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« DEMOCRATISER LA CULTURE INDIENNE | Main | INDIAN ENGLISH LANGUAGE »

02/02/2005

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Louis Boriel to all, Daddy Sherrif to us... I never knew the details but always knew my grandfather was a great man who accomplished great things from very humble beginnings.

oh my gosh i didn't know that about my grand father louis boriel

hi kimani
wha gone
Where u disappear to girl?

I just had someting else to add.

Filling out a form in the UK and looking at all the racial classifications I was quite surprised that someone had divided the humanity of England into such broad groups. I declined to fill in that part of the form as it did not have any racial group that I fell into completely. Alot of people like me put Black Caribbean to get the matter over with. As I do not consider that to be my only heritage and to look at me, clearly it is not, I declined.

I also declined because as a Caribbean person you're generally not asked to fill out your race on a form. I've always assumed that unnecessary. When confronted with this I was somewhat perplexed as I have never had to classify myself before.

Growing up I was always reminded of my multi-cultural back-ground so it never occured to me that I had to choose a side, I was happily a product of Caribbean history. I still don't comprehend the need for such kinds of forms.

The only time I ever filled out such a question in St. Lucia was at census time where I put mixed...but there was still no category to define me.

I have just demonstrated how confusing it is to be from the Caribbean when the majority of the world elsewhere is still rigidly split up along racial lines.

In no way is the Caribbean perfect...but its as close as the world has ever come to a racially harmonious society. The strife of genocide, slavery and indenture have produced a remarkable dignity on such matters in the Caribbean. This has occured to me as I an watching the election debates about immigration in the UK and realise the deep seated racialism and xenophobia in this country. It has taught me to appreciate my society and to work to make sure it does not slip off course in recognising every culture that makes up its various societies.

However as you said we have a long way to go and we need to un-earth the dirty past and claim it.
Despite the happy-go-lucky disposition of most Caribbean people I have never had the impression that we were a society that hid the truth. I think we are quite good at calling them as we see it and discussing difficult topics with no hard feelings, as this little exchange proves.

I also think that lack of education in large portions of our societies has prevented the public from voicing their concerns about such issues. Simply they do not have the tools...and fundamental healing and renewal in a society comes from the masses not from politicians, academics or powerful businessmen...although undoubtedly they can help.

However, I am an eternal optimist and I do see good things on the Horizon for the Caribbean. Now, if we could only sort out CARICOM to reap the benefits and take our tails out from between our legs on the issue of Haiti, maybe things could be closer to what we want them to be.

Bye....have to work on my essay

Not sure about Coolie Rd. so I can't comment.

I do know of a community in Vieux-Fort whose name was changed to Bruceville on a vote from the community after the government had completed a poverty reduction scheme of community building in that area. Clearly as I know many St. Lucian Indians know little of their heritage and would not come up with an Indian name on their own if it were not suggested by someone in authority.

Webmaster note : the rest of the comments is here
http://cqoj.typepad.com/chest/2005/04/indian_culture_.html

You say:

Also Diwali was still to be seen in places such as Dennery in the 70's and early eighties.

What happened to it ???

Why did they change the name of Coolie Road, NOT to give it an indian name ???

Is this the way we respect our diversity ???

Albert Hall.

Dear Kimani,

I appreciate your commenting on this blog.

Mr Latchana who lives in North America allowed me to publish his article and as you can see it tells his experience... of 1995 !

We are in 2005! Things have positively evolved for sure since, as you are insisting, however there must have been some reasons for Martin's writings at the time.

You can rest assured that, AFAIK, he is as much of a happy Caribbean person as you and I, so in a way you are preaching converts!

The Caribbean is definitely, ideally supposed to be what you say. Just as definitely, if you know your roots, your origins, your past history and what your ancestors had to go through, positive and negative, and provided it can be freely expressed and acknowledged instead of having to be hidden or threatened to be brushed away, you can better contribute to the edification of a multicultural society that agrees to create a novative culture.

