Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Trini to the bone...

Yesterday I saw this link tweeted by my friend - 'In pictures: Indian Africans'. They are photos featuring the Sidis, a small community of Indians who are of African descent, that were taken by photographer Ketaki Sheth over a period of five years. These photos now form the basis of her book, 'A Certain Grace, The Sidi: Indians of African descent'.

One of the quotes under the photos stood out for me. Historian Mahmood Mamdani said,
"Whenever I asked a Sidi person I met whether they thought of themselves as African or Indian, I inevitably get a quizzical look. What, they seemed to think, was wrong with me: they were of course Indians". 
It interests me because of the fact that Trinidad and Tobago is made up of descendants of persons from India, Africa, Europe,  China, Syria, Lebanon and the native people of the island. We are a melting pot of different races and cultures and although we claim to be 'Trini to the bone' there are a lot of people who would identify themselves as Indian or African or whichever race they could most identify with. 

Is it that not enough years have passed since our ancestors came here? Is it that people want to identify with where their forefathers came from? I've often wondered why, when most of us are now very mixed, many people would still identify as something other than Trinbagonian. 

It is a puzzle. 



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