The Federation of the West Indies  had a very short life span when compared to the average period of independence for the territories in the Caribbean region.  The federation was established in 1958 under the British Caribbean Federation Act of 1956.  However,it was disbanded just four (4) years later, caused by the withdrawal of its largest member state, Jamaica.  Over the years we have heard different reasons for the withdrawal of Jamaica. There is the “not so hard to believe” reason of the ego of the country’s leaders being to big and then there is the ‘diplomatic’ reason which states that the member state withdrew because a referendum conducted on the continuation of the country’s participation in the federation yielded results strongly supporting the country’s discontinuation as a member state.  Prior to Jamaica’s withdrawal there were ten countries, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat,  St Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla (presently two separate countries, Anguilla and St Kitts and Nevis) St Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago and St Vincent.  When Jamaica left, the federation’s second largest member state, Trinidad and Tobago, followed soon after and then that was that.

I often question why Jamaica left the FWI but was not able to find an answer that satisfied me.  One thing is however clear, the break down in that system led to different issues and bad blood between different islands and Jamaica and other islands and other islands.  The federation was that place where grouses were settled, or at least an attempt was made to settle same.  However, in its absence the Caribbean  seemed like a battle ground which continued to present day.  When you listen to regional news, there are always issues between Caribbean territories, whether trivial or otherwise.  When you travel outside of the Caribbean, there is, in most cases, a lot of love given to Jamaicans because of the love the world has for our music, our sport personalities or generally our culture.  However, when you speak to other islanders about their experience they give you their ‘horror’ story of how they were mistaken for Jamaicans.  This mistake seems to be transformed into some level of hate and you then find Jamaicans being mistreated and loathed.

I guess heads of state realized that things were getting out of control and that they needed a new body where Caribbean issues can be discussed and resolved.  As a result, the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) was born.  As stated on the secretariats webpage:

The establishment of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) was the result of a 15-year effort to fulfil the hope of regional integration which was born with the establishment of the British West Indies Federation in 1958. The West Indies Federation came to an end in 1962 but its end, may be regarded as the real beginning of what is now the Caribbean Community. 

With the end of the Federation, political leaders in the Caribbean made more serious efforts to strengthen the ties between the islands and mainland by providing for the continuance and strengthening of the areas of cooperation that existed during the Federation. Further, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago both attained independence in August that year and with it the power to control their own domestic and external affairs. 

In announcing its intention to withdraw from the Federation, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago proposed the creation of a Caribbean Community, consisting not only of the 10 members of the Federation, but also of the three Guianas and all the islands of the Caribbean Sea – both independent and non-independent.  

After all the talks and deliberation, CARICOM was finally established in 1973 (August 1st to be exacty) under the treaty of Chaguaramas.

Title: Caribbean People

Artiste: Bugle

Riddim: Caribbean Grove

Year: 2013

INTRO

Ahhh oooh

Ahhhh

Ahhh ooooh

CHORUS
It’s a different kind a people
With a different kind a vibe
A different kind a feeling
That we feel inside
Mi no know if a the water or if a the sun
Maybe a the rum but wi have a lot a fun
Girls dem pretty dem no second to none
Reggae music tun up ina wi ears drum

 

VERSE 1
Well if yuh waa hold a real vibes ya so it de
Tropical climate a that mi a seh
Antigua or Trinny every island a fi mi
Mi accent alone mek yu know when yu si mi
Ghetto side from Palisadoes down a Barbados
Island hopping so the vibes not dropping
Reggae music, dancehall, soca popping
And the island where all the fun things happen

CHORUS
It’s a different kind a people
With a different kind a vibe
A different kind a feeling
That we feel inside
Mi no know if a the water or if a the sun
Maybe a the rum but wi have a lot a fun
Girls dem pretty dem no second to none
Reggae music tun up ina wi ears drum

VERSE 2
We love wi island vibes
Island breeze
Beautiful places, pretty green trees
Me travel the world, meet a lot a girls
But me never see no other girls like these
Short, tall, tick, round, dark brown, eyes dem a dream
But a the heart weh wi have and the way how wi think
Caribbean communities a so wi link

