Richardson siblings present cross cultural book about Aruban history

POSTED: 03/20/13 11:12 AM

Book presentation

Minister of Culture Silveria Jacobs, Tammy Richardson, Prime Minister Wescot-Williams and Gregory Richardson holding the book written by the Richardson siblings at the book presentation yesterday at the University of St. Martin. Photo Today/Leo Brown

St. Maarten – Siblings Tammy and Gregory Richardson presented their book “Sibling Voices of the Sunrise City” at their book presentation on Monday evening at the University of St. Martin.

The presentation was held in celebration of Aruba Flag and Anthem Day where a copy of the book was presented to Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams and Minister of Culture Silveria Jacobs.

The siblings launched their book of poetry and short stories about growing up in Aruba, its ups, downs and lessons learned in love for family and self as well as the development of an identity that bespeaks a combination of St. Maarten and Aruba.

Their words, videos and pictures evoked memories, sighs and laughter from the audience whom willingly took the trip down memory lane.

“I would like to congratulate you on this cross cultural product,” Minister Jacobs said. “This book serves as a bit of history that many of us here today could identify with, whether they’d actually experienced it or just heard stories as told by parents, which is in my case,” the minister said.

Literary works are actually art which will stand the test of time. This book launch was a wonderful culmination of the Chuchubi Foundation’s celebration of Aruba day and highlighted its main theme “strengthening ties between Aruba and St. Maarten”.

‘Sibling Voices of the Sunrise City’ is a collection of essays, songs and poems that dissect the experience of the life, mind and development of people living in the Aruban town of San Nicolas, affectionately known as Sunrise City or Chocolate City. With the establishment of the Lago oil refinery in the early half of the 20th century, many persons from the surrounding Caribbean region and the rest of the world settled in the San Nicolas area. This resulted in an ethnically and culturally diverse town of varying identities and experiences. With all these differences, San Nicolas residents still managed to find   ways to coexist as a family, while at the same time experienced instances of racism and prejudice.

The narrative of Ms. Mary and Ms. Ann from the Village are never heard by the wider population and the struggles and triumphs of the “Omas and the Tantes in Lago Heights, Rooi Hundo and Brazil, make up no part of our school curriculum” (Sibling Voices of Sunrise City, page 30).  Through the use of various literary forms Tammy and Gregory express their opinion on the various social political and cultural issues of Aruba. They address these issues from different angles of identity, ethnicity, religion, gender, music and language.

“This book by no means is only intended for the people of San Nicholas, on the contrary it is intended for all who wish to know more about the life, mind and the development of the Aruban town we have come to know as the Sunrise City,” Tammy Richardson said.

The aim of the book presentation was to explore the ever present Aruba /St. Maarten connection. A significant amount of St. Maarteners during the period of 1930 onward lived and grew up in Aruba particularly in the town of San Nicolas. For those St Maarteners the dynamics of the Sunrise City help shape their identities wider view of the world.

Gregory Richardson has an MA degree in Latin American & Caribbean Studies at the University of Utrecht, in the Netherlands. He currently works as a teacher and researcher at the IPA in Aruba.

Tammy Richardson has an MA degree in Organizational Science and Public Administration as well at the University of Utrecht. She currently works as program manager at the Department of the Interior & Kingdom Relations in St. Maarten.

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