Thursday, October 25, 2007

appreciating my indigenous heritage

".... As a child with my parents we often visited the local museum. There I was often moved by the little attention paid to the artefacts of the indigenous people as opposed to the retrieved old cannons of the colonial forts. My sojourns in various isles of the Caribbean reinforced the need to instil more pride among our people, banishing the myths of a misunderstood past. The violent resistance (in my opinion justified) by original inhabitants to the treasure-hunting arrivants in the 15th century (privateers, pirates, slave traders, religious zealots, explorers) illustrated the desperation of a cornered civilisation. These fair emerald isles were bathed in the blood of innocents more so than perhaps what occurred in Europe during the Inquisition. I remain fascinated by the architecture and use of living spaces, the caves, structures like pyramids, tapia, ajoupa and the tasty foods that still tempt the palate five centuries later, for example the pone ( a cake), the cassava bread/ paymee (baked in banana leaves), the arepa (spiced pie), the roucou (a flower used as colouring in food and also used for protection from sunburn), also not excluding the Jamaican bamee.

Santa Rosa is but a vestige of the colonial and religious Spanish zeal diluted with indigenous, African and Asian traditions. The Spanish gave up Trinidad to the English without a battle, being unable to defeat the Ineri (the original inhabitants). But continuing in another vein, permit me to interject that your and my history is so inter-linked that there is obviously no way we can undo those ties. For instance, after the French revolution, a lot of French planters fleeing Haiti (then renamed Santo Domingo) were allowed to settle in many islands under control of the British. This was called the Cedula of Population, circa 1738. This is the plan that allowed the cousin of Marie Antoinette (a ruthless planter named Count Beggorat) and many others to bring their slaves, their language, culture, and their Catholic religion and despicable attitude toward blacks and to settle in my village, Diego Martin, in and other lush parts of Trinidad, under Spanish law but governed by the British. This is an example of the united Europeanisation of the region......"

from an interview of Roi Kwabena by Dr Eric Doumerc


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