Original names of Caribbean islands!

As it’s Black History Month, this post may be of interest to fellow Frocaribs (Afro-Caribbeans). True, it’s not directly related to us but I feel it’s a good bit of knowledge nonetheless…

 

From my experience most people are totally ignorant of the Caribbean (aka. West Indies/ Windies/ Antilles). I find that most people, especially South Asians, assume because it’s mostly populated by ‘black’ people that makes the Caribbean part of Africa. I also find they think the Caribbean is one country.

 

Geography 101: the Caribbean is nowhere near Africa; in fact it’s on the opposite side of the planet! That’s how far we were kidnapped during the TAST. It’s a group of islands, technically part of the American continent between the USA (North) and South America (South). But many of us won’t admit that because we don’t like being associated with Americans.

 

 

 

Or rather we didn’t, but nowadays mainstream American culture is becoming more and more accepted on the islands. You see it in the clothes, the music choices, and especially the food. Caribbeans’ obesity & diabetes rates are now pretty similar to those in the USA!

 

But that’s now. Back in pre-European days the natives had their own names for the individual islands, some of which are listed below along with origin language & meaning:

 

Jamaica – Xyamaca/ Xaymaca (Arawak & Taino; Land of Wood & Water/ Land of Springs)

 

Haiti – Ayti (Taino; Mountainous Land)

 

Tobago – Tobago (Kalinago; Tobacco Pipe)

 

Canouan – Cannouan (Kalinago; Island of Turtles)

 

Carriacou – Kayryouacou (Kalinago; Island of Reefs)

 

Martinique – Madinina (Kalinago; Land of Flowers)

 

 

Example of native Caribbean – Carib man from St Lucia

 

 

Examples of native Caribbeans – Tainos from Puerto Rico

 

[Note: so far I’ve only listed the islands whose current names sound similar to their originals. Now I’m going to list others whose native names are completely different]

 

Saint Kitts – Liamuiga (Kalinago; Fertile Land)

 

Nevis – Oualie (Kalinago; Land of Beautiful Water)

 

Montserrat – Alliouagana (Kalinago; Land of Prickly Bush)

 

Antigua – Waladli (Kalinago; Land of Fish Oil)

 

Barbuda – Wa’omoni (Kalinago; meaning unknown)

 

Barbados – Ichirouganaim (Arawak; Red Land/ Island with White Teeth)

 

Dominican Republic – Kiskeya/ Quisqueya (Taino; Highest Land)

 

Saint Lucia – Hiwanarau/ Hewanorra (Kalinago; Land of the Iguana)

 

Trinidad – Kairi/ Lele (Kalinago; Land of the Hummingbird)

 

Saint Vincent – Hairoun (Kalinago; Land of the Blessed)

 

Anguilla – Malliouhana (Arawak; Arrow-shaped Sea Serpent)

 

 

Garinagu (plural of Garifuna) people in Dominica. Garinagu are a mixture of the native Caribbeans & the African abductees

 

I’ll continue to update this list as and when I find more names.

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Sankofa Exhibition – must see!

The Hackney Museum is hosting the Sankofa Exhibition, in celebration of Black History Month (BHM)! It’s on from 24th September to 4th January, so if anyone wants to go don’t worry. It’s on for the next few months! Yay!

(Note for my American readers, in England BHM is celebrated in October, not February)

I and a friend went there last night, and it was amazing considering the conveniently small space. There was a speech explaining the significance and a little of the history of BHM (which used to be called Negro History Week, now there’s a debate that it should be renamed again in accordance with the diaspora’s greater understanding of their identities), poems, songs… and then the exhibition itself. There were original banners from the Black Parents Movement (which I’ll explain in another post), old magazines and books on ‘black’ beauty & pride, old photos of Malcolm X, Darcus Howe, John la Rose and more!

If anyone’s interested in supporting BHM and the dissemination of the African diaspora’s heritage & influence, get down to Hackney Museum! And remember, it’s free!!!

American government collapse!?!

 

 

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Damn! Before yesterday I’d never thought a government could collapse or run out of money to hold up its economy! Non-essential government services like national parks and NASA have been closed, they have only $3 trillion left to repay debts & bills (ONLY? They should be so effing lucky!), and 800,000 people have been furloughed (put on unpaid leave)! With no backpay if the government gets up and running again!

Obama gave his speeches yesterday explaining that this could have very easily been avoided. It’s only happening because the Republicans in Congress refused to fund his proposed reforms to the healthcare system, known as Obamacare. On top of that, the Democrats in the Senate have rejected a Republican proposal to fund the federal government by delaying Obamacare’s implementation! In summary, Obama, the Democrats & Republicans are disagreeing on how best to manage their budget. Effectively, Congress is blaming Obama for the shutdown while he claims they’re holding the country to ransom. Wow, so how much power does the President really have then?

