Afro-Trinidadian people

Afro-Trinidadian people

Afro-Trinidadians refers to a generalized term used to describe Trinidadian people whom appear to have "Black" or "African" descent. They are also referred to simply as African, Black, Negro or Creole, mainly by the western and European standard; described as possessing one or more Negroid feature such as: dark skin, curly hair, or full lips, regardless of non-African traits or non-African heritage.)

Afro-Trinidadians account for 39.5% of the population of Trinidad and Tobago as of 2000. However the classification is primarily a superficial description based on phenotypical (visual) description opposed to genotypical (genetic) classification. It is not uncommon for a dark complected person of Indian decent be considered more "Black" or "African" solely based on skin color. An additional 18.4% of the population described themselves as being of Mixed (Dougla); most of them are also of African descent. [citebook|title=Nationalism and Identity: Culture and the Imagination in a Caribbean Diaspora|author=Stefano Harney|year=1996|publisher=Zed Books|id=ISBN 1856493768]

Contrary to the implications of the term Afro-Trinidadian, it is somewhat inaccurate considering the racial/ethnic diversity of the group which includes ancestry from: Amerindians, West Africa, Spaniards, French, Creoles, Chinese, Germans, Swiss, Portuguese, Scottish, British, Irish, Italian, Mexican, Dutch, Norwegian, Polish, Arab, Lebanese, African American, Other Caribbean islands, Venezuela, and India.

It is also noted the term Afro-Trinidadian is not mutually exclusive. This is due to the fact that the majority of modern day Trinidadians are of varying mixtures of both African and Indian decent. The term Indo-Trinidadian is applied to Trinidadians that have strong Indian roots and/or features, but also may have African decent. Similarly, the term Afro-Trinidadian is applied to Trinidadians that have strong African roots and/or features, but also may have Indian decent.

Unlike Trinidad, Tobago (Trinidad and Tobago were united in 1888) has a different history. Trinidad is mainly multiethnic, however the population of Tobago is primarily Afro-Tobagonian which is synonymous with Afro-Trinidadian, with the exception that the people of Tobago are almost exclusively of direct African decent. In an effort to unite the cultural and ethnic divide between the two islands many people choose to be called Trinbagonians as a sign of unity.


The Afro-Trinidadian are a mixture different nationalities and ethnic groups.1498 Columbus landed on the island of Trinidad where he encountered the Caribs and Arawaks Amerindians.Trinidad became a territory of Spain. The Amerindians became slaves and over time became Mestizo people.

The Spaniards started transported enslaved Africans to Trinidad via the African slave trade in 1517, thus over time producing mulatto Trinidadians and mixtures of Mestizo and mulatto people almost fully erasing any full blooded Amerindians.

In 1783 the King of Spain passed a law called Cedula of Population which promised free land to people willing to relocate to Trinidad to work. This law caused a migration of French settlers and their creole slaves the work the sugar cane plantations. The people became not only Mestizo and mulatto but now also creole. Spanish, French, and Patois were the languages spoken.

In 1802 Great Britain took over the island and slavery was eventually abolished in 1834.The abolishment of slavery led to an influx of indentured servants.One of the first groups of indentured servants were the Chinese. The conditions were horrible some left many stayed and married into the Trinidadian populous. Later on in 1911 many more Chinese came after the Chinese revolution. In the 1840's European indentured servants began ariving including: the French, West Africa, Creoles, Chinese, Germans, Swiss, Portuguese, Scottish, British, Italian, Mexican, Dutch, Norwegian, Polish, Arab, Lebanese, African American, Other Caribbean islands, Venezuela, and Irish (many of which also settled in Montserrat, also known for their high number if redheads). A high number of these settlers married into the families of the freed slaves over time.

On May 30, 1845 the British transported indentured servants from East Indian to Trinidad. The conditions were no that different from the African slave trade this day is known as Indian Arrival Day. The first group of East Indian people also began to mix into the Trinidadian populous. After the use of indentured servants was abolished 1917, a second group of East Indian people steadily migrated to Trinidad from India referred to as "coolies" (which is a racial slur directed toward the newly arriving East Indian people most of which kept their East Indian customs).

Because of this rich and unique cultural heritage Trinidadians are know as one of the most ethnically, racially, and culturally diverse people in the world.

Historical Use of the terms Afro-Trinidadian and Indo-Trinidadian


After the 100th celebration of Indian Arrival Day on May 30, 1945, the holiday was celebrated less and less, the transportation of indentured servants had ceased (banned in 1917) and the people shared a similar culture and languages. East Indians continued to migrate to Trinidad, whom did not conform to the Trinidadian culture but rather kept their own East Indian traditions.

