Sei sulla pagina 1di 10

French Impact in Trinidad and Tobago

Settlers coming from Martinique, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Dominica, and Guadeloupe flooded the island by the
thousands bringing their slaves with them and setting up plantations, these French speaking people overran the
island; they built roads, buildings, villages and towns. They also acquired positions of prestige in the government and
took up and active role in the governance of the colony, soon their numbers and influence surpassed that of the
original Spanish colonists and in essence La Trinidad became La Trinity an unofficial colony of France.

In 1789, French planters from the Caribbean brought slaves with them in number, looking to establish the
islands cocoa and sugar industries. By 1802, Trinidad fell into the hands of the British, who abolished slavery
on the island not long thereafter. To this day, many Trinidad and Tobago residents are of African heritage,
which is a testament to the islands slave days.
In addition to the Dutch and the Courlanders, Tobago was also fought over by the English and the French all the
while. Thousands of slaves worked the plantations in Tobago, helping furthermore to shape the modern-day
culture of Trinidad and Tobago. The British ruled over most of Tobago for quite some time, and they built Fort
King George in the eighteenth century to protect their Tobago capital of Scarborough. French forces would
invade Fort King George and Tobago in 1781, but Britain retained possession in 1814. Coincidentally, at the
site of the ruins of Fort King George, you will also find a museum that is dedicated to Tobagos history. The
Tobago Museum is a great place to gain insight into the history of Trinidad and Tobago, as is the National
Museum and Art Gallery, which can be found in the countrys capital city of Port of Spain.

The first inhabitants of these islands were
Amerindians from South America who traveled
there hundreds of years before Christopher
Columbus landed in the Caribbean. With the
arrival of settlers from Europe, foreign diseases
greatly reduced the native population, and today
few full-blooded descendants remain.

The European influence on the culture of
Trinidad and Tobago primarily comes from
In 1797, Trinidad came under British control
when Sir Ralph Abercromby captured the
island from Spain. In 1802, Trinidad and
Tobago officially became British colonies
under the Treaty of Amiens.
Under colonial rule, slaves were shipped from
Africa to work in the sugar fields and
plantations. When the African slave trade was
abolished officially in 1834, East Indian and
Chinese peasants were hired as

Search the Internet for current news from
Trinidad and Tobago. Websites, such as:
Spain, France, and Britain. All three countries
claimed the islands at various times during the
countrys colonial history. Spanish rule began
when Columbus "discovered" Trinidad and
lasted for nearly 300 years. During the latter
part of Spains occupation, French immigrants
moved into political offices; in addition to
African and Spanish influences, Trinidadian
culture began to adopt French traits, language,
and customs.
Dates to remember........
1498 - Christopher Columbus claims Trinidad for Spain
1592 - Spanish settle in Trinidad and retain possession for
two centuries
1797 - Trinidad is captured by British
1814 - Tobago is ceded to the British
1834 - Slavery is abolished in Trinidad
1845 - Indian indentured immigration begins; program
lasts until 1917
1888 - Tobago is joined to Trinidad as a single Crown
1956 - Trinidad and Tobago achieves self-government
1962 - Trinidad and Tobago is granted independence
1976 - Trinidad and Tobago is named a republic
1980 Tobago House of Assembly is established
will give you a head start. Can you find a
school in Trinidad and Tobago with a
website? Try to find an e-mail pen pal for
you or for your entire class!
indentured servants to work the fields. Many
chose to stay and live in Trinidad and Tobago,
even after the practice of indentured servitude
ended in 1917. Today, descendants of these
African and East Indian laborers make up
approximately 80% of the countrys total
population. Trinidad and Tobago were
politically united in 1888 when they became a
British Crown Colony. In 1958, the Federation
of the West Indies was formed. Trinidad and
Tobago became an independent member of
the Commonwealth of Nations in 1962, and in
1967 joined the Organization of American
States. On August 1, 1976, the twin islands
became the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

