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  • INDO CARIBBEANNews Views and InformationMay 2003 Issue 3 INDIAN ARRIVALIN THE CARIBBEANIndentureship to the Caribbean, the ‘coolietrade’ started when two ships the SSHesperus and the SS Whitby landed inBritish Guiana from British India on 5May 1838. The Indian coolies werereplacing the labour force of Africanslavery, which lasted for over 300 yearsfrom 1516 to its abolition in 1834. And sothe planters turned greedily to the millions,of Indians, who they believed could beinduced to labour in the cane fields for apittance no greater than that awarded to theslaves. Ships on the Hughli river Calcutta, waiting toThe Indentured Trade embark emigrants. On some ships over one third of the Indians died.John Scoble-Secretary of the Anti-SlaverySociety alleged that the scheme “give a on the ship that they realised what was‘carte blance’ to every villain in British happening and in desperation, manyGuiana and every scoundrel in India to committed suicide by jumping into thekidnap and inveigle into contracts of Hughli River. Recruiting women was morelabour for five years, the ignorant and difficult, one third of the coolies wereinoffensive Hindoo”. expected to comprise of women, the shipsThe recruiters who were paid by the were often held up at extra cost to thenumber of people they got on board the shippers if the quota were not reached.ship, offered ficticious sums to the Indians, Relationships between the men awaitingthey exploited their simplicity and transportation were encouraged with theignorance and resorted to fraud and women they befriended which ended upcoercion, some where kidnapped while with the women going to the Caribbean.others were confined for weeks and Many of the women who boarded emigrantinstructed to say ‘yes’ to whatever ships were young widows and married orquestions posed by the government single women who had severed all ties atexamining officer at Calcutta. It was only home, had lost caste or become prostitutes.INDO CARIBBEAN promotes the culture and heritage of people of Indian origin from the Caribbean
  • INDO CARIBBEAN May 2003 2During famines women of high socialstatus opted to emigrate rather than facestarvation. Married women were luredfrom their husbands, daughters seducedfrom their parents and children kidnappedand registered as dependants of others.The Voyage – The other middle passageThe trip from Calcutta to the Caribbeantook between three and six months, incomparison the slave ships took threeweeks to cross the middle passage underappalling conditions for the slaves. Thevoyage, which on paper should have beennormal, turned into tragedy on manyjourneys. While the slaves of the previouscentury were arriving battered bruised andnaked in chains the coolies on their forcedadventure of false promises were dying bytheir hundreds enroute. On some shipsover one third of the coolie cargo died. Indian children at breakfast at sea. On ships likeDuring one period between 1856/57, the Salsette over 50% of infants and 30% oftwelve ships left Calcutta with 4,094 children died during the three and a half monthscoolies, 707 died before reaching the West voyage.Indies. Over 50% of infants and 30% ofchildren were dying during these long The Arrivals of ‘docile, quiet and orderly’journeys, while dozens died within days ofarrival. It is difficult to understand after all Between abolition of slavery 1834 and thethe coercion to get the coolies on the ships arrival of the indentured, in 1838 anwhy was not better care taken of the cargo. observer noted, “The streets areFortunately, pressure from British India overgrown with weeds, the houses look asand economics dictated an improvement in though something much less that amortality rate, which never got to hurricane would level them to the ground”.acceptable levels during the ninety plus Of the 396 that landed (33 died enroute) onyears of the coolie trade over the Kala Pani 5 May 1838, 67 more died within 18(dark water). months of arrival. The Indians were described as “….a docile quiet, orderly and able bodied people” and can survive ADULT ADULT % OF mainly on a diet of rice.COLONY MALES FEMALES WOMEN The state was now set for the introductionTrinidad & of