Cindy McKenzie

Mine was an ordinary childhood in a village where the road was my playground and doors were never locked. I was brought up by great grand- parents for part of my childhood. My mother, like many others, traveled abroad to work and help support the family. My father was a very popular bus driver, well known by many. I feel fortunate to have been brought up in that era, when things were simple, didn’t come so easily and there were still some values.

My teen years were more challenging ones, with insecurities and identity issues born from previous experiences. I graduated from secondary school in 1988, not with distinctions and bright prospects of going off to college or travelling to be with family. What I had was sweet relief from an episode burdened by the discomfort and stress of boarding with a family and commuting from St Patrick’s to St George’s, to finish my education.

I am the mother of three. I had them straight after finishing school and because they took priority, I never held down a job for very long. However, I never regretted it as I can now enjoy the flexibility and freedom it allows. In 1991, my first son was 2 years old.  I walked the entire hotel belt in Grand Anse on a job hunt with no typed CV or application, just my determination to remove myself from total dependency on my son’s father. At one hotel, I was given a sheet of paper to write my application. I remember the shame I felt entering my four meagre CXC subjects.  I got the job as receptionist. It was very disheartening to hear that the owner of the hotel had asked his wife where she found that ugly girl – confirming the age old prejudices because of skin colour and the texture of your hair!

Life is a journey of learning and growing, but it was when I met my partner of almost eighteen years, that my real journey of self-discovery and acceptance started. From him I received an education I could not get in any classroom. And through this appreciation for music, nature, the simple things, a glimpse of a world outside of Grenada – my creative side emerged. I was inspired. My writing took form. But it was when I returned to Grenada after seven winters in England, that my creativity truly flourished.   I explored pottery making and took on the ambitious goal to publish and share my story with the world. It was that confidence which directed me to embrace my voice and tell that story as it should be read – in our language – a very important part of our heritage.

With that confidence and the encouragement and input of many, in 2015, I self-published my first novel – ‘Force Ripe’ – Set in Grenada, Force Ripe portrays the story of Lee, a little girl growing up in a village in the 1970s, when it was normal for children to be left with grandparents while parents went abroad to work and send money home. It was the time of the Grenada revolution, during which Lee’s father joined a growing Rastafarian movement. Force Ripe tells, in Lee’s voice, the story of her life in the ghetto with her brother and father, when the siblings were taken out of school and left on their own to roam the bushes and smoke ganja. It describes how she was taken by a Rastman when she was just ten, and how she survived – with no one to turn to – during a time of women’s liberation, free education and youth movements. She is subsequently rescued when the Rastafarian commune is disbanded by the People’s Revolutionary Army-(PRA), and struggles to bury her secret past.

Through this creative work, I have had the opportunity to travel throughout the Grenadian diaspora, connecting with the kindness and joy of spirit that makes us uniquely Grenadian wherever we may live or travel to. We are a beautiful people, and I cannot begin to express how thankful I am for the many kindnesses that have been extended to me along this journey. I feel truly blessed to be a born Grenadian and to have the choice to live on this beautiful island, free from worldly pressures and freezing temperatures.  I love the smallness, the freedom, music and all its simple pleasures. But most importantly, I am very grateful for a partner who afforded me the choice and for the gift of appreciation.




One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *