Salad dish not cook-up rice
Stabroek News
October 17, 2001

Dear Editor,

Mr. Tony Farnum's letter captioned "West Indian culture is a fusion" (12/10/01)[ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] is not only ironic but it borders on the funny.

Commenting on West Indian literature and the success of West Indians Derek Walcott and V.S. Naipaul in winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, Mr. Farnum thought it might be deemed appropriate to quote that (West Indian) writers "do not use stupid words because they are receptive to all that is of value including Europe, Africa, and America".

It is ironic because Mr. Farnum's notion of this "fusion" fails to mention even remotely the "value" of India even though Naipaul is of Indian descent. It borders on the funny because on receiving the Nobel Prize, Naipaul stated that it was a ``tribute both to India, my ancestors' land, and to other countries in the subcontinent"! The following day it was reported that Naipaul's Indian heritage always had a strong influence on his writing. (This information is taken from Reuters reports on 11-10-01 and 12-10-01).

Is the Indian exclusion of this "fusion" an oversight or does it stand out because of its distinctiveness? In any case, Ms. Ryhaan Shah in her letter (SN, 17-08-01) has a point that (in the Guyana context) "all awe is not one family. We are seven different families trying to find ways of living together in a common household". I prefer to describe our symbiotic relationship as a salad dish with a lovely variety of colourful and distinct ingredients that differ in taste and texture; it is not a "cook-up rice" where a "fusion" of foods has occurred.

Mr. Farnum's long struggle in defining what is "West Indian" could culminate well when he takes a second look at the plurality that is the West Indies.

Yours faithfully,

Devanand Bhagwan