labourers destined to change the course 31,989 17,159 35% Tobago of history and the fortunes of the sugar British industry from the predicted ‘ruin’ to 53,083 34,799 40% Guiana prosperity-which they did under ‘A New Jamaica 7,137 4,775 40% System of Slavery’. On arrival the coolies were taken to their Fiji 20,062 8,785 40% allocated plantations, they occupied the oldIn March 1914 the Colonial office gave the slave quarters, they had no period offollowing breakdown of the sexual ration of the The Fatel Razak acclimatisation, in contrast adjustment ortotal Indian population in four colonies on arrival the slaves were given one toINDO CARIBBEAN promotes the culture and heritage of people of Indian origin from the Caribbean
  • May 2003 3 INDO CARIBBEANthree years of easy work to build up theirstrength after their three-week voyage. Thecoolies started work immediately on thesugar estates after three and a half monthsat sea. The work they were given took acreole (a former slave) 7½ hours tocomplete a ‘task’ (work allocated for aday) which will earn the coolie $1.20 aweek about 10p or 16UScts. Over 50% ofthe coolies could never finish this ‘task’ ina day while the pregnant women nevercompleted these tasks, the majority of The Coolie ship Avoca. Some of these journeys took as long as six months at sea.coolies who landed on the SS LordHungerford in 1845 even though muscularand strong could only perform half a effort was made to keep them there. As‘task’. None completion of the ‘task’ Rama Deva Kurup an eye witness wrote,meant a fine or imprisonment and later “Death from malaria, dysentery, typhoid,extension of indentureship. The system tuberculosis and other diseases took theirrotten to the core was a blatant extension daily tool…the estate workers were wokenof slavery without the responsibility to at 4.30am…they toiled in the torrid sunfeed and clothe the new slaves called from dusk till dawn for a pittance…..coolies. Chief Justice Beaumont said “This Sugar workers did not have sufficientis not a system of more or less, or this or money to eke out a livelihood…. Quitethat safeguard, of an occasional defect frequently many Indians were unable tohere, or excess there. But it is that of a bury their dead”.monstrous rotten system, rooted upon The New System of Slavery lasted for 90slavery, grown in its stale soil, emulating years ending in the second decade of theits worst abuses, and only the more twentieth century.dangerous because it presents itself underfalse colours, whereas slavery bore thebrand of infamy upon its forehead”The first batch of coolies that arrived in1838 were flogged in the same way as theformer slaves at ‘Niggar Yard’ some withtheir hands tied behind their backs andsome tied in front.After arrival of the SS Hesperus and SSWhitby in 1838 questions and concernsabout the ‘coolie trade’ meant it tookanother seven years before the resumptionin British Guianaand Trinidad where the first ship the SSFatel Rozak arrived on 30 May 1845. Thedeceit of ‘coolie trade’ from Indiacontinued in the West Indies where everyCaptain’s LogOf the 324 Coolies who left Calcutta on 17 March1858 on the British ship SS Salsette for Trinidad120 died before the ship arrived three and a halfmonths later on 3 July with 204 coolies.INDO CARIBBEAN promotes the culture and heritage of people of Indian origin from the Caribbean
  • May 2003 4 INDO CARIBBEANA Group of immigrants – British Guiana Many of the women who boarded emigrant shipswere young widows and Married or single women who had severed all ties at home, hadlost caste or become prostitutes. Jewellery and peasant dress of young Indian women. East Indian women’s resilience, constant hard work, caring for the young and the men, of whom initially out numbered them by 100 to 25. After slavery was abolished coolies were sent to most of the Caribbean islands. Don’t be surprised if the two books opened in this picture are not the Gita and the Quran. The Coolies brought two of the world’s great religions to the Americas, Hinduism and Islam.INDO CARIBBEAN promotes the culture and heritage of people of Indian origin from the Caribbean
