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#1 Aug 27, 2019 3:12 pm

New Historian

Emergence of a leader: Eric Matthew Gairy

With the gradual opening up of the British archives, historical nuggets come to light. One of them concerns the General Strike of 1951 and the emergence of "Uncle Gairy" - fascinating insights into the thinking of the colonial powers at the time! Here's an excerpt from a very interesting piece of research:

Emergence of a Leader

This fomenting of discontent has been sedulously carried on until the time was ripe for the emergence of a leader. In Gairy, native-born Grenadian, a man of some education and with some experience of foreign travel, they believe they have found their champion. Young, ambitious, unscrupulous, a fluent orator of the soap box variety, he has immense personal vanity and apart from the claim to be defender of the people's rights, he sees an opportunity in the present crisis to create for himself a position of political eminence in the island.

He has learnt from Bustamante in Jamaica and from Butler in Trinidad all the tricks of the trade. He knows just how far he can go in denunciation and abuse of the authorities and how far he can dare to incite his followers by windy oratory and slashing personal attacks on members of the Grenada Government.

He knows all the demagogic techniques for conducting public meetings - the stage set in the village market place, the glaring bulb over the speaker's rostrum, the delayed arrival, walking through massed crowds amid thunderous applause, the opening prayer and singing of hymns, and finally the carefully modulated voice, through the loud-speaker, varied from gentle sarcasm to the screaming peroration that rouses the audience to a crescendo of wild excitement.

Opposing Gairy and his campaign for personal power camouflaged by the role of people's champion are the planters and the merchants of Grenada. Alarmed at the rapidity of his rise and startled by the increasing number of his adherents, they regard him as an upstart and adventurer whose sole aim is to destroy their livelihood and status in the community.

Strongly imbued with the principles and prejudices induced by generations of cheap and abundant labour, they resent what they consider his plan to turn the workers against them, and above all are indignant that demands for higher wages, which anyhow they are reluctant to grant, should be pressed on them by the leader of a union whose existence they refuse to recognize.

They claim that adequate unions already exist, but Gairy retaliates that these unions no longer represent the workers, that his followers are in an overwhelming majority, and that anyway his power to call a strike is in itself proof of his leadership.

Many estates in Grenada are owned by absentee landlords and managed by overseers, themselves in some cases Negroes or Eurasians. Shocked by the unexpected interruption of their normal life and intimidated by threats against themselves and their plantations, they have shown a tendency to panic, and some of them are so fearful of attacks by their workers that they remain shut up in their houses, refusing to go out.

The actual violence done so far has not been great. Few strikes run their course without some incidents, and Grenada is no exception. Stones have been thrown, windows have even been broken by gunshot, workers have been beaten up and intimidated, crops stolen and damaged. But so far there has been only one death - a worker caught stealing nutmegs who was shot by an excited local constable - and the acts of arson committed have not been important.

Feeling among the planters is running very high. Some of them demand the immediate importation of large bodies of troops and parties of strike-breakers from Trinidad and Barbados, and hold that the proper method to end the strike is to drive the strikers by force into sullen submission.

Thus we have an impasse created by two apparently irreconcilable forces - Gairy versus the planters. Meanwhile crops perish, the island's revenue diminishes, workers get bitter and Grenada's slowly developing and badly needed tourist industry receives a setback from which it will take years to recover. … tiste.html


#2 Aug 28, 2019 10:32 am


Re: Emergence of a leader: Eric Matthew Gairy

Like that information , living up to your name New Historian.
Let the reader read and form his/her own views.
.... and it leads to other sites, cool that's what it is about.


#3 Aug 28, 2019 1:46 pm


Re: Emergence of a leader: Eric Matthew Gairy

Interesting article.  Read some of it while in Grenada from one of the Weekly Newspapers.  doh remember which one.  Will go back and read your post ah bit later.

Last edited by Slice (Aug 28, 2019 1:47 pm)


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