Tag Archives: social history

Trauma in the Spotlight

Disclosure:  As a teen, I dreamed of being an investigative journalist.

It’s been a full 24 hours since my most recent trip to the cinema and I’m still kinda traumatised.  After the film finished, I discussed it for a solid 90 minutes.  After a night of poor sleep, I woke up and did a quick internet search before work: I needed to know how true this story was.  I got that the main thrust is true, but how many liberties did the filmmakers take for dramatic effect?  How much artistic licence did they employ? Continue reading

Advertisements

ROFL!! : When Teaching History Meets Colonialism in Martinique

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

Ayiti cheri…merci

Another Citadel view

View from Citadelle Henri, Cap Haitien, Haiti

I don’t want to write about Haiti right now.  Not least cos I still haven’t worked out how to put ‘it all’ in one concise post.  However I also have not been able to stop writing about Haiti.

Since I first got proper confirmation that I was going (i.e. after I’d looked at my bank balance after buying the plane ticket) all I’ve been able to talk about is going to Haiti.  When I was in Haiti, I jumped up and down in my seat on numerous buses, as excited as a little girl about the place I’d been to, and in anticipation of the next town.  High on the experience of travelling through Haiti.  Since I’ve been back, I’ve been in part low that I’m not still there, catching jokes and exploring, part femme comblé because I made it.  I went to Haiti.

And it was f*cking amazing.

Continue reading

Ooh la la! One crazy month in Martinique!

It’s not a huge secret that I love Martinique.  I try and play it cool like it’s a place like any other, with its good and bad, people and places.  Just another Caribbean island but with a French twist, but that’s a lie.  The truth is that I love this complicated place despite myself.  And several seemingly unconnected innocuous events will help me explain why.

First, there was the night I debated and discussed until I fell asleep.  Exhausted, we all crashed out on our sofa.  Me, and the husband and wife creative team I’ve been calling housemates this past summer.  The subject?  The private view had of Hélène Raffestin‘s art exhibition ‘Sois belle et plais toi’ which I’ll translate as ‘be beautiful and make yourself happy’ (‘please yourself’ has distinctly sexual connotations in English).  The title had intrigued my housie who noticed the play on the play of words on the charming French expression ‘Sois belle et tais toi’ aka ‘be beautiful and shut up’.  Who says the French aren’t romantic?  We were both looking forward to seeing how her desire to look at ‘the role of women in our contemporary society’ would manifest itself in her art.

She did a good job.  Art is supposed to provoke debate and emotions and she certainly did that.  According to the flyer, Raffestin lives and works in Martinique, did her first art school here, and we infer was born here.  The picture of her is shadowy, so although she looks ‘kinda white’ she could also be mixed.  Why is that important?  Because this is Martinique.  The personal, the impersonal, the private, the public, it’s all political!  Martinique, an ‘overseas region of France’ exists as a complete anachronism.  A colony in the classic Age of Empire sense of the world in the age of 21st century necolonialism.  And it retains many of the features of a colony, such as skin colour as an arbiter of social class.

Raffestin’s critique of women in ‘our contemporary society’ threw up immediately the question of ‘which society?’  Continue reading

Holidaying vs. Travelling : Busting the Myths (SPOILER: You Are A Traveller. Probably.)

I tend to document my travel adventures here, rather than the human drama which is the detail of daily life; paying bills, washing clothes, mentally preparing for and winding down from work, answering and sending ‘serious’ emails.  It’s not a value judgement, just evidence of me having my head in the clouds.  However people somehow seem to forget that my travel adventures are not actually my daily life.  My 9-5 wholly funds my fun (how I budget for travel is for another post).

As free-spirited as I may be, I do not live on the road nor out of my backpack.  I simply like being on the road for short periods, and I therefore maximise the potential of every bit of holiday I get.  You, dear reader, can do the same should you choose to.  There’s a big lie going around which makes people feel like adventures are out of their reach:  Going on holiday is not the same as ‘going travelling’.  This is simply not true. Continue reading

Girls Gone Wild!!! : The DC to DC Roadtrip

I was watching TV one Saturday night when I was 14 and had just changed schools as a result of my parents separating less than 18 months earlier.  My amazing Dad had just moved from our house in London to St Lucia i.e. 4000 miles away, and I had just fallen in love for the first time.  I was basically at the peak of my teenaged angst when I came across a programme featuring a random group of smartarses  friends my age exactly Continue reading

Cold weather or Cold people? When Granny Moved to England II

English: Little Malvern snowman Near the begin...

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the name of truly interspersing our tales of traversing the Atlantic in the opposite direction as British Caribbean black women in 1958 and 2012 respectively, I thought I’d share some of my adventures before revisiting her experiences.  But I think it’s about time for Granny P (aka my maternal grandmother) part 2.  If you missed part one, head to it here.

So how did she even end up in England is one of my favourite questions. When she emigrated from Barbados to start afresh on the other side of the Atlantic she was the first person in the family to emigrate by choice for a while as far as we know.  Both her mother and grandmother (my great- and great-great grandmothers respectively) had been born and died in the same parish that we believe the family had lived in since we arrived in bondage from Africa.

Granny’s mum (my great-granny, known simply as ‘Mama’) had a corner shop and her mum, Elvira Clarke, had been a cane cutter (back when job descriptions were self-explanatory).  Granny told me once that all she remembers of her own grandmother was a red headscarf she always wore, and the cutlass slung over her shoulder as she walked to and from the cane field daily.  One of those times I harrassed her for info which she didn’t mind sharing, taking her back to her memories of her own childhood. Continue reading