072_G17_InFocus_Grenada

Global_17

In Focus Grenada A shoe and leather repair shop on the beach in Hillsborough, on the island of Carriacou. Inset: Olympic gold medal winner Kirani James 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. However, the country’s biggest sporting triumph came last year when 19-year-old Kirani James won the country’s first ever Olympic medal, taking gold in the men’s 400 metres final in the London Olympics in 43.94 seconds, making him the first non- US athlete to break the 44-second barrier. He instantly became a national hero. Lagoon Road in St George’s has now been renamed Kirani James Boulevard and the The country’s biggest sporting triumph came last year when 19-year-old Kirani James won the country’s first ever Olympic medal, taking gold in the men’s 400 metres then Prime Minister, Tillman Thomas, called a half-day national holiday in celebration when James returned home. Thomas said: “My message to Kirani James is to continue doing what he’s been doing. He’s been a very good influence on our young people. He’s very disciplined, very organised and very focused.” That single medal made Grenada the most successful Olympic country per capita in the world. Although proud of its links with the rest of the Windward Islands and its role in the West Indies cricket team, Grenadian culture has a distinctive flavour of its own. In addition to the regional mix of British colonial rule and a population that largely descends from slaves transported from Africa, there is also a French influence in the country, as it was originally colonised by France in the 17th century. It was seized by the British in the Seven Years’ War and then again during the American War of Independence. The subsequent two centuries of British rule bequeathed a system of parliamentary government, British-style legal and tax systems and a love of cricket, all of which survived independence in 1974. Following the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire in 1807, indentured workers were brought from India to the island. The formerly distinctive Indian population has largely intermarried with other Grenadians and Europeans but an Indian flavour survives in local cuisine. Street food includes dal puri, aloo pie and tarmarind balls, while traditional cooking pans are named curry pots. The adherents of any particular Caribbean culture tend to be rather protective of the language, religion or other cultural strain in question. For example, despite British colonial rule, the French patois of Grenada has proved to be remarkably durable, although the number of native speakers is now in decline. The French influence has brought French Caribbean souk music to the island, complementing local reggae, calypso and soca traditions. Soca is a combination of soul and calypso music that originated in Trinidad and Tobago and then spread across the region. Reggae star David Emmanuel and jazz songwriter Eddie Bullen both come from Grenada, while the island’s distinctive calypso dances are known across the Caribbean. ● 72 l www.global -br ief ing.org f i rst quar ter 2014 global  © André Zehetbauer


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