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CARIBBEAN ARTS & POPULAR

CULTURE IN THE REGION &


DIASPORA
W. L O N G

CARIBBEAN ART FORM


Popular music: soca, calypso, chutney, reggae,
zouk.
Culinary practices
Festivals

IMPACT OF CARIBBEAN FESTIVALS


THE DIASPORA
Festivals in the UK such as Notting Hill Carnival,
Bristol Carnival, Leeds Carnival are significant
events on the UK national calendar. The carnivals
are based on traditions within the Caribbean like
Trinidad carnival and St Kitts masquerade. Notting
Hill attracts over one million participants each
year. Also Festivals such as Caribana (Toronto),
Labour Day (New York), Carnival in Miami and
Boston. Also, Hindu celebrations in North America
- though not as vast.

IMPACT OF CARIBBEAN FESTIVALS


(CONTD)
Brings revenues to and other cities s with visitors
from other parts of England, and overseas. It can
be argued that it is only for one day or seasonal.
Caribana is a major money earner for
Toronto for that one weekend.
Tourism benefits; foreign exchange; hotels
filled, services benefit (transport - air and land)
However, it can be argued that the festivals and
carnivals are seasonal and so have limited impact.

THE IMPACT OF CARIBBEAN


CULINARY PRACTICES
The Caribbean is known for its diversity of
culinary delights especially spicy foods. Moreover,
there are large Caribbean population in North
America and England causing the impact of
Caribbean cuisine to greatest in these countries.
In general however, there has only been limited
acceptance of Caribbean culinary practices
(foods, seasonings and drinks) in mainstream
North American and Europe.

REX NETTLEFORD
Nettleford's importance to the Caribbean and its
diaspora derives from the fact that his master project
has been the decolonisation of the Caribbean spirit and
imagination. His writings, lectures and choreographies
reflect a profound conviction in the creative power of the
peoples of the region, a power struggling to unleash
itself from the conjunction of historical and neo-colonial
forces.
The commitment to contesting the idea of the colonial
found expression through the creation of an indigenous
dance form promoted by the National Dance Theatre
Company of Jamaica (NDTC), Nettleford co-founded and
has been artistic director since 1963.

CONTRIBUTIONS MADE BY INDIVIDUALS


TO ARTS & POPULAR CULTURE

Rex Nettleford
Louise Bennet
Beryl McBurnie
Paule Marshal
Aubrey Cummings
Martin Carter

LOUISE BENNET
Jamaicas most loved Folklorist, Writer, Artiste.
She has appeared in leading humorous roles in
several Jamaican Pantomimes and television
shows. She has traveled throughout the World
promoting the culture of Jamaica by lecturing and
performing. Although her popularity is
International, she enjoys a celebrity status in her
native Jamaica, Canada and the United Kingdom.

BERYL MCBURNIE
Beryl McBurnie(November 2, 1915 March 3,
2000) was aTrinidadiandance legend. She
established the Little Carib Theatre, and
promoted the culture and arts of Trinidad and
Tobago as her life's work. McBurnie helped to
promote the cultural legitimacy of Trinidad and
Tobago that would ultimately arm its people to
handle independence psychologically and
healthily. McBurnie dedicated her life to dance,
becoming one of the greatest influences on
modern Trinidadian popular culture.

PAULE MARSHAL
Marshall wrote a series of poems reflecting
impressions of Barbados, later, she turned to
fiction. She has published short stories and
articles in various magazines. She is best known
for her novels and collections of short stories:
Brown Girl, Brownstones (1959), Soul Clap Hands
and Sing (1961), The Chosen Place, the Timeless
People (1969), Praisesong for the Widow (1983),
Reena and Other Short Stories (1983), and
Daughters (1991).

AUBREY CUMMINGS
An important commentator has stated that the
most innovative sector of music in Guyana during
the 20th century was in the popular music/dance
music sector. These dance bands created the
soundtrack for rites of passage - falling in love,
marriage, christenings, and death. Some
personalities are indelibly associated with these
bands.