A visit to Trinidad today would reveal a multicultural melting pot stirred
by the descendants of settlers from Europe, Africa, Asia, South America and the Middle East. But in 1498,
when explorer Christopher Columbus set foot on Trinidad, things were very different.
Arawak and Carib Indians prospered here on the island the Amerindians called Ieri, land of the Humming Bird,
until Columbus spotted the island he named for the Holy Trinity. When the Spaniards discovered no precious
metals on Trinidad, the Amerindians were enslaved and shipped off to work on other Caribbean settlements.
Nearly a century would pass before Spain established Trinidad's first European community, San Jose de Oruna
(St Joseph), which was sacked and burnt by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1595. Sir Walter Raleigh was also said to
have discovered the Pitch Lake, from which he used material to caulk his leaking ship.
Trinidad remained a Spanish possession from the 15th Century and the Cedula of Population in 1783, allowed
French planters and their slaves to emigrate from the French colonies to the island. The British would capture
Trinidad in 1797 and negotiate an amicable treaty of rule with the Spanish.
In the following years, enslaved Africans were brought in to work on sugar plantations and in 1802, the island
became a British colony. After slavery was abolished by Britain, landowners imported thousands of indentured
labourers from India, China and the Middle East.
In 1889, Britain joined the smaller Tobago to Trinidad as an administrative ward. The islands achieved
independence from England in 1962 and became the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in 1976.
To learn more about Trinidad's History please see the following books:
Named for the tobacco cultivated by the original Carib population, Tobago
existed separately from Trinidad for centuries. While the explorer Christopher Columbus sighted the island in
1498, he did not land and no attempts were made to colonize Tobago.

But long before European powers expressed interest in the island's strategic harbour and fertile soil, it was the
centre of battles for control between the Carib population and other Amerindian tribes.

Later, in the 17th century, English, French, Dutch and even Courlanders (Latvians) fought to control the
strategic island and it changed hands more than 30 times.

During British rule in the late 1600s, sugar, cotton and indigo plantations were established and thousands of
Africans were brought to Tobago as slave labour. In 1781 the French invaded, but by 1814 the island was ceded
to Britain.

In 1889, during a period of economic decline, Britain annexed the smaller Tobago to Trinidad as an
administrative ward. The islands achieved independence from England in 1962 and became the Republic of
Trinidad and Tobago in 1976.

The base of Tobago's early economy was agriculture, but this was ravaged by severe hurricanes in 1847 and

Today the island is serene, yet the many forts and batteries that dot Tobago's landscape hint at a thrilling past.

Fierce slave revolts, bitter battles for control between European powers, attacks on European settlers by the
Amerindian Indians who inhabited the island and pirates are all part of Tobago's rich history.

In 1629 an expedition of Dutchmen established a settlement which was annihilated by disease and the
Amerindians. More settlers were sent in 1632 but an attack by the Spaniards four years later drove them out.

English Puritans also attempted to settle in Tobago, but many were killed by the Amerindians and the survivors
driven out.

To learn more about Tobago's vibrant history please see the following books:

History of the People of Trinidad & Tobago by Dr Eric Williams
Introduction to the History of Trinidad and Tobago by Dr Bridget Brereton

