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Jessica: Kala Pani Archives

Hi I’m Jess @yourmumjess , the second half of Kala Pani Archives (@kalapaniarchives). I am a second-generation Trinidadian born and residing in London.

I always knew that my mother’s ancestors came from India.

Visits to the Hindu temple were a mandatory excursion when visiting family in Trinidad. My little sister and I would sit and watch the local pundit do puja amidst a mist of incense whilst we fidgeted in our sequinned saris, transported across miles of black waters, from London’s Whitechapel market to the Caribbean.

Despite knowing about my Indian #ancestry, the crossroads of my Indo-Caribbean cultural identity was oftentimes one of confusion and frustration. It felt as though I was straddling a mash-up of three cultures as a second-generation immigrant born and raised in the UK, with a Trinidadian mother who has Indian ancestors.

I think my frustration stemmed mostly from a lack of awareness in the country I was raised in. The existence of Indo-Caribbeans is something that is not acknowledged in the British Census or British curriculum, despite us being a product of Britain’s colonial footprint. This lack was the main driving force behind starting Kala Pani Archives. I wanted to research the realities of the Indian indenture system and open up a discussion that has been avoided for far too long.

Together with Tony @tonycox.jr and his phenomenal collection of archives, we hope to piece together the forgotten stories, history and culture of our ancestors, learning along the way. We are incredibly grateful that you are here following along with us on this journey.

The term ‘Indo-Caribbean’ is one that used to present a crossroads of cultural confusion for me, however, it now represents the opposite. I owe it to my ancestors to lean into it, embody our culture, and keep talking about our history.


Have a story about #Windrush, or Indo × Afro #Caribbean identity you’d like to share? DM us or 📧

Catch us @theafricacentre, July 6, 2024. We’ve partnered with Kromanti Rum (@kromanti_rum) for an afternoon of learning, rum, dancing, and dominoes. The Rum Shop Talks #1

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