Hand of the Cause of God
Visit to Grenada – March 1977
(Memories of Arthur Winner)
Hand of the Cause of God, Enoch and Elizabeth Olinga’s visit to Grenada was confined to a few days. (See Note 1) Graeme Stratton and I went to collect them from Pearls airport. (See Note 2). As we drove down towards Grenville, I recall asking Mrs. Olinga about their homeland and she said it was much like Grenada with the same fauna and flora, and then we passed a youth dancing on the roadside with a radio on his shoulder, the size of a young suitcase and she said this is exactly like home. We drove to the home of Radix Robertson in Paradise (Clifton Joseph lived nearby). I do not recall exactly what they said to Inez & Radix, but they were words full of love and of encouragement. I do know they would have liked more time there. We took them on to the St. James Hotel where they stayed that night.
The following morning on hearing that Barbara just had surgery ( See Note 3),
they were kind enough to visit her. I think it was next to Radio Grenada (Scott St., St. George’s) for an interview. ( I do have a very poor b/w taken from the other side of the studio window while they were being interviewed).
Later they gave a talk to the students at the Teachers Training College in Tanteen. Mrs. Olinga spoke first and believe me, she was fantastic. (If the African continent were ever to have a queen, she would fit the bill ). I do not recall who mentioned it, but one of them, addressing the students, said that because of slavery, the history of the Caribbean was of great interest and was studied by students in Africa, (I think it was Elizabeth) who asked two questions (1) How many countries are there in Africa and (2), what is the official population of Africa? Who ever gave the nearest answer would receive a prize from Mr Olinga. (I can tell you that those students sitting near me were pumping me for information and that was to no avail since I didn’t know the answers). The prize was “The Renewal of Civilization” by David Hoffman. Later on Mr. Olinga told me it was one of his favourite books. There were plenty of questions following that meeting.
We went to the home of Eleanor and Laurie Wilson in Woodlands. Junie Silver, a pioneer from the United States was there. Mr Olinga described her as ” a leaf of the Blessed Beauty being blown wherever He desired” Some young Christian missionaries from Canada attended that meeting. Again lots of questions. In the evening He gave a talk in Requin Junction, St. Davids (literally, in the road junction). Junie and I went up there earlier to prepare the way. Junie was on a mission. That lady wanted to speak with everyone we met. Mr. Olinga spoke about Baha’u’llah and made a compassion-likening God to the Monarch who sends His representative (the Governor General) to carry out His wishes. Among those who listened was a man (who may have been unlettered but who understood), who was being dissuaded by his wife not to pay any attention to what was being said.. To everything he heard his wife said yes but through the Lord Jesus. Eventually he turned to her and said (paraphrased) “What I understand is that when Jesus returns, he would be greater and to me Baha’u’llah is greater.” (Mr Olinga later told me our job was to seek out these souls with pure hearts). You will recall that in those days we had “declaration cards”. We had 13 that night and I clearly remember Junie saying, “I have the last one, who wants it?” There was a rush for it.
I think it was the next day we gathered to say dawn prayers on Grand Anse beach, just beyond what was the Silver Sands hotel and close to the Baker cottage, where Frank Baker had lived. It was most likely a Sunday morning but I am not sure).
We took them back up to Pearls to get the LIAT flight onto the next port of call. All the while they had been wearing the same clothes as LIAT had lost their luggage. Mr Olinga asked what LIAT meant? We didn’t hold back, each of us giving our own favorite meaning, like Linger Indefinitely At Terminus; or Leaves Island Any Time and so on. Without hesitation Mr. Olinga said “Luggage Incoming Any Time”. I cannot remember exactly how long we laughed for but I still smile when I think about it. Mr. Olinga did have a black brief case that the immigration man asked him to open and as he did so, gave him a leaflet on the Faith, all in one fluid action.
Note 1- Something like Friday to Sunday
Note 2 – In those days cars in Grenada were few and you could be recognized by your number plate. Graeme was in fact often called Mr. 4090. Our number plate was 4505.
Graeme drove Enoch and I drove Elizabeth
Note 3 – Barbara, who was a nurse, had gone to work, but ended up as the first operation of the day with her appendix being removed at Salus Clinic by Dr E Friday.