Tag Archives: Tobago

You Is Ah Gonian If

The recent Tobago House of Assembly election was a stark reminder of the many differences between Trinidad and Tobago. Tobagonians  are fiercely proud of their heritage and the election result – a resounding victory for the PNM – was further proof that Gonians will resist any attempt of perceived Trinidadian dominance. Tobago culture is an enigma to Trinidadians. To understand it, you have to be one of them.

Let me stake my claim to being half-Gonian thanks to a Patience Hill born-and-raised father. Despite spending most of my childhood in Trinidad, I didn’t gain Trinbagonian citizenship until adulthood. I  entered the world in England, Mother is a Bajan, and no-one in my family was born in Trinidad. So you see I’m really not a Trini at all. I’m a fake.

Having said that, I’m more Trini than Gonian and with typical Trini arrogance here’s my take on what defines the Tobago native. Use the Trinbago Dictionary if you need translations!

You Is a Gonian If…

…You eat crab and dumplings at least once a week

…You race your pet goat

…You can dance the Heel and Toe

…You believe Trinis are always in a hurry

…Six of your relatives share the same name

…You use words like ninyam “Meh put ninyam pon table” and pickney “Where mih pickney an’ dem?”

…You love a good Bongo Night

…You think all Trinis need to humble themselves

…You grew up chasing crabs on the beach

…You not-so-secretly want Tobago to secede from Trinidad

…Your uncle has a fishing boat

…You look forward to  Great Fete Weekend

…You never miss a village harvest

…You know nothing about cricket but would never admit this

…Half of your family works for the Tobago House of Assembly. The rest are in the hospitality industry

…Going to church is a social event

…When talking to two or more Gonians, Trinis can’t understand you

…You have 100,000 extended family members. 80,000 of them live in Tobago; 40,000 live in the USA, and one lives in Trinidad

…You exist in a different time universe to other nationalities. One Tobago minute = One hour elsewhere

…You can make a cook anytime, anywhere, with anything

…You know where to get pacro water and bois bande

…You dislike Trini politicians…in fact, anything Trini…

…You consider turtles to be unofficial wild meat

…You’re related to me!

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Yuh Know You Is A Trini If…

I’m often asked by non-West Indians what distinguishes Trinidad and Tobago from other Caribbean nations. The answer is complex. The Trinbagonian love of partying and having a good time is well known, as is the country’s dependence on oil and natural gas for its main source of income.

There is a unique set of characteristics which defines the Trinbagonian  and sets him/her apart from Caribbean brothers and sisters. Within this character set are the subsets Trinidadian and Tobagonian. You would think that being a twin island state the differences between occupants of the two isles would be minimal. You would be mistaken. Trinidadians (Trinis) differ in many subtle ways from their northern neighbours. I’ve decided to document some of the differences, starting with the Trinis. For the benefit of those not familiar with Trini parlance, refer to the Trinbago Dictionary here.

Please add your own observations in the comments below!

Yuh Know You Is A Trini If…

…You never leave home without vex money

…You have an uncle named Junior and a cousin called Baby

…You can fete whole night and wake up for work the next day no problem

…You treat the shoulder on the highway as the real outside lane

…No meal is complete without the mother-in-law

…You take out a loan to play mas

…The back seat of your car is a set of speakers

…Everyone in your family has a home name

…Sunday lunch must include callaloo and macaroni pie

…You pitched marbles as a child

…You have no idea what an orderly queue is

…You sing lustily to every parang song but can’t speak Spanish

…Your ring tone is a soca tune

…You bathe pizza in ketchup

…You give every flu virus a name  e.g. “I was home sick with Section 34”

…Your smart phone cost more than your car

…You have at least one item of red clothing in your wardrobe

…You believe every sporting achievement should be rewarded with house, land, and a public holiday

…No drink is finished until you’ve eaten the ice

…You have KFC delivery on speed dial

…You can’t foxtrot, samba or waltz but you can wine, jook, jam, and palance

…Your favourite card game is All Fours

…You collect rain water in buckets for “in case”

…You put up new curtains every Christmas

…As soon as you jump on a plane to “go foreign” you lose the Trini accent

…You know everybody’s business

Liming takes priority over all other activities, especially work

…You drink bush tea to cure every ailment

…Your pit bull knocked up the neighbour’s pompek

…Scotch and coconut water is your favourite drink

…You skive off work to watch cricket in the Oval

…You arrive two hours late for every event

…Last minute beating book got you through school

…You’ve been to New York more times than you’ve been to Tobago

…You support Manchester United and either FC Barcelona or Real Madrid

…Words like broughtupsy and bobol are part of your everyday vocabulary

…You can’t understand how all dem Jamaican and Bajan make the West Indies cricket team

…You take your pet bird for walks in its cage

…You know God is a Trini!


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