Sunday, 8 January 2017

Migration is Changing Trinidad’s Identity

Interview with Gerard Besson
Cultural researcher, historian, blogger, writer, and founder/director of Paria Publishing Company Ltd
by Trinidad Guardian Reporter Shereen Ali, September 1, 2016

In this land of many peoples and people of many ancestries, how do people see their ethnic heritage? How do they practice it, ignore it, or celebrate it?
On the occasion of our 54th year of independence from Britain, Guardian feature writer Shereen Ali spoke to T&T citizens of different backgrounds to ask how they see issues such as ethnicity, race and in some cases, their own uniquely diverse heritages. People, in their own words, helped paint a picture of an ever-changing, complex twin-island nation of many different ancestral influences.
Last week we heard from people of First Peoples ancestry. Yesterday and today, we hear from people who have European ancestry as part of their heritage. Today's contributions are from historian Gerard Besson, who describes himself as a mix of French Creole and African.

When you have to fill in a form asking you your race, what do you put?
I put “mixed”.

How do you see your ethnic roots & heritage? Is it important to how you define yourself, or is it irrelevant, an accident of birth?
I see myself as Afro-French Creole. It is important because it gives me a sense of identity. I see myself as being a part of the French/African-Creole, patois-speaking Catholic people of long ago.
But I think heritage goes beyond ethnicity. It goes to identifying yourself in terms of being a Trinidadian. And not only a Trinidadian, but for me, someone who was born and grew up in Port-of-Spain.

Do you celebrate your ethnic heritage, ignore it as irrelevant, or have mixed feelings about it?
I acknowledge and embrace my heritages. For example, in 1970 I empathised with Geddes Granger; I was only in my 20s at the time, but I understood deeply what the Black Power movement was about, and I empathised with it. It expressed itself in my work at the time. I didn’t ignore it.
And then on the other hand, at another time in my life, I went to France to see the village that my family had come from in the first place. It was a nice feeling to do that as well. So I think that I have celebrated both aspects of my heritages at some point in my life.
I also celebrate my ethnic heritages in the work I do as a historian. For instance, when I took an interest in the African part of my heritage I spent a few years researching the Rada people and Shango in Trinidad. I went to Haiti and to Brazil. I found great similarities.

Do you know about the beliefs and lifestyles of T&T people of different ethnic heritages from your own?
Yes. I’ve spent much time reading, researching and writing about people here. Dr Bridget Brereton and I, for instance, published a book in 1989 called “The Book of Trinidad”, really an anthology of different people’s writings and observations about T&T over the years. That book will give you a fairly good historical perspective.
And then, in a different kind of way, I recently published a historical novel on Trinidad called “Roume de Saint Laurent … a Memoir”. Roume is interesting because he was the person who was responsible to a considerable degree for the creation of a document called Cedula for Population. He was especially visionary for his time.
The significant thing about the Cedula for Population is that it enshrined the rights and the privileges of free black and coloured people in Trinidad. So that, yes, about 1,200 French European people came to Trinidad as a result of the Cedula, but 11,000 free black and coloured people also came! They were all French-speaking.
That document has been described by Professor Carl Campbell as the first Constitution of Trinidad. Because it spelt out the terms and conditions, in law, for people coming to living here. And it acted as precedent for many of the laws that came into existence subsequently. So much so that there is a distinguished jurist right now in Trinidad, retired, who is studying this particular document with a view to seeing how it has affected the evolution of jurisprudence in Trinidad.
I tell the story of Roume de Saint Laurent and his affairs and his adventures, but what I also do is publish the entire Cedula of Population, so people can get an understanding of the foundation of Trinidad. You see, people do not understand these foundational elements of our society.

Do you think race is important in T&T?
Race touches everything that we do.
T&T is a segmented society with a lot of overlaps, because of miscegenation over time — well, not a very long time when compared to Jamaica or Barbados, because both these islands are much older than Trinidad in terms of their colonial settlement. Tobago has a different history, its colonial experience is as old as Barbados.
Trinidad’s society came into existence suddenly. Before 1783 and the Cedula for Population, if can you imagine, the population was about 126 Europeans, a few hundred people of African descent, who were not really slaves because there was no industry, and a handful of Amerindians — tribal people.
From then on, with the advent of the Cedula and plantation slavery the population expanded.
Free blacks and coloured people as well as white French people brought slaves together with their own societal landscapes and political and religious views to Trinidad; as compared to Barbados and the older islands where the society developed over a long period, even though it was a period of slavery, their societies matured more slowly.
In Trinidad everything seems to have happened almost overnight. It went from a few dozen people in 1780s, to 50 years later, more than 50,000 people. So Trinidad began in a strange, unique way in itself.
Race in Trinidad is a very loaded topic. It morphs into politics very easily. And this is so, because of the movement for Independence, how that came about and who did it, and under which group it happened.
Because for a very long time, for some 200 and something years, Europeans controlled the economic landscape of Trinidad, and these white people were both local and foreign.
The local ones were in agriculture, mostly cocoa, and government service, and the foreign ones were in sugar, business and government. That is how it was. It was a society that was not as segregated as say Barbados, but still segregated in terms of class as well as race.
The black population, as it advanced, went into teaching, the Civil Service, law and medicine, and later gradually into other professions.
So those two groups, the local white group and the coloured, Afro group, controlled Trinidad completely.
They posessed a Creole identity. The Indians, who had arrived in 1845 to 1917 were largely confined to the countryside. For most of the 19th century, they often needed a pass to leave the estates – even if their indentureship was over.
All this changed after the world wars. After Independence, the children of the dominant groups began to go away to make a better life and a great many never came back. This was the French Creole people, mixed-race people, and people of African descent.
Trinidad has experienced in the last 50 or 60 years a demographic upheaval that no other island in the Caribbean has had, in that in the non-Indian population — this is in the Afro, mixed and other groups — say 500,000 or 600,000 people, over a third of that segment have gone away. And at the same time, about that same number of people have come from the other islands. That has been a blow to the identity that was formed from the 1780s to Independence.
No other island in the Caribbean has had the experience of hundreds of thousands of people going to it at the same time that so many people have left. The result of that is this:
The creole population, the product of the late 18th century and 19th century society, has had a huge dislocation caused by emigration and immigration.
This has produced a great disturbance within the cohesion of that group. A lessening of a Trinidadian identity. Now that is a serious issue. I notice that recently some social scientists are beginning to comment on it.
Now, insofar as the Indian side of the population is concerned, it has been argued that there were some events that made Indian people feel more intensely “Indian”, and less intensely “Trinidadian”, such as the black power movement of the 70s, being in political opposition, after Independence, for such a long time, what thirty years; the work of the various Indian religious orders whether it is in the context of Hinduism or Islam. The  appearance of Bollywood as well as the increase in business and wealth. There were many things that happened in the last 40—50 years in the Indian community that have made Indians feel more Indian, in a sense; while, in a contrary sort of a way, also more Trinidadian.
With the dislocation in the creole society taking place and with a deepening in the Indian society of an identity, the division has become more sharp and more obvious.
So there has been a dislocation in the society instead of the predominant races finding common ground with the sharing of identity. And this is what we see played out in politics. Because you don't see it played out in daily life, you don't see it played out in love affairs, you don't see it played out in business and work, it is played out in politics, where political parties go after their imagined constituencies.
So with Independence and the movement of people, the loss of a significant part of the Creole population, has meant that Trinidad has lost a lot of its Creole soul, and acquired, on the other hand, an increased Caribbean reality.
And you see it in the disappearance of certain cultural forms. Carnival is not as it was. The music — calypso — hardly exists anymore. You have to go in search of it in the tents. It has been replaced by other musical forms. Patois is no longer heard — and you have to bear in mind that up until the 1940s and 50s, a large amount of people in both Indian Trinidad and certainly Creole Trinidad — spoke this language.
Another important factor that has also impacted on identity was the end of the agricultural sector.
People see the agricultural sector from the perspective of today. And they only see Indian people – the world of the cane farmer.
In truth, the agricultural sector in the past was enormous. It included a lot of black and French Creole and mixed people. It existed for some 200 years.
But the ending of the agricultural sector was one of the things that undermined notions of identity which were built through the 19th century and into the first half of the 20th century.
One of the effects of the loss of the agricultural sector is a more compassionless society. Because when you have hundreds of thousands of people, whether they are Indian people, white people, mixed people or African people, who are devoted to the bringing up of livestock, who are devoted to gardening, market gardening, vegetable planting, to cocoa and coffee and so on, you have people who have a lot of love — for their animals and for their plants. You have to love your donkey!
So when you move hundreds of thousands of people out of that world of compassion, you create an increasingly compassionless society.
I think the agricultural sector died from the 1950s. The model that was introduced by Sir Arthur Lewis, the famous Nobel Prize-winning economist, in Trinidad, and through Dr Williams, saw a nation that would be modern and industrialised. It was a form of social engineering. A lot of these little islands in the Caribbean moved away from agriculture and went into tourism. It was considered modern, it was thought the thing to do. I do not believe it was the right thing.
So the combination of the end of the agricultural economy, the end of the railways (in itself a vast societal network of people who operated them), and then the displacement of so many people, in the emigration and immigration phenomena, created a dissonance and a collapse, a loss of identity.
You see, it was not only a brain drain; it was also a deep cultural drain. A lot of the identity of the 19th century to the first half of the 20th century began to fall away.
And what that culture has been replaced with is something imported through television, through cinema, and through the importation of black American culture. And you see it expressed in dance music and gangland activity and so on.
So what has happened is that the society on the whole, as a result of the Independence movement, has suffered more than it has gained.
The Indian segment of the society, however, because of the isolation, of being 30-40 years in opposition, and being apart from the Creole society, because of their extended family support, the pursuit of independence though economic means, the pursuit of education (there are more Indians with tertiary education, a startling number of them young women, than anybody else), has produced a society within the society that owns an economy that is very, very large. Whereas the other side of the society does not possess an economy; there is no big Afro business there – it depends on the State.
So these are the differences in the society that create the movements and the tensions and the feel of the place.
Prof Selwyn Ryan wrote in one of his articles some time ago that for 150 years, the elements of the white society and elements of the black and coloured society dominated Trinidad, possessed a hegemony over Trinidad, and this hegemony is now decreasing at a rate. He startled a lot of people with that, but what he said was true. Immigration and emigration have changed the landscape of Trinidad. All this has had a deleterious effect on the identity-forming mechanisms of the society.
Notions of identity as a Trinidadian or a Trinbagonian are increasingly becoming something more important than just merely how you vote at election time.
I think that there's a generation of people who are growing up, not necessarily young young people, but people in their 30s or 40s, who are increasingly beginning to come to an understanding about their own identity in the concept of a Trinidad & Tobago.

