caribbean civilisation

One misconception outsiders have about Haiti, or any so-called “third world” country, is that poverty is all there is. Reality tells a different story. People live, die, get married, lose their virginity, graduate high school and college, dream and strive in Haiti. There are, in fact, many possibilities.

Haitians are humans, not symbols of poverty. But you shouldn’t have to go to Haiti to find that out.

—  The Slaves of Saint-Domingue Did Not Dream, They Exploded by Ferrari Sheppard
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James Cooper and Russell de Moura, founders of FUNGUS ARTS COLLECTIVE, along with Roger Simmons trying to put a building back together with tape in Port Au Prince, Haiti.

The project conceptualizes the enormous task of re-building Haiti that also speaks to the human futility and vulnerability that is always exposed in natural disasters

“We based our ‘holding it all together’ tape piece on the idea of finding what is ‘level’ in a very wobbly world. We established a straight horizontal line and then used the coloured tape to symbolically ‘ hold together’ an earthquake-damaged building.”

“A fascinating balance of formal beauty and disaster, a deliberate manifestation of a formal beauty that is interrupted by cracks in the wall and the glimpses of figures engaged in clean up activities in the background.”

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Ibeyi - River

Ibeyi is a French-Cuban musical duo consisting of twin sisters, Lisa-Kaindé Diaz and Naomi Diaz. The duo sings in English and Yoruba — a Nigerian language that travelled to Cuba via slavery in the 1700s. “Ibeyi” is a Yoruban word translating into English as “twins”. Their father, Anga Diaz, was a famous Cuban percussionist.

Callaloo Lasagna

INGREDIENTS:

5 cups Coconut Milk

1 cup Butter

1 cup Unbleached Flour

Salt and Pepper

½ teaspoon Grated Nutmeg

¼ cup Vegetable Oil

2 Garlic Cloves (minced or pressed)

2 cups of Chopped Onions

½ cup Chopped Fresh Rosemary

2 lbs Callaloo (rinsed, stemmed and chopped)

1lb Ricotta Cheese

1 Egg

2 cups Parmesan Cheese (freshly grated)

3 cups Mozzarella Cheese (grated)

1 (16 oz) package lasagna noodles

Directions:

Heat the coconut milk until very warm, but do not bring to a boil. In another pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Do not let the butter brown! Whisk in flour and cook for three or four minutes, stirring constantly. Gradually add the hot coconut milk. Continue to whisk until the sauce is thickened. Add the freshly grated nutmeg.

Sauté the onions in oil until they’re translucent. Stir in the callaloo. Add a little water if the callaloo is too dry and season it with salt and pepper. Cook until the callaloo wilts, then remove it from the heat and set aside.

Mix the ricotta, the garlic, the egg and the Parmesan cheese together. Cook the lasagna until al dente (about five minutes). Oil a large casserole or lasagna pan. Layer the ingredients as follows:

-2 cups of sauce

-1/3 of the noodles

-½ of the callaloo

-2 cups of mozzarella

-2 cups sauce

-1/3 of the noodles

-all the ricotta mixture

-all of the callaloo

-2 cups of the sauce

-remaining noodles

-rest of the sauce

Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese on top. Cover the casserole and bake at 350°F for 45 minutes. Uncover the casserole and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the casserole from the oven and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

This recipe feeds six

Every Caribbean island is unique even as we share so much in common. St. Lucia’s unique qualities come from its Creole/Kwéyòl history and culture, a blend of French, English, African, Asian and the older Amerindian that have become something new in Kwéyòl language and culture. You sense the St. Lucian unique spirit especially in its folk music and dance.
—  St. Lucian poet John Robert Lee

Bernard Hoyes, Block Party Ritual, Oil on Canvas

“I have been a creator of art, symbols of ancestral echoes since a child in Jamaica… The images I convey symbolize a culmination of these ancestral echoes brought to classical form. They are contemporary, eternal in spirit and stand as praise to our existence –past, present and future.”

As a Caribbean person, in the the light of our historical circumstances, the assertion of my own narrative and presence is important. At one of my first exhibitions, one viewer warily proclaimed “Who she feel she is to paint she self on such a big canvas?!.. She must feel she is somebody.”

Traditionally, we have never completely controlled or had a share in the historical constructions or the configurations of mass-media that label us, and therefore we always run the risk of being misrepresented. I recall being being told, by a well respected artist, that that if I wanted to make “serious paintings,” that I had to avoid using too much colour.

Needless to say, I did not buy this. I continue to challenge the notion that one has to live and work in a place covered by a grey haze to have a “real” and “serious” life. Years later I even found myself making a large black and white painting in response to this and then had fun decorating and violating it with beautiful pink and red artificial flowers.

—  Irénée Shaw, Trinidadian artist 
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TEDxUWI - The Caribbean Story: Brand Caribbean (by Ian Michado Sebastian Royer)

The night sky above Haiti is beautiful. A trillion stars stretch across its onyx firmament, glimmering above palm tree canopies in a region where few lights shine below. At night, the stars blanket the ubiquitous fervor of hard work to come. During the day, the streets of Port-au-Prince are noisy with motorcycles, cars and public buses – buses which are brightly painted pick-up trucks with “Merci Jesus” written across the crest of the windshield. A multitude of Haitians can be seen clasping to the rear of these vehicles as potholes and unpaved roads are met with casual disregard.
—  The Slaves of Saint-Domingue Did Not Dream, They Exploded by Ferrari Sheppard
… in the Caribbean, mind and imagination – creative intellect and artistic creation – have been major ingredients in the Caribbean battle for space in the first place and in the other, in the region’s effort to re-integrate self and society into an organic totality by the harmonization of inner and outer space. We in the Caribbean have not built pyramids, pillars, cathedrals, amphitheatres, opera houses etc. that are the wonders of the world, but we have more creative artists per square inch than is probably good for us … Music, dance, religious expression, language, literature, appropriate designs for social living are the structural products of the Caribbean’s creative impulse.
—  Nettleford (1993)
Reading famous Caribbean authors who use nation language in their work is a validation of our culture. I wonder, when I submit stories to international journals, if they think that my uses of nation language are spelling and grammatical errors. But it is so important that the rhythm of Caribbean dialect is present in my stories. I want that when an audience hears or reads my story, they hear my Caribbean voice.
—  Barbadian writer Shakirah Bourne 

Here is how you make Ska:

Take some orphans from Alpha School for wayward boys – boys fed on a diet of old school gamma waves beaming blues from New Orleans and Miami. Give them some decent suits, pants cut a little too short. Give them some brass left over from the marching bands, a tinny piano and some broke-ass guitars that need restringing. Tell them Jamaica needs its own sound. That Trinidad’s getting too uppity with their calypso, and Cuba may be more trouble that they’re worth with that whole revolution incubating.

Give them some ganja. Send them up to Count Ossie’s Wareika Hills. Let them listen to the drums, big old dry-foot drums that sound like they survived nuclear fallout. Because they did, say the Rastas, eons ago, in the golden age of Africa.

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Excerpt from Atomic Matter by Monique McIntosh

ska - a style of fast popular music having a strong offbeat and originating in Jamaica in the 1960s, a forerunner of reggae.