‘A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the souls if its people’ – Mahatma Gandhi
One hundred and seventy-seven (177) years ago on May 30th 1845, the first wave of East Indian immigrants arrived in the Port of Spain Harbour at the end of a treacherous trans-Atlantic journey on board the Fatel Razack ship.
Brought from India to work in Trinidad to address the labour shortage in the post-emancipation period, the Indians coped with the harsh conditions of life and work on the sugar estates. These challenges were met with resilience, perseverance, and a determination to succeed in some way. Their determination and hard work drove them to forge great lives out of the little they had, which helped shaped the growth of communities and contributed to the agricultural development of Trinidad and Tobago. Their customs – food, dance, song, and religion – has been spun into the cultural fabric of Trinidad and Tobago, forging a truly unique identity of chutney soca and other musical genres. Settlement of the East Indian indentured labourers also contributed to the growth of a multi-ethnic society, who rise above ethnic and cultural differences to live in unity.
When we think of how these indentured labourers eked out a living by working on the sugar estates and reverting small-scale farming to raise their families, let us be encouraged to emulate their spirit for contentment, humility and peace.
Let us acknowledge the contributions that the East Indian community has made – political, economic, social, and cultural – to the development of Trinidad and Tobago.
May we be encouraged by their sacrifices, hard work and determination to make a better life.
On behalf of the Board of Governors and Management of the Institute of Marine Affairs, I extend greetings and best wishes for a safe and happy Indian Arrival Day.