Reader’s Opinion: Cultures of the Caribbean

POSTED: 02/27/14 12:14 AM

Dear Editor,

The Caribbean is a group of islands stretched in a curve from the southern tip of Florida, United States of America, to the northern coast of South America, close to Venezuela, and embedded in the Caribbean Sea. These islands were colonized by England, France, Spain, the Netherlands, and the United States.

The Caribbean has long been a background for trade from as early as 1624. The islands are responsible for one-fourth of the world production of sugar, bananas and tobacco. These groups of tropical islands are sometimes referred to as Greater and lesser Antilles. Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos, including Bermuda, are not part of the Caribbean group.

Most of the descendants are negroes whose ancestors were brought from Africa to work on sugar plantations. The people of the Caribbean enjoy the beautiful beaches, botanical gardens with tropical flowers and green forests.

The Caribbean consists of fertile land, volcanic mountains, and beautiful coral reefs. The beautiful blue sky and bright sunshine are the islands’ most valuable treasures.

The official languages are English, Spanish, French and French Creole (patois). Patois is a local French dialect; Dutch and Papiamento are also spoken. Papiamento is also a local dialect.

Local delicious dishes include rice and beans with fried plantains; aki and salt fish; jerk pork with rice and peas; salt fish fritters and sweet potato pudding; white rice with stewed red peas and stewed chicken; stewed whelks and dumplings; fungi and boiled fish; goat water; curried conch and dumplings; pumpkin fritters with salt fish; sauce made from boiled pig feet, pig ears or pig head; salt fish ans doucouna; pepper pot; flying fish and corn meal; crab and callaloo; roti and pepperpot; yambo and salt fish; barbecued chicken, spare ribs or fish with rice and peas; chicken legs and Johnny cakes.

Musical tradition: the natives dance to the pachanga; reggae; steel band; creole or cadence; caplypsos, folklore string band; spooge beat; soca; rap; salsa; tambo and merengue. Carnival in the Caribbean is one of the biggest annual events involving street parades and colorful display of costumes.

Finally, the people from the different islands can select their national dishes and musical tradition from the list above.

This is my contribution towards the Black History Month celebration.

Joseph Harvey

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