As someone born, nurtured and still living in the West Indies, I am still learning and experiencing our islands and their cultures. I am from Trinidad & Tobago, one country two islands, and two somewhat different cultural experiences. Us Caribbean people are very proud of our heritage and history, despite how atrocious and hurtful it may be. For some of us, our ancestors were forced onto ships, stripped of their identities and into slaves; while others chose to cross oceans, in the hope of better opportunities without a caste system.
It has always been my mantra that I am beyond blessed to have been born in the Caribbean and raised here. I can only speak for myself, I see nor live via a racial or ethnic divide. In the words of Bob Marley, for me it’s “One Love”. While I didn’t travel out of T&T until I was an adult, the power of books and knowing my regional history, taught me from young about the Caribbean and being appreciative about our cultures. In T&T, the two dominant ethnicities are Afro- Trinbagonians and Indo- Trinbagonians, I fall into the latter category. But when questioned, my first answer is ALWAYS Trinbagonian. I am also Muslim and a Muslim who wears hijab, so I’m quite easy to spot.
Each Caribbean nation is proud of their rich cultural history and heritage and find ways to preserve them. Colonial architecture, plantation life, political struggles, cultural icons and sporting achievements have been enshrined and immortalized for centuries gone by and for centuries to come. Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua was added as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Jamaica has countless examples Bob Marley Museum, Devon House, Blue Mountain National Park and of course Sabina Park for cricket stand out. T&T has the Magnificent Seven, the pitch lake and Buccoo Reef. Guyana: Kaiteur Falls, Barbados: Harrison Caves, Sam Lord’s Castle and Kensington Oval. St. Lucia: The Pitons, St. Kitts and Nevis: Brimstone Hill. You get where I’m going, I can’t list all because I’ll do injustice to the countless options to all the islands mentioned and those I haven’t.
But the single unifying element in every country, more binding than political and ethnic history, is CRICKET. There is not a single Caribbean nation that does not have a West Indies cricket supporter. Some possess the lion’s share like Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, Jamaica and Guyana. But the smaller islands that constitute the Leeward and Windward Islands are no lesser supporters and lovers than the bigger territories. Antigua has produced some of the best West Indies players to have ever donned the maroon cap. Sir Vivian Richards, Sir Curtly Ambrose, Sir Andy Roberts, Sir Richie Richarson and a young man who is the future of West Indies cricket Alzarri Joseph. Junior Murray and Darren Sammy from Grenada and St. Lucia respectively.
Though West Indies Cricket has been experiencing varying results and off-field drama for well over 15 years, it makes me draw a parallel between the struggles in our Caribbean history. Each territory has developed and progressed far beyond what the colonizers of a few hundred years ago had envisioned. So to do I BELIEVE that West Indies Cricket will emerge from this dark period. Our people and our players are born with a special resilience and passion found nowhere else in the world. Change and development take time, we will return to glory days, equal to or better than that of the 70s and 80s.
BELIEVE, as I do and our ancestors did, that better days are coming….. “Rally round the West Indies”