The term ‘brain drain’ hugely understates the exodus of talented and educated people from the Caribbean region to the metropoles of the ‘developed’ world.

The critical haemorrhage of the life blood of our nations’ development doesn’t merely mean we face losing our brightest minds, it depletes every aspect of our capacity for nation-building leading to the inevitable stunting of our social and economic development.

The critical haemorrhage of the life blood of our nations’ development doesn’t merely threaten our capacity to think, it depletes every aspect of our capacity for nation-building leading to the inevitable stunting of our social and economic development.

Which is why it has been so reaffirming to engage, through this Grenada 40 project, with an emerging generation of young Caribbean leaders who are committed to playing their part in their nation’s development. According to the statistics,

According to the statistics, an estimated 85% of tertiary educated Grenadians leave the island. Yet, while this new generation may study abroad and even gain professional experience overseas, it seems, anecdotally at least, that there is a growing wave of commitment to creating the change they want to see at home.

A few months ago I was in conversation with activist Richie Maitland, a co-director at Groundation Grenada and the former deputy director of advocacy and organizing at LGBT rights organisations Cariflags and CAISO. His full interview will be published here tomorrow, but I couldn’t resist sharing the intoxicating poetry and sentiments of his response when questioned as to his reasons for remaining in Grenada.

“I have a love for this place, I have a connectedness to this place. In the Caribbean people say ‘my navel string bury here’. Caribbean people automatically get that reference but let me see how I can explain it…

Grenada, Petite Martinique, the Caribbean is a space that I feel a connectedness to. There’s a current that runs through the place and the people that I’m very much a part of, more so than something outside.

Identity is complicated, it’s layered so I have many layers of identity. I’m very much a Grenadian man before I am a Caribbean man. But that’s part of my identity too; I’m a Caribbean man before I am a world citizen.

And so it’s just this connectedness, this inherent understanding of a particular place, an inherent understanding of a context, a struggle and everything that produces the now, our particular present reality and the way that I hold all of that in my being. I’m part of that and want to help contribute to it in every way.

There’s also the very real physical element. The Caribbean is an amazingly beautiful place. I’ve been to Europe. I’ve had to deal with brief stints of cold and I can tell you, I don’t like that shit at all man! The people here are friendlier. I have access to the sea, to relatively clean water, relatively organic and cheap food.

Grenada is a space that I can navigate with a certain amount of ease by virtue of the fact that I am part of the vibes and I understand it. I reflect it and it reflects me. I don’t suppose I’d have that ease of navigation in other spaces. I don’t really have the networks.

Because I’m so invested in this space, for many reasons, it’s a space that I want to change and which I want to impact positively and I think I’m able to do that more so here than anywhere else. Nation building and region building is something I’m very interested in.

I’m interested in being a part of the cadre of young educated leaders in the Caribbean. Many of my colleagues are interested in doing that. We are corresponding. All of us have our own organisations, we’re writing. It’s movement building.

I want to build this movement by being here and by being in this space. By having Grenada, breathing Grenada and eating Grenada and feeling it and smelling it and having it infuse me with the vibes I need to chant down Babylon!”

Richie Maitland,

Co-director, Groundation Grenada.

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2 comments

  1. Richie,
    Perfectly expressed.I share those same sentiments and feel all the vibes you have briefly advocated.I myself came to East Germany in 1981 on a scholarship from the PRG.I graduated with a PhD in Geology and returned on a contract to Grenada to help steer the development of Geothermal Energy and other Renewable Energy sources which we have in abundance.After the election in 2013 the new forces terminated my contract unceremoniously so my choice has been to return to Germany to further educate myself and be more equipped with knowledge and greater experience in my field of Geoscience and others so as to repatriate to the land of my birth- GRENADA.

    Stand firm and spread to good coming home vibes.That’s the way forward towards Greenz sustainable development and upliftment of the People of the Spice Isle.

    One love

    Gallo

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