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12.4 People of Roseau

By ethnicity, most Roseauans are African Americans. Proportion of blacks is even slightly higher in Roseau compared to the average figure for the whole island (see Table 2). On the other hand, people of mixed origins number less in Roseau, and so do Carib Indians. Carib population is largely concentrated in the Carib Territory located in the NE part of Dominica. The proportion of whites in Roseau is small, too, but approximately the same as the Dominican average.

Category 'other', however, figures significantly higher number for Roseau than for Dominica in general (see Table 2). Most numerous in this category are the Syrians/Lebanese, the East Indians, and the Chinese. The Syrians and the Lebanese began migrating from Middle East to the Caribbean in the 1890s as merchants who visited the isolated villages and sold goods to peasants and workers. Some of the most prominent Dominican business families of today--e.g. Astaphan, Nassief, Raffoul, and Karam families--are of Middle Eastern origin (Honychurch 1995a: 166).

The Chinese, on the other hand, have come more recently, and their number has probably increased since 1991 when the population census was done. Most of them have immigrated to Dominica under the Economic Citizenship Program which was launched in 1991 to attract foreign investments especially from Hong Kong and Taiwan. Dominica is one of those few countries that recognises officially the Republic of China on Taiwan instead of mainland China, therefore receiving substantial economic aid from the Taiwanese. However, in the beginning vast majority of these new economic citizens did not settle permanently in Dominica but just preferred to have a Dominican passport which is more convenient for travelling than a Taiwanese one (Honychurch 1995a: 302).

Many Chinese families have settled Dominica, however, but they are mostly from mainland China. They have established several restaurants in Roseau and elsewhere in Dominica and are also involved in textile and clothing industry (Chinese... 1999). Joan Liao (1999), who manages a guest house and restaurant at Lower Goodwill, says that her family came from Southern China in 1997. One reason to migrate was that her father wanted to have another child. Her aunt has another restaurant in Roseau (see Fig. 53), and some other relatives of hers run a restaurant in the village of Massacre. According to her, many other Chinese families have also used the Economic Citizenship programme and settled in Dominica.

People with higher incomes and higher social ranking tend to live in Goodwill and St. Aromant. Statistically this is expressed for instance by the fact that over half of Roseau's Syrian and Lebanese population live in those districts. Goodwill people are what St. Rose Williams (1999) from Riverside in Central Roseau calls 'highty-tighty' people. Bellot and Gabriel (1999) from Bath Estate recognise them as 'mulatto gros bourg'. In this expression term 'mulatto' has lost its original meaning refering directly to one's skin colour but to people who have the money and the power in society.

Also the other interviewees tended to associate Goodwill with money. Warner (1999) from Newtown and Philip (1999) from Lower Goodwill, however, remind that there is a difference between those living in Lower Goodwill and those of Upper Goodwill or St. Aromant. Money and power is associated with the latter ones. Warner sees practically no difference between the characteristics of people living in different areas of Roseau except to those more 'high class people' of Upper Goodwill.

In the outskirts of Goodwill there is a small community called Gutter Village. It is a squatter area which was settled after the Hurricane David had left many rural people homeless in 1979. Originally, it was designed to be a site for a cemetery (Francis 1999). Vigo (1999), who lives in the community, says that Gutter people are 'civilized and hard-working people'. Philip, who lives nearby, confirms that, and gives appreciation to low-income parents living in Gutter Village who try to get their children educated. On the other hand, he reminds also of the drug problem in Gutter Village and estimates that the incidence of crack-cocaine abuse is probably greater there than anywhere else in Roseau. St. Rose Williams says it in more straightforward way: 'They take whatever you find to get few dollars to get cocaine.'

Potter's Ville lower down between Goodwill and the Caribbean Sea is an old fishing community, nowadays inhabited mostly by working class people. Didier (1999) who lives there says that Potter's Ville has currently problems with unemployment and violence. Most of the other interwievees add the drug problem to this but do not, however, see Potter's Ville as a violent district. St. Rose Williams says that there are 'guys selling marijuana', and, indeed, during the fieldwork I was several times stopped in the streets of Potter's Ville and asked if I was interested to buy some drugs. Elsewhere in Roseau this happened only once in River Street. Philip thinks that drug users in Potter's Ville are moving from marijuana to crack and cocaine which he sees to worsen the situation since 'marijuana caused not so much antisocial reactions'. Nevertheless, he admits that the drug problem of Potter's Ville is probably not much worse than in Lower Goodwill where he lives himself.

Across the Queen's River there is another district often associated with drug abuse. Riverside, or River Street, is on the outskirts of Central Roseau. Its inhabitants along with those in the neighbouring Pound district aremostly lower middle class people. In Central Roseau the dwelling houses are concentrated on the fringes of the district while the Bay Front by the sea is practically uninhabited and only few people live in the commercial parts of Downtown area. According to Philip, those that live there belong to 'upper economic bracket of the society' and are usually members of the families that have lived in Downtown for long time. Joffre Green (1999) says that many people would like to move back to Downtown but find it too expensive nowadays.

Newtown to the south of Central Roseau is an old fishing community like Potter's Ville. Interviewees' perceptions on the district and its people differ radically depending on the level of acquaintance with it. Gillian Grant (1999), who lives in Newtown, describes her home district as 'a friendly village' where people love meeting each others and talking to other people. Anonymous (1999) from Potter's Ville, on the other hand, says that people in Newtown are violent, and St. Rose Williams describes it as 'one of the most desperate places' in Roseau. Something on which almost everybody seems to agree is that Newtown and its inhabitants are noisy. Didier, who has spent much time in Newtown, finds its people as ones that are full of 'crazy energy'. He suggests that it is a 'very dynamic kind of place' and longs for those times in his adolescence when youth gangs from Newtown and Potter's Ville had good group fights.

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