CHORUS
It’s a different kind a people
With a different kind a vibe
A different kind a feeling
That we feel inside
Mi no know if a the water or if a the sun
Maybe a the rum but wi have a lot a fun
Girls dem pretty dem no second to none
Reggae music tun up ina wi ears drum

VERSE 3
Ok

Wi likkle but wi talawa
Talent in a barrage
Check out Ri Ri and Nicki Minaj
Mi haffi big up my elder like John Holt

No other runner doh fast like Usain Bolt
Oh well a no lie mi a tell
If a Soca yo no badda than Marchel
Mi tell yo bout Kes a him a hold a medz
Destra and Alison a wine pan head

CHORUS
It’s a different kind a people
With a different kind a vibe
A different kind a feeling
That we feel inside
Mi no know if a the water or if a the sun
Maybe a the rum but wi have a lot a fun
Girls dem pretty dem no second to none
Reggae music tun up ina wi ears drum

Jamaica, Angola, Antigua, Aruba

Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda Bonaire, hope yu hear

Virgin Island, Cayman Island, yeah Cuba, Curacao

Dominica, Grenada Guadeloupe a di truth

French Guyana and Haiti

Martinique and Montserrat

Puerto Rico, St. Kitts, St. Lucia St. Martin

St. Vincent, Trinidad, Turks and Cacaos

US Virgin Islands

Instrumental until song ends

So finally a new body was put in place under a treaty. When I hear the word treaty, the first thing that comes to mind is peace.  However, there still seems to be a war, or even several wars, brewing whenever you observe the intra-Caribbean relationships that exist.  There is always some conflict existing, which often gives rise to a further segregation of territories.  Over the last four years there have been four major incidents, three which included Jamaica, which sparked calls of boycott and ‘roadblocks’.

1.     The first of such incidents came in 2010 when Trinidad and Tobago’s newly elected Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar stated at a regional meeting that the twin-island republic is not an ATM (automated teller machine).  Several islands saw the statement as a slap in the face and aired their disgust about the statement.  Jamaicans seemed to be more upset than other nationals and so they went to the extent of calling for the boycott of products coming from T&T.

2.     In 2011 Jamaica was again in major regional news but this time the issue was with Barbados.  Shanique Myrie, a 25 year old Jamaican, travelling to Barbados, was allegedly finger raped by an immigration officer during a body cavity search.  This, Myrie said, was done solely on the grounds of her being Jamaican.  She took the Barbadian government to court, who, in 2013, were ordered by the Caribbean Court of Justice to pay Ms. Myrie for her troubles and sufferance.

3.     Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica has unique connections and ties with each other but at times they seem to find themselves in the news for the wrong reasons.  In 2013, the boycott talks gained a renewed sense of urgency after Trinidadian immigration officers denied 13 Jamaican nationals entry into the country, citing various reasons for their action.  At the end of it all, there had to be a sit-down between foreign affairs ministers of both states to bring some peace to the situation.

4.     The last incident occurred over the Christmas holidays of 2013 when the eastern Caribbean was hit by devastating flooding.  Several heads of state had to call on other territories for aid.  It seemed as though none was forthcoming so the heads offered incentives for territories who offered assistance.  This situation should never have gone to that level since it is an understood code of ethics that if your neighbouring territories are affected by any form of natural disaster, it is within your right to offer assistance without being asked.

In the end, each territory will see itself as the premiere destination in the Caribbean and will see any territory threatening its claim to fame as an enemy.  The Caribbean as a unit is a beautiful place and regardless of what each country thinks, we are all bound by history.  We were all ‘carried beyond’ our native homes, whether it is Africa of India (or wherever else), and hence we are joined by the hip, metaphorically speaking.  Therefore, the label Caribbean is fitting (carry beyon(d)).  We are allowed to boast of the individual uniqueness of our islands because it helps use to showcase what exists within our boundaries and it educates people who have never gotten the chance to visit.  However, the showcase should never be with the intention to brew wars, ending in bad publicity which resides on the mantelpiece  of regional and international archives.

