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Thread: African-American Settlers in Moruga - Trinidad

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    SuperDuper Soca Agent iPicong's Avatar iPicong is offline
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    Lightbulb African-American Settlers in Moruga - Trinidad

    was listening to a program on 90.1fm this morning..........lI guess yuh really learn something new everyday.
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    Registered User LIONESS onda RISE is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by iPicong View Post
    was listening to a program on 90.1fm this morning..........lI guess yuh really learn something new everyday.
    ..ppl cashing out thier 401k's and jumping ship more and more as the economy gets worse and worse..i have a freind that moved to costa rica.. told me to bail..shiz gonna be marshal law..IDK!...lol
    BELLY FULL BUT DEM STARVIN'

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    SuperDuper Soca Agent iPicong's Avatar iPicong is offline
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    African American history is also directly linked to a fascinating part of Trinidad and Tobago history. During the War of 1812, the British government offered freedom to any American slave who would fight for the Crown, and several hundred were relocated to the southern coast of Trinidad, where these “Merikins” remain the stuff of legend around Moruga.
    2011 Ambassador's Messages | Embassy of the United States Trinidad & Tobago
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    Quote Originally Posted by BABYLOC View Post
    ..ppl cashing out thier 401k's and jumping ship more and more as the economy gets worse and worse..i have a freind that moved to costa rica.. told me to bail..shiz gonna be marshal law..IDK!...lol
    nah past settlers......im googling now to post info....yo Nick might be related to you
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    Hey Ms. Carter... triniameri's Avatar triniameri is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by BABYLOC View Post
    ..ppl cashing out thier 401k's and jumping ship more and more as the economy gets worse and worse..i have a freind that moved to costa rica.. told me to bail..shiz gonna be marshal law..IDK!...lol
    I have a few friends doing that also especially retiring to Costa Rica
    and the Dominican Republic
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    Registered User LIONESS onda RISE is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by triniameri View Post
    I have a few friends doing that also especially retiring to Costa Ricaand the Dominican Republic
    dont know whats up with it, but he says he living like a God down there on basic pennies..im like WTF?..anyhoo...
    BELLY FULL BUT DEM STARVIN'

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    SuperDuper Soca Agent iPicong's Avatar iPicong is offline
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    Unveiling The History Of The Baptist Companies
    By Zahra Gordon
    Story Created: Aug 26, 2011 at 9:35 PM ECT
    Story Updated: Aug 26, 2011 at 9:35 PM ECT
    Unveiling The History Of The Baptist Companies | Trinidad Express Newspaper | Sunday Mix







