3rd Article “ADDRESSING THE NAMELESSNESS AND FACELESSNESS OF THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF ARIMA”

ADDRESSING THE NAMELESSNESS AND FACELESSNESS OF THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF ARIMA

@ Francis Morean 30th October 2018

(This is the third in a series of articles being published here by Francis Morean with the focus upon the history of Arima.)

The following is a slightly modified extract from my soon to be released book “F.E.M. Hosein and his Contribution to the Indigenous Peoples of Arima.”

“It is a bit difficult to establish what has been F.E.M. Hosein’s most enduring legacy to Trinidad and Tobago. One can probably say however that his contribution to the descendants of the indigenous peoples of Arima was the feature of his public life, which most distinguished him from the leading citizens of Trinidad and Tobago of his time.

In fact, even before his passing, while he was bed-ridden and incapacitated, the interest which Hosein had shown in the indigenous peoples had begun to reap benefits to the members of the “Carib” community. These benefits were not always very tangible however they have been of historical value since they recorded something of the state of the community at the time.

During the last two decades of his life he resided at the corner of De Gannes and Queen Streets in Arima just down the hill from the “Carib” Settlement at Calvary and just a few minutes walk from the residence of the “Carib Queen” Maria Werges.
In four different ways he made significant contribution to these people. He gave them visibility and official recognition, he renewed interest in their traditions and in their hero Hyarima, he sought lands for them and he helped preserve some of the lands in which their ancestors had roamed in a natural state.

In fact in 1935 while he was ailing and bed-ridden with a stroke the members of the Arima “Carib” community changed the regular route of its annual Santa Rosa procession so that “The procession will leave the church after a sung Mass and proceed in a northerly direction along Woodford Street and de Gannes Street, passing in front of the residence of F.E.M. Hosein. This arrangement has been made with a view of paying special recognition and gratitude to Mr Hosein who was once the Mayor of Arima and by whose special services the original rights of the “Caribs” in this connection were restored to them by His Excellency Sir Claud Hollis. It has been arranged that on reaching Mr Hosein’s residence a halt would be made and the Queen will offer special prayers to God for the restoration to health of the late Mayor without whose untiring efforts the “Carib” element of Arima as well as its present descendants would have entirely lost the memory of the customs of their forefathers in this special connection.”

Hosein died in March 1936 and the tradition of stopping the procession to pray in front of his former residence continued up to about 2001 when it was suddenly discontinued. According to his son Hamid, “In the early days the “Carib” people would put flags and a bamboo with the light,…something like a deya. They would put three bamboos with flags and three lights in front the house. Like real “Carib” thing. He was like a ‘Head Carib’ to them.”

Although the practice had been stopped around 2001, in 2005 members of the Santa Rosa Carib Community placed a flag near the home of the late Mayor although the procession did not pass there.

The earliest photograph I have been able to locate in our local newspapers of an indigenous person in Trinidad or Tobago, is that of the former “Carib Queen” Maria Werges. This photograph appeared in 1933 in an article written by J.C. Rowan, a visiting Canadian journalist. The Queen had been kind enough to pose for a number of shots by Rowan.

Of course the use of photographs in local newspapers had been a fairly new development at the time. However, upon reflection, I find it quite interesting that whereas previously, the Queen had been mentioned in at least 2 earlier news reports where Governor Hollis had visited Arima in an official capacity, it appears that it took the presence of a foreign journalist to both interview her and to have a photograph of her published with his story.

The same photograph of the Queen ( Maria Werges) was also seen in an article written by Seepersad Naipaul and published in a local newspaper in 1934.

In fact a significant number of articles about the Caribs of Arima appeared in the local newspapers around that period.
The efforts made by FEM Hosein up to the middle of 1931 when he suffered a stroke, as well as the clear and definite public support he received from the British Governor Sir Claud Hollis would have no doubt contributed to this.

During that period we also saw the visit to Arima and the Carib Community of Mrs Benjamin A. Morton, the President of the National Society of Women Painters in New York. She was also a member of the Women Geographers Association of New York. She took several photos of the “Carib Queen” and also did portraits of the Church and the residence of the Queen.

The friendship of Governor Claud Hollis with Mayor Hosein and with the “Carib Queen”, Ma Werges had also brought him regularly to “the place of water”, as Arima was known at the time.

It was his initial visit to Arima in 1930 and his friendship with Ma Werges which had led to the tradition of an annual grant being made by the Governors for the assistance of the “Carib Queen” with expenses incurred in the hosting of activities at her residence during the Santa Rosa festivities. This practice has continued over the years with annual grants being made by the Arima Borough Council to the Santa Rosa Carib Community to assist in the annual festivities. The location of the festivities has also shifted to the headquarters of the community at Paul-Mitchell Street.

