Affectionately known as the Spice Isle, Grenada, a small Caribbean island just under 100 miles north of Venezuela, has long flown under the radar of the tourism and heritage industries. Although the island is widely known for St. George’s Medical School and the 1983 Operation Urgent Fury, it is also home to thousands of years of tangible and intangible cultural heritage that many have either forgotten about or have never learned.

History of Grenada 

The story of Grenada begins around 300 CE with the indigenous Amerindians from South America, composed of first the Arawaks and then the Caribs (Encyclopaedia Britannica). Although there is no longer an indigenous population on the island, their footprint can still be found in Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique. The Amerindians brought their culture and language to the islands that we have found remnants of through ceramics and pottery that tell stories about the tools they used and the diets they had.

One remnant of Amerindian presence can be found on the northern tip of the island In the small coastal village of Waltham, you can find Amerindian Petroglyphs that are referred to as “Carib Stones.” These are believed to date between AD 900-1400 and reflect the Suzan-Troumassoid Occupation (Martin 125). Unfortunately there are still many gaps in what we know about Amerindian presence on the island and more archaeological studies are necessary to fully understand the island’s history pre-colonialism. 

Cultural Effects of Colonialism 

Following multiple failed attempts at colonization, the French government successfully established a settlement at St. Georges in 1649 (Martin 17). The French ruled until 1762 and it was in those 114 years that most of the Amerindian people were killed. An infamous battle that resulted in the deaths of 40 Caribs occurred in May 1650, where the French ambushed the Caribs in the town of Duquesne; with no escape, the Caribs jumped off a cliff now known as Morne des Sauteurs.

During the French occupation of Grenada, they established plantations and imported African Slaves, opening a new tragic chapter in the island’s history. The island was ceded to Britain in the Treaty of Paris in 1763, but was later recaptured by the French in 1779, and once again restored to Britain in 1783 until Grenada proclaimed independence on February 7, 1974 (Encyclopaedia Britannica). 

This period of colonization left a distinct mark on Grenada that can be seen in Georgian architecture, French influence on village and street names, as well as in intangible cultural heritage (syncretism), manifested by the Big Drum Dance and Maroon Fest in Carriacou and Saraca and Shango in Grenada (Martin 237).

Aftermath of Hurricane Ivan 

Grenada is home to many historical sites, including historic forts, York House, and the St. George’s Anglican Church. Unfortunately, many of these sites have fallen victim to benign neglect and are not being properly preserved for future generations. The poor state of many sites was only exacerbated by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. York House, best known for being home to the Houses of Parliament, was extremely damaged by the 2004 hurricane. The roof was torn off and windows were destroyed, but little was done to restore and protect this building, so it sits decaying today, nearly 20 years later (Martin 40). This is only one example of many historic or heritage sites on the island that are not getting the attention and preservation they deserve.


Where do we go from here?

Grenada’s cultural legacy is at a crossroads. The island has a rich culture composed of Soca dancing, Spice Mas or Carnival and cooking with locally grown chocolate and spices. These pieces of intangible cultural heritage or living heritage are what is seen and prioritized by locals and expats alike. It is about time that Grenada begins prioritizing and embracing tangible heritage the same way they do living heritage. 

In order for anyone to fully appreciate and learn from Grenada’s heritage, it is imperative that we begin investing in preserving heritage sites. If the proper investments aren’t made as soon as possible, we risk allowing Grenada’s tangible heritage to disappear, along with any chance we have of learning about the history of the island. 

The Amerindians who once inhabited this island left behind their stories etched in stone, waiting for us to uncover and understand. The colonial period, with its architectural influence and the birth of unique traditions, shaped Grenada’s identity. Yet, many of these historic sites stand neglected and vulnerable to the ravages of time, as evidenced by the state of York House, the Public Library, the Police Barracks, Fort Matthew, the Government House…to name a few.  

