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Wednesday 20 November 2019
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Letters to the Editor

Carieto to Calypso: TT First People’s music

THE EDITOR: We celebrate First Peoples' heritage festivals, this month, with the Santa Rosa Carib First People's Community (SRCC) and the Moruga heritage community, who have reclaimed and revived their culture within TT.

In the early years of colonial conquest, the original Amerindian song, Parang, was appropriated and developed into Christian songs with use of Spanish-Venezuelan language and has remained popular up to today. This has now been re-appropriated. Another genre, Carieto (a Carib term) which might have been co-opted in fusion style to extend calypso, was a joyous, seductive song used for healing and boosting vigour. Among their musical instruments were the wood drum and flute; maracas; little drum sticks (palitos); and conch shells. The rhythms, sounds and dance movements were imitations of animals, birds and natural objects. Celebrations in festival form were either religious or secular.

The cultural identity of First Peoples is much less chronicled than others, even though they existed in the Caribbean over 7,000 years before colonial settlers encountered them in the 15th century. This was due to the colonisers' myth that their culture was uncivilised, along with their devastation, through genocide. For centuries our sisters and brothers remained on the fringes of society residing in rural areas to conceal their true identity. Nevertheless, historically, First Peoples in TT joined fugitive/emancipated Africans, and with reciprocal influence utilised their respective cultures to let music account for passive resistance to acculturation. First Peoples' heritage festivals have become a formidable addition to TT music.

DR YVONNE BOBB-SMITH

Cultural Heritage Preservation Agents of TT

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