MARTIN CARTER
Martin Wylde Carter(7 June 1927 - 13 December 1997) was
aGuyanese poetand political activist. Widely regarded as the
greatest Guyanese poet, and one of the most important poets
of the Caribbean region, Carter is best known for his poems of
protest, resistance and revolution.
Carter played an active role in Guyanese politics, particularly in
the years leading upindependencein 1966 and those following
immediately after. He was famously imprisoned by the British
government in Guyana in October 1953 under allegations of
"spreading dissension", and again in June 1954 for taking part in
aPPPprocession.Shortly after being released from prison the
first time, Carter published his most well-known poetry
collection,Poems of Resistance from British Guiana(1954).

CARIBBEAN INFLUENCES ON EXTRAREGIONAL COUNTRIES


The Cubans:
Cuban immigrants, especially in Miami, are
powerful pressure groups that have
affected voting and governance in the US.
From the days of Jose Marti in 191h century
Cuban immigrants have influenced the US
government in its international relations
with Cuba: e.g. the Spanish- American war,
the Bay of Pigs incident.

THE CUBANS
Migrants supported the 1996 Helms Burton Act
against the Castro government in Cuba.
Migrants ensure that their concerns receive
international attention: e.g. the case of the child
Emiliano received international publicity.
Cuban immigrants have influenced language policies
in some North American States:
Cuban - U.S. relations have become a U.S. national
concern. States like Miami have been transformed to
Little Havana. Cuban and Puerto Rico artists and
music have become part of US culture. Spanish is
acknowledged as the second language of the U.S.

HAITIANS
'Boat people' of Haiti and Dominican Republicthousands of people from these countries leave
and risk sea journeys to the U.S. These groups
have greatly contributed to US immigration policy
on refugees.
US navy patrols the area and these migrants have
become a priority in US domestic and foreign
policy. Some migrants do succeed and become
part of the labour force which the metropole has
been affected by the migration process.

MIGRANT LABOUR ON THE


METROPOLITAN COUNTRIES
SITUATION:
Caribbean migration to the United Kingdom
increased in the early 1950's in response to postWWII demand for labour. Migrants, especially
male migrants, took jobs in the transport industry
as conductors, bus drivers, train drivers. Female
migrants trained to be nurses and worked in
hospitals in the UK. Also at places such as Lyons
Tea House. In later periods, migrants also worked
as teachers.

MIGRANT LABOUR ON THE


METROPOLITAN COUNTRIES
IMPACT
filled in vacuum left by loss of able bodied men
and women as a result of the war. Essential
services were staffed by West Indian migrants
which were vital to the economy and society.

MIGRANT LABOUR ON THE


METROPOLITAN COUNTRIES
SITUATION:
Labour: North America: Caribbean migrant labour
to North America - seasonal labour in 1950's and
to Florida etc to pick oranges and other fruit. Also,
post-1950's migration to work in US - as
domestics, nurses, artisans. Skilled workers also,
migrated to Canada and the US especially in the
1960s period and beyond.

MIGRANT LABOUR ON THE


METROPOLITAN COUNTRIES
IMPACT:
Persons needed to work these jobs - filled in vacuum in
key states where such labour was needed, such as New
York.
Social change: in the UK racial tensions occurred in some
areas where migrants settled. For example, the Notting
Hill riots and the speeches of Enoch Powell serve to
highlight race tensions in the UK.
Brought racial tension to the fore which occurred in a
series of laws passed to regulated race relations in the
United Kingdom. However, it can be argued that racism
is still rife in the UK despite legislation and social change.

MIGRANT LABOUR ON THE


METROPOLITAN COUNTRIES
SITUATION:
Caribbean 1st and 2nd generations have leaders in the UK
and North American societies in areas such as trade
unions, media, writers, artists, politics. For example in
the UK Bernie Grant of Guyana and Diane Abbott of
Jamaica were the first two Caribbean persons to be
elected as Members of Parliament in 1987. Bill Morrison
of Jamaica is leader of Trade Union Movement. In North
America, second generation Shirley Chisholm was the
first Black woman to run for Congress. Also, second
generation Jamaica Cohn Powell was US Secretary of
State.