By safeguarding Grenada’s heritage, we not only honor its past but also ensure a future where this heritage can continue to educate, inspire, and unite generations to come. We must learn from history, not allow it to fade into obscurity. The time is now. Let’s come together to protect Grenada’s legacy, to preserve its cultural treasures, and to celebrate the diverse tapestry of this extraordinary island. Our actions today will determine whether Grenada’s heritage lives on for future generations or becomes a forgotten chapter in history.


Written by Katharine Rubinetti



Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Grenada summary”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 2 May. 2020, Accessed 21 November 2023.

Martin, John Angus. Grenada Heritage. The Grenada National Trust, 2019.


“Grenada National Trust under the Proud of my Heritage project funded by UNESCO, does not assume any responsibility or liability for any errors, omissions and information in the content of this site. The information contained in this site is provided on an “as is” basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness or timeliness as the content and audio-visual materials were compiled from interviews done to specifics ICH practitioners and bearers around Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique in 2022 who gave us their written consent during the pilot Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) inventorying exercises”

If you are an educational institution, organization and/or researcher who would like to receive more information about any specific ICH element’ material, please feel free to contact us at

The Grenada National Trust through its UNESCO-funded Proud of my Heritage project thanks all entrants and judges of its 2022 Intangible Cultural Heritage photo contest. We encourage everyone to document the rich cultural heritage of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
The Proud of my Heritage ICH Photo Competition is now closed.
Winners will be announced on 15 November 2022 on this website and on our social media pages.

The Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) Proud of my Heritage team today made a courtesy visit to the Minister for Culture, Honorable Ron Redhead. 

The team, led by President of the Grenada National Trust Darryl Brathwaite, briefed the Minister on the accomplishments of the Proud of my Heritage Project to date and outlined future initiatives. 

Since the project’s launch in February 2022, 150 people attended 4 workshops focused on creating awareness and building capacity for the inventorying and safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique. 

Our trained technicians conducted research with cultural practitioners across the nation, among them masqueraders and drummers. Our expert team created the first edition of an Educators Resource Guide for primary school teachers to incorporate Grenada’s living heritage within their lessons.

Within the upcoming months, the Proud of my Heritage team will showcase some of the ICH elements of Grenada through multimedia.

The Honorable Ron Redhead, his Permanent Secretary Norman Gilbert and Acting Assistant Chief Cultural Officer Susan Jones-Benjamin offered words of support for the ICH project and were keen on establishing a long-term system of heritage transmission for generations to come.

GNT Principal presents Minister Ron Redhead with Education Resource Book – 6 September 2022

Mr. Brathwaite presented Minister Redhead with a copy of “Heritage Grenada” a book that is a pictorial journey around Grenada and the first edition of the “Intangible Cultural Heritage Resource Guide for Grenada Carriacou & Petite Martinique.” 

(St. GEORGE’S, GRENADA, 6 July 2022) – The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the Grenada National Trust engaged the marketing and professional services of Lashington Agency to lead the media campaign for its Proud of my Heritage project. The 1-year project aims to build the capacity of communities and cultural practitioners to identify, manage and safeguard the Intangible and Living Cultural Heritage elements in Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique.

“Living Heritage is important to everyone as it provides warm precious memories from our past. Unfortunately, much of it is lost unintentionally as we often wait too late to save them, then find they regrettably are gone forever,” said Darryl Brathwaite, President of the Grenada National Trust.

The UNESCO-funded project is Proud of my Heritage: Transmission and Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Grenada through inventorying and education initiatives. It aims to record, protect and safeguard most of the Intangible Cultural Heritage elements of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique that are under threat of disappearing and unknown to nationals, especially younger generations.

“The purpose of this project is to allow us to save the old recipes, medicines, seasonings, crafts, stories, photos, songs, dances, games and ways of doing things from earlier times. This special marketing effort is to ensure that Grenadians are aware of what may be the last opportunity to save what matters to us and to share those joyous discoveries with our community,” commented Brathwaite.

