Saturday, June 03, 2006

Indo-St. Lucian Surnames: How Many Indian Families are Really in St. Lucia?

Many St. Lucians are under the misconception that all Indo-St. Lucians are related and are inconsequential in number. I have generated a list of Indo-St. Lucian family names. There are undoubtedly additional families that I have failed to record. Feel free to add unlisted names.

Indo-St. Lucian Families with Indian Surnames:

Adjodha, Agdomar, Amorsingh, Antal, Bacchus, Bachoo, Badal, Bakie, Bicar, Biroo, Boodhoo, Boriel, Canaii, Caroo, Cepal, Changoo, Cheddie, Chitolie, Coolie, Cooman, Daher, Dalkhan, Dalsan, Dalsoo, Dariah, Dilsuk, Dolcar, Dookie, Dupal, Dwarkasingh, Elibox, Faisal, Fatal, Feede, Gajadhar, Ganess, Gangardine, Garib, Gaudin, Ghirawoo, Gidharry, Giman, Goolaman, Goonjellie, Gopal, Gulab, Housannie, Jackal, Jagannath, Jagroop, Jalim, Jaria, Jaunai, Jawahir, Kadoo, Kaladin, Kamakie, Kangal, Khodabacchus, Khodra, Kisna, Lachan, Malaykhan, Mangal, Maraj, Merahi, Moona, Moonie, Mungroo, Naitram, Nankie, Paul, Raguananan, Rambally, Ramjeawan, Ramparsad, Rattie, Recai, Sadoo, Saiwak, Samaroo, Sammie, Sanganoo, Sapoodee, Sargusingh, Sicobin, Singh, Soban, Sookwa, Sudeen, Sumrah, Surage, Taliam, Tarapasade, and Vaval.

Indo-St. Lucian Families with European Surnames:

Albert, Alexander, Barley, Daniel, Edwards, Francis, James, John, Joseph, Lay, MacDoom, Peter, Plummer, Preudhomme, Ragbill, Samuel, and Williams.
Indo-Caribbean History: They Came from Afar

Between 1838 and 1917 more than half a million East Indians were indentured or re-indentured in the British, French, Danish, and Dutch Colonies in the West Indies, South America, and Central America. Many of the Indians were transported on sailing ships while others were transported on "newer" steamships. The main route for theses ships after they left the East Coast of India was due south past Madagasgar areound the Cape of Good Hope then northwest toward the Caribbean, via St. Helena. Others were later brought through the Suez Canal through the Mediterranean Sea then southwest through the Caribbean.The East Indians were mainly brought to work on the sugar cane plantations after the emancipation of the African slaves. In some colonies, poor whites, Chinese, Javanese, Nepalese, and Afghani's were also indentured. The Indians soon found themselves farming other types of crops, working in homes, or even in the gold mines of South America. The number of deaths during indentureshp was very high; especially among those that were indentured by the French. Hundreds died during the voyages from disease and shipwrecks.After Indentureship or re-indentureship contacts have opted to stay in the Caribbean Basin, often those from the smaller islands moved to the British Colonies with larger populations. Free East Indians later migrated to these same colonies.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Are There East Indians in St. Lucia?

I once overheard a conversation which served as the catalytic impetus to start this blog:

Co-Worker1: “So, Where are you from, man?"
Co-Worker2: “Umm...St. Lucia.”
Co-Worker1: “But you're an Indian!”
Co-Worker2: “Yes, I am a St. Lucian Indian.”
Co-Worker1: “But your parents certainly must be from Trinidad or Guyana?!”
Co-Worker2: “No. My ancestors are from India. Let me explain..."