As Caribbean people have been able to learn better than anyone else, the biological processes of ethnic blending represses or shuns no particular feature, texture, grain or hair type, but continue to protect all of them while creating more, making them playfully hide and reappear in the course of generations.

How beautiful indeed, the natural laws of genetics.

In the same way, the diversity of our Caribbean cultural garden has to keep improving the hospitable way it takes into account all of its composing ingredients.

We are certainly heading towards this understanding, away from the limiting view (which many european foreigners still have, in part due to the failure of school textbooks and media representation) that we are just an afro-west indian society.

This vison could have, in the past, but no so long ago in some cases, made indians in Guadeloupe, Martinique, St Lucia, St Vincent and Grenada sometimes feel they were rejected by some innocently ignorant types of their own country's people, or considered marginal, or made to feel bad because, for instance, of not being of african origin.

Yoou will admlit that indians of the islands just mentioned have joined the ranks of those who fight for the recognition of slavery as a crime against humanity. But how many of african origin, and how many indians themselves know the details of the history of indian indenture and the crimes committed against them by the same plantation oppressors in the same fields ?

We must be considerate and attentive instead of feeling a rage when any part of the whole, in particular the minor elements, expresses an experience.

Different experiences belong to different people - between the descendants of the white colonizer, the african slave, the indian indentured, the chinese, the lebanese, or others, not forgetting the Arawaks and Caribs...

Being a mix of 2 or more of these is yet another experience that another person is not necessarily able to comprehend.

Everybody is in their own shoes and no foot crushing can be allowed.

The variety of histories must be known of all, just as the interaction's good and evil experiences need to be shared.

All sharing deserves respect, if not compassion.

So, a sense of equanimity and tolerance that is truly Caribbean needs to be worked at intelligently and dispassionately among many west indians.

Hiding some shadowy aspect of the past makes no sense if we are to live together harmoniously.

As life and courage bring along hope and healing, this blog endeavours to be part of the process.

You are invited to let go of that one aspect, explore other parts of it, and do leave your comments on it.

Respectfully yours,

J.S. Sahai
Guadeloupe


You might be interested to know that when 'Jounen Kweyol' Creole Day is celebrated in St. Lucia an integral part of the celebrations in communities with large Indian populations is the re-enactment of Hindu Weddings and other Indian festivals. Some of my friends at college used to participate. In St. Lucia Creole Day is a day to celebrate all the cultures that came togehter during our difficult past.Also Diwali was still to be seen in places such as Dennery in the 70's and early eighties. My mother is from that community but is of Native Amerindian, African and European descent.

I would also like to ask why is there such a theme about shame of Indian Culture on this page. Growing up in St. Lucia I never felt any shame about this. The only thing is that our colonial past had destroyed most of the remembrances of Native Amerindian, Indian and Black culture (it is not just Indian Culture)and so we celebrated what little we had. However new migrations from india, the indigenous peoples of the americas trust and the Folk research centre are trying fill the gaps of lost culture of the three groups I mentioned.

The traditional view of Idians a poor and ignorant as long been shatterd in St. Lucia as a number have long taken their place among the island's elite. You will also find many St. Lucians that an observer will describe as Black with Indian names particularly, Kangal, Sammie, Caroo and so on.

I have only been to Guadeloupe once and do not know much about how cultures are observed and treated. I do know that the French culture is dominant and that must be frustrating for non-european groups in the society.

I look forward to more informative comments such as yours.

Oh,

I do know many of the people Mr. Latchna mentioned in his article particularly Mrs. Heraldine Rock. I interviewed her many times in my days as a journalist. One more thing, the St. Lucia Minister of Culture and Social Transformation is of Indian descent and is also a woman.


If you missed the comment that the Caribbean is a complex place. That means that there exist many races and many people who are a mixture of those races.

One Caribbean does not mean disregarding races or mixtures thereof. It means noting that the all these cultures make one people with a history of co-existence and survival. No matter your race in the "West Indies" you are still from the Caribbean and you still share a heritage and a history with those races who exist alongside you.

On the contrary to your comment about shame I come from a country where there is nothing shameful about being of Indian descent. As no one where I am from is ashamed of these things and such racial hang-ups are not a part of my experience. Do you have these hang-ups, is that a part of you society.