Chrislyn Lashington, Principal, Lashington Agency

The Lashington Agency will be responsible for engaging stakeholders of the Proud of my Heritage project and leading a multimedia campaign to raise awareness about the various elements of the Intangible Cultural Heritage elements among the youth, community leaders and the general public at home and in the Grenadian Diaspora.

“As a creative entrepreneur, I’m thrilled to contribute to the success of this Proud of my Heritage project! It is an honour to marry my background in performing arts and public relations to a project that will protect the cultural heritage of my country and create a repository of the various elements for generations to come,” said Chrislyn Lashington, Principal of Lashington Agency.

Lashington brings a wealth of experience in culture and marketing communications. She holds a Master of Public Health and a post-graduate certificate in Marketing. Through her marketing, communications and entertainment agency, she has gained success for many companies including the Healthy Caribbean Coalition, Grenada Red Cross, the Grenada Tourism Authority, and even entertainers like

Grammy-award-winning artiste Shaggy. Chrislyn Lashington is also a dancer, musician, and creative director of a traditional Sailor Mas band for carnival.

The three phases of the Proud of my Heritage project include (i) inventorying the intangible cultural heritage of Grenada, (ii) creating a living heritage Heritage Curriculum programme for primary schools, and (iii) increasing awareness through media campaign.

Within the first three months of the Intangible Cultural Heritage – Proud of my Heritage (ICH-PmH) project, formally launched in February, ninety-six (96) ICH coordinators and technicians were trained in techniques and practice of inventorying and documenting intangible cultural heritage elements. They were provided with tools to conduct fieldwork from July to September 2022.

Primary school teachers during the August holidays will assist the ICH-PmH in designing, developing and implementing the Proud of my Heritage Education Programme Resource Guide for students in grades 5 and 6 – a critical phase to raise awareness and transmit the living heritage in Grenada.


Photo credit: Terel Moore Photography


William Montieth Drayton (Monty) is a cultural conservationist in Grenada who wears many hats; among them, teacher, story teller, drummer, drum maker, singer and dancer. To add to the plethora of knowledge he has gained over the years, through his own research into our history and culture, last year he went to Morocco to study Animation in the Hotel Industry: a short course about keeping guests entertained through the performing arts.

I recently interviewed him at the Grenada National Museum, where he has volunteered for over 15 years. For this, he had taken a break from drumming with his band of young drummers and as we chatted the sound of the drums in the background seemed a fitting serenade to the rhythm of his story. Here’s a Q&A with Monty.

What exactly do you do?

I currently volunteer at children’s homes and homes for the disabled teaching our traditional culture through drumming and singing. I also visit schools and community groups to do the same. I’ve worked with various performing arts groups all over Grenada and therefore know a myriad of songs and dances from the various corners of our country. Because of this I can identify variations in dances that are common to Grenada, like the Belè and tell you which parish they are from. Not every community does the Belè in the same way. I believe that River Sallee and Carriacou have the most authentic flavour of our dances. In fact, River Sallee has about 12 different versions of Belè. They once had a very vibrant folk group but in very recent times have fizzled out. I did everything in my power to resurrect that group. So right now I am coordinating with a church up there to organise to do a workshop to teach drumming there and hopefully revive the arts in this community.

How did this all begin?

My Genesis was with my brother, Mervin, a drummer and panist, who was very particular about his drum. We (my 3 other brothers and I) used to have to steal his drum to practise, when he was away. One day, when we thought he had gone, he doubled back on us and found us playing. He was shocked to discover how well we could play and this led to us forming the Drayton drummers band. My father, Malcolm Drayton, also influenced my path. He had a steelpan band, whose members later formed the now well known Angel Harps Steel Orchestra. Growing up at home he would always play a lot of Jazz and Classical music. This intelligent music enhanced my drumming.

The Drayton Drummers played in the community and became the national drummers of the revolutionary government. During the Gairy regime, in the 70s, we had to look over our shoulders while we played because the Police could come take your drum and destroy it. This was, perhaps, because it was towards the end of the Black Power movement, in which drums were used to carry the effect of power, bravery and fighting against the system. But this did not deter me. I moved on to the Roots Vibrations Band in which we did a multiplicity of spectacles around Grenada and in Carriacou: bike stunts, acrobatics, fire displays, chanting. As a boy, I even drummed for the hotels. This was before they paved the roads.

