In his maiden official visit to Brooklyn since his shocking election victory on June 23, in dethroning incumbent Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, new Grenada Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell — no relation with the former leader — was enthusiastically received by nationals over the weekend.
Mitchell was the honored guest at a Dinner and Ball Saturday night, at Glen Terrace, on Avenue N in Brooklyn, organized by the New York Chapter of the incumbent National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Then, on Sunday, he was the featured speaker, at a Town Hall meeting, at the Claire Tow Theater at Brooklyn, also organized by the NDC affiliate.
On Sunday, over 500 Grenadians and friends of Grenada greeted the young prime minister with standing ovations at the beginning and end of his speech, and rendered applause throughout his presentation.
Mitchell — whose delegation comprised, among others, Minister of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture, Sen. David Andrew and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Export Development, Joseph Andall — told nationals that his administration is focused on transforming Grenada, particularly in education.
“If we are to transform Grenada, we have to transform the education system,” he said in his 35-minute address, echoing remarks made earlier by Andrew.
“From 1982, our education system has been stagnant,” he added before taking questions from the audience in the question-and-answer segment. “There’s no reference in our education system to the sea, to the fish, to the preservation of fish.
“It is not that difficult to transform Grenada,” the prime minister continued. “For the past 30-35 years, there was no leadership to do so. But that stopped on the 23rd of June (applause).
“A man who makes his money practicing law is not superior to the man who fished,” Mitchell said. “So, when you come back home to spend that money, it does not matter where the money came from — but that you worked hard for it.”
He said that, over the past 20 years, the culture in Grenada did not encourage people to work.
“It was a mindset (by the previous administration) to buy their votes,” the prime minister charged. “We now have to re-dedicate. You should be working for substantially more.”
He said there’s no organized food storage and distribution system in Grenada, stating that, in the last 18 years, the country was not investing in “replanting our foods,” he added. “We will feed our children with our food. At a policy level, I’m prepared to write (that) each child must eat a banana a day.
“It sounds simple, you can eat better; it’s healthier,” Mitchell continued. “As opposed to the chicken we import from Brazil, we can get fish from Carriacou and Petite Martinique (Grenada’s sister isles).
“For every threat or challenge, there’s an opportunity,” he said. “You don’t need me to inspire you. You have that Kirani James, you have Peters (Olympians). As long as you’re prepared to work, you can run your mouth until they Kingdom come.”
Andrew said one of the things the NDC did was to inspire the Grenadian people.
“Today, we have a real opportunity to build on that dream,” he said in his maiden address. “One of the things is an increase in the morale of the staff (in the Ministry of Education). Since the 24th of June, 2022, there has been a desire to come to work. People dress to come to work.”
Andrew said all schools in Grenada have been re-opened, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the challenges.
“We want to put on record all involved – teachers, principals and the community,” he said. “We cannot afford the adversarial atmosphere like before. I promised to the principals – we promised to treat them with dignity and respect.”
In October, the Education, Sports and Culture Minister said sports will re-commence in schools in Grenada.
In addition, he said the government plans to institute free tuition in all elementary and secondary schools, and that, for the first time, there will be monthly subventions for pre-schools in the country.
Andrew said the administration also plans to transform Information Communications Technology (ICT).
“It’s good to know there are several Grenadians should we need experience in ICT, early childhood education,” he said. “We’re very thrilled at the opportunity to set up a better and brighter Grenada.”
Emphasizing the NDC’s theme of “Working with Grenadians at home and abroad to move Grenada forward,” Andall urged nationals to submit proposals to the government to move the country forward.
“Curing, fish, agricultural produce, again, we’re asking you to come with your expertise and your money, and let us move Grenada forward,” he said. “We had Air Grenada many years ago. Please don’t ask me who made it disappear. I’m not going there (laughter from the audience, hinting about the previous administration).
“We’re going to cultivate relations with the Mother Continent (Africa),” Andall added. “As the motto goes, ‘let the people’s voices be heard.’”