FunTimes Celebrates St. Kitts and Nevis on Independence DaySep 19, 2020 08:00AM ● By Oga Africa
Today we celebrate St. Kitts and Nevis’s independence! On September 19th, 1983, this Caribbean country gained independence from the British. We invite you to journey into the rich culture, history and jewels of this country.
The two islands that make up St. Kitts and Nevis, also known as St. Christopher and Nevis, were formed by a volcano. In 1493, Christopher Columbus landed on the island, massacred the Carib natives and claimed the land as part of the British West Indies. He named present day St. Kitts ‘San Cristóbal’ and present-day Nevis ‘San Martìn.’ From then until slavery was outlawed in 1834, enslaved Africans were brought to the country to work sugar plantations.
(Enslaved Africans working on a sugar plantation)
Marcus of the Woods is a legendary Maroon and freedom fighter in St. Kitts and Nevis. In 1834, this enslaved African escaped from Hutchinson’s estate into the mountains. By 1815, he was captured and made to do public work on the plantation. In 1831, Marcus absconded again, this time with more than 30 enslaved Africans. By 1834, more than 94 enslaved Africans ran away from various plantations to the mountains. Marcus of the Woods was never captured again.
(A landscape in St. Kitts)
From 1624 to 2005, sugar exports dominated the country’s economy. St. Kitts even earned the nickname ‘Sugar City.’ In 2005, after global sugar prices dropped, the country stopped mass exportation of the product. Now, tourism is the backbone of St. Kitt’s economy. The country also exports items like lobster, beer, sugar, tobacco, electronics and margarine.
(Tourists in St. Kitts and Nevis)
Today, this lush country’s population is made up of mostly former enslaved Africans. In 2000, Brittanica reported that 90.4% of the country’s inhabitants were of African descent, 5% of Mulatto descent, 3% of Indo-Pakistani descent, 1% were White and .6% comprised other ethnic groups. According to the United Nations, the country’s population is around 51,538.
(Students in St. Kitts play a card game)
St. Kitts and Nevis’s prime minister, Timothy Harris, has been in office since 2015.
(Timothy Harris, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis)
The two islands have had a rocky (pun intended) relationship since the country’s independence, as some governing Nevisians feel the Kittitian governing majority, whose island houses a greater percent of the population, does not cater to the needs of the smaller island. Nevisian politicians even made an attempt to sever ties with St. Kitts, but they did not receive enough votes in the 1998 referendum.
The capital of St. Kitts and Nevis is Basseterre, and the country is made up of 14 parishes. National radio and television networks are operated by the government.
(Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis)
The food of the country includes Pelau or ‘Cook-Up,’ a rice dish mixed with veggies, meats and pigeon peas, Roti, Conch Fritters or conch meat fried in a spiced batter, Goat Water or goat soup, Saltfish and Dumplings, Johnny Cakes or fried dumplings and more.
This country is home to various vibrant festivals, such as Carnival, Easterama, Culturama, Green Valley Festival and more.
(A Caribbean man plays a trumpet at a festival)
By learning about the history of islands like St. Kitts and Nevis, one is illuminated by the enormity and variety of the global African Diaspora.
Thanks for reading!