Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 14th 2013 Contents B2
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, October 14, 2013
From Page B1
"It s still in the process to be listed,"
Chairman of the trust Dr Kumar
Mahabir said via e-mail the trust
planned to put the settlement on the
national heritage list.
Another source at the trust, who did
not want to be named, said a site visit
to Quare was put on hold, as the area
was overgrown with bush, and there
was a threat from snakes.
"We re waiting for it to be cleared,"
the source said via telephone.
While attaining national heritage sta-
tus for the Quare area is high on the
foundation s list of priorities, Hassan is
also calling on the Government to stop
quarrying operations around the site.
Tijani said otherwise he predicted
that within a year the remaining area,
along with the graveyard, would be
His prediction matched that of his-
torian Prof Brinsley Samaroo, who
researched and co-wrote a paper pre-
sented in 2005 about the area, titled
Hondo River Site: An Early Islamic Set-
tlement in Trinidad.
Samaroo said the remaining part of
the settlement had a year left if the
quarrying for gravel continued.
"I definitely think the quarrying
should be stopped right up to the edge
of the settlement...I think the next
stage of the quarrying is going to take
over the whole settlement. And nobody
seems to care to stop the quarrying,"
he said in a telephone interview.
Samaroo, who said he knew the area
well as a result of his extensive research,
said there were other adjacent areas
that could be tapped into for quarrying
"There really is no need to invade
on that particular sacred place at this
time." He said the country would stand
to lose the heritage of the unique area.
"It is the only African-American
Islamic settlement in the southern
Caribbean. There is no other. So I think
just for that reason alone, it should be
preserved as a sacred heritage site," he
Hassan and Tijani speculated that
the Government and general public
tended to sideline African Muslims in
Trinidad, which the foundation also
feels is the reason its cries are being
"We are urgently calling on the Gov-
ernment to respect us and respect those
that buried there and respect those that
were exiled there," Hassan said.
Samaroo agreed to some extent
African Muslims were not as favourably
recognised as other religious groups in
the country, but said the onus was on
them to change that, and be more
proactive to gain public support in their
fight to save the settlement.
"They are not lobbying sufficiently
in their own interests...so I think the
ball really is in their court to make the
(settlement) better known."
Hassan said the foundation planned
to take the matter to the UN if nothing
was done to save the area.
"In an issue like this, we intend to
make it an international issue...We will."
'Respect us and
respect those that
were exiled there'
Founded in 1815, Quare was given to
Muslim African-Americans who had
fought on the British side in the
British-American wars from 1812 to
They lived in settlements on the
east coast of the US, some still slaves,
some free, and were lured by the
British to fight against their American
masters. After being exiled, Trinidad
was one of two British colonies
prepared to allow them to settle here.
They were placed in the deserted and
undeveloped forested area in East
Another group that came to area
was made up of disbanded soldiers
from the West India Regiment (WIR)
who fought in the Napoleonic Wars,
some from Sierra Leone.
According to estimates in Samaroo's
research paper, in June and July 1819,
under Governor Woodford, 299 people
initially settled, followed by 445 people
in 1825. Each male settler received
eight acres of land if he was single, and
double that if he was married. They
were provided with agricultural tools
and seeds to develop themselves and
The people thrived, introducing rice
to Trinidad, and producing cassava,
yam, ginger and plantain, which they
sold in the Arima market.
This trek proved difficult, as there
was no bridge to help them across the
Hondo river, and the roads were
impassable owing to overgrown bush.
The settlers began to disperse and
settle in other areas such as Arouca,
Sangre Grande, Manzanilla, Arima and
some even moved to Port-of-Spain.
According to Samaroo's study, the
area suffered rapid deterioration from
the 1830s and by 1843, the settlement
was nearly devoid of people and
Web site link to Ministry:
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. PHOTOS PROVIDED BY KHALID HASSAN
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PHOTO: MARYANN AUGUSTE
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