Do you think different ethnicities have different values?
I think different people have different values. This is not a matter of ethnicity. I think the human race is possessed of the same yardstick where it comes to morals, ethics, values. I think they all possess the same thing. So it’s not ethnic.
People express these values differently depending on how they have been socialised.

How long have you/your family had roots here (best estimate)?
Both my mother and father’s antecedents have lived here for more than 200 years. They named Besson Street in east Port-of-Spain after my family – my father’s ancestor came to Trinidad in 1787. Boissiere Village is named for my mother’s people.

What do you like and dislike about T&T culture?
I like most things about our cultures, except the recent introduction of extremely loud music.
Also, in order to analyse important issues such as the impact of immigration and emigration, you have to have information available. And the Central Statistical Office in Trinidad is one of the places from where you do not get statistics (laughs).
I am 74 years old. And what I have seen in my adult life is an enormous change in Trinidad. I mean, when you take something like the Red House – 30, 40, 50 years ago or more, leaving a significant building like the Red House in a dilapidated state would have been a big uproar. Same thing with President’s House. Now, increasingly, there are fewer and fewer people who care about those iconic sites, because they don’t mean much to them.


A commentary on Bridget Brereton’s article “The Indians” in her book “Race Relations in Colonial Trinidad 1870–1900”

As the second half of the 19th century drew to a close, certain newspapers in Trinidad executed a protracted editorial policy that would serve to lay the foundations for the negative stereotyping of East Indians in Trinidad and Tobago. As a result, Afro-Creole and European-descended Trinidadians as well as immigrants from other West Indian islands came to accept that stereotyping and perceived Indian indentureship and the presence of Indians in the colony as having a deleterious effect on the society as a whole.
Through the use of newspapers like the New Era, Public Opinion, the San Fernando Gazette and the Port of Spain Gazette, amongst others, a relatively small coterie of educated men—French Creoles, Afro-Creoles as well as a sprinkling of Europeans who had formed what was described in the first instance as the Creole Party, later to be know as the Reform Movement—sought to achieve their political ends by gaining public support in denigrating those who were perceived by them as different, alien or outside of their group. In harnessing public opinion in such a manner they, perhaps unwittingly, put into opprobrium an entire people living in their midst, painting all Indian immigrants and their descendants with the same broad brush. In so doing, they set a mechanism of mediatised prejudice into motion that has been reinforced by the Independence political process and arguably continues up to today.
Bridget Brereton in her book Race Relations in Colonial Trinidad 1870–1900 examined this media stigmatisation in the late 19th century. [1] Other social scientists—CLR James, Ricky Singh, Selwyn Ryan, Raymond Ramcharitar et al—have since written and commented on this. This article looks at Brereton’s groundbreaking research in her Race Relations and examines the reasons for the Creoles’ impulse to segregate themselves as an ‘ingroup’ and the Indian segment as an ‘outgroup’, thus laying the roots of Indophobia in Trinidad and Tobago.
“One of the more troubling aspects of human nature is that we evaluate people differently depending on whether they’re a member of our ‘ingroup’ or ‘outgroup.’ Pretty much every conflict in human history has involved people making distinctions on the basis of who is a member of their own race, religion, social class, and so on. The question we were interested in is: Where do these types of group distinctions come from?”
This, at first glance innocuous, but quite pertinent question was posed by Laurie Santos, Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science at Yale University, in an article published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in June of 2013. [2]
In a segmented society such as Trinidad and Tobago’s, the roots or origins of the prejudices that shape our collective consciousness appear opaque or even lost in the fog of our historic experience. While a lot has been done to untangle the web of our entrenched and in many instances dearly held views of each other, we are still a segmented society.
One of the more eye-opening, or should I say mind-expanding experiences that I had when I started exploring Trinidad history in 1983 was Bridget Brereton’s Race Relations in Colonial Trinidad 1870–1900. Part of this enduringly significant (and eminently readable) work carefully examines the several segments that make up our diverse society. It discusses the point of arrival and the social and political conditions of the European, African and Indian segments. It deals with their offshoots, the products of miscegenation and its various outcomes, and the attitudes and reactions of those who saw themselves at various points in history as the ‘ingroup’ when faced with the arrival of others who were considered by them as an ‘outgroup’.