It is noteworthy that after the debilitating effect of the stroke had afflicted F.E.M” Hosein and had removed him from public life in 1931, and more so after his passing and the departure of Governor Claude Hollis from Trinidad and Tobago in 1936, the question of the allocation of lands for the Indians had also quietly died. There existed however a number of important links to the past and to the issue of the land rights of the descendants of the indigenous peoples in Arima. This memory was preserved in three contrastingly opposite locales. One was official, one was oral, the other was historical and incorporated both official and oral information as well as personal experiences.”

More details about this would be found in the book, which should be released before the end of the year. A date has not been finalized as yet.

It should be noted that different documents during the early 1930s referred to the then “Carib Queen” as Maria Werges, Maria Wergis, Maria Verges and Maria Borges.

In spite of these variations in the spelling of her name, it should still be noted that thanks to the contribution of F.E.M. Hosein, there was a significant advance in the manner in which both the indigenous peoples of Arima and the Queen of the community had been treated in the local media. The namelessness and facelessness, which had previously characterized the media treatment of the indigenous persons had experienced a quantum shift.

It was his initial visit to Arima in 1930 and his friendship with Ma Werges which had led to the tradition of an annual grant being made by the Governors for the assistance of the “Carib Queen” with expenses incurred in the hosting of activities at her residence during the Santa Rosa festivities. This practice has continued over the years with annual grants being made by the Arima Borough Council to the Santa Rosa Carib Community to assist in the annual festivities.

ADDRESSING THE NAMELESSNESS AND FACELESSNESS OF THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF ARIMA.“The following is a slightly modified extract from my soon to be released book “F.E.M. Hosein and his Contribution to the Indigenous Peoples of Arima.”

“It is a bit difficult to establish what has been F.E.M. Hosein’s most enduring legacy to Trinidad and Tobago. One can probably say however that his contribution to the descendants of the indigenous peoples of Arima was the feature of his public life, which most distinguished him from the leading citizens of Trinidad and Tobago of his time. In fact, even before his passing, while he was bed-ridden and incapacitated, the interest which Hosein had shown in the indigenous peoples had begun to reap benefits to the members of the “Carib” community. These benefits were not always very tangible however they have been of historical value since they recorded something of the state of the community at the time.
During the last two decades of his life he resided at the corner of De Gannes and Queen Streets in Arima just down the hill from the “Carib” Settlement at Calvary and just a few minutes walk from the residence of the “Carib Queen” Maria Werges.
In four different ways he made significant contribution to these people. He gave them visibility and official recognition, he renewed interest in their traditions and in their hero Hyarima, he sought lands for them and he helped preserve some of the lands in which their ancestors had roamed in a natural state.”

ADDRESSING THE NAMELESSNESS AND FACELESSNESS OF THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF ARIMA.“The earliest photograph I have been able to locate in our local newspapers of an indigenous person in Trinidad or Tobago, is that of the former “Carib Queen” Maria Werges. This photograph appeared in 1933 in an article written by J.C. Rowan, a visiting Canadian journalist. The Queen had been kind enough to pose for a number of shots by Rowan. Of course the use of photographs in local newspapers had been a fairly new development at the time.

The same photograph of the Queen ( Maria Werges) was also seen in an article written by Seepersad Naipaul and published in a local newspaper in 1934.

In fact a significant number of articles about the Caribs of Arima appeared in the local newspapers around that period. The efforts made by FEM Hosein up to the middle of 1931 when he suffered a stroke, as well as the clear and definite public support he received from the British Governor Sir Claude Hollis would have no doubt contributed to this.

During that period we also saw the visit to Arima and the “Carib Community” of Mrs Benjamin A. Morton, the President of the National Society of Women Painters in New York. She was also a member of the Women Geographers Association of New York. She took several photos of the “Carib Queen” and also did portraits of the Church and the residence of the Queen.”

ADDRESSING THE NAMELESSNESS AND FACELESSNESS OF THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF ARIMA.“In fact in 1935 while he was ailing and bed-ridden with a stroke the members of the Arima “Carib” community changed the regular route of its annual Santa Rosa procession so that “The procession will leave the church after a sung Mass and proceed in a northerly direction along Woodford Street and de Gannes Street, passing in front of the residence of F.E.M. Hosein. This arrangement has been made with a view of paying special recognition and gratitude to Mr Hosein who was once the Mayor of Arima and by whose special services the original rights of the “Caribs” in this connection were restored to them by His Excellency Sir Claud Hollis. It has been arranged that on reaching Mr Hosein’s residence a halt would be made and the Queen will offer special prayers to God for the restoration to health of the late Mayor without whose untiring efforts the “Carib” element of Arima as well as its present descendants would have entirely lost the memory of the customs of their forefathers in this special connection.”
Hosein died in March 1936 and the tradition of stopping the procession to pray in front of his former residence continued up to about 2001 when it was suddenly discontinued. According to his son Hamid, “In the early days the “Carib” people would put flags and a bamboo with the light,…something like a deya. They would put three bamboos with flags and three lights in front the house. Like real “Carib” thing. He was like a ‘Head Carib’ to them.”

