Wed | Jan 20, 2021

Celebrate all ethnicities of Caribbean

Published:Monday | August 21, 2017 | 12:00 AM


Lest you think that I jested in Stabroek News a few Mondays ago about the visuals the Caribbean presents when it comes to identity, let me remind you again that Indians and other ethnic/ethno-cultural groups exist in the region.

Indians, many of whom are Hindu, make up roughly half the populations of Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Suriname. Sadly, since the inception of Carifesta, this has been the reality.

Just have a look at your own brochure for the 'Caribbean' festivities this week. This is beyond pathetic, and little wonder that most people when they hear Carifesta ask, "What is that?" We have Hindus in the Caribbean. We have Indo-Caribbean dance. We have hybrid varieties like chutney music. We have tassa.

When we talk about inclusiveness and One Caribbean, the message has to be clear. We are very much here. Have been for more than 170 years, but strangely, Indians are not represented even in a token way in the exhaustive list of events.

You also have to plead guilty to having a poor track record in general, Carifesta, judging by years past, when it comes to showing the Caribbean in all its multiethnic glory. And while we're at it, I don't see any Amerindians from Guyana, no Mayans or Garifuna people from Belize, no Javanese or Saramaca peoples from Suriname, no Chinese, no Portuguese, no Syrian/Lebanese.

The indigenous peoples of the region have been here for thousands of years. And there are significant numbers of them in Belize, Guyana, and Dominica. If Caribbean people ourselves don't know about these other peoples in our midst, how are outsiders meant to know?

We are a racially and culturally diverse region, CARICOM. Let's tell the world about it. Be proud of it. I am shocked and, frankly, outraged, unless I'm missing something, in which case, I apologise.

How else are we meant to progress if we don't include all groups in our societies?