Nelson Island
One such ‘outgroup’ was the indentured East Indians, whose initial point of arrival was Nelson Island. Neilson’s Island, called Nelson Island, was a quarantine depot through which tens of thousands of Indians, possibly all indentured Indians, passed on their way to the various estates where they would spend the next five years, if they were men, or three years, if they were women, as indentured labourers, and in some cases, the rest of their lives. Like Ellis Island in the United States, it was their first point of disembarkation and their first encounter with natives of their host country.
I had the good fortune in the 1980s to meet Gregor Duruty, who lived to a great age. In his youth, Duruty had worked in the Colonial Secretary’s office and was around for the arrival of the last of the indentured Indians to come to Trinidad aboard the S.S. Ganges in 1917. He arrived on Nelson Island with some of his friends, a camera and a gramophone, and took a quantity of pictures, capturing a unique moment when cultures clashed.
Duruty told me that the newly arrived had never seen these devices, a machine that produced musical sounds, and as for the camera, they had no idea what it did. Interestingly, the record that he played that day was the world-famous Cab Calloway singing, “I ain’t got nobody and nobody cares for me”. This refrain, both tragic and ironic, was played over and over as the young Indian girls danced and arranged and re-arranged the hair of Gregory’s friends, young Trinidadian women. The Indian men stood in rows for their photographs to be snapped before beginning the long journey towards an uncertain destiny. The meaning of the words of the song may well have been lost on all of them, the significance of the occasion—it being the last of the indentured to arrive in Trinidad—hardly grasped. Such is the naiveté of beginnings!
The transportation of some 143,939 persons to Trinidad from India over the period 1845 to 1917 radically altered the ethnic configuration of Trinidad’s already heterogeneous body politic. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the composition of Trinidad’s population differed from other islands in the Caribbean that had come into the hands of the British from the early 17th century on to the end of the Napoleonic wars. In the older British colonies these societies, based on plantation slavery, had already developed discernible social and cultural patterns that in a sense had matured over time. Tobago, Jamaica and Barbados for example had populations made up almost entirely of people of African descent, with relatively small populations of mixed-race people and a complement of Europeans: British administrators, low status whites, writing clerks, accountants, transients, planters—the majority of whom were absentee landlords represented by an attorney—the military, police and local merchant families of long standing.
Trinidad’s population, however, virtually arrived almost all at once. This was triggered by the Spanish government’s issuance of a Cedula of Population in 1783. The population rose from 126 whites, mostly Spaniards, 295 Free Blacks and Coloureds, [3] 310 African slaves and 2,082 Amerindians in 1783, totalling 2,763, to a population of well over 90,000 in 1861-1871. This was comprised of 3,632 whites, of which about 80 percent were French Creoles, 18,724 Coloureds and 40,354 people of African descent, the descendents of the formerly enslaved, both native born and immigrants from other West Indian islands. [4] Almost all of these would have spoken French Patois and were in the main Catholic. There were some 2,000 Chinese and 26,281 East Indians, as well as about 571 tribal people.
There was a steady and enduring influx of West Indians coming from both Catholic and Protestant islands, mostly black, some arriving Portuguese, and Africans taken off slave ships bound for Brazil and indentured in Trinidad.
This was a period when in the popular mind Trinidad was idealised as Iere, the land of the hummingbird. There was, interestingly, “a small emerging middle class of educated and respectable creoles of all colours who shared a common love of country and a common sense of identity,” as Anthony de Verteuil writes, [5] quoting John Jacob Thomas, the leading black intellectual of the day, from his book Froudacity. [6] This emerging middle class had its roots in the nucleus of European-descended French Creoles and the French and Patois-speaking Free Blacks and People of Colour of the late 18th century who had arrived here from the French islands as a result of the upheavals caused by the French revolution as well as those who were attracted by the generous terms of the Cedula.
The French-descended segment saw themselves as a racially pure, exclusive, aristocratic enclave, notwithstanding their elaborate and indeed intimate relationship with the Free Blacks and Coloureds. These were described by Brereton as “Like the white Creoles, they cherished the past … There was the same nostalgic feeling for aristocratic traditions and the same respect for birth and breeding.” Brereton quotes the French Creole historian Pierre Gustave Louis Borde who cites family traditions and describes relations between the two sectors before the British conquest as “cordial; ill-feelings crept in under the British regime”. [7]
The French Creoles and Free Coloureds shared the same page in the history of the Caribbean, bound together by a Francophone identity, shaped by a common past that included plantation life, miscegenation and slave-owning, as royalists and republicans, settlers and as refugees in Trinidad. Out of this grouping would emerge what we would call today a pressure group that would come to see itself as the Creole Party.

The Cedula of 1783 as the basis for the Afro-French-Creole impulse
To grasp the Creole Party’s hostility towards Indian indentureship, it is useful to understand what we call in this paper the Creole impulse. This was shaped by the Creoles’—both black and white—attitude towards what they perceived as the British occupation of Trinidad. In coming to Trinidad the French colonists, along with the Free Blacks and People of Colour, had been the net beneficiaries of the Cedula of Population of 1783. Carl Campbell observed: “If taken seriously—and the Cedula must be taken seriously as the outcome of a deliberate plan—it amounted to a new constitution for Trinidad.” [8] Collectively, the Cedulants gave to Trinidad a distinct French flavour expressed in language, dress, cuisine, the architecture of the town, their attitude to the English, and a dedication to religion and to the festival arts.
The Cedula of Population of 1783 was an especially liberal document for its time, if only for its recognition of the civil rights of the Free Blacks and Coloureds and its almost equitable land distribution aspects, as Campbell further notes: “The Cedula of 1783 laid the foundation for a plantation society in the colony, and this development was the most important thing to have happened in Trinidad since the Spanish came ashore in 1498.” [9]
The contents of the Cedula had been accepted in the drawing up of the articles of surrender when Trinidad passed from Spanish rule to English in 1797. This was upheld by the British government in 1829 when challenged by the colony’s first civil governor, Sir Ralph Woodford. A descendant of the Cedulants, a man of colour from the Naparimas, Jean Baptiste Philip, became its champion by bringing it to the attention of the British government, which upheld its contents, thus officially recognising the positions of both the resident French and the People of Colour in Trinidad. This recognition, defined by law, placed Free Blacks and People of Colour in Trinidad in a unique position for personal advancement. As Brereton comments:
“The government in London issued a law (March 1829) which abolished all ‘Disabilities to which His Majesty’s subjects of European birth or descent’ were not subject. This was the grant of full legal equality between whites and free coloureds which Philip and his colleagues had struggled for. In the words of the historian Carl Campbell, it was their ‘new charter of liberty’. It arrived in Trinidad in July 1829, just two weeks after Philip died, still in his early 20s.” [10]
As descendants, broadly speaking, of those who came to Trinidad under the terms of the Cedula the French Creoles, both black and white, came to believe themselves to be the founding fathers, a patriciate, or the ingroup. They represented, notwithstanding their differences, the biases of a class: economic, institutional, racial, ethnic, cultural, populist, patriotic, incipiently nationalistic and individualistic in nature. They considered themselves to be the true Trinidadians, the Creole Party, as they originally described themselves. [11] Their Francophone identity and nascent nationalism was expressed in the work of individuals such as John Jacob Thomas and Pierre Gustave Louis Borde. Thomas wrote The Theory and Practice of Creole Grammar, a description of Trinidad’s French Patois, becoming the first linguist of African descent to produce a grammar of a Creole language. Borde, a white French Creole, wrote Histoire de l'île de la Trinidad sous le gouvernement espagnol in French in two volumes. This was the first history of Trinidad written by a Trinidad-born historian. Its first volume and most of the second deals with Spanish times; it is in the last third of the second volume that Borde’s true intention expresses itself, for it is here that he relates the founding of modern Trinidad and gives a partial account of the life of the island’s ‘coloniser’, Philippe Rose Roume de Saint Laurent, a French Creole from Grenada, the promulgation of the Cedula of Population of 1783 and the establishment of the ‘founding fathers’. This volume also contains a partial list of the names of both the white French Creoles and the French-speaking Free Blacks and People of Colour, the earliest beneficiaries of the Cedula, the Cedulants.
The descendants of these settlers bridled at absolute British Crown Colony Rule and yearned for greater representation in the colony’s affairs. In essence, they tended to see the British as an occupier—a feeling that fuelled the Creole impulse. This Francophone cum Creole identity produced a distinctive culture that was based on an agricultural paternalistic lifestyle and expressed in a manner that was often seen as subversive by the colonial authorities. [12]

