On February 7th, 1974, we are supposed to become independent. if we do, this will be independence in name only. Gairy believes that independence means pulling down one flag and putting up another, composing a new anthem, creating a new motto, calling the Governor Governor General and the Premier, Prime Minister; playing steelband, jumping up and feteing; cleaning up and beautifying the streets.
But after all the celebrations and bacchanal are over and we wake up next day (or next week) with a hangover, the price of food, clothes and everything else will still keep going up, wages will still be the same (or less), the condition of the schools, hospitals and roads (except for maybe two more roundabouts) will continue to get worse, and the people's housing will still be the same or worse.
NJM has always stood for real independence, genuine independence, meaningful independence. At our People's Convention on Independence of 6th May, 1983, at Seamoon where 10,000 of our supporters were present, our two major speeches were called Meaningful vs. Meaningless Independence and New Directions for Genuine Independence. This Manifesto of ours sketches the things we must do as a people under new leadership to achieve real independence. For we believe independence must mean better housing for our people, better clothing, better food, better health, better education, better roads and bus service, more jobs, higher wages, more recreation-in short, a higher standard of living for workers and their children.
None of these things can be achieved by celebrations, fetes for the big boys, incompetent and corrupt leadership or the dreaming of a tin-God politician as a substitute for hard work and planning.
Qualities of Leadership Under Independence - We of the NJM believe that the only way out of the present mess is for a new progressive, dynamic, imaginative, honest and hard-working leadership to take power. This leadership must work closely with the people of every village, helping them to organise and improve their skills and carry out their ideas for a better life. Our goal is to eventually replace the present political system with a truly democratic and grass-roots system in which the people of every village and parish and of the island as a whole, will be able to exercise power on their own behalf, in their own interests in order to build a bright future for themselves.
The NJM, as an organisation, only started in March of this year. Yet at Seamoon, on 6th May, 1973 we brought together 10,000 people in one place, effectively contributed to shutting down the island for one week later the same month and closed down the airport for 3 days in April thus letting the outside world know of the scandals of Gairy's Police State and misgovernment. Indeed, we have been at the forefront of organising all the people's effective protests and opposition to this corrupt, inhuman and unjust regime. On top of this, we have been producing a political newspaper selling three times more copies than any other paper (all of them running for years and years in the island.) All of this speaks for itself.
We feel that leaders are not necessarily born, or come from the East, but are made. We feel that no small group of persons, regardless of how intelligent or educated or wealthy they are, have the right to sit down together in a small room and proclaim themselves the new Messiahs. Rather, the leadership must come from the people and must be accepted by the people not because of the way they look, dress or speak, but because of their proven commitments, dedication and hard work in the interests of the people.
Leaders must not be required to know everything better than the people, or to be more intelligent than the people. Leadership must not mean the creation of Masters. Leadership instead should regard itself as the servants of the people, and must aim at destroying the relationship of master and slave, employer and employee and of destroying the whole class relationship in our society.
Our aim, in the words of President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, is to make every person a master-not a matter who opposed others, but one who serves himself. A person who serves himself is a master. He has no worries, he has confidence in himself and is confident of his own actions.
Every future representative of the people will be required to live by a code of ethics, agreed by the people after consultation. All present parliamentarians will be required to account to an elected People's Tribunal for their ill-gotten gains.
Independence Celebrations vs. Independence Projects - The millions of dollars that the Government intends to waste on a week of independence celebrations could instead have been spent to build a thousand houses under a special Independence Housing Project for people who now live in shanty towns.
The 23 committees and 7 co-ordinating committees of businessmen, civil servants, hoteliers and others that Gairy has appointed to organise fetes and bacchanal could instead have used their talents and abilities to raise money for this project. In addition, money could have been raised by the hundreds of thousands of Grenadians and other West Indians living abroad in countries like Canada, America and England for this project.
Also, in our negotiations with the British on the question of independence, we could have demanded from them an independence payment of at least one hundred million dollars as partial reparation to make up for some of the money stolen from us and the exploitation, human misery, suffering and degradation we have endured at their hands over the last 400 years. This money we could have used to build the factories for our Agro-Industry Scheme. Instead, all we are going to get from the British is a visit by some member of the Royal Family to pull down the old flag, put up a new one and make a speech congratulating us on our achievement.
Apart from the obvious fact that we would gain more from a thousand new houses and twenty agro-industry factories instead of a thousand gallons of ruin, this Independence Housing and Factory Project would have served as a permanent symbol and example o the first step towards achieving our real independence. In this way, the whole process of independence would have been correctly seen as something which does not begin and end on one day but rather as a dynamic process of developing self-reliance and attaining self-sufficiency in all areas of our lives -economic, cultural, political and spiritual.
The project would not only have helped us but would also have served as a permanent reminder to generations to come of the real meaning and value of independence.
History has shown us that it is only those countries where the people struggled and fought for the achievement of their independence, that independence has become a reality. In those countries where the people have been shut out of the process of obtaining independence, like in Trinidad, the people find themselves engaged in a violent struggle against the government who has cheated them of the fruits, expectations and promises of independence. Trinidad today after 11 years of independence, has finally gone around the country in an attempt to consult with the people in drafting an Independence Constitution for Trinidad. If Gairy has his way, we will find ourselves having to do exactly the same thing at a future date; but, praise God, the people and the NJM will not let him have the chance to play the fool with us.
We repeat that the present move towards independence is an insincere, opportunist move, designed to strengthen the grip of tyranny and corruption. It is bound to result in a sham, bogus, meaningless independence.
History will yet record that 7th February, 1974 marked the beginning of a new stage in the struggle of our people. It will set in motion a new process involving the people which will take us along the lost road to an eventual real independence.