MIGRANT LABOUR ON THE


METROPOLITAN COUNTRIES (contd)
IMPACT:
Provides a visible presence of the Caribbean
migrant especially in the UK and to a lesser
extent, North America.

THE IMPACT OF RASTAFARI ON


COUNTRIES THROUGHOUT THE WORLD
Chevannes (1995) suggest that Rastafarianism
began in the 1930s in Jamaica as a result of the
protests for improved living and working
conditions for the black masses. In this
socioeconomic and political; context arose a
millenarian movement that spoke of imminent
escape from the harsh realities of life in Jamaica
to a better life in Ethiopia, Africa.

RASTAFARI (CONTD)
Chevannes sums up the main elements of
Rastafarianism as follows: as a spiritual philosophy
Rastafarianism is linked to societies of the runaway
slaves or maroons, and derives from both the African
Myal religion and the revivalist Zion churches.
Similar to the revival movement, it embraces the
400 year old doctrine of repatriation. Rastas believe
that they and all Africans who have migrated are but
exiles in Babylon and are destined to be delivered
out of captivity by a return to Zion or Africa the
land of their ancestors, the seat of Jah Rastafari
himself, Haile Salassie I former emperor of Ethiopia.

BELIEFS
That Haile Salassie I is God
Repatriation of black people to Ethiopia, Africa is
pre-ordained
The bible of the Judeo-Christian faith offers
spiritual insights and truths about the history of
Africans
That marijuana is a sacred herb that God has
approved for the use in rituals

PRACTICES
Extensive use of the first person singular pronoun I
in their speech e.g. I and I or I man
A general withdrawal from mainstream society
(Babylon). In Maracas Trinidad there is a commune
known as the Bobo Shanti (an offshoot of
Rastafarianism) which has almost completely
withdrawn from participation in the social, political
and economic activities of the rest of society
The weaving of the hair in dreadlocks that are uncut
and enhanced using natural substances like aloes
A highly patriarchal family system and social
organization in which women play a subordinate role

EFFECTS /IMPACTS
Global appeal of Rastafarianism partly initiated by reggae
superstar Bob Marley. He helped forge tolerance and
interest in the Rastafarian cult via his music even beyond
his death in 1981. Rastafarians dreadlocks are now being
worn across the world by many persons in different walks of
life and many belong to races other than Africa. For
example in the U.S.A. some African American adopted
dreadlock to the realities of their lives, with modification to
blend it with American cultural values.

EFFECTS /IMPACTS (CONTD)


Influence of language and ideology of cultures of many
countries using Rasta terms and Marley general
messages of peace.

The ideology and spirit of the Rastafarianism movement


has been used to oppose dictatorship in Africa and
apartheid in South Africa.

FURTHER IMPACT
The Rastafarian's brandishing of the symbol of
protest against Babylon and European hegemony
was worn on their heads, with the growing of
locks, released from their tongues, through the
creation of a new indigenized Creole lexicon, and
embodied in their walk, which valorized the kings
and queens of a regal African lineage. The
significance of their presence in the pivotal
moment of Jamaica's independence cannot be
underestimated as

FURTHER IMPACT (CONTD)


Nettleford has indicated:
"More generally the role of the Rastafarians has been to
bring to the attention of the Jamaican society the urgent
need to root identity and national cohesion in a recognition
of the origins of its black majority and to redress the
imbalance of history's systematic weakening of any claim to
achievement which descendants of Africans would otherwise
make in the New World. In this they have been a revitalizing
force, albeit a discomforting and disturbing one."
These qualities of defiance and self-determination are what
illustrate the resilience and creative ingenuity of the
Jamaican people and it is what Nettleford seeks to express,
make accessible and foster among the masses.