The Beginnings of Indentureship
Around Emancipation in 1834, the British government began to experiment with the importation of indentured labour into Trinidad to work the sugar estates. Small numbers of Chinese and Portuguese from the Atlantic islands were introduced in the opening decades of the 19th century. [13] However, as is known, these did not prove suitable for agricultural labour and tended towards commerce. The British then turned to India as a source of labour.
According to Donald Wood the sustained influx of East Indians from 1845 was hardly noticed at first, but accelerated swiftly to form
“by 1851, 6 per cent (4,169) of the population of 69,609; in 1861, 15.9 per cent (13,488) of the population of 84,438 and the largest immigrant group; in 1871, 25.1 per cent (27,425) of a population of 109,638, and 4,545 of them had been born in Trinidad itself. Over 20,000 were still working on the estates in 1871, either completing their industrial residence or on other forms of contract.” [14]
By 1901, Indians and their descendants made up 33% of the population. The indentured Indians were drawn from a variety of casts, sects, religions and backgrounds and also from different parts of the Indian subcontinent, and as such were in themselves a heterogeneous population. Trinidad’s ethnic mix was well underway to being unique.
One feature of East Indian indentureship was that the immigrants were separated on the cane and other estates from the main population. However, as their numbers grew and as they appeared in startling quantities in the towns, the ingroup increasingly perceived them not as transients but as permanent residents who, in the not so long run, could become a majority.