Government shutdowns have happened before back in 1996, 17 years ago during Bill Clinton’s presidency, and another 16 times before that. However, as the economy wasn’t recovering from a recent crisis back then it’s hard to know exactly how good the comparison is. It’ll also be less likely that whatever was done to rectify it then will work now. Which begs the questions: exactly what will be done now? And how exactly will it affect the rest of the world? We’ll have to wait and see.

Oh yes, important date to keep an eye on: 17th October. I admit I forgot why, I’ll type it up when I find out again.

And now I remember. If a budget deal is not agreed upon, that’s the date the US government is calculated to hit its debt ceiling, i.e. run out of enough money to repay its debts!

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Useful links/ more info: 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_shutdown_in_the_United_States

http://www.usa.gov/shutdown.shtml

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/01/us-usa-fiscal-idUSBRE98N11220131001

http://rt.com/usa/us-government-shutdown-effects-550/

http://www.voanews.com/content/us-government-shutdown-primer-on-world-impact/1760193.html

Theatre Royal – Poets’ Manifesto review (originally posted 21/3/13)

This Tuesday & Wednesday just gone (12/3 & 13/3) were the showings of Poets’ Manifesto. This was a youth production shown at the Theatre Royal at Stratford, East London, put together by Karlos Coleman and Kat Francois. I’ve been helping out with the production since January as & when I could, in between working full-time, blogging, keeping up a semblance of a social life and working on my story. I wasn’t able to make it to the Tuesday showing but I saw the Wednesday one. 

 

 

Poets’ Manifesto was about a world not very different to present-day London except for 1 crucial feature: poets and other creatively-minded people were exiled, segregated from normal society and forced to live in a ghetto/ underground part of the city. They’re believed to hold the power to bring down the law & order that  normal society runs on. This system is headed by a man known only as the Banisher, whose job is to ensure everyone adheres to their designated social roles whether they like it or not. Anyone who dares to voice dissent is banished, hence the poets’ underground world. However, the Banisher’s son & heir Noah is secretly a poet. Not just any poet but the Scribe, a poet who’s been secretly undermining the Banisher’s authority over the city, constantly outwitting his 4 henchmen (known as no.1, no.2, no.3 and no.4). Noah later encounters the inhabitants of the underground world – Rocket, his younger sister Melody and others, but also gets outed as a poet by his father! And gets banished!

Through all that action & drama, and the fact that the actors were all ordinary London youths not professional actors, they well and truly hit the nail on the head! It was a masterpiece, I loved it! They got a standing ovation from the audience, and I’m told they got one on the Tuesday showing too! I invited my friend to watch it, and he loved it too! It was all positives all round!

 

(The friend is KG Lester, founder of the WordLovers Society. It’s a writing club on the 1st floor of Clapton Library, held on the 2nd Tuesday & last Thursday of every month. Writers of all levels & types are welcome. I recommend it for aspiring writers, it certainly helped me. KG also does one-on-one writing tutoring sessions)

 

The only props they needed was a metal stand and two bunk bed frames. Oh yeah, and strips of masking tape with lines of poetry stuck all over the walls and floor. The poems were all the cast’s own. It was truly inspired how well they made use of the space of the stage, and the way they involved the audience… genius! During the poets’ rebellion they used blackboards to write down what they want changed in society, and got the audience to do the same! And they had little handheld blackboards for the audience to keep! Getting them involved in the action was pure genius, they loved it!

 

There was even a part when Rocket was telling a secret and told the audience to keep it quiet. He then went up to a little boy sitting right in the front and went, “Sssshhhhh.” That was absolutely spot-on. The whole audience was like, “Aaaawwww! Wasn’t that cute?”

 

Here’s mine. I didn’t write new government, but then I didn’t erase it either

 

Regarding the helping out, due to work I could only make a few rehearsals. It began some time near the beginning of January and it was surprising how quickly we managed to get through the whole process in just under 2 and a half months. The 1st & 2nd times were just the planning stages, thinking of a plot and playing games to get our brains working. Kat’s very much the kinaesthetic type, moving around a lot, as well as a fast talker. Some may think it’s crazy, but hey! Creativity is about going against convention. Ask the poets!

 

The 3rd time I went they’d already decided on a plot, along with characters, poems and a nearly complete script. In fact I wasn’t needed that time; that was only meant to be for the main characters but I wanted to make sure they didn’t forget about me. Just because I couldn’t be in the final product didn’t mean I was letting my contributions be ignored or forgotten! The last time was the Wednesday night, 13/3. I helped the other workers prepare the props, put out the boards, took photos of the last rehearsal, bought pizzas & drinks for the cast (5 pizzas for under £35, plus 1 free! Thanks Pizza Hut!), and finally helped with bringing the guests in.

 

That last part was hectic, especially since some guests were from the Youth Council (the hell is that?!?) and they were to be escorted to their own room! I didn’t even know my way round the place; there are so many back doors leading to so many different rooms and passageways. Luckily I got out of that by letting my helper do it. But we had to guess which ones were which, all the while dealing with all the other guests waiting to be let through to the stage. Phew!

