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Monday, September 9, 2013

Reviving The Revo Speaks

It has been a long time since I last visited The Revo Speaks project. I began on the journey, first researching the immense and complex history back in 2008, visiting Grenada in March 2009 for the 30th anniversary celebrations of the start of the revolution. Now we are approaching the 30th anniversary of the end of the revolution, and the urgency to complete this project is upon me once again.

What transpired back in March 2009 was a mishmash of stories and avenues that seemed impossible to unpick at the time. Our trip was a fascinating eye-opener, and what began as a fact finding mission, became clouded by the clamour of people wanting to tell us their story. I returned home, feeling overwhelmed, privileged by the information and stories people had shared with us, but essentially confused. There were so many stories, so much contradiction, that I was dizzied by how to tell it all and do The Revo justice. Here is a blog post I composed but didn't publish at the time:

Since landing in Grenada we accidentally dropped into a time portal that sucked us up a tunnel at Fort Frederick and spat us out on a hillside overlooking St Georges somewhere, circa 1983. Let me explain. The trip began in a straightforward manner. We met with Grenada Broadcast Network (GBN) and planned the course of action for the film. Good I thought, (I live and breathe by organisation), this is good. So off we go, aiming to get some stock shots while we have a little time, and end up at Fort Frederick. Fort Frederick is the highest point in St Georges, in the village of Morne Jaloux where I used to spend time visiting my Nan as a kid. The place is dotted with forts where the French fought the English and the English fought the French. This one the US tried to bomb after the revolution collapsed in ’83, but in the blunder that was the invasion, missed and hit the mental hospital next door, killing nearly all the patients. So we examine the wreckage, the bombed out solitary cells, the erie network of tunnels and flaking pathways, before going on our way...

The next day I interview the director of the funeral home on the carenage. He’s telling me how his father picked up 30 bodies from the site we were filming yesterday, and that it’s likely his father also buried those that were murdered up at Fort Rupert on the fateful day when the revolution fell, Oct 19th 1983. We don’t know it yet, but we’ve already been transported back in time, falling deeper into the black hole of information that comes with every new lead. To this day the whereabouts of Maurice Bishop and his followers, remains the enigma of the Revo, the million dollar question. With no answer, the Revo remains unfinished, unresolved, and impossible to digest. We’re sent on a Marlowesque adventure into the unknown, learning of the attempts to understand what happened to the bodies, which lead a group of inquisitive schoolchildren up a garden path, but closer to the ‘truth’ than the gospel according to hearsay, (which seems to be the book by which everyone now lives).

You see, you ask someone a question and usually you’ll get an answer, or at least an attempt to address your inquiry. Ask someone a question on the Revo and it will all begin with a story. ‘Let me tell you a story’, an old man in the museum told me ‘it will make your toes curl and your hair stand on end...’ It would have been rude not to comply.

And so this project starts a new chapter. I hope to engage in it with fresh eyes and a few years more experience. It is still a mammoth challenge, but it's certain this is a story that has to be told.

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