The Caribbean Blogosphere: Football fever and more

If only in terms of sheer volume, the leading story in the Caribbean blogosphere this week was the Trinidad & Tobago football team's qualification for the 2006 World Cup on November 16.

The team Trinidad & Tobago beat in order to qualify was Bahrain (hence the oft-repeated line that whichever team won would be the smallest country ever to qualify), and this being sport, Bahraini blogger Chana'd left a good natured comment at Caribbean Free Radio that morning: “You will have to watch your team be trounced by Bahrain.” The country came to a virtual standstill (the Senate included) in order to watch/listen to the broadcast from the Bahraini capital of Manama. Nicholas Laughlin blogged extensively during the match itself, and Caribbean Free Radio relayed the radio broadcast to contacts abroad via Skype. Ryan Naraine, Taran Rampersad and Nicholas Laughlin have saved me some legwork by posting link summaries, but most of the buzz about the match came, naturally, out of Trinidad & Tobago itself, much of it taking the form of brief cries of ecstacy, some of it referring to the unsportsmanlike behaviour of the Bahraini team and fans.

Among the bloggers who wrote about the football were Richard Jobity, Hassan Voyeau, Richard Bolai, Sweet Trini, Small Island Girl, Independence of Mind, Simian Scratchings, Christopher Yee Mon, J9 and Tina. Nicholas Laughlin posted a substantial eyewitness account of the celebrations Port of Spain, the capital (“A friend on the phone from St. James, astonished: “All I can think is, this must be what it was like when the war ended”), and Taran Rampersad did likewise for San Fernando in the south of the island. “Perhaps you have to be the citizen of a really small country with a crummy social and political situation to know how this really feels,” said Caribbean Free Radio, which devoted its 36th podcast to coverage of the activity in the streets of the capital on the evening of November 16. According to Taran, the revelry continued well into Sunday morning.

The victory was also remarked upon by a few non-Trinidadian bloggers. Ryan Naraine (who is Guyanese) noted the messages of congratulation pouring in on the message board and Barbadians Campfyah and Titilayo, Mad Bull and Revolution Island in Cayman and YingYang in Grenada posted reactions.

Things weren't going nearly so well this week, however, for a sport with far deeper roots in the English-speaking Caribbean. The West Indies Cricket Blog reported on the increasingly dismal fortunes of the West Indies cricket team on their tour of Australia, where one commentator even raised the question of “the unthinkable”: Test cricket without the West Indies.

Meanwhile, in the rest of the Caribbean:

– Erik Olsen noted that on November 19 Belize observes Garifuna Settlement Day: “Descended from African slaves who were shipwrecked off St. Vincent around 1635, the Garifunas mixed with the native Caribbean Indians there and now they make up about 8 percent of the current population of Belizeans.”
– Simone Elgeln offered advice on moving to Belize.

– The Limey wrote that “the PLP [Bermuda's ruling party] will not be amending the Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.”
– Christian Dunleavy's has begun supplementing his online coverage of House of Assembly sessions with recordings of the radio broadcasts which can be streamed, downloaded or received podcast-style via RSS feed.

Cayman Islands
- Odd Blog reported that Grand Cayman is preparing for Gimistory, the island's highly regarded storytelling festival.

– Looking at a historic building in Georgetown, Guyana-gyal was moved to a dialect riff on political leadership, art and expression.

– Alice responded to my earlier Global Voices post about the state of the Caribbean blogosphere with a lively analysis of the Haitian online conversation.

– Kingston Girl has been stopped by the police five times in the space of ten months.
– Kara is alarmed by the murder statistics for the year.

St Vincent & the Grenadines
– Abeni reported on bad weather and damage caused by a tropical depression.

Trinidad & Tobago
– Trinidad-based but regional in its outlook, the Caribbean Beat Weblog went public this week. Four members of the editorial team at Caribbean Beat magazine (including myself) will be posting.
– Taran Rampersad put in his two cents’ on the WSIS and summarized the objectives of the first meeting of CARDICIS, which meets for the second time next month.
– Nicholas Laughlin paid tribute to Trinidadian intellectual Lloyd Best, who retired from the Trinidad & Tobago Institute of the West Indies last week.

New-York based Caribbean World Radio released an interview with former head of the University of the West Indies and founder/director of the National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica, Rex Nettleford, on the topic of “Cultural Diversity in the age of Globalism”.

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