Dickens, opened his novel A Tale of Two Cities with one of the most iconic quotes “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times”. Although Dickens was referring to the French Revolution, this statement seemed most fitting of my perspective on Caribbeana. Caribbeana was a very interesting class, which has a knowledgeable lecturer at its helm. However, too much information over a short space of time is being piled upon students. I am not a fan of writing or history, and as this class involves a lot of the two, you can understand my frustration with this course. I have never been good at regurgitating information so memorizing and simply spewing out facts is not something I place much precedence in. Thankfully, this class has come to an end, so I am no longer being held to European standards regarding my Trinidadian English and standard of writing. While I am aware of the importance of this course, and am quite grateful for the knowledge I acquired as a result, I am even more happy that it has come to an end whatever the outcome.
This seems to be the new method of sharing information and connecting with people worldwide. It could take the form of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Skype, and blogs etc. With everything there is always a positive and negative aspect. I was turned off by the negative aspects when people would post from when they woke up in the morning, giving detailed information such as taking a shower, what’s for breakfast, lunch, dinner and every occurrence in-between, till they are switching off lights to go to bed. The positive aspect of social media for me is connecting with family and friends. I was on Facebook and saw one of my friends put up a news clipping of this cute little girl co-hosting part the local news on CCN3 I was impressed. When I scrolled down my face book page I saw another clipping of the same cute little girl which showed that she was born with disabilities, which was not obvious to me when she was presenting the news. The amazing thing is she wants to motivate other children who have disabilities. Since I don’t always watch the news I would have missed this human interest story. This is the positive aspect of social media
We the people of the Caribbean especially Trinidad and Tobago are blessed with some of the most wonderful and mouth-watering cuisine in the world due to our multicultural heritage. Some of our cuisine includes: farinha, cassava bake, salt-fish accra, allo pie, phulorie, pastelles, souse, bake and shake, doubles, Spanish rice, fried rice, oil down, coo-coo, Creole rice and pelau. If we trace the different cuisines they would lead us to the Indigenous people who inhabited the islands before Columbus came and destroyed their ways of life, to the Cedular-of Population then the enslaved Africans to the Indentured labourers and all who came after. So everything we eat has a history with a story behind it. Writing and thinking about food has made me hungry, I want to eat green pigeon peas pelau with salted pigtail and chicken; a dish that must be made with fresh coconut milk.
I am not an avid reader. I have recently been introduced to Caribbean literature; hence I have been reading books and a bit of poetry by Caribbean authors. The poetry is a bit difficult to understand since you need to know your history in order to fully appreciate it. I have to admit history is not my cup of tea, so more effort is needed on my part. I am actually enjoying reading the books, which surprisingly entertain me, even though it does not fall within the genre that I usually prefer. Some of the books I have read so far, the authors used their personal experiences and incorporated them into their stories of fiction. For instance the book Behind the Mountains by Edwidge Danticat tells the story of a young girl, her mother and brother who emigrated from Haiti to the US to be reunited with her father. Danticat as a child experienced the same journey. Having to adjust to a different culture and environment at times can be daunting for adults; I believe it is even more difficult for children and adolescents.
I have been listening to Calypso and Kaiso for years, and enjoying the lyrics without paying much attention to its meaning. Songs such as Sparrow’s Slave Federation, Shadow’s Columbus Lie, and Lord Melody’s Wau Wau: Shame and Scandal in the Family now affect me differently due to my awareness and understanding of its historical content. I have come to realize that it is a means of recording and passing down our history using the oral tradition. So now when I am listening to old Calypso and Kaiso songs I have a deeper appreciation for it, as I am able to decipher the informational aspects of our history that is included in them.
For years the history that we have been taught via the school curriculum – especially at the primary and secondary level – was from a Eurocentric perspective. The books we were assigned to read and the manner in which the topics were portrayed and discussed, were not done from the viewpoint of the oppressed who were directly affected by the events that were taking place, but from the perspective of oppressors. While there are exceptions, they are in the minority; and unless a primary or secondary school student is interested enough to seek out alternative sources, the information from the assigned textbooks are considered law. It is not until one pursues higher education, particularly at the university level, that one is made aware of biases found in said historical recounts. Starting at home, one has to look no further than the neighbour who lived through the end of World War II, or the music that circulated the airways when our parents and grandparents were much younger, to get an alternative version of the events that occurred during that time. Now we are aware that we could get the oral history directly from the descendants of the original inhabitants of the islands, which is just as valuable as the written history being circulated by historians from the monarchs who once “conquered” us.