Honoring St. Lucia’s Past and PresentFeb 22, 2021 08:00AM ● By Oga Africa
Happy Independence Day, St. Lucia! On February 22nd, 1979, this Caribbean country gained independence from Great Britain.
The original inhabitants of St. Lucia, the Arawaks and the Caribs, called the island ‘Louanalao’ and ‘Hewanorra’. British and French colonizers fought both each other and the Caribs to colonize St. Lucia from 1605 up until 1814, when the British conquered the island. The French and the British both managed to gain control of the island seven times each, making St. Lucia an island that was colonized a total of fourteen times.
In the 19th century, the British brought enslaved Africans to the island to work the sugar plantations. East Africans were also brought to the island as indentured servants. Today, the population is 85% Black. Modern St. Lucian culture is a mixture of indigenous, African, French, and British influences. Allen Chastanet, the Prime Minister of the country, has been in office since 2016. The country’s capital is Castries.
The country has been greatly affected by the travel ban due to COVID-19. Tourism is a huge part of St. Lucia’s economy. However, the country also exports large quantities of bananas, which contributes significantly to the country’s economy as well. St. Lucian Creole, also known as Kweyol, or Patois, is a mixture of French and African influences and is widely spoken in the country in addition to English, which is the country’s national language.
Common dishes of the country include Green Figs and Saltfish, a boiled green banana and saltfish stew dish, Lambi, pan-fried conch, Bouyon, a meat and vegetable soup, and Accra, a fish cake fritters dish.
The legacy of slavery is evident in the people and culture of St. Lucia. British colonizers in St. Lucia kept a record of where enslaved Africans originated from when they arrived on the island. This census illustrates the increased diversity in culture that arrived on the island through slavery.
Click here to learn more about the African countries and neighboring islands that many of Blacks arrived from.