In the 1950's A group called the Divine Life Society of Chaguanas encouraged people to celebrate "Indian Emigration Day", as to include new East Indians peoples as well as native Trinidadians.1976 the Indian Revival and Reform Association (IRRA) was formed. They were concerned about racism against Indians and were interested in developing ideas, writing pamphlets to bring about an Indian revival and renewed pride in Indian heritage and Indian culture. It was around this time the term Indo-Trinidadian was started to be used.


Between 1968 and 1970 the "Black Power Revolution" gained strength in Trinidad and Tobago. The National Joint Action Committee was formed by a group of Undergraduates at the St. Augustine Campus of the University of the West Indies. Influenced by people such as Fidel Castro, Stokely Carmichael and Malcolm X . The National Joint Action Committee demonstrated to bring about Black Power and a return to African heritage and African culture.

On April 6, 1970 a protester, Basil Davis, was killed by the police. This was followed on April 13 by the resignation of A.N.R. Robinson, Member of Parliament for Tobago East. On April 18 sugar workers went on strike, and there was talk of a general strike. In response to this, Williams proclaimed a State of Emergency on April 21 and arrested 15 Black Power leaders. Responding in turn, a portion of the Trinidad Defense Force, led by Raffique Shah and Rex Lassalle, mutinied and took hostages at the army barracks at Teteron. Through the action of the Coast Guard and negotiations between the Government and the rebels, the mutiny was contained and the mutineers surrendered on April 25.It was around this time the term Afro-Trinidadian was started to be used.

Note: These termes are almost never used by people from Trinidad and Tobago.


The ultimate origin of most African ancestry in the Americas is in Africa. Ancestors from the west coast of Africa, which now includes Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Togo, Guinea, Cameroon, Angola and Guinea-Bissau, among others. Many of them were from tribes such as the Yoruba, Ashanti, Kru, Mandinka, Rada and Itsekiri. All of these tribes, among others, were affected by the Slave Trade. The majority of Afro Trinidadians were the descendants of immigrants from other islands of the Caribbean, especially Grenada, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Barbados, and some from Jamaica. Other Afro-Trinidadians trace their ancestry to American slaves recruited to fight for the British in the War of 1812 or from indentured labourers from West Africa.


The massive influx of African slaves to Trinidadian shores that happened in the 16th and 18th century respectively was important in shaping the cultural space of Trinidad and Tobago. Afro Trinidadian culture is immanent within and encapsulates all other cultures. Afro-Trinidadian culture is decisive in Steelpan Culture, Carnival Culture, and Calypso Culture and also helped in many ways to shape.

Religious Groups

Most Afro-Trinidadians are Christian, with the largest group being Roman Catholics, Anglicans and (in Tobago) Methodists. Smaller numbers follow Afro-Caribbean syncretic faiths like the Spiritual Baptist Church and the Rastafari movement. Non-Christians include adherents of Islam, the Orisha faith, the Bahá'í Faith, Hinduism or are followers of Sai Baba.

Notable Afro-Trinidadians

*Eric Williams - first Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago.
*Sir Ellis Clarke - first President of Trinidad and Tobago and major architect of the republican constitution.
*Brian Lara - West Indian Superstar Batsman, & Leading Test run scorer, & Owner of both the highest test & first class score.
*A.N.R. Robinson - third Prime Minister and third President of Trinidad and Tobago.
*Leroy Clarke artist, writer, poet, social critic, activist.
*Austin "Jack" Warner - football administrator, FIFA Vice-President, CONCACAF President.
*Dwight Yorke - professional football former player for Manchester United and other European and Australian teams.
*Kelle Jacob - America's Next Top Model contestant
*Earl Lovelace - Novelist, playwright and short-story writer.
*k-os - hip-hop musician
*Jeffrey Stollmeyer - Former West Indies Cricket Player.
*Gus Logie - Former West Indies Cricket Player.
*Ian Bishop - Former West Indies Cricket Player.
*Foxy Brown - Rap Star and Actress
*Dwayne Bravo - West Indies Cricket Player, IPL's Mumbai Indians player.
*Mike Bibby - NBA player
*Nia Long - American film actress
*Roi Kwabena-Poet, Publisher, Cultural Anthropologist, Historian
*Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) - Civil Rights activist and "Black Power" advocate.
*Learie Joseph-Famous comedian in Antilles and America
*Lloyd Algernon Best- Economist, Politician, Political Analyst, Columnist, Lecturer, Statesman
*Moira Stuart- female newsreader on British television
*C. L. R. James- journalist, socialist theorist and writer.
*Trevor McDonald- Trinidadian-born British television presenter
*Janelle Commissiong - first Trinidadian and black Miss Universe
*Wendy Fitzwilliam - second Trinidadian to win Miss Universe
* Mervyn M. Dymally, California State Assemblyman, former U.S. Congressman and former Lieutenant Governor of California.
*Jennifer Carroll - First Black Female Republican elected to the Florida LegislatureJamaal Magloire- NBA Player

ee also

* Indo-Trinidadian
* Dougla


External links

* [ - your Caribbean Online]

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