Chinese in the English-Speaking Caribbean - Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs. The Chinese, including those born in China, were quick to convert to Christianity. By 1891, a majority had become Anglican, and many had become Catholic, the two major denominations, whereas a few became Presbyterians, Methodists, and so on. Clearly, the Chinese recognized that upward mobility had to be on Creole terms, requiring not only entrance into the Western colonial education system but also nominal adherence to one of the Western religions, which were sponsors of many of the better schools. Hence, Chinese moved to urban areas to give their children access to better schools. School, then, became the main socializing agent, bringing Chinese children into contact with other races and cultures in Creole society. Indeed, a high illiteracy rate among East Indians in the Caribbean was the price paid for not converting from Hinduism and Islam to Christianity until World War II.

Food, Sports, and Recreation. Chinese food is very popular, and there are many Chinese restaurants in Caribbean cities, which illustrates Chinese success in popularizing their own cuisine in Creole society. At the same time, however, it has been creolized in the sense that it has incorporated many local ingredients, for example, Shaddo Benie, a potent spice resembling cilantro. Another distinctive characteristic of Carribean Chinese cuisine is the use of parboiled rice, which has a slightly different flavor from the rice of mainland China. The Chinese were also successful in popularizing their gambling games: Whe whe (pronounced "way-way") is a numbers game played by many in Trinidad, and in 1994 it became a nationally televised numbers game called "Play Whe" that is almost as popular as the national lottery. With regard to sports, the Chinese avidly adopted Western games such as cricket, soccer, tennis, and badminton. According to Look Lai (1993), a Chinese New Year street parade was held only in nineteenth-century British Guiana.

Arts. There are several prominent artists among the Trinidad Chinese who are well-known for their paintings; for instance, Carlysle Chan and Sibyl Atteck are virtual household names. There are also Chinese designers of Carnival costumes, as well as leaders of masquerade bands in the Trinidad Carnival, such as Stephen Lee Heung and Max Awon. The Carnival celebration is an important national event including music competitons and dancing. Trinidadian calypsonian "Crazy," whose real name is Edwin Ayoung, is Creole Chinese. Ever-popular, he has produced many calypso hits since 1978. In Jamaica, Byron Lee is a Creole Chinese bandleader whose party music has thrilled audiences for decades. He has fans not only in the Caribbean, but also throughout the Caribbean diaspora.

Medicine. Chinese herbal medicines are sold by Chinese shopkeepers in the Caribbean. These medicines, although marketed for a Chinese—yet Westernized clientele—to treat common ailments such as colds, arthritis, and stomach upsets, are also used by Creole people.

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Sep 25, 2013 @ 3:15 pm
what are the names of some of the Indian medicines that are still used in the caribbean?

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