Now that I finally understand that a love of Martinique does not necessarily equate to an endorsement of colonialism, mental slavery or white supremacy, I’m coming out of the closet as a Madininaphile. So you can imagine my delight when I discovered that my chosen residence at present is the centre stage of an animated feature at cinemas now. Enter Battledream Chronicle.
There are lots of black people ‘of African descent’ in the UK. Perhaps the Kreyol expression ‘nou bel e nou la!’ / ‘we are here and we are beautiful!’ reflects the centuries-long battle to have our presence merely acknowledged.
Despite 500 years of debate and denial of our presence in more and less creative ways, we’re still standing. If this is news to you, please check out the National Archives’ web exhibition. It’s rather appropriately titled ‘Black Presence’ and covers the period 1500-1850.
If it’s not news, then you may also know it would be remiss of me to pretend the UK’s not celebrating black history month this month, and that all sorts of weird and wonderful events and occasions are not happening as a result.
I LOVE black history month – or ‘season’ really considering things start kicking off towards the end of September and slow around mid-November. As October approaches, traditionally my girls and I would keep the social calendar clear, stock up on What’s On brochures and debate what looked ‘actually unmissable’, and what looked like a rehash of something already done. In London we were always spoilt for choice as councils, museums, theatres and arts venues seemingly competed for the most innovative and interesting ways to bring history that is black and yet British to life. Continue reading
I love Martinique. Love it! Why? Because I catch the most jokes here. I write this with a silly grin, teary eyes and chuckling. This place is nuts. It’s like Angelina Jolie in Girl, Interrupted. Beautiful but incomprehensibly crazy. Though it might be a crap analogy because I remember feeling like I didn’t ‘get it’. Although it’s possible that it is therefore the perfect analogy.
But I digress.
What had me laughing so hard I felt compelled to blog about it? Slavery – history versus the discourse here? The state of education in contemporary Martinique? Or perhaps both? I’ll let you decide.
First off, I was not alone. The group of crying splutterers included me, two Martinican dudes, and two girls, one Martinican and one Guadeloupean. We had convened at 8am and were reviewing the contribution of our comrade in educational struggle, who was also a Martinican, at around midday. His task was to translate the fruits typically found in a jaden kréyol Matinitje (literal translation: traditional Martinican creole garden) into kréyol – as in the language – so that creole-speaking students learning to read and write their language could have a written reference point aka a dictionary while they learned a bit of Martinican cultural history. There’s a real and problematic lack of learning materials in creole – the first language of many if decreasing numbers of Martinicans (and St Lucians, Dominicans, Guadeloupeans, Trinidadians and Haitians…Mauritians, and Seychellois…but that’s another story). Bref, this was an important task. Continue reading
As a recent emigré, this time of year has the potential to be the hardest. Despite subjection to some notoriously painful Christmas do’s with colleagues, I love the Christmas season. Christmas spirit for me is all about quality time, ideally spent at Christmas dinners, drinks and parties; with friends, family, food, laughter and good vibes, all in huge quantities. A good few thousand miles away from home however, forgive me if I was more than a little slower than usual in getting into the Christmas spirit this year. Thankfully, round here the Christmas vibes are no different even if the unchanged climate seems unsettling at first. I definitely enjoy the party; it’s called chanté nwèl, literally ‘singing Christmas’, which conveys the idea of a vibrant, musical personified Christmas perfectly.
Chanté nwèl, is basically carol singing. But that doesn’t do it justice. Continue reading