Port of Spain, August 21, 2016: The Carnival Institute of Trinidad and Tobago presents its August Lecture in collaboration with the National Museum and Art Gallery of Trinidad and Tobago on Saturday, August 27. The event will take place at the National Museum and Art Gallery, Frederick Street, Port of Spain at 6pm.
Trinidad and Tobago is a dual-island Caribbean nation near Venezuela and is a blend of multicultural and multi-religious society. The presence of Indian Diaspora there makes it more lively and continues to induce spiritual reconstruction among the people. If one visits the place, they will find a whole new scenario, but only a few know that this transformation has travelled decades.
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Port of Spain is the capital of Trinidad and Tobago and there is no denying that Carribean colonies were built on the backbone of slavery. In 1845, on May 30, a small sailing ship weighing 415 tonnes, the Fatel Rozack, was tied up at the lighthouse jetty in Port of Spain, Trinidad. After almost a 3 months and 6-days voyage from Kolkata (then Calcutta), around the southern tip of Africa and across the southern Atlantic, it came to Trinidad.
As History says, this was no ordinary ship. With it, she brought 217 Indians who were given the false idea that they were heading for a better life and will work on the sugar estates of Trinidad. While five died on the voyage, most of them were women and under 30s. To the surprise, only five of them were men. On reaching the Port of Spain, Gazette reported, “the general appearance of the people is healthy”.
This was just the beginning! Soon over, 143,939 Indian labourers were shipped to Trinidad in the next 72 years. The majority of the labourers, that is 240,000 were sent to Guyana (then British Guiana), 36,000 to Jamaica, and smaller numbers to St Vincent, Grenada, St Lucia and Martinique.
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Indian Labourers came from several areas the country, such as- Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Bengal (through the port of Calcutta) and Oudh. Not just that, in the early years it came through Chennai (then Chennai) as well. The labourers, most of them belonged to Hindu faith and only a few of them were Muslims.
The details mentioned here are just mere glimpses of their lives, the documentary holds in it much more. One has to watch it, to get closer to the lives of these Indian labourers, share their struggle and unsaid pain. One journey that doomed their lives forever! Their experiences were akin to slavery.