The Stigmatisation of the India Indentureds in the Creole Media
In Race Relations, Brereton explores in her chapter “The Indians” possibly for the first time in Trinidad and Tobago how a small ingroup harnessed the media to protest against Indian indentureship.
However, the words and arguments that were used in the editorial drew the attention away from the indentureship issue. Rather, the newspaper campaign led to the promotion of general racial prejudice against Indians among the wider Creole population. To achieve mass support, media manipulation was used by the Creole Party to create a vehement xenophobic reaction in a population that was ironically comprised of immigrants who had almost all arrived a generation or so before or were in many cases themselves immigrants from Europe or other West Indian islands. Ramcharitar, quoting Gilroy, interprets this as a mechanism to inculcate and institutionalise cultural insiderism. [15] Faith Smith in her book “Creole Recitations” points out that Indians became “crucial to definitions of the identities of … Black Creoles in the Caribbean” and adds “When Trinidadian elites assert Black respectability, this is sometimes secured by belittling Indians.” [16]
These newspapers were principally: the New Era, [17] the San Fernando Gazette, Echo of Trinidad, the Port of Spain Gazette [18] and Public Opinion. [19] These papers were owned or influenced by the Creole Party, whose members towards the end of the 19th century began to call themselves the Reform Movement. Over time, the membership’s proportion of European-descended “Cedulants” shrank and more Afro-Creole members joined the ranks of the movement. However, their delineation between ingroup and outgroup continued. What was the purpose of this “Creole impulse” to fan the flames of anti-Indian sentiment in the population?
The Creole Party’s, and later the Reform Movement’s, aim was principally to change the nature of Crown Colony rule while seeking for themselves, as men of education and substance, greater participation in the administration of the colony and more meaningful representation in the City Council and in the island’s legislature, in as much as these institutions were dominated by British planter and merchant interest. To achieve the mass support needed they singled out an outgroup’—the Indian immigrants—and positioned themselves as the ‘ingroup’ opposed to Indian indentureship. Their opposition to indentureship was not based on humanitarian grounds, but on perceiving Indian immigration as a symbol of the power and privilege of the British planters and merchants, representing the dominance of British Crown Colony rule to which they were opposed.
By singling out Indian indentureship as a policy of the colonial government and by stereotyping the arriving Indians, the Creole Party / Reformists sought to and actually established an absolute sense of ethnic and cultural difference between themselves as residents and the Indians as aliens, all through the use of newspapers. This anti-Indian media thrust was undertaken by a relatively small coterie of men who were in the first instance almost all French and English Creoles, [20] notably Louis de Verteuil, Philip Rostant and Robert Guppy, but who would be joined over time by coloureds and blacks who, according to Brereton, were “involved in the local press to a considerable extent,” [21] and who would eventually take over the movement.
The newspapers mentioned above promoted ideas that encouraged the population to think along the lines of greater political involvement and of reforms in the constitutional structure of the colony. As Brereton notes, “Through papers managed by these editors and printers, therefore, educated blacks and coloureds had an outlet for the expression of their grievances and aspirations.” [22] She gives the example of editor Samuel Carter who, in an editorial published in the San Fernando Gazette, summed up this view:
“A Crown Colony is a despotism tempered by the Press. . . In Trinidad, more than in any of the other Colonies, has the existence of the independent Press been an absolute necessity; in none has it done more good.” [23]
As Brereton notes later in her Race Relations, “These papers took the position that Indian immigration was carried on to serve the selfish interest of the planters, to the detriment of the wider community.” [24] Using Indian immigration as an example, the newspaper editors framed their arguments to demonstrate the overwhelming power of the occupying British imperial government so as to arouse indignation in a population that had not previously shown any particular resentment to newcomers.
Brereton’s thought-provoking research in her chapter “The Indians” of Race Relations demonstrates how through the use of newspapers the attitude of the majority of Trinidadians towards the arriving indentureds, especially of those who considered themselves born and bred Creoles or ‘Trini to the bone’ as one would say today, became one where the Indians were stigmatised, distinguished from the rest of the society in a negative way. Their differences, racial, cultural and religious, were made distinctly obvious and perceived as odious.
For example, the indentureds’ tendency towards frugality was used to pour scorn on them. Thrift was perceived as lacking amongst the Creoles, black and white. Even though much thought of as a virtue in the Victorian period, thriftiness was portrayed as a vice in the entire Indian population. The San Fernando Gazette thought that Indians would “go hungry, starve, live on rice and pepper as well as systematically perjure themselves in court to defeat the ends of justice for their own interest.” [25]
All Indians were vilified and stereotyped as willing to work for starvation wages; their frugality in lifestyle appeared incompatible with that of the Creoles. Brereton quotes the New Era, “the liberal organ of the black and coloured middle class”, which declared:
“The Coolie is notoriously with us only, but not of us. He gives nothing for what he takes, and thus contributes but little to the wealth of the country. He hoards his treasure to take it back to his native land, and while among us, consumes hardly anything of our imports.” [26]
Historian Donald Wood writing in 1968 observed,
“A coloured editor whose paper stood for the rights of the Negro population wrote: ‘We do however assert without exaggeration or contradiction that of the human race, none, as regards clothing, food, or other care of the body, approaches more to the brute creation than the Coolie. They generally go naked and show no disposition to abandon this habit.’” [27]
The self-negating, ultra-ascetic diet of the Indian indentured is also remarked upon by Vincent Tothill who, practicing as a physician in 1937, observed:
“[The Indians’] evening meal will be at sundown. This consists of one huge communal pot of boiled rice. It may be flavoured with a little curry or coloured with saffron, and the only vegetable is a red pepper. There is nothing else; no meat, as these people are vegetarians. The same monotonous diet day after day and year after year; no wonder they have no physique. But what can you buy for two shillings a day? … In Trinidad nearly every Indian agricultural worker of thirty shows vitamin deficiency. This is manifested by a chronic cough and emphysema of the lungs. … They are far too tired at the end of a hot day’s work in the cane fields to do anything but cook the pot of rice.” [28]
Newspapers also resorted to more offensive stereotyping, as Brereton notes:
“Indians were regarded as deceitful and prone to litigation; there was no understanding that the Indian might not understand the moral force of an oath in a western court, or that he was often forced into litigation—for instance, to inherit his father’s property if he died without a will, since the vast majority of Indians in the period were illegitimate in the eyes of the law.” [29]
The San Fernando Gazette held the view that the indentureds were not viable settlers because they had no real commitment to the colony. The Indian was “a dead weight. . . inert in all matters of Christian civilisation, and only a temporary aid to a development entirely material. He has no sympathy with the social and moral wants of the place.” [30] However, Brereton observes that in truth the Indians, through dint of hard work, had solved the colony’s financial situation 40 or 50 years prior, after the Emancipation of the slaves, and had become an essential adjunct to the island’s economy by producing a substantial quantity of food as owners of livestock and as rice and vegetable farmers on a large scale.
In various articles that appeared in this period fear of the Indian population was manufactured, the San Fernando Gazette commented on “the riotous tendency of coolies when banded together and the wonderful facility with which, under the least excitement, they are led into acts of violence and brutality.” [31] In this statement, the editor of the Gazette linked the 1857 mutiny in India of elements of the Indian Army that had led to mass killings of English civilians in Calcutta and other places in India to local wife murders and isolated cases of violence on the estates. It was said that the shortage of Indian women at times did cause crimes of passion and this, compounded by the sustained memory of the Mutiny, resulted in branding the Indians with a potential for mass violence. [32]
In the 1880s, industrial action taken by Indians on the cane estates triggered anxieties. As the Moslem festival of Hosein approached in 1884, the Port of Spain Gazette urged:
“Let it not be forgotten that these Asiatics now form one third of our population, and that, fanatics of an effete superstition and a most corrupt form of ethics, they must, as a matter of self-preservation, be kept in subjection to our laws under pain of the most disastrous results.” [33]
For the Gazette thought Indians to be a people “whose every thought and habit are antagonistic to our system of civilisation”. [34] Disastrous results did occur in October of 1884 when police, after the riot act was read, shot and killed more than twelve Indians in the vicinity of San Fernando, wounding one hundred and four in what was called then the Hosay Riots. [35] Brereton observed: “Although no serious Indian insurrection ever occurred, the fears persisted.” [36] She quotes a newspaper correspondent who wrote in the year following the shootings in San Fernando:
“The day is not far off, when these Coolies, bent on having everything their own way, and meeting the slightest resistance on the part of the authorities, will break out in open rebellion, and reproduce here the barbarities of the great chief Nana Sahib in British India a few years ago,”
and continues:
“Indians soon acquired a reputation for violence which was almost completely undeserved. Indeed, an essential element in the host society’s reaction to the newcomers was fear: fear of their potential for violence and rebellion.” [37]
This intense media-generated xenophobia was heightened as the steady increase in the Indian population was noticed by the colony’s urban population. The Port of Spain Gazette claimed that “Trinidad might soon cease to be a West Indian Island, as Indians came to ‘swamp’ Creoles, ‘so that the mistakes of Columbus will have been ethnologically rectified.’” [38] The social development of the Indian segment of the population tended to be quite separate from Creole life. Indians scarcely had sexual or close social relationships with Creole men and women. Brereton describes how in 1871, twenty-six years after the first indentured Indians arrived in Trinidad, the Protector of Immigrants believed that no single case of cohabitation of male or female with Creoles existed and up to 1917 such cases were very rare. [39] This again was seen as strange by the Creole population, as miscegenation had been the common practice in the Caribbean for centuries.
As the reform militants generated these injurious notions, several prominent white, black and coloured spokesmen such as Philip Rostant, activist and editor of Public Opinion, and C.P. David, QC, the first person of African descent to sit in the Legislative Council, increasingly opposed indentureship. Henry Alcazar, a coloured Spanish Creole who also sat on the Legislative Council, pointed out the abundance of labour and maintained that further immigration would only depress wages and cause unemployment. He said that the black masses were being pauperised by the artificial state of things created by Indian immigration, and that the labour market of the colony, especially in the sugar districts, was so overstocked that the earnings of the black working classes were miserably low. He thought they were unable to find more employment than is absolutely necessary to keep starvation from their doors. [40]
Not that this was factually wrong. The policy of continuing indentureship did indeed lead to depressed wages, which affected all labourers, the black masses as well as the Indians who were coming out of indentureship contracts and onto the labour market. Starvation wages were the reality for all.