Such is the reaction that people have when you tell them that you are an Indian from St. Lucia; and of course I am referring to St. Lucians whose ancestors originally came from India during the Indentureship period in the Caribbean which lasted from 1838 to 1917. Even Indians in the Caribbean whose ancestors came during the same Indian diaspora period are oblivious to our presence in St. Lucia. Many Guyanese, Trinidadians, Surinamese, Jamaicans, and even recently arrived East Indians are astonished to find that St. Lucia has had longstanding Indian communities for over 140 years.. They become even more flabbergasted when they learn that the Indian and Dougla citizens constitute nearly 10% of the St. Lucian population. (A Dougla is a reference to one being of mixed Indian and African ancestry. It is considered pejorative/ and offensive in some parts.) The first 318 Indians arrived in Castries Harbor on May 6th, 1859 on the Palmyra. There were 240 adult males, 58 adult females, 2 minor males, 11 minor females, and 5 children. They were indentured for three years. Twelve more ships would follow and successively discharge Jahajis. (Jahaji means “ship traveler” and refers to the brotherhood formed during the journey among the Indians. It was a self-appointed name that Indentured servants used to describe themselves). The last groups of Jahajis were indentured for five years. The last ship to arrive was the Volga which sank on Dec 10, 1893 off Vigie Point near Castries. In all 4,354 Indians immigrated to St. Lucia and slightly more than 2,560 returned to India."Not enough credit is given to the Jahaji settlers,” wrote Independent Researcher and Indo-St. Lucian genealogist Richard Cheddie, "they saved St. Lucia's sugar industry from economic downturn by toiling the fields that ex-slaves after Emancipation/ Apprenticeship were unwilling to work, or demanded high wages to work. They gave life to a failing industry and a troubled colony. They also introduced rice cultivation and methods of agriculture that were unknown to St. Lucia at the time. And a much need population of eligible females was also made available.” The descendants of the 2,000 plus Jahajis that remained in St. Lucia, who were also augmented by some that were indentured in St. Kitts and St. Vincent, have integrated into every sector of St. Lucian society. They have become politicians, entrepreneurs, mechanics, preachers, agriculturists, authors, teachers, athletes, doctors, lawyers, engineers, drivers, butchers, and fishermen. They have also mixed with the other groups of St. Lucians to produce Douglas who continue to add richness to the racial and social fabric of St. Lucia.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

St. Lucia's Lifeline: The Transport

The Indo-St. Lucians have a longstanding history in transportation in St. Lucia. Here is an excerpt from one of the multiple Indo-St. Lucian drivers.

Speech By A Long Served Bus Driver .......

In 1974 when I first started my mini-bus business we operated with a pick-up van with a wooden box. This was the sole means of passenger transportation at that time. There were not many in the business at that time (approximately ten) and the road condition was narrow and very bad. Imagine a gallon of gas was only 75cents and the bus fare to Castries was 75cents grown-ups 50cents children. (That was a long time ago)
We had no Mini-bus Association. We survived on popularity, there was no leadership, no discipline among the drivers and the quality of service was not very good. One of the things i did not like was the standard in which we operated, by this I mean drivers were not properly dressed, the wearing of sleeveless shirts, and driving with rubber slippers, the hygiene was just not there.
The only time that drivers would come together was once a year, when we celebrated drivers feast. There was always a service and afterwards it was party time, food, drinks and music. The next day everybody would go back to the same indisipline system.
As time went on, we gradually moved from the pick up vans to transit buses although this investment was very expensive more people bought more buses because the ride was more comfortable. Our membership increased to about 25, so we found the need to come together to form an association. The association was registered on 15th June 1997. After the association was registered we were gorverened by a constitution, which took care of the indiscipline in the organization.
We took care of the indiscipline in the organisation, we did not give up we held meetings upon meetings making sure that we were the number 1 mini-bus assosiation on the island.
I retired in the year 2001 giving 27 years of service to my community and country. I am very satisfied that this assosiation has gained more discipline, the membership has increased to 47, the finance status has rised over 21 thousand and in my view the assosiation had a good and hard working leader.(Timophy Bispart)
At present, we have better buses on our route a more organise bus service and most importantly we have never had a fatal accident involving any of our busses on "Route 2C" This shows that our drivers practice defensive driving.
Another thing that I have noticed is that our drivers take their work serious because it is their main source of income.
I have realised that our drivers are better dressed now than before, their buses are always clean, polished and looking nice. The drivers now are better behaved and conduct themselves in a good manner. I don't know if it is because of the disciplinary committee, but if this is the case, it is a step in the right direction.
I would like to see good constructive communication amongst drivers and passengers; one cannot work without the other, as the saying goes " I need you, you need me" Drivers should go the extra mile. (For example, if a passenger has load he/she can't manage alone the driver should at least drop the passenger at their door step or in close proximity to their home).
In future I would like to see the Dennery Mini-bus Association giving back to the public something of value. For example, free transportation for a student or two who passed their common entrance exam to a Seconsary School in Castries, where their parents cannot afford. A construction of a bus shelter, aid for hurricane and fire victims etc. I'm hoping that in the future there will be a stronger bond amongst drivers and passengers.