In my last post titled ‘In search of the “Afro” in Grenada’, I promised to share aspects of Grenadian culture that are similar to African culture. This post is a response to my sociological question: What remains of the African heritage in Grenada?
During the first few days of our trip, I thought the African and Grenadian cultures were very much alike. However, after 9 days on the island, I realized that much as there are similarities between the Grenadian and African lifestyles, there are also significant differences. And the longer we stayed, the more differences I noticed. I will discuss a few of the similarities below.
During one trip to the market, I chanced on a young man selling “Farri”, a processed grain made from Cassava. This same grain, with the same texture and consistency, is called “Gari” in Ghana, and it is a popular staple in West Africa. It is used for many dishes in Ghana and is the source for the popular Egbo dish called “Eba” in Nigeria. It seems fairly reasonable that the production process of this grain has likely endured the centuries or if it has recently been imported. Another example is the “Calaloo” soup, a common Grenadian dish, which is also very similar to a common Ghanaian dish called “Green Green” and also has many look alikes in various parts of Africa.
Aside from the spices of the Spice Isles, the Cocoa plant is probably the next big most celebrated plant. Cocoa, biologically called Theobroma Cacao, is native to South America. Thus, seeing this plant in Grenada, I quickly assumed it had been brought in from the South America considering Grenada is about 90 miles from Venezuela. I was thus surprised to learn that cocoa used in plantations Grenada was actually introduced to the Island from Ghana in the 1700s.
As much as people of African origin in the west share a lot in common with Africans, a 5000 mile journey across the Atlantic to the Americas to face centuries of slavery would do something to any group. Many people, especially my own continental Africans, tend to classify every dark skinned person as African or African American. But the world must realize and respect that different groups of Africans took different paths to different parts of the world. “Blacks” identify with different racial or ethnic groupings around the world based on their history and heritage; just as Scandinavians, English, and White South Africans differ in heritage – we should learn to treat them as such.