time, that Grenada would be invaded by a foreign power – with help from its neighbours.

Arresting Gairy was a bad move – very. This naked show of imperial power inflamed an already tense situation, engulfing the island in more fire and violence. Many estates and business places were torched, and in St. George’s there were running battles between machete-wielding demonstrators, against local police and British Marines. So many buildings were burned down, that the riots became known as the ‘Red Sky Days’.

Grenada’s planter class, never known for its liberal thinking, immediately branded Gairy a Communist, and wanted his blood. Literally. The Grenada Legislature sent an urgent telegram to London, requesting reinforcements to put down the ‘Communist insurrection’. One planter even went so far as to accuse the British government, then under the socialist Labour Party, of being in cahoots with ‘that Communist rascal Gairy!’

Despite the bleating of the planters, it was clear that Grenada had become ungovernable, and that only one man held the key to bringing back any sense of normality: Eric Matthew Gairy. With the vast majority of the populace squarely behind him, Gairy was now ‘the king of Grenada’. Realizing the futility of the standoff, the British released him from detention on 6 March, 1951. The following day, he met with the Governor of Grenada, Brigadier Sir Robert Arundell. For a little black ‘country-bookie-boy’ from the boondocks, he’d come a long way.


Gairy.jpg

Last edited by New Historian (May 05, 2022 7:09 pm)

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#2 May 05, 2022 7:12 pm

Wide Sargasso Sea
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Re: Grenada's Red Sky Days

How can I get a copy? Please make sure that you purchase mine too. I will tell you when!

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#3 May 05, 2022 7:13 pm

New Historian
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Re: Grenada's Red Sky Days

Wide Sargasso Sea wrote:

How can I get a copy? Please make sure that you purchase mine too. I will tell you when!


Oh I must buy yours? Yuh good girl, yuh good! smile

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#4 May 05, 2022 7:17 pm

Wide Sargasso Sea
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Re: Grenada's Red Sky Days

Meanie, Mi ah go buy fi yuh, right? so yuh mus' buy fi mi as well! Raass! Yuh so raassclaat mean!

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#5 May 10, 2022 9:44 am

gripe
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Re: Grenada's Red Sky Days

NH, as a student of history with a keen interest in our Grenada's path to its present, I look forward to reading your contribution. (The title will make sense, I presume, once the material is consumed.) Still, Congrats!

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