Colonialisms in T&T
By Bridget Brereton
Story Created: Nov 10, 2011 at 12:35 AM ECT
Story Updated: Nov 10, 2011 at 12:35 AM ECT
As we know, Trinidad was a Spanish colony until 1797. It was never a French colonyyet France has greatly
influenced its history and culture.
This happened, of course, because of the influx of French immigrants in the late 1700s, as a result of the Cedula of
Population (1783) inviting foreign Catholics to settle in Trinidad. These immigrants, coming mainly from the French
Caribbean colonies, especially Martinique, and also from Grenada (British since 1763 but with a significant French
population) and including many "free coloureds" as well as whites brought with them their enslaved labourers,
who were given no choice in the matter.
Together they ensured that a fused African-French culture would be dominant in Trinidad for many years to come
in language (French, and Crole or Patois), religion (French forms of Roman Catholicism), the expressive arts
(dance, music, song), folklore, festivals and so on. Spanish influences were largely though not entirely
The sister island was a formal French colony for two periods, 1781-93, and again 1802-03. Yet French influences
there were minimal, except for a few place names.
Why the difference? During the two periods when France ruled, hardly any French people, other than a few officials,
came to live in Tobago. The landowners, the holders of the enslaved labourers, continued to be British the
persons who'd been given land grants when Tobago was formally ceded to Britain in 1763 and others who'd
acquired land subsequently.
They and their slaves, mostly people kidnapped in Africa and brought on the infamous Middle Passage, and their
descendants, ensured that Tobago's culture would continue to be an African-British fusion in language (English,
and Tobago English Creole), religion (various Protestant faiths, especially the Anglicans, Methodists and
Moravians), the expressive arts (African-British traditions of music, dance and song). The two periods of rule by
France, which didn't involve any significant French immigration, made little impact on Tobago's culture.
After 1803, Tobago remained a separate British colony until unification with Trinidad in the new (British) Colony of
Trinidad and Tobago, which came into being in 1889. No other European power had a significant influence on
Tobago's modern (post-1763) development.
Trinidad passed from the Spanish to the British Empire in 1797, by force of arms during wartime, and then by formal
treaty agreement in 1802. It was a separate British colony until 1889, when the Colony of T&T was created. The
formal end of British colonialism, of course, came on 31 August 1962 next year will mark the golden jubilee of
For much of the 19th century, British influence on Trinidad's culture was fairly limited, outside the realm of law and
governance. Patois remained the majority language into the start of the 20th century. French was the first language
for the French Creole group up to the turn of the century, and 19th century Trinidad newspapers often had sections
in that language.
Despite efforts by the colonial government to push the Anglican faith, the great majority of the people (except for the
Indian immigrants) remained at least nominally Roman Catholics, even if they often combined this faith with African
belief systems such as the Orisha or Shango movement.
But gradually, the colonial government, the churches and the schools managed to spread the English language and
British culture in the society. By the 1920s or 1930s English Creole had replaced Patois as the majority language.
The use of Patois (and Spanish) declined.
Though Anglicanism remained a minority faith, it did gain some ground, especially with the immigration of thousands
of people from places like Barbados, Tobago or St Vincent, who had often been Anglicans in their home islands.
Of course, the colony's legal system, which had been Spanish, was gradually overhauled until, by the mid-
nineteenth century, it was essentially English. Our laws and legal procedures are still basically British (and the Privy
Council is still our highest court of appeal).
The system of publicly funded schools, first set up in the post-emancipation years, was modelled on the English and
Irish schools; the prestige secondary schools, like Queen's Royal College, were imitations of English "public" (that
is, private!) schools and taught entirely British curricula well into the last century. Even today, our education system
has more in common with that of Britain than (say) the US.
British influences on our popular culture were fairly strong, especially in sports. Both football and cricket were
invented by the Brits and spread throughout the world wherever they went.
Of course, British literature exerted a strong pull on the colony's writers, and the first generation of T & T, and
Caribbean, creative writers gravitated almost naturally to London. The BBC played a significant role in nurturing the
talents of this generation, including VS Naipaul and Michael Anthony, especially in the 1950s.
And as everywhere in the Empire, the British organised a system of government in T&T which was based, even if
loosely, on their own. The "Westminster System" is also an inheritance of British colonialism.
So like it or not, European influences derived from the colonial powers, Spain, France and Britain, have played a key
role in the evolution of T&T's culture and history.
Bridget Brereton is Emerita Professor of History at UWI,
St Augustine, and has studied and written about the history of T&T, and the Caribbean, for many decades
FranceTrinidad and Tobago relations
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
French-Trinidadian relations


Trinidad and Tobago
Bilateral relations between the countries France and Trinidad and Tobago have existed for about two hundred
Currently, France has an embassy in Port of Spain. Trinidad and Tobago is represented in France
through its embassy in Brussels (Belgium). Trinidad and Tobago also has bilateral investment agreements with

