So, before I start this month, what do I know about Trinidad and Tobago off the top of my head?
- From what I remember of a History of the Caribbean course I took back in university, Trinidad’s history fits into the same pattern as a lot of other Caribbean islands: European colonialism that was devastating to Indigenous people and built a sugarcane economy that relied on enslaved and indentured people. I know the islands changed hands between European powers, eventually ending up under Britain, and that they became independent in the decolonization era. However, I don’t really know a lot of specifics about the country.
- I know that Trinidad is a pretty diverse place, and there’s deep cultural heritage particularly from India, as well as China and parts of Africa.
- Current day Trinidad and Tobago is a reasonably wealthy country, since it sits to close to South America and has oil and gas reserves. It also has a lot of beach resort tourism.
- I know that Trindadian food has a lot of influence from India – and it has a reputation for being wonderfully spicy. I’m really excited to try Trini cuisine, it sounds fantastic.
- I read V.S. Naipaul’s The Mimic Men a few years ago, and while it didn’t really hook me in, I do want to check out some of his other works, as well as other Trindadian literature.
- Of course, the most famous Trinidadian I know of is Nicki Minaj – and some of her (especially older) music really shows her Trini origins. Pound the Alarm is the best example – set in Carnival – and a total banger.
I definitely want to explore Trinidadian music more this month, see what’s big there nowadays! I know there’s a really rich musical history and I lot of innovative stuff.
I also want to learn about Tobago – so much seems focused on Trinidad, to the point where Tobago is often overshadowed – even in what I was writing above. What’s Tobago like? How different or similar is it to the bigger island? How do they even feel about their relationship with Trinidad?