Title: I See Lots

Artiste: Machel Montano & Morgan Heritage

Riddim: The Sealots

Year: 2013

INTRO
uuh, oooh hee, yeah yeah

Hey yow

Machel Montano and Morgan

Say oohh yeah yeah yeah yeah

Dedicated to the people

Ooh yeah ooh yeah oooh ooh

CHORUS (Morgan Heritage)

Deep in my heart yeah I see lots

Tearing me apart oh Jah
I see lots, am holding it back oooh

The tears I have got yeah
Its hurting so much ooh
I see lots, see lots

VERSE 1 (Machel)
Should I turn my back & run away
And live to see this another day
No they do too much
See mother and her children lose they life
Innocent by the road side..oh
And all we want is justice
Yu see because they promise we di love and we can’t see that
They promise a solution then they flee dat
You promise better days but we can’t find dat
Yu promise we a dream then yu blind that
Sooo, what do we do now, what do the next move
Where do I go now, where do we go from here
Tell me who should I blame for all a this?

CHORUS (Morgan Heritage)

Deep in my heart yeah I see lots

Tearing me apart oh Jah
I see lots, am holding it back oooh

The tears I have got yeah
Its hurting so much ooh
I see lots, see lots

VERSE 2 (Gramps Morgan)
There’s isn’t much love in the world today

But there is enough to make a brighter day
If we believe it we can achieve it

Equal rights and justice for all

It makes no sense to waste time

While the innocent lose their life
Let’s all look deep inside

And make love shine from our heart yeah (from your heart)

CHORUS (Morgan Heritage)

Deep in my heart yeah I see lots

Tearing me apart oh Jah
I see lots, am holding it back oooh

The tears I have got yeah
Its hurting so much ooh
I see lots, see lots

Gramps Morgan
I see lots deep in my heart yeah
I see lots tearing me apart
I see lots am holding it back yeah
Tears I’ve got (oooh) it hurts so much yeah
I see lots, I see
I see lots

Am holding it back oooo

The tears I’ve got

I see lots, see lots

I see I see

Do you see what I see?

Song ends

 

Title: Virgin Islands Nice

Artiste: Pressure Busspipe

Riddim: N/A

Year: 2014

INTRO

Whoa yeah

Virgin Islands nice

So nice

Cho

VERSE 1 

Am so proud to be from the VI

A place of history like the African soil yeah

St. Thomas and St. John and St. Croix

Nothing can come between us but the waters that divide yeah

Even though we are just a few square mile

A travel round the world with Virgin Island pride yeah

A lot of people still going through strife

And still we live a joyful life

CHORUS

That’s why the place nice so nice so nice

Sweet sweet St. Thomas nice so nice so nice

St. Croix full a pure vibe so nice so nice

St. John a real paradise so nice so nice

We got so much to lose yet so much to prove yeah

Virgin Islands teachers never raise no fool

Mama send we school

Hey hey

VERSE 2 
When things difficult we still a push through

No matter what the blessings still hafi continue

We are a people of great value

That’s why we stick together like tamarind stew

Hey

Remember Queen Mary weh mek di fire born

And Edward Blyden with the Africa vision

Remember St. John with the slave rebellion

General Bodo

  

CHORUS

That’s why the place nice so nice so nice

Sweet sweet St. Thomas nice so nice so nice

St. Croix full a pure vibes so nice so nice

St. John a real paradise so nice so nice

We got so much to lose yet so much to prove yeah

Virgin Islands teachers never raise no fool

Mama send me school

Yeah

VERSE 3

St. Croix produce the band Midnight

A dem de kind a roots mek di fire ignite

Yow, Julian Jackson was the champion in the ring

A now him three son dem a do di same thing yeah

Tim Duncan come from di VI

One of the greatest and the world can see why

If you ever ask me where I’m from

Born ina Virgin Island

CHORUS

And di whole place nice so nice so nice

Sweet sweet St. Thomas nice so nice so nice

St. Croix full a pure vibes so nice so nice

St. John a real paradise so nice so nice

Di Virgin Islands nice so nice so nice

Rock City sweet and nice so nice so nice

Twin City full a pure vibes so nice so nice

Love City a real paradise so nice so nice

 

