It’s Black History Month and we’re on day 15
What is a ‘Coolie’ pt2
The main difference between Indian coolies and other indentured labourers like the Chinese, is that they arrived as a family unit of men, woman and children, many had chose to take the contracts out of societal pressure due to their belonging to the ‘untouchable caste’ otherwise known as Dalits which meant oppression and discrimination in India.
Many of the women also arrived as single or widowed women.
All labourers were required to work seven and a half hours a day, six days a week for five years, receiving about 13 cents.
By the late 1800’s more Indians had been brought over to work on the plantations, some high caste Brahmins which meant some form of caste system did indeed exist in places like Trinidad and Guyana as well as some animosity between Indians and the newly freed Africans.
As opposed to slavery, the Indians had an advantage over the newly freed slaves in that they retained their languages, cultures and religions, a mix of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians, something which is apparent even today in Caribbean cuisine, culture and patois, but more on this in the next post.
However this didn’t stop abuses from occurring, namely the Hosay riot which erupted and resulted in the death of 9 people when Shi’a Muslims had decided to have a procession to commemorate the death of the Prophets grandsons during the month of Muharram, the British authorities fired at the crowds injuring hundreds of mourners.
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