1 Colonial history
2 Cultural legacy
3 See also
4 References
5 External links
Colonial history[edit]
France had colonized Trinidad during the seventeenth century.
France occupied the colony from August 1666
to March 1667. On 6 December 1677, the French destroyed the Dutch colony and claimed the entire island
before restoring it to the Dutch by the first Treaty of Nijmegen on 10 August 1678. In 1751, the French settled
colonists on the island, but ceded it to Britain in the Treaty of Paris of 10 February 1763.
Nevertheless, most
"of the settlers were French, and French influence became dominant."
It was again a French colony from 2
June 1781 to 15 April 1793,
nominally part of the Lucie dpartement of France from 25 October 1797 to 19
April 1801, and once again a French colony from 30 June 1802 to 30 June 1803.
Cultural legacy[edit]
By the later 1790s, the white upper class on Trinidad "consisted mainly of French creoles," which created "a
powerful French cultural influence in Trinidad. This was expressed not only in the widespread use of French
patois...but also in the general population's enthusiasm for the Catholic tradition of Carnival."
Sean Sheehan
explains further that for "about a hundred years, the language spoken in Trinidad and Tobago was a pidgin form
of French, which was basically French with Twi or Yoruba words included. Even today, there is a strong
element of French in Trini, and in some rural areas, people speak a language that is closer to French than to
Main article: Music of Trinidad and Tobago
The Cedula of Population of 1783 laid the foundation and growth of the population of Trinidad. The Spanish
who were in possession of the island, contributed little towards advancements, with El Dorado the focus,
Trinidad was perfect due to its geographical location. French planters with their slaves, free coloureds and
mulattos from neighbouring islands of Martinique, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Guadeloupe,
and Dominica migrated to the Trinidad during the French Revolution. The Spanish also gave many incentives to
lure settlers to the island, including exemption from taxes for ten years and land grants in accordance to the
terms set out in the Cedula. These new immigrants establishing local communities of Blanchisseuse, Champs
Fleurs, Cascade, Carenage and Laventille. Trinidad's population jumped to over 15,000 by the end of 1789,
from just under 1,400 in 1777. In 1797, Trinidad became a British crown colony, with a French-speaking
population. This exodus was encouraged due to the French Revolution.
Beginning in 1845, major influxes of indentured immigrants from India and other parts of the world
dramatically changed the ethnic composition of the islands. These indentured servants brought their own folk
music, primarily from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, to the creole mix, resulting in chutney music. In addition to
Indians, Syrians, Portuguese, Chinese and Africans came to the islands in waves between 1845 and 1917, and
even after.
The French Revolution (1789) had an impact on Trinidad's culture, as it resulted in the emigration of
Martinique planters and their French creole slaves to Trinidad where they established an agriculture-based
economy (sugar and cocoa) for the island. The Mas tradition started in the late 18th century with French
plantation owners organizing masquerades (mas) and balls before enduring the fasting of Lent. Indentured
laborers and the slaves, who could not take part in Carnival, formed their own, parallel celebration called
"Canboulay". Canboulay (from the French cannes brules, meaning burnt cane) is a precursor to Trinidad and
Tobago Carnival, and has played an important role in the development of the music of Trinidad and Tobago.
The festival is also where calypso music has its roots, through the chantwells who sang songs called Kaiso. As
early as the 1780s, the word cariso was, used to describe a French creole song and, in Trinidad, cariso seems to
have been perfected by the (mostly female) chantwells during the first half of the nineteenth century. The
chantwells, assisted by belair (bl) drums and alternating in call-and-response style with a chorus, were a
central component of the practice called Calinda (stick-fighting).
Calypso music was developed in Trinidad in the 17th century from the West African Kaiso and canboulay
music brought by African slaves imported to that Caribbean island to work on sugar plantations. These slaves,
brought to toil on sugar plantations, were stripped of all connections to their homeland and family and not
allowed to talk to each other. They used calypso to mock the slave masters and to communicate with each other.
Many early calypsos were sung in French Creole by an individual called a griot. As calypso developed, the role
of the griot became known as a chantuelle and eventually, calypsonian.

