Twenty years after his passing, the man labelled as Grenada’s Father of Independence, former Prime Minister Sir Eric Mathew Gairy, gets his recognition.
The unveiling of a statue in his honour and the formalizing of the name Sir Eric Gairy Botanical Gardens both took place last Friday, September 29th with a short ceremony at the Botanical Gardens in St. George’s, a place once used by Sir Eric to house Grenada’s first and only known zoo.
The activity was attended by a wide cross-section of the Grenadian community including Head of State, Her Excellency Dame Cecile La Grenade, Prime Minister Dr. Hon Keith Mitchell, and other members of Government, former cabinet members of the Gairy Government, children of the former prime minister as well as persons who just wanted to be part of this historic occasion.
Addressing the gathering was Minister with responsibility for Culture Hon. Clarice Modest-Curwen who described the occasion as giving “Jack his jacket” and “a fitting tribute to a son of the soil who truly deserves it.”
According to the minister, the idea was born out of a discussion with former Minister of Culture Brenda Hood and was quickly taken on board by members of Cabinet.
The minister said having championed the cause of the working class in what was dubbed the first Grenada revolution; Sir Eric deserves whatever tribute is bestowed on him.
Former Member of Parliament Nadia Benjamin was on hand and shared her experience working with Sir Eric. She described him as someone she would never forget, given what he had done for Grenada, in the areas of education, housing, culture and tourism.
Benjamin said Gairy loved the Grenadian people and did what he had to, to ensure that Grenadians was comfortable and were on par with the rest of the world. Describing him as one of the pioneers of Grenadian women in politics, Benjamin urged politicians today to take a page from the book of Sir Eric.
Also addressing the gathering was Mr Alexis Gairy son of Sir Eric who presently resides in California, USA. In his brief delivery, he commended those who initiated the idea to honour his deceased father, a man he said who had a passion for Grenada.
Having seen the sculpture Alexis said he believes it really embodies the soul of Sir Eric. He complimented its designer for going all out to get the best results.
Prime Minister Mitchell, a man who has been called the political son of Sir Eric, in addressing the gathering described the moment as a very special occasion, his opening comment; “If there is one thing, I think this was long overdue.”
The Grenada Prime Minister recalled some of his fond moments with Sir Eric on the cricket field, working and competing with him in the political arena. What was notable about the man he said is that he held no animosity against anyone; even persons who competed against him.
Dr Mitchell said for someone who has done what Sir Eric did for Grenada; challenging the powers that be at the time and securing independence in the face of all odds, it is a fitting tribute and complimented all who had a hand putting the idea into reality.
The statue was designed by Maria Mc Clafferty, originally from the United States but presently residing in Grenada. According to her, it was quite a challenge, the materials used to make the statues were stainless steel and brass, very difficult to work and therefore she had to travel to China where most of the final preparation was done. She noted that while there are some critics, she expects that but want people to remember that at the end of the day it is just a monument.
Dr Mitchell and H.E. Dame La Grenada unveiled the statue of Sir Eric and a plaque depicting the official name of the Botanical Gardens.