Alimenta Bishop, the mother of Grenada’s second prime minister, Maurice Bishop, and the wife of Rupert Bishop (the father of Maurice), died on Saturday at the age of 97. Alimenta Bishop died without realizing her wish to get her son’s body to give him a decent burial.
“Every year I get upset about the same thing” she said eight years ago. “Every time I ask why I can’t get a word about my son’s body, they saying to forgive, but I am saying how can I forgive when I don’t have results about my son.”
In 2005, 22 years after he was assassinated, Maurice Bishop’s mother asked the Grenada authorities to release the body of her son to her care.
The mother of the Spice Island’s former leading revolutionary said even Jesus’s mother got his body to bury after they crucified him. “His mother was able to get his body to bury, but when I ask what happened to my son, nobody would tell me,” Mrs Bishop said.
Alimenta Bishop said she at least got her husband Rupert Bishop’s body to bury. “I could go to the grave and say this is the spot where my husband is buried, but I can’t say that for my son.”
Rupert Bishop was shot and killed by bullets from a police constable’s gun on January 21, 1974. He was standing in the doorway of Otway House, the home of the Grenada Seamen and Waterfront Workers Union on the Carenage when he was gunned down on what was later dubbed Bloody Monday. It was a traumatising experience for Mrs Bishop and her son Maurice. The trade union movement was demonstrating against Grenada becoming an independent state under Eric Gairy’s rule. Four years later on March 13, 1979, his son Maurice and his New Jewel Movement party overthrew the Gairy-led government in a coup.
Nine years after the assassination of Rupert Bishop, Alimenta Bishop faced her second major trauma — her son Maurice Bishop, like his dad, was killed in similar fashion, only worse. He was lined up against a wall, along with other comrades on Fort George in St George’s and brutally gunned down. To this day, it has not been revealed what happened to Bishop’s body. His left wing People’s Revolutionary Government perished with him.
Just a few years ago, Mrs Bishop also lost her grandson Vladimir tragically following a knife attack on him and his friends at a Caribbean night club in Toronto in 1994. Vladimir was stabbed to death. He was the son of Jacqueline Creft and Maurice Bishop. Creft was education minister in the Bishop-led People’s Revolutionary Government, who was killed alongside Maurice.
Mrs Bishop witnessed the ceremony of the renaming of the Grenada Point Salines International Airport to the Maurice Bishop International Airport in 2009, under the Tillman Thomas-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) government.
As condolences pour in for Alimenta Bishop, some Grenadians can be seen on social media calling her by affectionate names like: “Ma Bishop” and “Lioness;” others describe her as a pillar of strength, and as one who gave all for her country.
Mrs Bishop will go down in history as paying a high price for two significant moments in Grenada’s history; the slaying of her husband during mass demonstrations against the Eric Gairy government to prevent the island becoming an independent nation under Gairy and the assassination of her son Maurice Bishop, who led Grenada as the country’s second prime minister from 1979 to 1983.
Claude Douglas, sociologist and lecturer at the T.A Marryshow Community College (TAMCC) in Grenada, said Mrs Bishop should be remembered as a pillar of strength and courage.
“She is an embodiment of the saying that on the side of every good man is an excellent woman,” Douglas said. “I believe that she has endured a lot of grief and pain, notwithstanding that she lived subsequently to the death of her husband and son to this ripe age.”
The deaths were not because of natural causes, they were violent deaths, Douglas stressed.
The date for Alimenta Bishop’s funeral is still being finalised