West Indian culture is a fusion
Stabroek News
October 13, 2001

Dear Editor,

West Indian literature through the colonial and post colonial era has produced opposing views, intense debate and great writers. And now 2 Nobel Prize for Literature winners within 10 years, Naipaul and Walcott. Both can be brutally honest. Both are from different places, backgrounds, and inherited demons in the shared regional experience. Both have helped me in the ongoing struggle of trying to define what this West Indian should be. Both driven men have had to seek refuge outside of the region.

In the Chapter The Great Years 1966 - 1976 from Derek Walcott and West Indian Drama by Bruce King, the following extract seems most appropriate.

"If there were real decolonization the government would rid itself of the nineteenth-century notion of the artist as someone born to suffer. Both the government and radicals are afraid to see the reality of West Indian culture as it has developed. Ten years ago they were proud to be British; now they are proud to be African. There is a refusal to be Trinidadian or St. Lucian. Everyone talks about decolonization, but that is fakery; the West Indies will always be a colony, whether the colonialism is American, Latin American, or African. Within three generations the model has changed from English to African to black American. Economically we are colonies of America. There are those who would make us Cuban. We waste energy picking out symbols. West Indian culture is a fusion which makes the slogans of 'decolonization' meaningless. Writers are daily going through decolonization, but writers do not use stupid words because they are receptive to all that is of value including Europe, Africa, and America."

Yours faithfully,

Tony Farnum