Religious differences are magnified by the media
Throughout the 19th century, the political divisions in the colony tended to be along the lines of the French-Patois-Catholic majority and the Anglo-Protestant colonisers, each vying for dominance in the society. Part of the Creole impulse was the opposition against British domination exercised through the Anglican Church and ward school system that emphasized English. However, with the influx of the Indians, both Christian denominations came together in the ‘ingroup’, defining and indeed ridiculing in a contemptuous way the ‘outgroup’ based on their religion.
Essentially, the Christian population increasingly had a hostile view of the Indians, who were in the main Hindus and Moslems, and stigmatised them as heathens. As heathens, i.e. persons who do not belong to a widely held religion and in the case of the Hindus, have a polytheistic religion, the newspapers of the Christian ingroup stereotyped all Indians as an immoral people, unprincipled, deceitful, prone to perjury, and thieves. Brereton observed, “From the Euro-Christian perspective of the dominant groups, Indians were generally judged to be an immoral people,” and she continues, “Indeed, newspapers hostile to Indian immigration often contrasted Indians unfavourably with the British West Indian immigrants as potential settlers.” [41]
According to the newspapers, it was inconceivable that anyone who was not a Christian could be moral, honest and just. The newspapers carried this further in their judgment of Hindu and Moslem ceremonies and festivals such as Hosein and the fire pass as “a degrading practice” and “vile customs”, “scandalous performances carried on by gangs of semi-barbarians”, and “painted devilry.”
These views were amplified by the missionaries, whose statements were carried in the press. They thought that the Indians possessed “a low sense of sin.” Brereton writes that “John Morton, the pioneer Canadian missionary, thought they were morally unprincipled and degraded; husbands and wives were unfaithful, the women were ‘quite as wicked as the men, and more ignorant and prejudiced’.” “A jury knows,” wrote Henry Taylor of the Colonial Office in 1871, “that a Coolie is presumably a liar”. It would appear that the jurors were actually instructed by the legal professionals of the day to think so, as Smith points out in her Creole Recitations:
“In 1870, ... Michel Maxwell Philip instructed a jury: ‘You have sat there over and over as jurors, and you are all aware what value you can attach to the unsupported evidence of coolies. You know with what unscrupulous hardihood they violate the most sacred of the sanctions which represent as binding them to tell the truth.’ Philip then offered ‘proof’ of Indians’ propensity to lie by reading ‘from a work bearing on this point of the East Indian character.” [42]
Smith assumes that Philip then quoted from a travelogue, which in those days were the heavily biased observations of transient British visitors to the Caribbean like Trollope, Day, Froude and Kingsley, to name a few.
The Rev. R. H. Moor opined,
“The Creole, as a rule looks down on the Indian; he is a semi civilised being. He speaks in barbarous languages and his manners are barbarous. . . He takes work cheaper than the Creoles will do, hence he must be ill-treated when he can be ill-treated with impunity.” [43]
Through years of newspaper rhetoric, what had begun as criticism of the indentureship programme as a rallying point against Crown Colony rule mutated into a widely held, fixed and oversimplified stereotype as well as an enduring hostile attitude by the Creole ingroup toward the Indian outgroup in Trinidad. Brereton observed:
“By the later years of the century, Creoles were well aware of the economic threat posed by the Indians, and a systematic critique of Indian immigration was developed by spokesmen for the coloured and black middle class.” [44]
Other factors reconfirmed the ingroup’s attitude towards the outgroup. Throughout the late 19th century and well into the 20th in the urban areas, the Indians held mostly low status jobs—street sweepers, garbage collectors—and were perceived as miserable and suffering. Indian men, women and children appeared as street dwellers in startling quantities, destitute, the flotsam from the plantations. In the context of their culture, some were mendicants; this too was misunderstood by non-Indians. Often malnourished and ill with hookworm infestation, malaria and leprosy, they were seen as abhorrent. Institutions such as the jail, Leper Asylum, the hospital and the House of Refuge appeared to be at times disproportionately populated by Indians. This created an impression that Indians, in the judgment of society, could be perceived as inferior beings.
In 1917, 70% of the Indians were agricultural workers, maintaining religious forms, cultural practices and a clear identity by retaining their names, and forming strong family ties, village and community interest in settlements that were entirely comprised of Indians. Small retail businesses owned by Indians were appearing, laying the foundations for substantial enterprises that a generation hence would generate envy amongst all the Creoles. Indian groupings representing particular local interest were taking shape, such as the East Indian National Association; these would evolve eventually into political movements. Brereton mentions that the first Trinidadian newspaper to be owned by an Indian, the Indian Kohinoor Gazette, with material in both Hindi and English appeared in 1898. [45]
A handful of Indian families would eventually make their way into the colonial establishment. Here Brereton observes a reaction to decades of hostile stereotyping.
“But we can feel fairly sure that the contempt was mutual. The Indians, heirs to the system of caste, soon decided that by the guidelines of that system, the blacks were hopelessly polluted. They invented a myth about the origin of the blacks, which identified them with the ungodly and the polluted. Blacks engaged in occupations which were ritually impure, they ate the flesh of cattle and pigs, and in general their habits seemed unacceptable to most Indians. In effect, Indians tended to regard blacks as the equivalent of untouchables, and this attitude prevailed especially in the question of intermarriage.” [46]
The notion of perceiving the Indian population as not really belonging to the island’s overall population, when coupled with other negative stereotyping, produced in the minds of a generation of Afro-French-Creole Trinidadians and West Indian migrants, born in the opening decades of the 20th century, a deep animosity against a large and differentiating aspect of the population in such a derogatory manner that it would have lasting consequences. Over time, Trinidadians from various walks of life accepted views such as those described in the newspapers of the time about Indians and Indian religious practices, music, culture and later cinema, and generally tended to avoid and to openly ridicule these.
The newspapers’ steady attack on Indians and indentureship lasted some thirty years, transferring a deep hostility against Indians amongst the young of yet another generation of the Creole ingroup, and even among the many newcomers who were arriving in Trinidad from the West Indian islands and who had no idea of the issues that were originally at the heart of this prejudice. This prejudice was echoed in calypso, thus popularising in an amusing and entertaining manner a grave injustice. It could be argued that similar to some emigrants from parts of Eastern Europe, where the black presence is negligible, who, upon arriving in the USA, adopted the same racist attitudes towards blacks as white people from the deep South, many of the tens of thousands of West Indian immigrants, on whose islands there were few if any Indians (with the exception of British Guiana), who came to Trinidad from the period of between the world wars on to the present, assimilated the ingroup’s Indophobia. 
Brereton explains:
“Very few Trinidadians, black or white, tried to understand the culture or social organisation of the Indian community, or the changes which that community was experiencing in the later years of the century. The attitude of the host society to the new arrivals from the East was almost entirely negative. Because the Indians entered the society on peculiarly disadvantageous terms, as indentured labourers replacing ex-slaves, it was only too easy for black and white Trinidadians to despise them. The legal disabilities of indentureship set the Indians apart from the rest of society, as unfree and inferior beings; the low status jobs which they performed on the sugar estates made it possible for the recently freed blacks to look down on them. Partly as a result of the indentureship, partly because of the Indians’ culture and religions, a whole collection of unfavourable stereotypes was built up during the nineteenth century, which did much to form the attitudes of the host society towards the immigrants and their descendants.” [47]