    The Gopaul Lands, Marabella bedroom of Augustus Lewis is filled with pride, disappointment and anger as about 10 people of Merikin descent convene for a weekly meeting to discuss the Merikin Heritage Project—a blueprint for celebrating the history of six companies of African-American soldiers settled in Trinidad in the early 1800s.
    They do not usually meet in Lewis's bedroom or with unpleasant feelings, but the circumstances on this particular Saturday are exceptional. Lewis, founder of the organisation, recently suffered a stroke and was unable to leave the room; this was also the week after members had been informed—a mere five days before the scheduled opening on August 17, 2011—that the planned exhibit on the history of the Merikins of Moruga would be postponed until further notice.
    Members say that National Museum officials cited "lack of funding" and "lack of ministerial support" as the reasons for this untimely action. When they received the information, three visiting overseas lecturers scheduled to speak at the opening had already arrived in this country.
    "Why did it take so long to figure out that they didn't have enough funding?" asks Professor Tina Dunkley, Director of Clark Atlanta University Art Galleries in Atlanta, Georgia. "As budgets go, being appropriated for a certain amount of projects and programmes, why, at the very last moment, with no indication or notifying of the people who've already bought tickets and elected to come? To put them in that kind of situation is very awkward."
    Dunkley is also of Merikin descent—fourth Company—and has recently located records, through national archives in both Port of Spain and London, of her enslaved ancestors who were soldiers the British Army during the War of 1812, which afforded them freedom. At the end of the war, six companies were eventually settled in south-east Trinidad between 1815 and 1816 in what is now known as the Company Villages along the Moruga Road with each being granted 16 acres of land. The name "Merikin" derives from American. While this amazing story is detailed in the booklet The Merikens: Free Black American Settlers in Trinidad 1815-16 by anthropologist John McNish Weiss, it has also been kept alive through the oral histories of descendants.
    While browsing a catalogue of a Merikin family reunion held in Trinidad, Dunkley spotted the unusual name—Bukusu—of a great-uncle she remembers her aunt constantly speaking about. Dunkley was delighted to connect with the Trinidadian Merikins as well as share her research at an evening of lectures and discussions, "We the Merikins" hosted in First Company Village on August 17th. A visual artist, Dunkley is currently producing work for an exhibition on the history of her family and the Merikins.
    The postponement of this exhibit, however, was yet another disappointment that has left some members to believe they have only themselves and other interested or generous citizens to depend on. The Merikin Heritage Project has morphed from what began as a family fraternity to what is now a non-profit organisation under the full title of Foundation of the Devil's Woodyard Volcano and Heritage Sites Company.
    The Amphy & Bashana Jackson Fraternity began in the 1980s and hosted Merikin family reunions, but there was soon a call for expansion that would benefit and enhance the lives of the entire Merikin population.
    In 2004, the formal name was adopted following meetings with UNESCO representatives when the plan to use 97 acres of land near the Company Villages, Moruga, for the Merikin Heritage Project was developed. UNESCO approached the group as 2004 had been declared the International Year to Commemorate the Struggle Against Slavery and its Abolition. The proposed project includes a museum, a research institute, an indigenous fruit orchard and other agricultural endeavours.
    However, both UNESCO and Trinidad government officials involved in the meetings have not followed through on any plans or promises although Lewis says that the Merikins and their villages are protected under the National Trust of Trinidad & Tobago.
    "We believed we needed people to assist and the people who we believed would assist are trying to spoil whatever plans we have," says Michael Toussaint, member of the board of directors.The directors are continuing with their efforts, however, and are planning a festival to be held in 2012 – the bicentennial of the War of 1812.
    Akilah Jaramogi, who was the organisation's liaison for the exhibition is questioning the UN declaration of 2011 as the International Year for People of African Descent. "I went to UNESCO. I sat there with Susan Shurland and Hart Edwards. I did submit a proposal to them only to be told there is no money. I went to the foreign affairs ministry; I had a conversation with Mr Green, also to be told there is no money. So how serious is thing about International Year of People of African Descent when we are showing you directly that we are ready to tell our story to move forward and the state wasn't prepared. No one was prepared to really work with us"
    The Merikins however remain a close-knit community and are determined that their story will be told. Like Dunkley, many believe it is their duty to keep this history alive: "It was an honour to be among diasporic Africans who possess considerable knowledge as to the fate of their ancestors during the epic of enslavement. We in America are most familiar with Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, but to excavate yet another epic saga of people who chose to relieve their souls on fire by escaping during a war, and taking up arms against their oppressor is just a story that must be shared. Our fore-parents had no means of uttering, except among themselves, much less, writing, about their harrowing plight," says Dunkley.
    To find out more information about the Merikin Heritage Project and updates of events, contact: Akilah Jaramogi 689-7794, Augustus Lewis 658-3367, Phyllis George 720-2336. To make a donation to their efforts: First Citizens Bank, Marabella, Foundation of the Devil's Woodyard, #1936195
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    Hey Ms. Carter... triniameri's Avatar triniameri is offline
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    nice read ipicong
    Can't keep your eyes off my fatty
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    Registered User Missmayling's Avatar Missmayling is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by iPicong View Post
    nah past settlers......im googling now to post info....yo Nick might be related to you
    I asked about those blacks before on I-mix ,but no one knew about them. Some of thsoe AA also settled in the Bahamas.
    The enemy of my enemy is my friend- Arabic proverb

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    Quote Originally Posted by Missmayling View Post
    I asked about those blacks before on I-mix ,but no one knew about them. Some of thsoe AA also settled in the Bahamas.
    I would say maybe I should have payed more attention to History class but from what was said on the radio program they are now trying to get this information added to the school curriculum..........maybe men like Ananci7 and Marabunta would have known about this
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    Registered User BacchanalDiva's Avatar BacchanalDiva is offline
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    Dunno about Marabunta but Ananci7 and I have spoken about them before. They're not the only groups like this either and Trinidad is not the only place to have settlements like that. There's a book...well know one at that, yet I can't remember the name of it right now that breaks down EVERY group in Latin America and the Caribbean..from the Garifuna, Maroon, Merikan etc and even tracks migrations across the region. Its great stuff - Ananci will know the book im talking about cause I believe its he that recommended it to me years ago.
    "Those who are able to see beyond the shadows and lies of their culture will never be understood, let alone believed, by the masses." -Plato

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    Registered User Missmayling's Avatar Missmayling is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by iPicong View Post
    I would say maybe I should have payed more attention to History class but from what was said on the radio program they are now trying to get this information added to the school curriculum..........maybe men like Ananci7 and Marabunta would have known about this
    Off topic, but do you know of the African indentures that went to Trinidad??
    The enemy of my enemy is my friend- Arabic proverb

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    Quote Originally Posted by Missmayling View Post
    Off topic, but do you know of the African indentures that went to Trinidad??
    I dont recall getting instruction on it in Secondary School......it could have been introduced to those who did advanced courses in History or on 1 of the days when I was coming tuh class after recess or watching up girls skirts
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    Heirs of African-American freedom fighters revisit their roots | TnT Mirror – Get the real story

    Heirs of African-American freedom fighters revisit their roots
    By Nazma Muller - August 5th 2011 7:09 PM

    ‘Merikin’ descendants tell story of Company villages


    Almost every saturday afternoon these days, a small group gathers at the home of Augustus lewis in Gopaul lands, Marabella.

