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Since Gouyave is the only parish that has maintained its strong roots from 150 years of creating the Creole "Composite People", I think this would be a good read.
I would add, where it reads "...imposed chronology of French colonial history ...", for We-Grenadians, it is more of English.....
TOWARD A CREOLE MYTH OF ORIGIN
Narrative, Foundations and Eschatology in Patrick
Chamoiseau's L'esclave Vieil Homme et le Molosse
by Doris L. Garraway
To speak of Patrick Chamoiseau's novel L'esclave vieil homme et le molosse as a "Creole myth of origin" may at first appear to be a contradiction in terms. According to Mircea Eliade, a myth is a sacred story that tells how, "grace aux exploits des Etres surnaturels, une realite est venue a l'existence, que ce soit la realite totale, le Cosmos, ou seulement un fragment: une ile, une espece vegetale, une institution" (16-17). The value of the myth of origin lies in its power to justify the presence of a people in its natural environment, and to ground its sense of collective identity. For colonial societies marked by a history of forced deterritorialization, slavery, symbolic loss and cultural heterogeneity, however, the conditions of possibility for an origin myth would appear to be entirely absent. As Jack Corzani has argued, "Creole oral literature lost all its sacred dimension, and ... the important mythic stories, legends, and epic stories disappeared completely with deportation, with the dissolving of continuity which it created, removing from the individuals their sense of the past, of lineage, and of History, as well as the mythic and legendary origins of their people or their race" (132).: For Edouard Glissant, this irreparable loss has contributed to the condition that he calls "nonhistory," meaning the sense of cultural discontinuity and dislocation in both time and space brought on by slavery and its erasure of collective memory. Because of their origins in colonial displacement and prolonged captivity, Glissant argues, Caribbean people have not been able to situate themselves through a "mythical chronology" of their land, and have been instead forced to interpret their past through the imposed chronology of French colonial history (Caribbean Discourse 62-63). Whereas one might have expected to find in the rich tradition of Creole folktales an imaginary reconstruction of historical experience or a mythical claim to the land, Glissant maintains that even these stories fail to reinscribe the people in time and space: "The Caribbean tale outlines a landscape that is not possessed: it is anti History" (85).2 If the idea of a myth of origin seems, then, antithetical to the very history, social reality and oral traditions of Creole cultures, its applicability to Chamoiseau's novel in question is further problematized by Chamoiseau's own critical assessment of origin myths in so far as they serve to establish a people's claim to belonging in a given "territory." Such claims, he argues, perpetuate an ethos of "unicity" and negate the diversity that is the true origin of human communities. Against the concept of territory, Chamoiseau posits the "problematic of place," of which the Antilles constitutes tutes a prime exemplar: "Lorsqu'on voit la constitution des Antilles, on s'apergoit qu'il n'y a pas de genese, puisque tout le monde est arrive avec sa genese; il n'y a pas de mythe fondateur, puisque tout le monde est arrive avec ses mythes fondateurs" (McCusker 725).3 While Chamoiseau's assessment of the potential of cultural myths to survive the process of migration contrasts sharply with that of other critics mentioned here, his critique of territorialist foundation myths strongly echoes Glis sant's theory of creolization as the repudiation of claims to unique origins (what Glissant calls "reversion"4), as well as of the racialist, genealogical thinking that myths of genesis encourage. "Composite peoples," Glissant writes, "that is, those who could not deny or mask their hybrid composition, nor sublimate it in the notion of a mythical pedigree, do not 'need' the idea of Genesis, because they do not need the myth of pure lineage" (141). In so forcefully rejecting the kinds of foundationalist, essentialist logics that have historically undergirded colonial hierarchies and repres sive racial ideologies, Glissant, Chamoiseau and other theorists of Caribbean creoliza? tion rejoin the postcolonial and poststructuralist mantra against the Enlightenment search for origins or the modernist nostalgia for lost origins, both of which are seen to instantiate a desire to legitimate ethnocentric, culturally specific or contingent claims to truth or authenticity....
Of all the distinctions the good people of Gouyave can lay claim to, your assessment of us as being ".......the only parish that has maintained its strong roots from 150 years of creating the Creole "Composite People"...... may be beyond dispute. And I would stand corrected by anyone out there who can lay their claim to a passionate defense of their town; with no apologies and to the same degree as we "Gouyavelonians" can.
