By Selwyn Ryan
August 15, 2010
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.
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