THE LIVES AND WORK OF TWO INDO-TRINIDADIANSProduct no.: HP205
Influences of Indentureship, Evangelisation and Education
H. Joy Norman
Around thirty-five per cent of Trinidad and Tobago’s population are of Indian descent. From 1845 to 1917, indentured labourers from India arrived in the former British colony to address the labour shortages following the abolition of slavery in 1838.
This book examines the lives and work of two descendants of Indian indentured immigrants who lived and worked in the north of Trinidad. Samuel Ramsaran and Leslie Sankarsingh – father-in-law and son-in-law respectively – were raised in the Christian tradition, but each made different life choices in their careers.
The colonial rulers were unconcerned with the welfare of, first, the enslaved Africans and, later, the indentured Indian labourers. It was, therefore, fortuitous that the Canadian Presbyterian missionaries intervened to improve the lives of, in particular, the subjugated East Indian population. Baptism into the Christian faith, however, was a requirement in order to receive a formal education, and it was this directive that provided the first steps towards a better way of life.
Reverend Samuel Ramsaran believed that relating the Christian Gospel to the local culture had to be redefined. He was aware that the Gospel should be communicated in a meaningful way to the East Indian community.
Leslie Sankarsingh, on the other hand, was opposed to a teaching career imposed upon him by the Church authorities. Instead, he turned to the world of business and was also a prolific writer of poetry in the vein of the Romantic English poets.
The work of these two Indo-Trinidadians and, indeed, many of their contemporaries, was to be a significant contribution to an emerging independent nation.
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