Entrevista: Elkin Robinson – Creole Vibration

Haz clic si prefieres leer esta entrevista en español.

This worksheet can be found in the ebook Cancionero 2015.

“Creole Vibration” is from the Come ‘Round EP, one of 2014’s best EPs.

Guiding Questions

  • What language is most spoken in Old Providence? But what language are classes in?
  • What history lessons would Elkin like to be taught?
  • What Old Providence values does Elkin emphasize?

Interview with Elkin Robinson about “Creole Vibration”

On Twitter you mentioned that the situation described in “Creole Vibration” is the reality of your youth and that of many children today. What changes would you like to see in schools?

    My first language is English creole, 90% English, 5% African and the other 5% Dutch. That is what we all speak here among ourselves. When we get to school, they flip the script. All the classes are in Spanish and then you go back home telling your parents to explain everything to you over again, but in English. So you realize that they distance your culture from education and furthermore the classes are in Spanish. It is completely forbidden for a teacher to try to teach classes in English because he could be fired.

    The best time of day is always break time where you can really be yourself, the island boy from Old Providence, that speaks his language, using all the body language that goes along with Creole speech.

    The change that I would like to see in school doesn’t have to do with overlooking Spanish but rather permitting bilingualism and that there be freedom to grow, to be who we are, so that we can be able to reach for other opportunities abroad without the need to take a TOFL exam, for example, making the face of the country visible to all the English-speaking Caribbean.

    I would also like to see our history taught in school, about the Creole nation, the Caribbean, how we got here. The history that they paint for us of Simón Bolívar and the independence of Colombia has little to do with our past. The emancipation of the islands occurred peacefully and these lands were handed over to our ancestors. There are many people that worked for our culture and society and these are the ones that we should be taught about in school.

How has life on the island changed since you were a child?

    I have the feeling that Old Providence is still the same and it is I who have changed. I haved experienced some changes with regard to technology, but even that is not too exaggerated here. It is a place that allows you to use technology in moderation, but it is still the same place, where you have to make life up as you go, where there is a lot to do, a lot of pristine natural resources and lots of roots to take in.

    Here at 5 o’clock in the afternoon when the last plane leaves, we are on our own, alone under a starry sky with a silence of praise and meditation. However, we live under the constant threat of conforming to other influences from a commercial world, but the people have known how to say no, but it is unknown for how long.

What are your hopes with regard to the future of Old Providence?

    The future that I hope for is that Old Providence stays Old Providence, that it breaks from the usual pattern of the world, that we live with solar energy, always as a family, being an example of life and culture to others so that they say, “Do you know a country called Old Providence?” Because it isn’t like that, it’s just a small island, but with a mentality and a culture that is not bound to its coasts, but crosses its sea of seven colors connecting it to the world. I want a future for Old Providence that allows our children to be able to live with all the beauty that we do and to know that all of Old Providence is and always has been a family.

After reading…

  • Are there students in your community that speak one language at home but must speak another at school? Do you think they feel like Elkin does?
  • Do you think that the history lessons taught at your school represent your community?
  • What future would you like to see in your community with regard to education, technology, nature, commerce and family?
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