  • May 2003 5 INDO CARIBBEAN…“My Mother relates that she had to work from 7am to 6pm manuring sugar cane in thefields for 8 cents (approx. 2p) per day, and also three times a week from midnight to 6amfetching fine bagasse into the factory for 4 cents (1p) for the 6 hour period.Her total take home pay was about 60 cents (12 1/2) per week. She often recalls how difficultthose days were: “Bhaiya, ahwee proper punished” (brother, we really suffered)…Cheddi Jagan – The West On TrialThe stage was not set for the introduction of labourers destined To change the course ofhistory and the fortunes of the sugar industry from the predicted ‘ruin’ to prosperity –which the coolies did under ‘A New System of Slavery’ The Fatel Razak was the first coolie ship to arrive in Trinidad, Landing on the 30 May 1845 with a cargo of 227 coolies.INDO CARIBBEAN promotes the culture and heritage of people of Indian origin from the Caribbean
  • INDO CARIBBEAN May 2003 6 THE MORE YOU GIVE, CHUTNEY MUSIC THE MORE YOU GET M A K E S I T S D E B UTThe more you give, the more you get. The year 1970 would mark perhaps theThe more you do unselfishly, the more biggest turning point in East Indian music. Inyou live abundantly. this year, a young man out of Barrackpore, Trinidad by the name of Sundar Popo leapt toThe more of everything you share, the fame with the song "Nana and Nani." Themore you’ll always have to spare. song, almost comical in nature described theThe more you laugh, the less you fret. affairs of a grandfather and grandmother.The more you love, the more you’ll Sung in Hindi and Trinidadian creole, andfind that life is good and friends are backed up with the music of the dholak andkind. dhantal as well as that of the more westernFor only what we give away, enriches Guitar and synthesizer, the song instantly became a number 1 hit in Guyana andus from day to day. Trinidad. Sundar soon became known as the King of Chutney. The word Chutney was derived from the Hindi word that was used to describe a hot peppery mix. "Nana & Nani" became the biggest selling Chutney single of its time. Drupatee emerged onto the Indian Soca scene in 1987 with the release of the single "Pepper Pepper," a song in which she describes the hardship of being an East Indian housewife. She once again leapt into the charts with her new song entitled "Mr. Bissessar." By the end of the 1980s, no less than 20 new artists had emerged into the new Indian Soca scene. Among these were Babla & Kanchan, a veteran husband and wife team out of India who had risen to fame after a successful career in providing music for the Indian movie industry. They emerged onto the Caribbean scene in 1984, when they released two albums doing mostly Indian Soca covers for some of Sundar Popos older songs. In 1986, they did another cover of Arrows "Hot Hot Hot" and Barons "Buss Up Shot." Babla & Kanchan have continued to produce songs well into the 1990s releasing no less than fifteen albums, including, "Na Manu Na Manu" in 1995 where they did covers of Nisha Benjamins hit and of Dropatis "Lawa." Another new artist on the scene was Atiya out of Holland. She was discovered onNew System of Slavery, portrays and the Mastana Bahar television program whilediscusses the recruiting and exporting doing the Guyanese folk song, "Ke Ghungurufrom India, the sufferings of the Toot Gaye."indentured Indians during the longvoyages…… A more detailed article on the history of Chutney Music will be featured in the JUNE issue of Indo Caribbean.INDO CARIBBEAN promotes the culture and heritage of people of Indian origin from the Caribbean
  • INDO CARIBBEAN May 2003 7 Finally, yes we are of Indian backgroundCOMMENT but nevertheless we are as Westindian as anyone else.Who are we? The 1.5 million of us? By an Indo Caribbean student Age 16Everyone has a different categorisation ofthemselves. Therefore I can only answerfor myself. I am my Culture. Whether that ‘If you do away with your traditional waybe in my heart, mind, music preference or of living and give up your good customsthe food I eat. you had better first make certain, that youWe can choose to acknowledge our culture have something of value to replace them’.or forget it, but there is no doubt that forthe past 165 years Indians have been in theCaribbean and we have helped shape theWest Indian culture as it is today.I find