African Crafts in the TCI

Local crafts and arts are used as an indicator of people’s cultural background. Maybe it is just a coincidence, but most of the remaining straw workers are based in Middle and North Caicos. It is likely that as development has not overrun these Islands local skills and crafts which have their origins in African society, have survived.

Maybe the fact that the modern Caicos Island residents are closer related to first generation Africans is also a reason. We must remember that straw work was carried out from the earliest days of slavery as the workers needed hats to protect their heads and baskets for storage.

What needs further study is how the baskets are made as different styles could be linked back to Africa, and even to particular regions. Or have the baskets developed their own identity and style? This may seem to be grasping at straws but in 1891 a writer observed that in the Bahamas, liberated Africans had brought with them the secret of making African thatch for roofing houses and as they did not share their knowledge this thatch only appeared in areas settled by liberated Africans.