Nakhuda traces Indian roots.
...in Bengal to Barbados
Unlike the East Indians who came to Guyana from as early as 1838, and to T&T and other Caribbean islands from 1845, those who came to Barbados from the 1900s were not indentured labourers; they came “accidentally,” of their own volition. This was revealed by author Sabir Nakhuda in his fascinating book on the 100-year history of East Indian migration to Barbados: Bengal to Barbados.The book chronicles the activities of East Indians who eventually made Barbados their new home.
“All of these different groups or individuals who came to Barbados, came ‘accidentally.’ They never intended to come to Barbados. They were going to other places,” he said in an interview with the Sunday Guardian. He said Beshart Ali Dewan, from West Bengal, was the first East Indian to come to Barbados in 1910.
Nakhuda said the second East Indian immigrant to Barbados came from Gujarat in 1929; the third came in 1932 from Hyderabad, Sindh (once a province in India, now part of Pakistan). He said Ali Dewan initially came to Trinidad because his father-in-law lived here. After some months he decided to go to Barbados, where he became an itinerant trader, selling textiles and jewelry.
Nakhuda said the Gujarati initially went to cut lumber in Brazil; he had reached as far as what was known as French Guiana, then went on to British Guiana. He said the Gujarati started to do trade selling coconuts and charcoal to Barbadians from a schooner. After three trips, he decided to make Barbados his home. Nakhuda said the Hyderabad native went to meet his brother-in-law in Bermuda. They talked about settling down to open business somewhere in the Caribbean and they both decided to go to Barbados.
Nakhuda said there were no more than 3,000 East Indians in Barbados, including Muslims, Sindhis, South Indians and some Indo-Trinidadians and Guyanese. Nakhuda said the East Indians in Barbados still retained contact with India; no Indian home in Barbados would be unaware of their family in India. He said their lifestyle, dietary habits and culture were very different from Indo-Trinidadians and Indo-Guyanese.
Nakhuda himself was born in Gujarat, India, in December 1947 and came to Barbados at age ten. He, and other members of the East Indian groups, converse fluently in regional dialects from India as well as English.
He said intermarriages and arranged marriages did occur between the major East Indian groups, following traditions in India. Nakhuda said, however, that most of the Muslims would marry within the Gujarati community, because most of the Gujaratis were Muslims. He said the South Indians did the same; there were few instances of Hindu girls marrying Muslim boys. East Indians also sometimes intermarried with the rest of the Barbados population.
Nakhuda said integration was taking place among the East Indian population in Barbados, albeit at a slower pace. He said this was because the community was small and more conservative than other East Indian communities in the Caribbean.