History, Culture and Agriculture.
Indo-Caribbean Cultural Council (ICC) wishes to announce the publication of its latest magazine commemorating Indian Heritage Month (May 2003) in Trinidad and Tobago (Caribbean). The theme of the magazine which marks the arrival of East Indians/South Asians from India to Trinidad during indentureship (1845-1917) is History, Culture and Agriculture.
On May 30th 1845, the Fatel Rozak docked in the Port of Spain harbour in Trinidad and Tobago with 225 adult passengers onboard. The passengers were immigrants from India who had come to the British colony to work in the sugarcane plantations after the abolition of African slavery. In many ways, they brought India to the Caribbean. They continued with their traditions of Hinduism and Islam, and eventually transformed Trinidad into a colourful cosmopolitan society. Descendants of these Indian immigrants, who now comprise about half of the multi-ethnic society of the island (1.3 million), commemorate the arrival of their ancestors to these shores annually.
Wherever the history of Indians in the Caribbean is written, the one constant factor of their daily lives that persists through time and space is their predisposition to agriculture. The reality is that agriculture, even in its smallest stage, has historically informed the lifestyle of Indians. Even to this day, there is hardly an Indian home that is without flora and fauna derived from the ancestral homeland. The imminent closure of Caroni (1975) Limited ends a long chapter in the cultural history of Indians in Trinidad and Tobago. By June 2003, Caroni is set to become a relic of the past. The agricultural bastion will crumble and give way to an industrial culture through a “voluntary” separation plan for all employees. This change is exceedingly traumatic for all whose navel strings are buried in the sugarcane soil. Such change entails serious social, economic and cultural concerns for the Indians as well as the wider community. Prominent among these concerns is the nation’s future food security. As it stands, the nation’s food import bill already reflects an alarming foreign dependence.