17 October 2006

A Lokono Prayer in Trinidad

The following is the original and translated text of a prayer in use in the Santa Rosa Carib Community in Arima, Trinidad. Some will have already heard another version in a previous audio file posted on this site (click here to open/download), being read by Ricardo Bharath. At a recent Interfaith Thanksgiving Service for the former President of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago, Justice Noor M. Hassanali (1918-2006), held on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2006, in Queen's Hall, Port of Spain, the shaman of the Carib community, Cristo Adonis, was invited to be the first to offer his prayer. In the program for the event, Adonis preceded an Orisha representative (Pearl Entou Springer), who was then followed by Fr. Clyde Harvey (Roman Catholic--see this previous post). So much for the lengthy introduction, now let's get to the prayer:

Adaiahiili Tamushi Anshika ba
O Great Spirit God give us your
Maiauhii daiba wai koma anshihi
Peace so we can love as you love us
Amarita mun sakwa daiba
Make us healthy so
Wai koma kamunka usahu kahiihii
We can have a good life
Wa chin achi waianchicha
We praise you O Lord

More than likely, elements that suggest Christian influence, are not accidental. The prayer was provided by Toshau (Chief) Neville Goveia from a former mission in Guyana, and who has stayed as a guest of the Carib Community in Arima a few times in recent years, including as recently as last month.

I was very happy to see Uncle Neville again, and he resumed our past conversations about kanaima in Guyana as if four years had not passed since we last conversed. Uncle Neville is now 74 and is still going strong. I wish him another 74 years, at least. Below is a photograph of Neville Goveia walking and talking with Cristo Adonis during the 2002 Santa Rosa Festival.

Thus here the reader can "see" what some Arima Caribs refer to as "cultural interchange" in actual practice. This is what I have been most interested in recently--the more intimate, direct and interpersonal exchanges between members of neighbouring indigenous communities in the region, with a lot less emphasis (unlike my work in the past) on leaders gathering among other social and political elites and pitching themselves to those elites.

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