My second visit to Trinidad

I am off to Trinidad and Tobago for a two week birthday celebration holiday with my daughter Michelle and my granddaughter Maiya. 

It is the second time I will visit the birthplace of my parents and the first time for my travel family.

It was my daughter’s idea as she is celebrating her 50th birthday this year. She loves travelling and wants to visit the home of her maternal grandparents to experience Trinidad Carnival and the beautiful beaches in Tobago.

I am excited and nervous about travelling but looking forward to returning to my homeland. My first visit in 1991 was to visit my father and learn about my culture first hand.

My parents arrived in Britain during the Windrush era. I was born in 1954 shortly after Mother arrived to my waiting Father who came in advance to pave the way.

My two sisters were left behind with grandparents whilst Mother and Father created a new life with better opportunities for us children. My older sister arrived when I was two and I met my Angel sister when I was six.

My fascination about Trinidadian culture grew as I grew up. My Mother became a single parent by the time I was six. She did not have particularly fond feelings for her homeland as to her it represented poverty, and limited any ambitions especially for women. Apart from the British weather Mother loved the formal culture and would feed us cucumber sandwiches and listen impatiently while we read poetry from the encyclopedia or read articles aloud from the Sunday Times newspaper. 

She was determined to give her children a good education and the best possible opportunity for success. Meanwhile my fascination grew for Trinidadian culture, a romantic vision of swaying palm trees, blissful beaches and happy creative people. I batted off Mother’s regular reality checks as she regaled tales of poverty, lack of education and a woman’s role to breed children and stew peas. 

Despite this I decided to visit Trinidad in 1991 supported by friends of my family who helped me find Father and meet some of my other seven siblings as well as experience Trinidad culture. It changed me forever. Finally I knew who I was. Why I was loud, always singing and dancing, making things, playing music, happy with life and annoying positive. I found myself in Trinidad and here is where my cultural life really started.

I now run CultureMix Arts, an organisation that celebrates not just Trinidadian culture through the steel pan but all of the Caribbean; reggae from Jamaica, soca from Barbados and much more.

Mother and my trip to Trinidad inspired me to embrace the culture, to share the joys of playing in a steel percussion orchestra, to inspire others with my passion and to educate and positively influence the next generation.