Why is the work you do important and what are some of the challenges you face?

I want to pass on our traditional culture and to ensure that the people I am teaching learn properly to pass it on to the next generation. I ensure they understand the history and the importance of drumming in the community because after doing my research, I realised that nothing was done in Africa without the drum. Be it for an invited guest, planting, reaping, teaching, death, birth, festivals, the drum was always played.

We are cut off from that now because of the misconceptions from some religious people. Religious people caused a negative vibe concerning some of our dances and drumming. Shango, for example, got a bad name because we were colonized by the members of the traditional church, who went against our drumming. Yes, I know some people have negative intentions when they drum but what is a drum? A piece of wood and goat skin. How evil is that?

I’m also concerned that I’m not seeing enough involvement from the government. Sometimes, I believe I am the Minister of Culture because I do so much. After going to Africa, no one from the government has tried to engage me to utilise my new knowledge. If I were in the Ministry of Culture, we would get money to develop every cultural program. We are not convincing the Prime Minister that our project is a good project. We are not trying to develop our product and take the culture to the next level. I’m concerned that there is a generation that is dying, a generation that needs that.

What are you most passionate about?

I love to play the Saxophone and I’ve always loved the guitar, even if I’ve never had the opportunity to play. I also love teaching and playing for the disabled. It’s joyful, I’m energized. If I don’t go, I’m not strong. One time, it took me a year to realise that a certain guy was deaf and mute because he followed the rhythm so well. I love to see them move to the rhythms. There’s a guy there I look at and I feel I could make a dance based on how he moves to the drum.

What are your plans for the future?

I dream to get the opportunity, one day, to go to the US and teach 1000 people to play the drum, free of cost and their payment would be to take this newly learnt skill and go into homes for the disabled everywhere and to teach and play for disabled kids.


Independence:  What does it mean to you?

At church one Independence week, the preacher asked, ‘“What does Independence mean to you?” Met by silence from the reticent congregation, he implored the young people to answer the question.  One by one, some stood and spoke out what seemed to be regurgitated independence jargon learnt from their school celebrations: “Independence means freedom,” “coming together as one people,” “unity,” “being proud of our beautiful nation,” “getting together with family and friends.” And others spoke enthusiastically about how they celebrate.

Listening to this exchange made me reflect on how Independence had a different meaning to those born afterGrenada became independent compared to what it meant to the generations born before.  Nonetheless, what everyone has in common is their strong sense of national pride.

My generation was one of the first born after Grenada achieved its Independence status. We never experienced living in a dependent state.  We never knew what it was like to not be a country, to not even have a flag or a national anthem.  We had no idea that a generation before us went to school and sang another country’s anthem.


The School Grade Independence Lesson of Yesteryear

Over 37 years on, I am a culturally sensitive, history-aware and extremely proud Grenadian.  So how did I get here?  Many influences in my life have had a part to play; from the stories told by my parents and grandparents to being exposed to traditional arts from childhood.  If I could trace where it all started, however, I would go back to my school days.  School instilled in my post-independence peers and me an excitement about being Grenadian. School gave me a strong base that motivated me to find out more. At school, we learnt about our country’s history and national symbols, natural resources and products.

This year we celebrate 46 years of being a nation and, in honour of our Independence day, February 7, here’s a list of seven activities we used to do at school that fostered our sense of national pride in the early post-independence years.


  1. Sang the national anthem and recited the pledge of allegiance every day.
  2. Sang songs about the virtues of Grenada.
  3. Practiced for and participated in the national Independence Day parade.
  4. Learned the significance of our coat of arms.
  5. Chorally recited the symbolisms found on Grenada’s flag.
  6. Had our independence treat, which in my school was a hot dog with a snow ice. (We used to be so excited about this!)
  7. Wore our house uniforms the day before independence; each house having one of Grenada’s national colours. This was typical of school houses back then.