Indophobia is carried into the Independence process
Opposition to Crown Colony rule and a lingering adherence to a Francophone cultural identity formed the basis of the Creole impulse, one that by well into the twentieth century differentiated itself in race consciousness expressed in nationalistic terms. This Creole impulse, which shaped the origins of the later nationalistic movement, expressed by the class that had created it, would produce personalities in Trinidad such as the white French Creole Philip Rostant, and black and mixed race men such as Emmanuel Mzumbo Lazare, C. P. David, Edgar Maresse-Smith, and later another white French Creole, Arthur Cipriani who was succeeded by the Portuguese politician Albert Gomes and shape the political future for black people. The Creole impulse, expressed as race consciousness, was further popularised and politicised around the world by born Creole scholars such as John Jacob Thomas, Sylvester Williams, George Padmore, C.L.R. James, and Eric Williams. Their ideas would affect the thinking of journalists and academics, philosophers and politicians in the West Indies, Africa and in other colonies, as colonialism came to an end by the 1960s.
It is with interest we note that when the Independence movement commenced in the 1950s, the Indians in the Caribbean were again portrayed as a threat, this time to national security, or should we say international security in the context of the Cold War. In British Guiana, where there had been a similar indentureship programme as in Trinidad, Indians, who were in the majority there, were perceived by the British government as having been politicised by the left-leaning politics of Cheddi Jagan. It was believed that such politics would also find fertile ground amongst the Indian population in Trinidad and Tobago and particular individuals and certain Hindu institutions were placed under police watch. [48]
On the political platforms of Trinidad’s nationalist movement many of the 19th century stereotypes were resurrected and evoked by the historian-turned-politician Eric Williams (born 1911), creating fresh and even longer lasting divisions. In 1956 Williams maintained vitriolic attacks against the Indian community in speeches made at Woodford Square and in other places throughout the country. Winston Mahabir, a politician of Williams’ own party PNM recalls “It contained generous ingredients of abuse of the Indian community which was deemed to be a ‘hostile and recalcitrant minority’. The Indian community represented the greatest danger facing the country. It was an impediment to West Indian progress. It had caused the PNM to lose the federal elections. There were savagely contemptuous references to the Indian illiterates of the country areas who were threatening to submerge the masses whom Williams had enlightened.” [49] This speech, according to Mahabir was repeated at other venues. Vidia Naipaul, who also heard such a speech, remarked that “Much of the hostile feeling released by the sacrament of the square would have focussed on the Indians, who made up the other half of the population.” [50] It was a case of evoking an act of memory, cultivated in the present, in which the past and the future met.

Brereton’s study poses several questions that lie unanswered in the collective psyche of the non-Indian descended population of Trinidad and Tobago. Does society need to reexamine the way in which the segment that perceives itself as the ingroup—today’s media, the calypso fraternity and academia included—continues to stereotype all Trinidadians of Indian descent? Has this stereotyping continued as an inherent tradition in today’s media as the inheritor of the ethos of newspapers of the 19th century and early 20th century? Does Indophobia and by extension Anti-Hinduism exist in Trinidad and Tobago? And if so, is it manufactured and perpetuated by the media? And did it come about as the result of the machinations of the political energies of a specific ingroup, nascent nationalists of a bygone era who were seeking self-determination during the British colonial period at the expense of an outgroup? When the ingroup falters or fails, does it find a scapegoat in the outgroup to blame for its own shortcomings? Does the outgroup facilitate this by its maintenance of difference? Is it right to maintain difference?
The answer to all these questions is clearly “yes”. The work of Bridget Brereton in 1978 laid the first stepping-stones on the road of re-examination of the role of the press in a pluralistic society. A healthy society should neither condone nor allow its media to engage in stereotyping and scapegoating—many of us will remember the events of July 1990, which, according to Gordon Rohlehr, were a direct result of a society that was engaged in scapegoating its own government. [51] As New York Times columnist Frank Rich said: “It’s a story as old as history. Once any group is successfully scapegoated as a subhuman threat to ‘normal’ values by a propaganda machine, emboldened thugs take over.” [52] As can be seen in the case of the pronouncements made in the newspapers of the late 19th century, they did not reflect any so-called “fourth estate” responsibility (which is, in view of newspapers largely being owned by and serving commercial or political interest, largely a fictitious concept perpetuated by the media houses themselves), but the narrow political views of a handful of in this case very ignorant people. The Creole Party/Reform Movement knew or cared nothing about the very ancient and valid cultural, social and emotional background of the human beings from India in their midst. As can also be seen, the damage that the Creole Party/Reformists did through their agitation in the newspapers was far-reaching and it has been argued that the Trinidad and Tobago press continues to perpetuate the stereotypes that their predecessor organs set in place such a long time ago. [53]
Carroll in Constantine’s Sword, a book on the nature and far reaching consequences of prejudice, quotes William Faulkner: “‘The past is never dead, it is not even past.’ It is the act of memory, cultivated in the present, in which past and future meet. Memory—as opposed to a mere cataloguing of bygone episodes and doctrines—presumes a personal commitment, a sense of urgency and implicit hope.” Bridget Brereton’s work as a historian is, to quote Carroll, an “act of personal and institutional memory, and not merely as the repetition of records or the reassertion of conventional interpretations”. Her work is an “act of responsibility to the future.” [54]
It is now up to a young generation of social scientists, many of whom are indeed of Indo-Trinidadian descent, to make their voices heard and focus their own work on exterminating Indophobia in their own country, in their own time—and in their own media. Because, as Carroll observes, “to expose the biases of the past, however, does not mean one does so free of the biases of the present, because it is the nature of bias that the one inflicted with it is the last to know.”

A list of members of the Creole Party in 1871 published the Echo of Trinidad. They were congratulating one of their number on his attaining a position on the local bench. The individuals who may be identified as men of colour are marked*. Those who may have arrived after the 1860s-70s are marked #. These characterisations are based on my knowledge of who most of these men were and having an idea of when they came to Trinidad.
L.A.A. de Verteuil
André Bernard
Charles M. Vessiny
Paul Vessiny
Charles Besson
P.J. Creteau *
H. Creteau *
Jos. S. Agostini
George Fitt #
Jas. Schaeffer #
Henry Ganteaume
John Agostini
Felix Hernandez
Ad. Wuppermann #
John Roberts
Fritz Zurcher #
Ludwig Schoner #
Wilh. Ehlers #
C. G. F. Urich #
Charles Mahand
George Wuppermann #
E. Zurcher #
Pierre B. André
P. Emile André
L. A. F. André
P. Pampelonne
D. L. O’Connor
Eugene Boissière *
Louis Boissière *
W. Norman #
F. Maingot
Alex. Coryat
Charles G. Pantin
Louis Voisin
Richard Dick #
E. Pampelonne
Fs. Martin
E. F. Lange
Ante. Sicard
J. B. Antoine
A. Joliclere
John W. Blondel *
T.R.N. Laughlin
Charles Cotton #
Charles Gibbon #
Charles Thavenot #
J. George Radix *
V. Plummer
A. M. Cook
Ths. A. Finlayson #
F. J. Scott
Jules Pollonais
Jos. P. Pollonais
F. C. Mathieu *
A. A. Ligouro
S. G. Richard
W. R. Eckstern
C. A. Frett
Philip Fort
James Henry Rat *
L.D. O’Connor
H. Massy
Arthur Demile
John de Souza
G. R. Baillie
 James Banting
 Wm. Herbert
 F. Hyndman. jnr.
 Ls. A. Pollonais
Paul Ambard *
Albert Lack
 John Fred. Rat *
George Fuller
 James A. Rousseau *
Louis Boon
A. Valsaint
Em. Fernandez
Louis Bath *
Francis Damian
C. M. S. Griffith
George Greenidge
Jackson Collymore *
Jules E. Attale *
Jos. G. Rochemont
Léon Agostini
M. James Kavanagh #
Lucian F. Ambard *
J. R. Saunier
J. H. Cournand
Arnold Lamy
Chs. Salomon
Isambert Rousseau *
G. Borde
John Vincent
Ernest Desroses
George Fitzwilliam
Chs. Fitzwilliam
J. B. Léotaud
Hte. Cornilliac
W. E. Lynch
Ls. Geoffroy *
Louis Latour
Paul Giuseppi
Jose Penco *
Js. Herbert Rat *
 J. Pampelonne
 Louis Jno. Alcazar *
Philip H. Blanchard *
P. Josse Delisle
Joseph Lewis
Charles P. Savary
George Lewis Garcia
A.T. O’Connor
James Fraser
Edmund D. Felix
Fs. M. Petioni
B. Barony
Paul A. Dubuisson
John A. Bourne
L. Dumoret
Léon Giuseppi
M. Maxwell Philip *
A. Fitzjames
Fs. Blanch Fraser *
J. E. Cipriani *
R. Scott
Robert K. Wight
G. Ajax Cadet *
H. J. Clark *
P. N. Bernard
John Ross
P. C. O’Connor
Jules Espinet * 