it strange that after 165 years the Quotesterm Indo Caribbean is still foreign tomany. • Indians are very rich or very poor.Many West Indian delicacies have come The majority of overseas Indiansfrom Mother India, not to mention the are poor. They are part of thebeautiful people that were migrated to the lowest layer of the industrial labourCaribbean ‘Our Ancestors’. If we do not force. They carry out the moremaintain our culture, we will loose it. It is disagreeable jobs in the publicup to us to preserve it and it’s our duty to services such as refuse disposal,pass it on and not let our ancestors beforgotten in vain, we are living their they are the machine minders in theunknown legacy. factories; and they are the bearersHow many of us have been asked “Where of burden the pullers of handcartsare you from?” and answered “the and rickshaws – they are theCaribbean” only to be questioned “but ‘coolies’.you’re not black” or “I thought you werefrom India”. Just because we are from the • “India pioneered the way of protestCaribbean, does that strip us of our against Western domination”Indianess? Or just because we are Asian Professor Hugh Tinkerwhy should that deny us of our Westindianculture? • Knowing is not enough; we must“INDO CARIBBEAN hopes to change the apply.stereotypical view that the Caribbean is of Willing is not enough; we must do.African orientation and show that the West GoetheIndies is a culmination of many beautifulcultures. We indo Caribbean’s are a • The real voyage of discoveryminority in the Caribbean as a whole, but consists not in seeking new lands,never the less our small presence has had a but in seeing with new eyesbig impact, socially, culturally and Marcel Prousthistorically. Isn’t it time our Indianpresence is recognised and we are not • Discovery consists of seeing whatpigeonholed into being this or that whenwe have our very own culture which we everybody has seen and thinkinghave shaped, live and are proud of. what nobody has thought.Remember every thing Indian enjoyed by Albert Von Szent-Gyorgyithe peoples of the Caribbean was broughtthere by Indentured Labourers.INDO CARIBBEAN promotes the culture and heritage of people of Indian origin from the Caribbean
  • INDO CARIBBEANNews Views and InformationMay 2003 Issue 3 Under 16 Talent Show Useful Information Indo Caribbean Organisation (ICO)The Caribbean Indian Dance Contact : Anjani Narayn – 0973 960 870Troupe will be staging a talent Caribbean Indian Social & Cultural Association (CISCA)show for 16 and under in July 2003. Contact: Mr Tajj Ramnarace – 020 8442 0977If your child has any talent be it Trinidad and Guyana Music Connectiondancing, singing, playing an Contact: Suresh Tel / Fax 020 8671 6806instrument or any other performing The Dharma Centre Mrs Rita Singh Tel : 020 8292 9909arts and would like to take part Caribbean Hindu Society (CHS)kindly submit name, age, address, Tel : 020 8674 0755telephone number and a brief London Islamic Cultural Society Mosque & Culturaldescription of their talent to: Centre. Quran Teaching, Legal and Social Advice, Wedding Receptions and Funeral Services.Caribbean Indian Dance Troupe 389 Wightman Road Hornsey N8 ONA Tel : 020 8348 0353Talent Show United Islamic Association72 Northbank Road JUMMA every Friday 12 : 45pm 31 Crawley Road, Wood Green, N22 6AGWalthamstow Tel : 020 8372 3023London E17 4JZ Al Muzzamil Mosque and Community Centre of Tooting 8 Gatton Road, Tooting London, SW17 0EXClosing date for audition 31 May Tel : 020 7767 74772003 Jamaican Indian Society (JIS) Promoting awareness of Indo Jamaican culture in the UK Contact Mark: 07956 111273Articles, Events andcomments are welcome Next Issue……………for future issues. To mark Indian Arrival Day in Trinidad and Tobago Indo Caribbean will conclude this article in our June issue.Promote your culture, Part 2 will deal with how the “docile quietintroduce and orderly” coolie survived the abuse of both the whites and blacks and their fight for‘Indo Caribbean’ to better working conditions and liberty.your family and friends. INDO CARIBBEAN, HANSIB PUBLICATIONS LIMITED, PO Box 34621, London E17 4GL, EnglandTel: +44 (0)20 8523 0888 Fax: +44 (0)20 8523 1155 Email: info@hansib-books.com Web: www.hansib-books.com