Am so proud to be from the VI

A place of history like the African soil yeah

St. Thomas and St. John and St. Croix

Nothing can come between us but the waters that divide yeah

Even though we…

Song ends 

I was in a class today where a discussion took place about language contact situations.  Now it is somewhat impossible to speak of such a situation without speaking of the individuals who speak the languages in contact.  So the conversation diverted to nationals from Guyana settling in Trinidad and Tobago and the extent to which their presence is not welcomed.  I saw the discussion as being harsh and felt as though this was how they saw Jamaicans as well so I redirected the conversation to its original point.  You are always going to have students in a class who are quiet and shy but there was this one student who, for the entire discussion, had a smile on her face but said nothing, so I asked her to speak a bit on the contact situation in her area (meaning the area of residence in Trinidad).  She began by saying, the situation is a bit different because she is from Guyana…she waited for no reactions but moved swiftly through her explanation.  I was looking around the room as she spoke and I could see the look of disbelief, shame and regret on the faces of her classmates.  I gave feedback on what she said but deliberately ignored the obvious because I always tell students to be respectful of their country and the others in the region.  Regardless of how you feel, which is often based on ignorance, learn to reserve the ‘bad talk’ when in the company of others because you may never know who you sit amongst and who you are going to offend.

Whether we are economically or culturally rich, we should respect our neighbours and strive to help each other for the development of the region, a place, which centuries ago, became the home of our ancestors, a place where today we call home, the Carry Beyon’.

 

Title: West Indies On The Go

Artiste: Agent Sasco

Riddim: N/A

Year: 2010

INTRO
Well it’s another one

Check, check

Versatile, wicked and wild

Hits of the West Indies style

CHORUS

West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the…

VERSE 1 
Come let me tell you bout the West Indies

Just because we a winner they call we windies

From Kingston Jamaica a Assassin this

 A tell di massive dem fi sing this

CHORUS

West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the…

VERSE 2 
Go when you can go there to have a nice time

Bask in a nice tropical sunshine

Find a beach in Antigua kick back and unwind

Or Trini carnival go get a fat gyal and wine

 CHORUS

Go yo

West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the…

VERSE 3

Go, but we a easy we no ina no fast lane

If a world cup we in dis like we last name

Cricket a play yu know a we run di game

From Bridgeport to George Town to Port of Spain

CHORUS

We on the go

West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the…

VERSE 4

Go and me a tell you even the food nice

Jerk chicken, conch soup, curry goat and rice

Grenada a di island of spice

And when yu get hot just go sip a Red Stripe on ice

CHORUS

Go yo

West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the…

Repeat VERSE 1 

Come let me tell you bout the West Indies

Just because we a winner they call we windies

From Kingston Jamaica a Assassin this

 A tell di massive dem fi sing this

CHORUS

West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the…

Repeat VERSE 2 

Go when you can go there to have a nice time

Bask in a nice tropical sunshine

Find a beach in Antigua kick back and unwind

Or Trini carnival go get a fat gyal and wine

 

CHORUS

Go yo

West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the…

Repeat VERSE 3

Go, but we a easy we no ina no fast lane

If a world cup we in dis like we last name

Cricket a play yu know a we run di game

From Bridgeport to George Town to Port of Spain

CHORUS

We on the go

West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the…

Repeat VERSE 4

Go and me a tell you even the food nice

Jerk chicken, conch soup, curry goat and rice

Grenada a di island of spice

And when yu get hot just go sip a Red Stripe on ice

CHORUS

Go yo

West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the go yo

The West Indies on the go yo

Jamaica massive on the go yo

Haitian massive on the go yo

Grenada on the go yo

Antigua on the go yo

St. Vincent on the go yo

St. Lucia on the go yo

Trinidad and Toba Go yo

Guyana massive on the go yo

St. Martin on the go yo

St. Kitts on the go yo

And Nevis (laugh) yo

We on the go go go go go

West Indies on the go go go go go

West Indies on go go go go you know

We on the go

And right now a sorry but I gots to be on the go

Instrumental  Until Song ends

 

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