 

I think it’s fair to say there was nothing about the show I didn’t enjoy. I’d definitely be glad to help out again.

GCSE dumped for E-Bac? (originally posted 7/2/13)

This morning I heard about the English government’s plans to scrap GCSE. It would, according to them, be replaced with an English version of the Baccalaureate (E-Bac). Apparently its purpose is to raise the academic standards of England, which everyone acknowledges have been dropping for decades.

(What follows is just my opinion. Remember, I’m in my mid 20s so I did GCSEs & A-levels)

There will be no real difference. All it amounts to is changing the name. It won’t result in any raising of standards because it will still completely fail to address the reasons for the poor standards. These reasons include but aren’t limited to:

 

  • Primary & secondary schools are boring. There was once a time when children had all kinds of extracurricular activities, like kayaking and martial arts. I’d have loved to do something like that! Now extracurricular activities are rare, and they still do much of the same things they’d do in school. This gives the impression that school is never-ending and you never get a rest from it. 
  • No freedom. Children are made to do subjects with no explanation of why they’re important (no, the “it’s to teach them necessary workplace skills” line doesn’t cut it for most), and leaves us with no real desire to succeed. If, for example, a 10yo girl wants to become a TV director and schools don’t teach that (which they don’t), what’s she to do? Just shut up and put up with a subject that holds no importance to her, and she may actively dislike. 
  • The media, more now than ever before, discourages children from academic pursuits. How many educational TV shows exist nowadays? And think about this – why should anyone want to spend 7 years in secondary school learning science & a further 7 years in uni doing medicine to become a doctor when David Beckham & Olly Murs*, for example, can just get on TV & get untold millions? Millions of pounds and fans, that is. 

*Or Pamela Anderson

Then there’s the fact that the media portrays yobs, gangstas, chavs and the rest as normal decent people. If children are made to believe parties are more enjoyable than algebra, it’ll take some work to convince them otherwise. And no-one is doing that work. 

    • Many teachers themselves don’t care about students. Of course this doesn’t apply to all teachers, maybe not even most, but enough to warrant mention. Teaching is just a job, for most it’s nothing to get passionate about. There are too few teachers willing to try to make the lessons fun, partially because some teachers actually don’t know that much about &/or dislike the subjects they teach (wtf?) and partially because some of them are just lazy. Some actively dislike the children, calling them idiots, failures, etc. and get away with it. 

The Inbetweeners‘ Mr Kennedy. He has an active dislike of most of his students, and if you think he’s kidding he assures you he is not

  • The goal of education. Children know the only reason for school nowadays is to learn skills to enter the workplace. Even if it did that well (which it doesn’t), why should children – who aren’t old enough to work – care about the workplace? Most of them don’t even know what they want to do when they are old enough to work, and the phenomenon of young adults going through life with no ambition or certainty of what to do is infamous. On top of that, the concept of making us “able to compete in the global market” is bantered around a lot, but why should the global market or the economy matter to us? What fulfillment can we get out of it? That’s conveniently left unanswered. 
  • The structure of the system. The fact that we have a difference in standards between public and private schools says it all. Private schools are paid for and thus guaranteed to give children good academic standing. Public schools, not so much. On top of that, GCSE grades are useless for the workplace. Even A-levels and uni degrees have lost much of their value. So what’s the point of school & uni? 
  • Parents’ failures. England has too pervasive a culture of people sleeping around, getting pregnant & not knowing how to raise the offspring, which often means they don’t see it as their responsibility to educate them. Education starts in the home but too many don’t understand that; they think that’s the schools’ & government’s job. Even for those parents who mean well, the cost of living has gone up so much that even with mum and dad working full-time they struggle to pay the bills which leaves them with precious little time & energy to teach their children anything valuable. Then there’s the booze-bingeing, drinking for the sake of getting drunk, which has been part of English culture for centuries. Despite the known medical effects of alcohol, it’s still seen as good fun for teens to get “smashed”, so drunk they don’t even know their way home let alone what 2 x 0 equals. 

Hooray for booze!!!

  • Ignorance of how to cater to children’s individual needs. It’s rather well documented now that all people have 3 main ways of learning: visual (seeing), auditory (hearing) & kinaesthetic (touching/ feeling/ moving). Most people predominate in one style, usually visual but even so everyone relies on all 3 to some extent. No school in England trains teachers how to cater for all 3 types, only visual & auditory. This means some kids are left unable to “get a feel” for the subjects (if you tend to use phrases like this, it’s a good clue you’re probably kinaesthetic). 

For these reasons, and probably more, I don’t see how changing the GCSE for the E-Bac will make any difference to English children’s academic achievements. If anyone has opinions on this topic I invite discussion. 

quirky actor, script & story writer and poet spreading insights, old and new, from unconventional sources

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