Emancipation: some creation myths

By Selwyn Ryan
August 15, 2010

EmancipationI overheard someone complaining on a call-in programme during Emancipation week that people of African origin in Trinidad were a different breed from those in other islands of the Caribbean.

It was not clear whether the caller meant to say that the Trinis were a worse or a better breed. I think he meant that they were an inferior breed, since, like Prof Courtenay Bartholomew (Express, August 11) he had some critical things to say about us blacks here in Trinidad. The caller was however quite correct about Trinidad blacks being different from their Caribbean counterparts. Culture and cojuncture and not genetics were however responsible for the differences.

Trinidad was indeed an untypical plantation society in many ways. For one thing, it was not a society consisting of many large plantations peopled by thousands of slaves as was the case in say, Jamaica. Most of the slaves who were in Trinidad in 1834 when emancipation was proclaimed were originally from Grenada, St Vincent, Martinque and other parts of the French Caribbean. Twelve thousand and four hundred of them came to Trinidad between 1797 and 1807. While some slaves did come directly from Africa, Prof Barry Higman’s data (Slave Populations in the British Caribbean) seem to indicate that by 1834, a majority of the slaves who came to Trinidad were re-exports from other parts of the Caribbean. They were thus more “seasoned” to use one of the euphemisms of the time.
Full Article : trinidadexpress.com

7 Responses to “Emancipation: some creation myths”


  • The African population of Trinidad was different also because of the First to Sixth Companies of the West India Regiment, free Africans, who were settled inthe NAprimas between 1815 and 1816. Some were settled in Moruga, and some in Hardbargain, Williamsville. campbell’s mention of these people, in his monograph on Jonas Mohamed Bath(Journal of African Studies, 1976) sent me looking for validation of what my father had always said. LAter, research by the Amphy and Bashana Jackson Fraternity proved that those stories were correct.Regretfully many of the holders of those stories and documents, including Edgar McNish and others, hae passed on in the last six years or so. Some of the settlers at Sixth Company stillhave copies of the deed to the free lan they were iven, signed by agents of the crown. There was a difference between Trinidadian Africans and others in the Caribbean.

  • Thanks for such great information. As the 200 year is approaching (2016) of the freedom of these valiant slaves, and as a descendant of one of these slaves I would like to learn more about the origin of these ‘Merikens’. Can anyone tell me where I can get a list of names of these 700 migrants. I know it must be listed somewhere in T’dad, US or Britain.

    • Hi Jewell,
      I don’t know where you can get a copy of John Milton Hackshaw” book “Two Among Many”. But in it he details the names of forty families with surnames like Huggins, Ayres, Dunmore, Weston and their descendants up until the 60’s. There was one written by Boysie Huggins entitled “the History of the Company Villages” as well.

      Allyson

  • A booklet published by John MacNish Weiss, who is married to the artist Althea MacNish has the lists. There were six companies.

    The ISBN number is 0 9526460 0 5.

    Both Edgar MacNish and John Hackshaw, who had copies in TnT are now gone to the ancestors. John lives in Britain, but I am not sure he still has the same phone numbers.

    If I had the last name of your ancestor, I could give you more data. I have the booklet on my lap as I type.

    Not all of them were slaves.Many were taken off American ships, boarded by the British Navy during the war of 1812-1818 after Britain abolished the Slave Trade. They never worked one day in the USA. Slaves is often a blanket term for all Africans in the New World.That is an eror.

  • Emancipation: more creation myths
    By Selwyn Ryan
    In the years just before and after full emancipation, there was a great deal of debate about the great experiment in social engineering that was taking place. For many, a new world was being born while for others, the end of the world was upon them. Every group had its own narrative, myths, and angles of vision in respect of what was happening. The previously enslaved and their supporers wanted to demonstrate that free labour could be as economically productive and civilising as slave labour was said to be, and that Africans were not “childlike sub-human creatures” who were incapable of self-improvement without having to be whipped.

  • Peter Carlos Hinds

    Many African leaders have been charged with genocide.After what whites did to Blacks, and Indians, and other Non white people.Can the White man or European be charged with Genocide.I lay this as a Charge before the World court.To reconcile to give costs to amicably settle any questions or queries concerning this horrific chapter of recent history. Portraited with in the last 500 years.My adress=(18 Frere Pilgrim, Homestead, Christ Church,Barbados, Caribbean.

  • Mr.Hinds, the term “genocide” was not coined until after Hitler killed himself. So he gets to be the only white person ever acused, and condemned in the eyes iof the world, for genocide. To be fair to the concept, the followin people/groups of Europeans, should be added to the list.

    The australins who went to TAsmania, formed the infamous BLack Line, and walked across the island killingevery indigenous aboriginal peson.

    The Germans, whose general (Von Trotha)marched the Herero people of South West Africa into the desert, in 1903, and left them there to die.80% of them did.

    The Spaniards who reduced the population of Hispaniola from 9 million to 50,00 or so,in fifty years.

    The American “settlers and missioniaries” who pacified the West by killing the buffalo, then killing the Indians,and those who force marched the Trail of Tears.

    The Boers, for what they did to the people of the Amazulus and the Matabeles. (The machine gun was invented to kill them, especially.

    The French, for forcing HAiti to pay reparations and setting them up to stare to death for two hundred yers.
    The Jpanese for the murder of seven million Chinese in WW11. The described them as ants under the feet of the Emperror.
    The British, Dutch French and Americans for the Atlantic Slave Trade

    Of course they will not be prosecuted. They are in control. They siezed control of others lands and alienated people from their culture, destroyed their way of life and left poverty and dependency behind.Its only when the whole world wide economy teters on the brink of collapse,that we are reminded that there is aGod who ses all.

    We must add to this list of reckoning, and educate our children never to forget. Africans did not go out of Africa in the last six hundred years to conquer anyone.Now, Indians , Chinese, American Missioniaries and other exploiters are once again crawling all over Africa and the Caribbean. They are stripping away the wealth,and leaving poverty and despair everywhere, but we are letting them.(copper mining in Zambia, wheat farms in Ethiopia, iron ore mining in Mauritania,Gold in Ghana, Yellow cake in Niger. The list is continuous. We need to educate ourselves. Tutu warned us,in Port-of-Spain in 1987.

    Every now and then, when something hapens bad to thesepeople,

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