How about you? Do you remember doing any of these activities at school?


The Modern Day School-Based Celebration

Curious as to how things had advanced since my school days, I recently visited my primary Alma Mater to see how they were celebrating this year; and what a grand celebratory schedule they had…

Their celebrations kicked off a week before with their Independence road relay, followed by a day for classroom decorating on the themes of Famous Grenadians, Famous places and Flora and Fauna of Grenada.  Finally, on the day before Independence Day (our nationally recognised national colours day) school started with an Independence themed assembly, in which, as the very enthusiastic principal explained, they learned about all well-known Grenadians. Kids presented Prime Ministers and Governors General. There was an exhibition of local dishes, local spices, crafts from local raw materials and floral arrangements. And no Independence celebration would be complete these days without a big plate of Oil Down which the kids ate with gusto.

As I was there, my eyes truly feasted on the vibrancy of the colours emanating from the decorations all around the school, from the flags to the children’s clothing. The school  was just abuzz with a passionate vibe of excitement felt from teachers and students alike. Oh, what a grand occasion it was and, judging from all the colourful outfits worn on the street by students from other schools, I know they were all celebrating in a similarly grand way.  One school I passed had drummers lined up with Belè dancers (all kids) getting ready in the background.  How I wished I could have stopped to witness the spectacle.


That Unceasing Sense of National Pride

It warmed my heart to see how great an affair the schools have made Independence as the years have gone on.  A more elaborate celebratory schedule from what we had but what remains evident is the core value of instilling national pride. I really appreciate the introduction my generation had but judging from what I have seen this year, schools’ influence on our national pride will only get better and better.

As we celebrate 46 years, here’s to all that our nation’s schools, principals and teachers have done and continue to do in making us proud of our nation.  Happy Independence to all!


A-ZA book that all Grenadians must have

Every now and again, you come across a piece of work or reference material, that is so relevant and majestic that you wonder how you’d missed it. This book is one of those cases, and I’m sure if I missed it, many thousands of Grenadians both at home and abroad did too. Whatever, the reason, the time has come to recognise and share this magnificent book.

It is packed with information that straightens out the history books once and for all. It’s presented in a style that is easily digested by all readers and every page holds text or images that capture the soul and essence of our beautiful tri-island state from every perspective.

I personally, have a passion for all things Grenadian, but must confess to having seen the title on the book shelves but passed it by as though it were written for tourists. I could not have been more wrong. This book has been compiled with a real since of love and passion for the content that resides within and the subject matter of Grenada. It is written with an understanding that much of our history has been misquoted or has been contradictory.

Marcus Garvey, once said “a people with no knowledge of its history, is like a tree without roots, it can not grow”. John Angus Martin, with this book, has given us a great foundation to piece together our history for current and future generations to embrace in their everyday lives.

This book should be in every Grenadian home wherever you reside on the planet. (MA, May 2013)


JAM_120pxAbout the Author

John Angus Martin was born and grew up in St. George?s, Grenada, where he attended the St. George?s Roman Catholic Boys? School (now known as the J.W. Fletcher Memorial Boys? School) and Presentation Brothers? College before immigrating to Brooklyn, New York with his family in 1978.

He graduated in 1986 with a BSc in Biological Sciences and a minor in Anthropology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Long Island.

He spent the next three years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Sierra Leone, West Africa, teaching at an agricultural institute and as an agricultural extension agent to subsistence farmers in rural villages. He has travelled widely in west and east Africa for work and as a visitor.

He holds master?s degrees in History, and Agricultural and Applied Economics from Clemson University, South Carolina. He?has worked?as aReference Archivist at the Cushing Memorial Library, Texas A&M University and a?Country Desk Officer in the Africa Region of the US Peace Corps,and traveled to many countries in west and east Africa. These travels have been important in his study of Caribbean slavery and colonialism.. He?is currently the director of the Grenada National Museum.?His next project,?French Grenada: Island Caribs and French Settlers, 1498-1763?explores the rise and demise of the French in Grenada, will be published in July.