    They seem like ordinary folks, and they are, to some extent, but the reason for their gathering is quite unique.

    They are the directors of The Merikin Project, and they carry the genes of five companies of African-American soldiers who were brought here by the British from the United States in the early 1800s.

    These men, who called themselves Merikins, earned their freedom from slavery in the US by escaping from their slave masters and fighting for the British in the 1812-1814 war. They and their families settled in what is known as the Company Villages in southeast Trinidad, along the Moruga road.

    Today, the directors of The Merikin Project are one step closer to their mission to commemorate and create awareness of their ancestors, as they prepare for the first-ever exhibition on the Merikins at the National Museum in Port of Spain, which will run from August 17 to September 30.

    The long-term goal of the non-profit organization, however, is to create a heritage site that will improve life chances for the residents of the Company Villages.

    After a meeting between UNESCO officials and the directors, they decided to create a non-profit organization called the Foundation of the Devil’s Woodyard Volcano Heritage Sites Company of T&T. They hope to receive 97 acres of land on which they can provide “sustainable development and advancement” of the villages and Merikin descendants.

    Such a heritage site would be a tourism attraction that would also protect and maintain endemic and native species of flora and fauna, while showcasing the traditional agricultural practices handed down through generations of Merikins.

    Some of the surnames of the original Company soldiers include Ayres, Cooper, McNish, McLeod, Samberry, Loney, Elliot, Fortune and Dunmore.

    Merikin descendants recall enchanting childhoods spent in the villages, where everyone knew everyone, and life was tough but sweet.

    Fruit trees were abundant, and their parents worked hard to mind their many children. One of the directors, Akilah Jaramogi, drew on her childhood experiences in Sixth Company Village, Moruga Road, in her lifelong struggle as an eco-warrior and head of the Fondes Amandes Community Re-forestation Project. It was from her grandmother that she learned traditional African ways of planting and harvesting crops, especially ground provisions, which were brought by the original settlers who hailed from the southern states of America.

    They were part of a great yet little-known AfricanAmerican emigration to the West Indies.

    The Merikins of the Company Villages had been the Corps of Colonial Marines. They were garrisoned afterthe war in Bermuda for 14 months, then disbanded in Trinidad in 1816 to form a new free black class of small landowners.

    According to research by British anthropologist John McNish Weiss, these former slaves became a disciplined military unit.

    Recruited mainly from the states of Maryland and Virginia and later, Georgia, they were highly praised for their courage and discipline.

    “During the War of 1812, Black aspirations and White fears gave the British a special weapon in fighting the Americans,” writes McNish Weiss. “Concerned southern slaveholders, recollecting Black success in Haiti and viewing the final 1804 massacre there as instigated by the British, might have agreed with advice received in London that with British aid the states of Georgia and the Carolinas could turn over into Black republics.”

    This fear was heightened by Haiti’s bloody revolution and resulting independence from France. The Corps of Colonial Marines were trained to unleash hit-and-run amphibious assaults up and down the Atlantic coast.

    With the British arrival in Chesapeake Bay, and instructions from London that any slave who reached British posts and ships were free, thousands of slaves made a desperate dash for freedom.

    “Most of the refugee body met hostility and unsatisfactory conditions in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick,” continues McNish Weiss, “but most of those who settled in Trinidad between 1815 and 1821 found themselves well-established on rich soil in what was, by comparison with Nova Scotia, a land flowing with milk and honey. Over five hundred of these Trinidad settlers achieved that conclusion as Colonial Marines and their families.”

    Still underdeveloped, Trinidad’s need for new labour coincided with the opportunity to introduce a free class of black yeoman farmers.

    On arrival in Trinidad waters on August 15, 1816, the men of the Corps of Colonial Marines and their families were sent in two parties to Naparima (now San Fernando) and formally disbanded near the Mission of Savanna Grande (now Princes Town) on August 20. They were organised in villages in their military companies, each under the local supervision of an ex-sergeant.

    Each household in the settlements was given 16 acres – following the previous Spanish rule for persons of colour — and as much more as they could cultivate.

    This didn’t sit well with the resident French planters, and it took some 30 years before confirmation of absolute title was given to those remaining settlers who claimed it.

    The soldiers were mostly Baptists, the remainder Methodists.

    An 1824 report mentions 20 Muslims, presumably among the small proportion of the settlers born in Africa within the group of 100 who were from Georgia.

    These would have been the first Muslims recorded in Trinidad.

    The traditions and survival strategies of the Merikins still live on today in their descendants, who believe that these African-American farmers and landowners have much to teach the people Trinidad and Tobago.

    And the first lesson is about how history has overlooked many of our heroes.

    For more information about the merikin exhibition at the National museum, which runs from August 17-September 30, and fund-raising efforts, please call Akilah Jaramogi @ 689-7794, Augustus Lewis @ 658-3367 or Kenneth Phillips @ 364-0450
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