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History’s Contribution to Present Day Caribbean Society Essay

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History, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is the continuous record of events, especially those that are public. The history of the Caribbean is a diverse and intriguing one seeing as our present day country is one of cultural diversity, often referred to by locals as a “culture pot”. It is because of the Europeans enslavement of various ethnicities and cultures in the islands that this is possible. The locals however, were exported to work in the European countries.

When the slaves were brought to the Caribbean and made to work on the plantations, they were stripped of their religion and culture; forced to take up or partake in the Roman Catholic religion and were expected to act as the Europeans thought them. In the beginning, the main imported race was the Africans. Africans were and still are well known for a very rich and interesting heritage and they were not able to practice their beliefs at the time that they were brought. East Indian imports however, were brought at a different time, a more lenient time. They were brought through indentureship and they were allowed to practice whatever they saw fit. This has affected our society`s social identity. This means that although we know who we are, we have our own opinion of people and their beliefs. Although the number of people that believe their culture is better than others, it still exists in our society. People also tend to identify themselves with those who are similar to themselves and somewhat avoid those who are dissimilar.

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Trinidad and Tobago in particular, has a very special history to me. As a people, we gained our independence from the United Kingdom in 1962. The man responsible for this tremendous act was Dr. Eric Williams, who was a noted Caribbean historian, widely regarded as “The Father of the Nation”. In 1976, the country cut its ties with the British and became a republic within the commonwealth. The country has been relatively successful by importing two major goods, those being; oil and sugar; however sugar production has stopped as of late. The sugar industry was once a mainstay of the economy of Trinidad and Tobago. It was established by the British Empire when they brought slaves to work on the plantations, hence giving it the name the sugar plantations in the nineteenth century. It remained a vital factor in the country`s prosperity for over a hundred years, however, it became a strain on the state`s finances. Oil is another large part of what allows the country to make any form of income.

In the Caribbean, music is also a major part of any form of event. Trinidad and Tobago is not the only country that values its music, but every island that is located in the Caribbean, for example Jamaica. Jamaica is well known for its Reggae music, something that has influenced a lot of today`s youth. An artist that has made the genre extremely known was Mr. Bob Marley. His sons are also very influential and played a wonderful role in Trinidad and Tobago`s 50th Independence anniversary as they sang at a concert to commemorate the country. Trinidad and Tobago has also made a very stupendous achievement, which was creating an entirely new musical instrument in the 20th century, the steelpan. Another historic event that gave birth to something cherished in Trinidad and Tobago is Carnival. Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago is the most significant event on our islands` cultural and tourism calendar.

Carnival had arrived with the French, indentured laborers and the slaves, who could not take part in Carnival, formed their own, parallel celebration called Canboulary. Stick fighting and African percussion music were banned in 1880 and were replaced by bamboo sticks beaten together, which were banned as well. In 1937 they reappeared, transformed as an orchestra of frying pans, dustbin lids and oil drums and this gave birth to the steelpan. In 1941, the United States Navy arrived on Trinidad, and the panmen, who were associated with lawlessness and violence caused by the Canboulary riots, helped to popularize steel pan music among soldiers, which began its international popularization.

History has shaped our society in more ways than we can imagine. Although the history of our islands has had a lot of strife and pain, if it were not for those horrible events, we would not have many of the things that we enjoy today. We as a people are proud and have made various changes, most for the better and I am proud to be a member of this lovely country.

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