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Dominica weekly is a personal weblog about the nature island of Dominica.


Editor’s note:This is a guest post from Danielle Edwards – a Literature and History student and an aspiring Journalist.

To many of us, migration really isn’t quite as appealing as some persons would have it seem. Apart from today’s declining prospects of economic benefits, disincentives to leave the Caribbean region for the more developed world are more than glaring.

Certainly, life as we know it- full of colour, rhythm and flavour- would lack its brilliant variety of fresh fruits, and the fresh air and fresh water that we so often take for granted. Many of us would long for the vibes of the steel pan, Soca and Reggae music that we love so much, as well as the daily breathtaking sunsets of soft pinks and lavender. The beauty of our exotic fuchsia bougainvillea sprays and hibiscus blossoms would perhaps become only a memoir. And there would be other more significant changes too…

There aren’t too many societies out there that are as receptive to cultural, racial and religious diversity as West Indians. Unlike many parts of the world where homogeny is the boring norm, our trademark is diversity- and personally I’m proud of it.

And for a people of African, European, East Indian, Lebanese, Kalinago and Chinese heritage, we really don’t have any grounds to discriminate against any race, colour or creed.

At the end of the day, migration is an essential part of the cycle of life. It’s all over the Bible, and it’s the reason why different human races have evolved all over the world. I really don’t understand why so many people are so afraid of it. None of us had the power to choose where we wanted to be born!

For my part, I see the world as everybody’s own, and I think if more people were to think that way, there would be a lot less global conflict. Certainly, the Israelites and Palestinians would no longer have difficulties living next to each other- because the borders would no longer exist in their mind.

It really baffles me as to why- even in this age of globalization- highly educated Americans are actually calling Mexican migrants ‘Illegal Aliens’. 10 years ago, I could never have fathomed the existence of aliens on Earth! If Mexicans are transformed into Aliens just by migrating to the U.S.A., what does that make the rest of us?

I believe strongly in respecting all cultures, beliefs and backgrounds. As far as I’m concerned, anyone who isn’t driven by violent, supremacist or Satanic beliefs is just another regular human being. That’s why I’m very much against any pejorative statements against persons from different backgrounds.

If you feel you must use a derogatory statement to describe someone of a different race or culture, its better to keep it to yourself. If you don’t you will be recycling the ugly and bitter trash that fueled the system of slavery (It wasn’t just slave labour, as some would have us believe). That’s why I’m invariably very disturbed when I hear Dominicans declaring ‘what a Haitian looks like’, or even boldly daring to say ‘that Haitian not looking like a Haitian’.

I think we should all know better in this the 21st century. What does a Haitian look like? What does an American look like? What does a Dominican look like?

If you can REALLY answer any of these questions I’m most eager to be enlightened.

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Editor’s note:This is a guest post from Danielle Edwards – a Literature and History student and an aspiring Journalist.

Evil exists, no doubt. But do we sometimes feel so haunted by the threat of evil that we allow our minds and bodies to be controlled by unsubstantiated beliefs…?

It is rumoured that some Haitians claim the practice of Obeah is more prevalent in Dominica than Haiti! – I must say I would be very surprised if this were to be proven. In a nation of so many Christians, it is necessary to wonder why superstitious beliefs are so rampant, and why they exert such a powerful force on our lives. There must be a reason why people hold on to such beliefs, even when they profess that Christ is in control- or do these beliefs hold on to the people?

Do Superstitious beliefs in the Caribbean exert a sort of mental slavery on our people, the way our colonizers once did, particularly in rural communities- or have WE allowed ourselves to be enslaved by unquestioning belief in irrational myths?

Think of the number of Dominicans who have testified to seeing a ‘soucouyant’ or ‘la diablesse’ in the forest, or a ‘jumby’ dancing late at night in Roseau. They are not alone- many Jamaicans believe in the ‘Ol’ Higue’ who is fabled ‘to be a witch or sorceress, who enjoys humans and preys especially on infants.’ She bears an uncanny similarity to out local soucouyant. Some Jamaicans also believe that when a person dies, his ‘earthly spirit remains for three days in the coffin with the body, where it may escape if proper precautions are not taken, and appear as a duppy’, or ghost.

I’ve heard so many soucouyant stories from persons of all walks of life- from varying backgrounds, degrees of education, communities and ages- that I’ve come to the conclusion that some of these things really do exist- and I’m not being sarcastic. How could so many people be wrong? Our grandparents and great aunts and uncles are such keen-sighted people, I would hate to think that NONE of them know what they’re talking about.

But perhaps this is the root of the problem- that superstitious beliefs have been allowed to seep into all generations- and classes- so they will never die.

Many West Indians, educated and uneducated, acknowledge that legendary folkloric characters, many of whom originated from West Africa, really do exist. Even Bob Marley expressed his belief, in ‘Duppy Conqueror’. A thrill comes from knowing supernatural creatures exist, and the exciting stories of the deeds of the Obeahmen in numerous rural communities can certainly be magnetic. In fact, any student of the arts ideally should have some level of appreciation for superstition- it makes a fine subject of fantasy for painters and poets, and a great subject for theatre, dance and music.

Superstition has given such vibrancy and colour to our culture: We have been warned to beware of who gets a slice of our wedding cake- because some people allegedly have the power to destroy a marriage before it starts. And to be wary also of the people who hide consecrated bread under their tongues during the Sacrament of the Eucharist. I once heard a tale of a person who placed the names of his enemies in a paper bag with rotten eggs in a coffin at a funeral ceremony. I was even told a story, 9 years ago, of a polling station that mysteriously became filled with candles, all ablaze on the eve of an election- soon after it was dead-bolted. More recently, I have heard stories of people who eat garlic and bathe in jays to keep ‘soucouyants’ away. And when you’re about to construct your next house, do not be surprised at the number or Dominicans who may be willing and ready to sprinkle the blood of a dead chicken on your foundation.

I must say these stories and superstitions are all quite interesting, even if some of them are unbelievable. I certainly don’t find them all ridiculous. Like I said, our older and wiser citizens can’t all be at fault. And when it comes to dreams, I’ve personally found many of them reliable and meaningful.

While superstition is one of the few aspects of our life which is dominated by African heritage, it has made too many of our people vulnerable to mind-control –not least by Obeahmen. I don’t think there is a logical explanation for everything in this world, so it’s sometimes necessary to give people the benefit of the doubt. But I think if some of us took the time out to recognize that many of these beliefs are really shackles on our minds, we would be able to learn from our mistakes instead of blaming them on ‘bad mind people’.

And we would realize, ironically, that we have more power over our lives without adhering to superstitious beliefs than when we submit to the Obeahmen who propose they have a remedy for everything.

Sources:
http://www.nlj.org.jm/
http://en.wikipedia.org/

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How many times have Dominica been mistaken for the Dominican Republic? How many times have you read articles about the different Caribbean Islands, where Dominica is just completely overlooked? Over a zillion times I bet! Here is one of the suggestions by a frequent contributor to the Sun Newspaper.

I have suggested before that we make a simple change…A country’s name should be free and clear of any confusion with any other country on the surface of the Earth. Iran and Iraq are close but clearly distinguishable. The same would apply to “Dominique” and Dominican Republic…besides “Dominique” is already in common usage for a very long time and is reflective of the history and of our country. Why not make the change now? More, Dominica is Latin…Dominique is French. It is quite obvious that we considerably more French than Latin.

I personally think, it will be difficult to get accustom if Dominica name changes, but on the other hand it will greatly reduce all the mix-ups with the Dominican Republic. What do you think; would Dominica change its name to Dominique? Let’s hear opinions in the comments.

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