As I understand 'Creole' to mean "a person of mixed European and Black lineage, I would say that all the parishes in our entire country may hold that distinction; some more than others. Moreover, as Gouyave has seen its fair share of migration over that time period, particularly from our Northern neighbors, that diversity may have skewed our passionate intensity somewhat, to the point of being overbearing at times. This may be our way of assuring their proper assimilation into a culture that had a low tolerance for those who limit their ambitions. However, we never wore our ranks on our sleves.
But this post as you noted, is indeed a wonderful read; a reflective and insightful compilation of several opinions on a matter so deeply rooted in all of us from African descent . In doing so, I tried to find an answer to that sometimes puzzling and poignant question as to "who are we/what are we /what have we become". The phrase "hybrid pedigree"as a designation may take some time to be palatable in my mouth but I can surely understand that in the absence of being a true-breed European or African, it may be an acceptable connotation as the gene pool of "WE" West Indians have "evolved" into a complicated cosmopolitan mixture.
But Glissant's opinion, disturbing as it may be to some West Indians ....those with a lighter hue....seems to hit home as he recognizes the following: >>>>>"....those who could not deny or mask their hybrid composition, nor sublimate it in the notion of a mythical pedigree, do not 'need' the idea of Genesis, because they do not need the myth of pure lineage" (141). ......<<<<
At the risk of playing Glissant's Devil's Advocate here, I wonder if the inverse of his opinion above best characterizes the dilemma that sometimes face the lighter hue West Indian hybrids?
Suppose he had said that "Those who could deny or mask their hybrid composition, or sublimate it in the notion of a mythical pedigree, do 'need' the idea of Genesis, because they need the 'myth' of pure lineage".
If we can answer in the affirmative to this, how then can we account for the sometimes cultural separation of the two dominant hybrid groups when there exists, a single commonality of a genealogical composit in both? And further, do they carry the burden of that myth of pure lineage when they exist in a society that is dominated by those of a darker hue?
Maybe these questions can best be answered by the Social Anthropologist but Glissant's assertion may inadvertently point to a need factor that may have remained dormant in many but just as important in understanding the intricacies of their existance in this world of hybrid genealogical composition.
VJL, with new hybrid genes, synonymous with the color, "new Black".
Peter wrote this and VTL wholeheartedly concurred.
"Since Gouyave is the 'only parish' that has maintained its strong roots from 150 years of creating the Creole "Composite People", I think this would be a good read."
I am left , with my limited knowledge and education to wonder. What does this really really mean? Up to when I sat school leaving, Gouyave was "only" a town, or small fishing village, in the parish of St. Johns. When did it become a parish? was it during the Revo and they didn't tell anybody? But you guys wen even further, stating that it was "the only parish that maintained its strong roots of creating the creole composite people". Seriously, can you point to a statistic, or a text of any kind, historical or otherwise that would support that premise? Don't bother looking, that unicorn does not exist.
If Donald Trump was born in Grenada, he was born in the French Quarter, where everything and everyone is the best, the greatest, and the one and only.It is no wonder that fishing is the preferred pastime in that sector, where big-fish stories are king."If you think this 'petit neg' is big, you should have seen the one that got away, it almost swamped the boat.
I have always been puzzled by those who write scholarly treatises,positing solutions and clarifications, to issues that really does not exist in the real world. Genome research has made crystal clear what most black and white people, have long accepted as fact. Race mixing in general and the "slave trade" in particular have so blurred the lines of "Origin" that it is ignorant, and foolhardy, for most mixed race people any where to trace their roots through four or five generations.
For those creoles that we speak of, the tracers must travel through 400 years. Maybe they can begin at the Slave Markets of Goree Island off the Senegalese Coast. A collection point for slaves from all over Western and Central Africa . Here slaves were bought , sold and shipped as cattle off to the Caribbean and South America, where the came from were inconsequential nor would they be names that we would recognize. And then in the "New World" every attempt was made to separate tribes families and social groups, So who is out there making claims regarding specialized Origin.
On the white hand side, if you were the seed of the Straw boss, indentured servant, or God Forbid Massa's wife or daughters, "Cuccut eat your nanna." Ain't nobody claiming you, so the trace of your origin stops at the plantation gate, or at whichever far flung location you are shipped off to.Personally I have no desire, to know which lions my ancestors ran from, or from which of the Scottish Highland clans my great-grandfather hailed. In factmy favorite drink is Rivers, but I would even drink Clarke's Court before Scotch. Ugh! sacrilegious.