[1]         Unless otherwise stated, all quotations from Brereton in this article are taken from her Race Relations in Colonial Trinidad 1870–1900, 1979.
[3] This designation was a legal definition that distinguished them from the African slaves.
[4]         Besson, Brereton, Book of Trinidad, 1991, from Hart, Daniel, Historical and Statistical Views of Trinidad.
[5] de Verteuil, Anthony, The Years of Revolt, 1984, 221. “Creole” first meant Europeans born in the western world, later this definition was broadened to include white, black and mixed-race people living in Trinidad.
[6] The pinnacle of John Jacob Thomas’ accomplishments came in 1876, when an Englishman by the name of James Anthony Froude published a scathing attack on the black population of the West Indies in his book The Bow of Ulysses. Thomas replied with a spirited attack on Froude and his odious opinions, and he published his rebuttal in a book entitled Froudacity (1889). The book attracted international attention, and Thomas established himself as an author of exceptional scholarship and ability. He also published The Theory and Practice of Creole Grammar (1869), a scholarly work on the Creole patois spoken by the majority of Trinidadians in the 19th century
 [7]         Brereton, 86
[8] Campbell, Carl, Cedulants & Capitulants, 1992, 86-92
[9]         ibid. The plantation system endured from 1783 to the 1960s.
[10]        Brereton, Bridget, “The Free Mulatto”, Trinidad Express, 27 March, 2013 (, accessed 3 March, 2015)
[11] A sample of the Creole Party’s composition is given in Appendix 1.
[12]         Some historians remember it as the ‘Jamet’  culture of east Port of Spain.  The Jamet or diametre society meaning to be outside of the diameter of polite society, is discussed in Caribbean Quarterly 1956 by several social scientists. This laid the foundation for calypso, carnival and steelband and endured into the 1950s when it was subsumed and eventually overwhelmed by the new nationalist movement. Today, these art forms are mainstream and are considered to be ‘national.’
[13]         Although European, the Portuguese were not considered “socially white” by the Creole ingroup for almost one hundred years, as was the case with the Syrians and Lebanese, who came from the 1910s to the present. It could be argued that this continues up to today.
[14] Wood, Donald, Trinidad in Transition, 1968, 158
[15] “The essential trademark of cultural insiderism, which also supplies the key to its popularity, is an absolute sense of ethnic difference. This is maximised so that it distinguishes people from one another and at the same time acquires an incontrovertible priority over all other dimensions of their social and historical experiences and identities. Characteristically, these claims are associated with the idea of a national belonging or the aspiration to nationality and other more local but equivalent forms of cultural kinship.” Gilroy, Paul, The Black Atlantic, as quoted in Ramcharitar, Raymond, Breaking the News, 2005, 19.
[16]         Smith, Faith, Creole Recitations, (2002) 20
[17] The New Era was established by Samuel Carter and Joseph Lewis, both coloured, in 1869; Lewis ran the paper alone from 1874 to 1891. It was closed at his death. Carter, a Tobagonian, acquired the San Fernando Gazette after parting with Lewis and ran it until his death in 1895.
[18] The Port of Spain Gazette was owned T.N.R. Laughlin, an Irish-French-Creole and later by A.P.T. Ambard, a coloured man.
[19] The Public Opinion was financed by Hypolite Borde and edited by Philip Rostant, both French Creoles. Hypolite Borde was the brother of Pierre Gustave Louis Borde mentioned earlier. Hypolite donated a fountain with a statue of Columbus to the city of Port-of-Spain in 1897. He was also made a Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur by the French Republic.
[20] Brereton also notes that, “Towards the end of the century the French Creoles lost leadership in the radical movements of the day to coloured or black individuals like Alcazar, Edgar Maresse-Smith, and C.P. David.” Race Relations, 55
[21] ibid, 96
[22] ibid, 97
[23] ibid, 96
[24] ibid, 186
[25] ibid, 186
[26] ibid, 188
[27] Wood, op cit, 156
[28]         Tothill, Vincent, Trinidad’s Doctor’s Office, 1938 & 2009, 132 f
[29] Brereton, op cit, 190
[30] ibid, 188
[31] ibid, 187
[32] The actual proportion of females to males dispatched from India to Trinidad on paid-for passages (not including those that paid their own passage) between 1844 and 1871 was 38.79%. Afterwards, a quota of 40% was established. The average proportion between 1874 and 1917 was 43.81%. (Source: Mr. Geogheghan’s Report, pp 1874, XLVII, 496 as quoted in K.O. Laurence, A Question of Labour, 1994, 536)
[33] ibid, 187
[34] ibid, 188
[35] Collens, J. H. in an historical account, 1885, wrote: “During the Canboulay Riots in Port of Spain in 1882, his [Capt. Baker’s] policemen were armed only with cudgels and were severely beaten by rioters. When unrest among the Indians began in 1881-82, he was determined to use deadly force against any future dissidents.” Virtual Museum of T&T,
[36] Brereton, op cit, 184
[37] ibid, 187
[38] ibid, 186
[39]         ibid, 183
[40]         ibid, 188
[41] ibid, 186f
[42]         Smith, op. cit. 125
[43] Brereton, op. cit. 188
[44] ibid, 190
[45]         ibid, 191        . Kohinoor was a famous diamond, surrendered to the British crown on the annexation of the Punjab. It forms today part of the British Crown Jewels. Trinidad referred to itself as a “Crown Jewel” among the British colonies, a linguistic parallel that may have been inspired the naming of the newspaper.
[46]         ibid, 188       
[47]         ibid, 186        
[48] “In the monthly political report for May 1953 the then Governor of the colony [Trinidad & Tobago] H. Hubert Rance states; ‘The latest reports indicate that the Indian element led by the Honourable Bhadase Sagan Maraj has been working steadily through the United Sanatan Dharam Maha Sabha Association towards their goal of political control of the Colony.’ (CO 1031/127) (Figueira, Daurius, The East Indian Problem in Trinidad & Tobago 1953-1962 Terror and Race War in Guyana 1961-1964, 2009, 2)
[49] Mahabir, Winston, In and Out of Politics, 1978, 78.
[50] Naipaul, Vidia, A Way in the World, 1994, 35.
[51] The practice of singling out any group or indivedual for unmerited negative treatment or blame as a scapegoat. See Rohlehr, Gordon, 1992, The Shape of that Hurt, Apocalypso and the Soca Fires of 1990, 343.
[52]         New York Times October 13, 1998, as quoted in Carroll, James, Constantine’s Sword, 2001, 275
 [53]         Ramcharitar in his Breaking the News further explores this topic.
[54]         Carroll, op cit 62