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Hakkaness or being Hakka.
I wanted to post a short essay on my identity at the forum.
MY HAKKA IDENTITY.
My Carib, South American native ancestors from Venezuela, canoed their way
up the Orinoco River, all the way to their home in Trinidad, while my
Chinese great-grandparents and grandparents, both the Hakka and Cantonese
arrived gracefully by ship to Trinidad directly from war torn China of the
My maternal all Hakka grandmother, who is from Sun Tak, and who is well
and lives in Trinidad, said to me personally, on my last visit, "Poor
people have no history." I totally disagreed with her, but said nothing.
Now I have something to say, and will put it in the form of a paper,
because I think everyone has a history, and poor people have too often been
excluded. My ancestors were poor, and Iím proud of all of them.
The purpose of this paper, is to prove that it doesnít really matter how
poor my family was, being the best peanut farmers in the fields of
Guangdong, China or the best gold digger, excavating in the gold mines of
British Columbia in the nineteenth century. Everyone has a history, an
ethnicity and an identity. Our roots and place of birth define who we are.
My Cantonese father was born in Hong Kong in 1932, he was psychologically
all Chinese even though he looked mixed with Carib and Spanish blood. He
always said what Confucius say, and what youíre supposed to do, being
Chinese, meant you had to uphold the highest values. My all Hakka mother
was born in Trinidad, and her Hakka grandfather was a prominent businessman
(owned Sanchong and Company) in Trinidad who was a founding member of the
Fui Toong On Association in Trinidad in 1919.
While growing up, I was taught to believe that I was Cantonese.
Occasionally, my parents would argue over the "right" Chinese word, and of
course, as a kid, I didnít understand that one spoke Cantonese(my dad) well
while the other one (my mom) was fluent in Hakka.
Being an adult, I feel the need to embrace all my roots, Hakka, Cantonese,
Carib and Spanish. You donít have to be rich or prominent to have a
history. We all have a history. The fundamental issue is whether we accept
or reject who we are.
I believe in celebrating life and in celebrating all cultures, and
accepting different cultures, ethnic groups, religions, and languages.
I am a Canadian, feel like a Trinidadian, look like a Chinese, was
mistaken for Filipino, but embrace all my wonderful roots.
Someone told me recently, that I wasnít Hakka. That was such a big
surprise to me. Someone else also told me that you could only have one
ethnic identity. What another big surprise. He said you had to be either,
or. Either youíre Hakka or maybe not. Most of the time, people would tend
to chose their fatherís ethnic identity. I was also told that the Hakka
language is dying, and in 200 years it will disappear if we donít do
something constructive. The big question is: what can we do?
There are so many multi-ethnic families here in Canada. My own family
exemplifies multi-culturalism. I have in-laws who are African Canadian,
Anglo-Canadian, Irish Canadian, East Indian, Chinese and French Creole.
The whole point is, I have Hakka roots too, and Iím proud to be Hakka,
also proud to have a multi-ethnic family, and friends with roots from all
over the world.
Iím truly lucky to be exposed to various cultural beliefs. My Hakka
identity is important to me, and it is also part of me.
written by Henrietta Akit.