Were you there?

Were you there?

Good for you, Honey Merluvlee Wilson, for being the only reader to have paid any attention to the last Flashback questions, chief one related to the circumstances that led to the picture. We’d have been surprised if any Saint Lucian had failed to recognize George Odlum; not so surprised if many didn’t know that was Kenny D. back in the days before late-night dinners on a nightly basis! So, Honey, here’s what you asked for: The year was 1979, for several reasons a year Saint Lucians of a certain age will long remember. It was on one particular morning in that year—March 13—that the Caribbean woke up to the news that the impossible had happened: in Grenada the New Jewel Movement, led by Maurice Bishop, had taken control of their island while their nutty prime minister Eric Gairy was on a visit to the United States. It was also the year the Saint Lucia Labour Party won every parliamentary seat save one. On the eve of the 1979 elections police superintendent Alphonse was fatally gunned down at a bar in Mary Ann Street, Castries. Barely a week later Castries was ransacked following a thank-you UWP meeting in William Peter Boulevard. Famously, the area was turned into an open sewer by vengeful fanatics. It took weeks before the atmosphere was returned to normalcy. As for the FLASHBACK picture (below), yes that’s unmistakably Brother George in one of his costumes, recently returned from Zimbabwe where he had joined up with the Caribbean’s most important hero of the day (for some anyway!) and his Grenadian entourage. It was Brother George who invited the Grenadian revolutionary to visit Saint Lucia on his way back to Grenada. A big deal, it was, for the Big Brother—who later claimed in a recorded interview that he was always against violent takeovers. The get-together took place at Peter Josie’s ministry of agriculture (if memory serves) and I recall wondering at the time who was the great chain smoker, Bishop or Josie. I suspect Josie won. Oh but we haven’t mentioned the skinny guy under the super-size Afro, tee shirt and slacks: none other than our prime minister to be. Kenny Anthony was then still attached to UWI and according to those who knew him best at the time, a major radical. I photographed him with George Odlum as they made their way toward Bishop who was already at the ministry with his entourage. The day’s prime minister Allan Louisy never showed up, not while I was there. The hugging and the back-slapping lasted only a few minutes before it was time for the Grenadian revolutionaries to head back home. Of course, we know this particular story had a very sad ending! And now for this week’s Flashback photo above: How many of the individuals pictured can you recognize? What are they doing today? What was it that brought them together? —R.W

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