Get with it, bro.
At Trump University, they taught us that there is a new paradigm in communication where we respond to what is meant (Gouyave Town) rather than what is said (Gouyave Parish). And for a "Creole with a hybrid composition" and amply supply of Rivers. I thought you would have known that?....Lol
But I can see you agreeing with me ami, Monsieur Glissant when he opined that you doh need no dam! Genesis....Lol
Ah going an find ah French Man who can explain to all you why the L'anse produce so many Doctors /Phd per capita, more than any parish in Grenada. Doh worry. Ah ent go ask dat Selwyn to do the sums.
Oh! And FYI, please don't sully my initials, eh!.
It is "VJL" not VTL, you with you dam Chinese computer.
>>Race mixing in general and the "slave trade" in particular have so blurred the lines of "Origin" that it is ignorant, and foolhardy, for most mixed race people any where to trace their roots through four or five generations.<<
>>On the white hand side, if you were the seed of the Straw boss, indentured servant, or God Forbid Massa's wife or daughters, "Cuccut eat your nanna." Ain't nobody claiming you, so the trace of your origin stops at the plantation gate, or at whichever far flung location you are shipped off to.Personally I have no desire, to know which lions my ancestors ran from, or from which of the Scottish Highland clans my great-grandfather hailed.<<
Amen, Amen, Downstreet, to both statements.
I am at a loss when I read about our people paying a fortune to "t r a c e" their heritage. DeCoteau is a name I inherited, and the same was true for my father and generations before him until we get to the beginning where the salve simply adopted his slave owner's name because his original name was wiped out of him. Therefore why on God's good earth should I be overly concerned about how the DeCoteau name came about? Now if there was some way that my ancestral African name could be traced, then you'll have much more than just my attention.
That scene in ROOTS where Kinta Kunte was forced to denounce his name and instead call himself Toby tells us the whole story of our so-called heritage and last names.
For us (WE) our Myth of Origin is La Grenada. Was it a reconstruction or a birth -- is what the introduction of this little narrative is about.
Neither Africa nor Europe are kicking down our doors to come reclaim us. We have been motherless for over 400 years. It was 400 years ago that the construction of our new identity started here in La Grenada. In Africa and Europe today all the tribes who lived next to each other are in perpetual conflict. Imagine how Africans today will feel about a tribe dislocated from the continent for over 400 years. And Europe never welcomed those who made the Colonies their new permanent home back again with their composite offspring. It was the birth of (WE), La Grenada.
Gouyave still is the place of the geneses of our will for self-determination and is where the attempted abortion of the embryo of our natural identity happened when the Fedon insurgency was defeat.
It is difficult for the average Grenadian to fully understand that because we were not educated to do so. We were educated to be English subjects who only needed to learn how to be obedient servants and know our places.
Until the Treaty of Paris in 1763 – what is called the Parish of St. John today was for 150 years under French rule of La Grenade Called Paroisse de L’Ance Goyave. For a true Gouyave Patriots, that name for the PARISH will always be. Unfortunately, we take it for granted that this is common knowledge. We have work to do.
The subject of this short narrative by Mrs. Garraway relates to the defining process of a national Identity. Every nation – big and small, has a unique cultural and national identity. For Africans and Europeans the two major people in this narrative, the geneses of their identity are found in Africa and Europe. There is a Myth to each of them. Colonialization started new Genesis – or did it? That is the question. Were La Grenada by the end of 150 years of French Creoles, African and African Creoles, Coloreds, and the Native Caribs who survived or who contributed to the genetic “composite People”, constituted the beginning of a new people with its own natural and unique identity?
When La Grenada was ‘negotiated’ to the British in the Treaty of Parish in 1763, no one consulted the ‘Composite people’ of La Grenada as to how they wanted to be governed or be recognized after developing their own identity for 150 years. Paroisse de L’Ance Gouyave was as I mentioned the geneses of the “Composite People” of La Grenade. The spirit of recognizing where the birth of your identity is - is
not easily suppressed. And this is why I have argued that L’Ance Gouyave even with its adopted British name of St. John, is still striving to continue developing what should be the true identity of La Grenade.
And I DO AGREE that neither Pedigree or Degree, or the percentage of your European or African composition, should Trump the struggle to continue to reclaim our true natural national identity as one People.