SHIFTING MULTICULTURAL CITIZENSHIP: Trinidad Orisha Opens the Road:

N. FADEKE CASTOR

ABSTRACT

The political sponsorship of the Orisha religion by Trinidad's first Indian Prime Minister, Basdeo Panday (1995–2001), reveals the dynamics and tensions between black cultural citizenship and multicultural citizenship. How do multiple cultural citizenships intersect? Specifically, in Trinidad what is the role of black cultural citizenship within a national multicultural frame where African and Indian descendants represent two roughly equal majority minority populations? The concept of cultural citizenship is challenged by the tension between Indo-Trinidadian cultural citizenship and Afro-Trinidadian cultural citizenship. Panday's sponsorship was critical to the granting of state concessions (from land grants to a national holiday) that facilitated the Orisha religion's movement from the margins to the mainstream in Trinidad's public culture. This in turn has served as the foundation for an emergent black cultural citizenship centered on the Orisha religion and revalorizations of Africanness and blackness. At the same time the multicultural rhetoric shifted to open space for Indo-Trinidadian contributions to national culture. Ultimately, this article asks questions that illuminate tensions between cultural citizenship, religion, and multiculturalism within the framework of the African diaspora.