What the reviews say:

Amazing!!!!,?January 12, 2008
This review is from:?A-Z of Grenada Heritage (MacMillan Caribbean) (Paperback)

It makes great reading for those of us who of Grenadian heritage but have lost the connection to our culture. The book provides valuable historical information that is often lost over time and is a wonderful tool that I can share with my daughter.


Dip Into A-Z of Grenada Heritage for Island Gems,?November 25, 2007

This review is from:?A-Z of Grenada Heritage (MacMillan Caribbean) (Paperback)

“A-Z of Grenada Heritage” is an oversized, 283-page, color illustrated [on quality paper] compendium of useful information about multiple aspects of the island of Grenada.

John Angus Martin writes to the point and provides facts of historical and contemporary information in an easily understandable manner. Excellently chosen photographs and illustrations catch one’s interest.
Martin backs up his knowledge with references.

A partial entry example:

“FISHERMAN’S BIRTHDAY is a Roman Catholic festival celebrated on 29 June each year as the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul. In the town of GOUYAVE, one of the largest fishing communities in the islands, festivities are the ‘grandest’ and are attended by visitors from all across Grenada. Under the French the parish was dedicated to St. Pierre, the patron saint of fishermen. After church services in each parish and the blessing of fishermen’s boats and nets, there are boat races, eating, drinking and merrymaking for the remainder of the day; the merrymaking dates to the mid-1960s . . .”

“A-Z of Grenada Heritage” is recommended for library ‘Country’ collections, for every travel and tourist-related organization’s reception area, for those who live on the Spice Isle, for those who visit Grenada, and for those who plan to visit Grenada.

The book is a delight; there’s nothing quite like it.


Great Book,?May 5, 2008

This review is from:?A-Z of Grenada Heritage (MacMillan Caribbean) (Paperback)

I was born in Grenada but grew up here in the US. My parents and other family members made sure that I knew my culture. Although I have been back there many times,after reading this book, I was able to get eeven more knowledge of all that was instilled in my cultural knowledge by them. It is a great conversation book between family and friends who are not from Grenada. Well worth the read and the money.

A valuable resource,?March 7, 2008
This review is from:?A-Z of Grenada Heritage (MacMillan Caribbean) (Paperback)

This book is a valuable resource for anyone seriously interested in Grenada. It is an enjoyable and informative read.


?A-Z of Grenada,?November 20, 2010
This review is from:?A-Z of Grenada Heritage (MacMillan Caribbean) (Paperback)

It is good, Enjoying it….Well Please…Even though, like a Rasta, I have different opinion on many Subjects…But it is cool..Just have some over standing..You done know how that go….Seen!

A-Z Grenada Heritage,?December 16, 2008
This review is from:?A-Z of Grenada Heritage (MacMillan Caribbean) (Paperback)

This book provide a great overview of Grenada, it’s people and it’s culture. Great Read!!


Since the arrival of Curator, Mr. Angus Martin, the national museum has been treated to several outstanding exhibitions and talks that have captivated a cross generational audience. These presentations have put heritage and culture firmly back in the public domain.

John Angus Martin, referred to as Angus, is the author of the wonderful book, A-Z of Grenada Heritage. He has a passion for archives and has spent the best part of two decades collecting, locating and documenting all aspects of Grenadian heritage and culture.? Educating and sharing comes as second nature to Angus and his presentations to date, which have included maps of Grenada dating back centuries, postcards of Grenada and Art of Grenada have breathed fresh air into the Grenadian heritage and culture scene.

Over the coming weeks and months, there are plans for many more exhibitions and presentations both in the National Museum and on the road around Grenada. Some of these will involve collaboration with other heritage and culture stakeholders. There will of course be specific programmes developed to engage schools and youth in general.

Grenada’s heritage and culture goes well beyond the shores of our tri-island state and there are progressive plans in place to make consistent connections with the worldwide Grenadian Diaspora.