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The Caribbean

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Both cultural and literary have segmented the Caribbean basin which comprises of South and Central America, USA and Caribbean Islands into francophone, Anglophone and Hispanic units etc. Caribbean literature is fluid because it is produced in my parts of the world; Canada, Spain, France, USA, Britain and the Caribbean itself among others countries.  In the Anglo- and francophone parts of the region, their form of language is referred to as patois or Creole. The Creole language was developed when the people of the Caribbean moved beyond colonial languages in search of their own unique identity. The word Creole means “Caribbean Born” which is a general term for all races who originate from the Caribbean.

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Writers have defined and created notions about the Caribbean but the most notable one is Ortiz Fernando’s transculturation idea. Fernando listed fives stages involved in the transculturation process: Antagonism which was defined by black resistance from white domination, Compromise where the different races began to inter-marry and mix, Adjustment where the Creoles imitated the Europeans and Integration which Fernando still forecasts it to be in the future. Benitez-Rojo approaches the idea by writing that the ancestral slaves used some fragments of their African cultures in adjusting to their new environments. He also says that other cultures from Asia coming to the Caribbean also experienced the same process of fragmentation. Edouard Glissant invented the word antillanite which meant “Caribbeanness”, he argued that Caribbean roots were gotten from cross-cultural relationships. Authors like Chamoiseau, Raphael and Bernabe describe creolization as the result of transaction and interaction between different cultures in the Caribbean.

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Caribbean writers have preferred the use of their own paradigms (post colonialism, feminism and postmodernism) to accurately define and reflect their ways of life. In Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, Prospero claims that he taught Caliban to speak hence he was imprisoned in Prospero’s language. Many Caribbean writers claim that Caliban was a metaphor for the enslaved hence they termed the play as brutal and bestial. The writers though toke up Caliban as a symbol of pride in the late 1960’s after Columbus argued that Caliban was had monstrous origins from West Indies and Prospero had the permission to enslave him.

When African slaves used fragments of the cultures as earlier stated, they used African musical forms such as calypso and reggae and, forms of storytelling which resulted to the long oral tradition in the Caribbean literature. In poetry, oral forms are presented mostly in Creole or Patois. Children were discouraged from using Patois since it was termed as “bad talk”.  The vernacular become more common and was regularly used in literary tradition after, Louise Bennett transcribed Patois into a written form.

In conclusion, Postcolonial writers have been rewriting English literature in the case of The Tempest and many others as they narrate stories in different perspectives. Writing is among the strongest forms of cultural hegemony and rewriting literature has become liberating to formerly colonized Caribbean. Caribbean writers now live in Canada, Europe and USA, their works have challenged previous American and literature studies about the Caribbean and even redefining parameters of postcolonial studies itself.

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