Although the practice had been stopped around 2001, in 2005 members of the Santa Rosa Carib Community placed a flag near the home of the late Mayor although the procession did not pass there.”

ADDRESSING THE NAMELESSNESS AND FACELESSNESS OF THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF ARIMA“During the last two decades of his life he resided at the corner of De Gannes and Queen Streets in Arima just down the hill from the “Carib” Settlement at Calvary and just a few minutes walk from the residence of the “Carib Queen” Maria Werges.
In four different ways he made significant contribution to these people. He gave them visibility and official recognition, he renewed interest in their traditions and in their hero Hyarima, he sought lands for them and he helped preserve some of the lands in which their ancestors had roamed in a natural state.
In fact in 1935 while he was ailing and bed-ridden with a stroke the members of the Arima “Carib” community changed the regular route of its annual Santa Rosa procession so that “The procession will leave the church after a sung Mass and proceed in a northerly direction along Woodford Street and de Gannes Street, passing in front of the residence of F.E.M. Hosein. This arrangement has been made with a view of paying special recognition and gratitude to Mr Hosein who was once the Mayor of Arima and by whose special services the original rights of the “Caribs” in this connection were restored to them by His Excellency Sir Claud Hollis. It has been arranged that on reaching Mr Hosein’s residence a halt would be made and the Queen will offer special prayers to God for the restoration to health of the late Mayor without whose untiring efforts the “Carib” element of Arima as well as its present descendants would have entirely lost the memory of the customs of their forefathers in this special connection.”
Hosein died in March 1936 and the tradition of stopping the procession to pray in front of his former residence continued up to about 2001 when it was suddenly discontinued. According to his son Hamid, “In the early days the “Carib” people would put flags and a bamboo with the light,…something like a deya. They would put three bamboos with flags and three lights in front the house. Like real “Carib” thing. He was like a ‘Head Carib’ to them.”

ADDRESSING THE NAMELESSNESS AND FACELESSNESS OF THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF ARIMA.“The friendship of Governor Claud Hollis with Mayor Hosein and with the “Carib Queen”, Ma Werges had also brought him regularly to “the place of water”, as Arima was known at the time. It was his initial visit to Arima in 1930 and his friendship with Ma Werges which had led to the tradition of an annual grant being made by the Governors for the assistance of the “Carib Queen” with expenses incurred in the hosting of activities at her residence during the Santa Rosa festivities. This practise has continued over the years with annual grants being made by the Arima Borough Council to the Santa Rosa Carib Community to assist in the annual festivities.

It is noteworthy that after the debilitating effect of the stroke had afflicted F.E.M” Hosein and had removed him from public life in 1931, and more so after his passing and the departure of Governor Claude Hollis from Trinidad and Tobago in 1936, the question of the allocation of lands for the Indians had also quietly died.”

THERE MUST BE SOME KIND OF CIVILISATION IN ARIMA“As an aside I should mention that different documents during the early 1930s referred to the then “Carib Queen” as Maria Werges, Maria Wergis, Maria Verges and Maria Borges.

In spite of these variations in the spelling of her name, it should still be noted that thanks to the contribution of F.E.M. Hosein, there was a significant advance in the manner in which both the indigenous peoples of Arima and the Queen of the community had been treated in the local media. The namelessness and facelessness, which had previously characterized the media treatment of the indigenous persons had experienced a quantum shift.”

ADDRESSING THE NAMELESSNESS AND FACELESSNESS OF THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF ARIMA.“The earliest photograph I have been able to locate in our local newspapers of an indigenous person in Trinidad or Tobago, is that of the former “Carib Queen” Maria Werges. This photograph appeared in 1933 in an article written by J.C. Rowan, a visiting Canadian journalist. The Queen had been kind enough to pose for a number of shots by Rowan. Of course the use of photographs in local newspapers had been a fairly new development at the time.

The same photograph of the Queen ( Maria Werges) was also seen in an article written by Seepersad Naipaul and published in a local newspaper in 1934.

In fact a significant number of articles about the Caribs of Arima appeared in the local newspapers around that period. The efforts made by FEM Hosein up to the middle of 1931 when he suffered a stroke, as well as the clear and definite public support he received from the British Governor Sir Claude Hollis would have no doubt contributed to this.”