You see the biggest mistake we make when writing about these issues is to assume that everyone with a similarity to ourselves has the same experience no matter what country they are from, which is a very limited and misguided view.

I am indeed sorry that you had to stoop to such a comment. I accept and revel in my history and the different races that came together to create the person I am today, physically and culturally. No matter what race I am I am a St. Lucian. I would be interested to know if you wanted Caribbean countries to separate their communities into racial societies.

I really feel sorry for some of us in the Caribbean who continue to try to preach divisiveness. It is clear you have a skewed concept of the Caribbean and have bought into the media hype. I will continue to hope that Caribbean people use their diversity as a glue to hold their societies together and celebrate their many heritages without resorting to this sort of divisiveness. This is rather unfortunate but I will hope.

Guadeloupe, too, as well as Martinique (colonized by theFrench like StLucia) had to go through this process, from humiliation and rejection to recognition.

We finally made ourselves acknowledged and respected for what our ancestors brought to their adopted land as original and positive contributions in so many fields: culinary, aesthetic, economic, literary, spiritual, artistic, etc.

It was also necessary to admit officially that the Euro-Christian system had obliterated the belief system and the cultural landmarks of the Indian population, thus depriving them of much of their self-esteem.

Since the colonizer knew how to divide in order to reign, and since the Indians had arrived in places where the abolition of slavery had left the Blacks bleeding in their bodies and souls, the Indians, who could not communicate due to the language barriers and did not understand the historical context of their implantation, were openly or subtly rejected by the Blacks.

However, they remained Indian in their philosophy an attitudes, not reacting violently and eventually collaborating with the Blacks in the evolution of a distinct Creole society.

All this process has remained veiled by the school system, young Indians having been brought up and educated together with the Blacks under a European education system that even more than the history of the Blacks, left the history of the Indian immigration and the description of their original cultural traits in total oblivion.

My feeling is that St Lucia is only starting this process which should lead to the recognition of Indian presence and contribution within a genuine harmonious multi-racial and multi-cultural country, a place where the respect of differences will be considered an asset instead of confusing diversity with a meli-melo and the predominance of one group and western culture.

This part of the Caribbean people's history has to be fearlessly unveiled and courageously brought to the awareness of everyone in the country.

The traditional Indian way is definitely the way to go, by showing both the (mostly) ignorant Indians and the (sometimes) arrogant blacks (even more) patience and courtesy in the process.

The Guadeloupe model and its proponents are there to help.

J.S. Sahai, with the kind help of B.R. Cheddie and J.S. Wilkins.

What strange comments from this Kimani Goddard.

We have been visiting this site a lot recently and with most of our family hailing from St. Lucia (and most of our family is mixed with all sorts of races), have been fascinated by this article and the other items here on St. Lucia, India, Guadeloupe etc.

We just saw these strange comments and had to respond.

A question for Kimani Goddard - do you really have Indian blood? You seem ashamed.

The author of the article gave a good perspective and should not waste any more time time writing about Indians in St. Lucia and should visit the other islands instead where we are sure his great views would be welcomed.

Alison Cook.

By the way, this "One St. Lucia" or "One Caribbean" view is nothing but racist bull. Caribbean diversity is it.

Oh one more thing,

You should not base you assessment of society on one ill educated tour guide. They are trained to say the island is majority black because that is what Europeans and Americans expect to hear....

Hi Mr. Latchna,

I have read your little l'histoire as we St. Lucians say. I am a St. Lucian of Indian, African, European and Native Amerindian descent. I find it quite strange that you can make such sweeping assessments with such little experience of the island. The racial problem that exists in trinidad and guyana does not exist in in St. Lucia. I would suggest that you need to live among people to understand the society. You are drawing Guyanese connotations in a St. Lucian context. We are a society which considers all St. Lucian's, country comes first. I for example am from a mixed racial background as are the majority of St. Lucians. It is folly to pick one race over another. We are St. Lucians. The Caribbean is a complex place and simple assessments fall far short of reality.

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