What does it mean to be Caribbean?

Ben Sutherland of the BBC posts this compelling meditation on Caribbeanness as written by Mark in Jamaica.

Do people in Antigua feel they have anything in common with people in St Vincent? Do Jamaicans talk about the same things as Bajans?

Is there a common Caribbean identity – which means something more than just geography?

More than 20 years ago the Trinidadian Calypsonian David Rudder produced a massive hit called “Rally round the West Indies”, which was ostensibly about the region’s slow decline from being the world’s number 1 cricket nation – but was more about a call for Caribbean countries to get together and support each other.

David once opined that music and cricket were the only times that the West Indies stood together.

But the musical heritage of Cuba is completely different to that of Grenada’s. In Haiti and the Dominican Republic, cricket hardly features at all.

So does anything bind together this chain of islands other than a history of slavery, natural disasters and beautiful beaches.

World Have Your Say heard from many of you across the region urging the world to do more for Haiti after the earthquake of 2010, and the amounts raised for relief efforts from its Caribbean neighbours was generous and heartfelt.

But is it anything more than sympathy when a country is in its darkest hour?

Today sees the last broadcasts of the BBC’s highly regarded and much-loved Caribbean Service, a victim of the heavy cuts imposed on the corporation by its government.

We’ve meet many people who have told us of their sadness at the news and Bush House will be a poorer place without the knowledge and expertise of our Caribbean colleagues.

For many of you programmes like Caribbean Report gave your region a sense of identity so for this reason, and to mark the end of many years of fine broadcasting specific to the Caribbean, we’ve bought together people in Cuba, Antigua, Trinidad and here in Jamaica, to talk across the day about what unites and what divides.

On the World Today we looked at Caribbean culture by linking up musicians in Kingston, Port of Spain and Havana.

Newshour is looking at trade and the economies. World Have Your Say will try to bring all those threads together in special programmes from the University of the West Indies in the Jamaican capital.

The students there, who come from all over the region to study at this top university, will try to answer – what does it mean to be Caribbean?

For the original post go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/worldhaveyoursay/2011/03/what_does_it_mean_to_be_caribb.html

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