Stick fighting and African percussion music were banned in 1881, in response to the Canboulay Riots. They
were replaced by bamboo "Bamboo-Tamboo" sticks beaten together, which were themselves banned in turn. In
1937 they reappeared, transformed as an orchestra of frying pans, dustbin lids and oil drums. These steelpans or
pans are now a major part of the Trinidadian music scene and are a popular section of the Canboulay music
contests. In 1941, the United States Navy arrived on Trinidad, and the panmen, who were associated with
lawlessness and violence, helped to popularize steel pan music among soldiers, which began its international

Jab Jab -
Jab is the French Patois for "Diable" (Devil), and Molassie is the French Patois for Mlasse (Molasses). The Jab
Molassie is one of several varieties of devil mas played in Trinidad and Tobago carnival. The costume consists
of short pants or pants cut off at the knee, and a mask and horns. The jab molassie would carry chains, and wear
locks and keys around his waist, and carry a pitch fork. He may smear his body with grease, tar, mud or
coloured dyes (red, green or blue). The jab molassie "wines" or gyrates to a rhythmic beat that is played on tins
or pans by his imps. While some of his imps supply the music, others hold his chain, seemingly restraining him
as he pulls against them in his wild dance.
The differences among the various forms of devil mas were once distinct, but have become blurred over time.
Dame Lorraine an amply blessed woman stuffed in the appropriate areas dressed as an 18th-century
French aristocrat
Folk traditions[edit]
Recorded in the hills of Trinidad, here is a fascinating juxtaposition of three music and music / dance practices
of non-urban dwellers derived from African roots. Bamboo-Tamboo evolved out of the ban European
colonizers imposed on drumming: dry, hollow bamboo poles were cut to varying lengths to produce different
pitches when thumped against the ground. These bamboo instruments are used to accompany or speak about
calinda (stick fighting). Belair (bl) is a dance of older women accompanied by drums and shakers, often
danced all night long; whereas Kaiso, has its origins in West Africa and was brought over by the slaves who in
the early history of the art form used it to sing about their masters.
In the late 18th Century when the French plantation owners and their Creole slaves came to Trinidad and
Tobago, they brought with them a life style of "joie de vivre" to their plantations. At that time, the French held
many balls at the Great Houses where they enjoyed doing many of the courtly dances of Europe.
The house slaves, in their moments of leisure, took the dance to the field slaves and mimicked the dance of their
masters. The slaves who worked in or around these houses quickly copied the style and dress. They showed off
by doing ceremonious bows, making grand entrances, sweeping movements, graceful and gentle gliding steps
which imitated the elegance of the French. The rhythmic quality of the bl drums added spicy and yet subtle
sensuality to the movements. There are more than 14 types of bl dances including the Grand bl and Congo
bl, with each performed to its own rhythms and chants.
Kaiso is a type of music popular in Trinidad, and other islands of the Caribbean, such as Grenada, Barbados, St.
Lucia and Dominica, which originated in West Africa, and later evolved into calypso music.
Kaiso music has its origins in West Africa (particularly in present day Nigeria) and was brought over by the
slaves who (in the early history of the art form) used it to sing about their masters. The people would also gather
in "kaiso" tents where a griot or lead singer would lead them in song. Many early kaisos were sung in French
Creole by an individual called a chantwell. Kaiso songs are generally narrative in form and often have a
cleverly concealed political subtext.
After Emancipation of slavery, the Chantwell would sing call-and-response chants called lavways lionizing and
cheering on champion stickfighters. This form of music gradually evolved into the modern calypso.
Main article: Calypso music
Calypso music grew together with carnival. The music drew upon the West African Kaiso and French/European
influences, and arose as a means of communication among the enslaved Africans. kaiso is still used today as a
synonym for calypso in Trindad and some other islands, often by traditionalists, and is also used as a cry of
encouragement for a performer, similar to bravo or ol. Highly rhythmic and harmonic vocals characterized the
music, which was most often sung in a French creole and led by a griot. As calypso developed, the role of the
griot (originally a similar traveling musician in West Africa) became known as a chantuelle and eventually,
calypsonian. Calypso was popularized after the abolition of slavery and the ensuing growth of the Carnival
festivals in the 1830s.
Modern calypso, however, began in the 19th century, a fusion of disparate elements ranging from the
masquerade song lavway, French Creole belair and the stick fighting chantwell. Calypso's early rise was closely
connected with the adoption of Carnival by Trinidadian slaves, including canboulay drumming and the music
masquerade processions. The French brought Carnival to Trinidad, and calypso competitions at Carnival grew
in popularity, especially after the abolition of slavery in 1834.
Calypso drew upon African and French influences, and became the voice of the people. It allowed the masses to
challenge the doings of the unelected Governor and Legislative Council, and the elected town councils of Port
of Spain and San Fernando. As English replaced patois (Creole French) as the dominant language, calypso
migrated into English, and in so doing it attracted more attention from the government. Calypso continued to
play an important role in political expression, and also served to document the history of Trinidad and Tobago.

