Tuesday, February 24, 2015


This used to be in Spain, where it was originally Garnata al-Yahud, the olive grove of the Jews, until the Moors and then the Jews were kicked out by the Catholics and Iberia was reclaimed for Jesus and for Europe. 

That was Granada, I know. The connection is valid nevertheless, because Christopher Columbus named the island Grenada in 1498 after that Spanish city, though it is unclear whether he, being a Genoese, did not know how to spell it correctly, or did not know how to pronounce it correctly, or whether it was the French settlers from Martinique who established St George’s, the capital, who changed the spelling and pronunciation later on. 

France gave the place to Britain as part of the Treaty of Versailles in 1783, which began the glorious era of tobacco, cotton and sugar plantations, for which voluntary workers from Africa were encouraged to make the easy sea journey in pleasure cruisers provided for the purpose. The abolition of slavery took place earlier on Grenada than anywhere else – 1834 – though actual independence, which is the true abolition of slavery (go tell that to the Scots who voted No in the referendum!), had to wait until 1974. The first prime Minister, Eric Gairy, was deposed in a coup in 1979, the New Jewel Movement of Maurice Bishop re-imposing slavery on the island, only in a different form and under a different ideology; a rather confusing ideology in fact, because he partnered very closely with both Cuba and the USA, which is not an obvious threesome for a dinner date. When his left-wing comrades got fed up with him, Bishop was ousted, and executed, and Hudson Austin took power, for a very brief moment, which was as long as it took for the Americans to never interfere in the internal affairs of other countries because they respect the democratic wishes of the natives. The 6,000 marines merely used the island for rest and recuperation, enjoyed its sunny beaches, and took some time to learn the rules of cricket, which is to baseball what chess is to checkers.

Today Grenada has settled down again to being the Spice Island, named not for Victoria Beckham, though she is said to have visited, but for the nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and especially ginger which it produces in great quantity and quality. St George’s is gorgeous. Take trips into the rainforest, the hot springs, the mountains and their lakes, the beaches obviously, the cricket grounds, and if it all looks a bit run-down and even seedy, remember that Hurricane Ivan wrecked the place in 2004, and eleven years is not that long to recover. The recession of 2008 didn’t help either. 30% of Grenadans are unemployed (though the concept of employment and unemployment is really meaningless in a post-industrial and early-technological world, where there are few real jobs outside the middle class professions that constitute what used to be meant by employment. If we remove unpaid and minimum wage internships – a form of slavery in that those who do it are expected to put in a full day’s work but receive payment  in the form of kudos rather than cash for so doing – and furloughs – a means of firing people in such a way that you don’t have to pay them the severance money in their contracts – and if we remove what are not really jobs at all, but leisure pursuits with sponsorship [all sports, plus TV, film and theatre], then what remains is service-industry - and service is service, but a job is a job - and it will be difficult to find any country in the world with better than 70% of full employment; in the USA probably closer to 30%.)

Technically Grenada, which is really six islands, should count as the most southerly part of the Grenadines, which is six hundred islands (technically the Grenadines should count as part of the Windward Islands, and technically the Windward Islands should count as part of the Lesser Antilles; all very complicated, and really quite irrelevant), but in fact it stands alone; for the rest of the islands, see my entry on Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Marks For: 2

Marks Against: 1

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