Carnival was introduced to Trinidad around 1785, as the French settlers began to arrive. The tradition
caught on quickly, and fancy balls were held where the wealthy planters put on masks, wigs, and beautiful
dresses and danced long into the night. The use of masks had special meaning for the slaves, because for
many African peoples, masking is widely used in their rituals for the dead. Obviously banned from the
masked balls of the French, the slaves would hold their own little carnivals in their backyards using
their own rituals and folklore, but also imitating their masters behavior at the masked balls.
While it is generally known that the French brought Carnival celebrations to Trinidad when they came in the 18th
century, there are certain aspects of Carnival that can be traced to Africa and some of its festivals there. For example,
the Egungun festival of Nigeria is reminiscent of the revelry, pantomime, street parades, music and masking that are
seen in Trinidad and Rio de Janeiro carnival. Africans portray masks in their ceremonies, dances and festivals. The
moko jumbie (stilt walker) and devil portrayal, and even the hat worn by the midnight robber are similar to characters
played during the Nigerian festival of Egungun.

The Spanish realizing this, proclaimed the cedilla de poblation which invited any catholic subject on good terms
with the Spanish crown, to settle in Trinidad on the condition that they swore absolute loyalty to the Spanish and
obeyed the Spanish laws for governing the colony; the Spanish also gave many incentives to lure settlers to the island,
including exemption from taxes for ten years and grants of land to set up plantations. It was reasoned that settlers
from the more populous French islands should be given first preference over others because they were catholic and
already has expert knowledge in planting different varieties of sugar cane.

Settlers coming from Martinique, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Dominica, and Guadeloupe flooded the island by the
thousands bringing their slaves with them and setting up plantations, these French speaking people overran the
island; they built roads, buildings, villages and towns. They also acquired positions of prestige in the government and
took up and active role in the governance of the colony, soon their numbers and influence surpassed that of the
original Spanish colonists and in essence La Trinidad became La Trinity an unofficial colony of France.

The population of Trinidad was further increased by the importation of thousands of slaves directly from Africa to
work on the new plantations since the slaves brought over from the French Islands were soon found to be
inadequate. As soon as they arrived in Trinidad the slaves were culturally suppressed for fear of revolt, these slaves
interacted with the creolized slaves that they met on the island. The slaves born in the Caribbean spoke Creole which
was the spoken language of the slaves in the French Antilles.
When the British took the island in 1797, they encountered a complex culture that existed nowhere else in the
Caribbean; the island was a Spanish colony with a French, Creole and Spanish-speaking population, Creole became the
common language of the different communities of people who all spoke different languages. From 1797 until 1962
the British ruled, they tried their best to stamp out the overwhelming Franco-Creole- Hispanic influence but were
largely unsuccessful until the early part of the 20th century; when the use of Creole, Spanish and French began to
decline; the British attacked the Creole culture by passing laws against anything that did not conform to their
definition of culture.

These very laws, rooted in linguistic and cultural discrimination eventually led to the Cannes Brules riots in the late
1800's. Soon thereafter Creole was superseded by English and its Creole counterpart and today there remains very
few places where Creole is heard regularly. One of these villages in Paramin which also has a strong Tradition of
Spanish speaking, another is Blanchisseuse and a remote village called Morne Carbite.