GUADELOUPE AT CARIFESTh
Few names in the French Caribbean ring a bell like that of Madame
Aime Adeline one of the most experienced folklorist in Guadeloupe and
the Caribbean4 This versatile artist will lead a 25 strong folkloric
group from Guadeloupe to CARIFESTA and with them will come a touch of the
gay French rhythms blending with the East Indian, African and Carib, and
adding a bit more magic to the already colourful variety of the
The Guadeloupe Folkloric Group will capture the beauty of the
Chinese, French, Caribs, African and East Indian that comprise the Islands
society&..it will capture the gay spirit of the people in song and dance
even touches of their Carnival and other festivities.
In the Antilles the Carnival begins around the second week in
January and finishes on Shrove Tuesday. But in Guadeloupe, like in its
French sister Island Martinique, the Carnival bacchanal has one extra
day, and-that is Ash Wednesday, which is a mourning day for His Majesty
Shrove Tuesday is the great day of the devils, the.masks and fancy
dress costumes, In compact groups the whole population, dressed only
in black and white clothes, walk in a procession down the streets shouting
and groaning or singing at the top of their voices with orchestral
accompaniment: "Vaval pas quite nous",
Finally at.nightfall, the Carnival personified by Vaval is burned
while the crowd, brandishing torches, dance in a ring around the pile
Guadeloupe% Carnival is really a mixture of the French, Spanish
and African; images of the East Indian contribution to the Islands cultural
cosmos can be seen at certain times of the year in villages like Matouba.
Here one can see quite frequently the c-rrying out of ancient rites
which were transplanted from the Indian sub-Continent by these people who
came to the New World to work as indentured labourers in the 19th Century.
Around this time the French Negro slaves had revolted and had to be freed
Guadeloupets cultural world rightly begins, like many of the other
Island territories of the Caribbean, with the indigenous Caribs. When
Colombus in 1493 saw this lush Island, with cascading mountain torrents
feeding half a dozen rivers, he immediately named it after the Monks of
Guadeloupe in Estremadura-with whom he had made a promise to name the most
beautiful land after them,
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But when the discoverer attempted to lay his feet on the shores
of Guadeloupe he was greeted with a shower of arrows from the warring
Caribsi There was much fighting among the Caribs, French and English
for ownership of the Island.
Le Moule is one of the mnny sites of the old battle grounds It
was here that the Caribs with their wcr axes and poison arrows fought
the Europeans with their "fire sticks". The old cumatury at Le Moule
commemorates the ancient conflicts with petrified skulls unearthed by
the final victor the sea.
Apart from a bit of Carib blood not much is left of the original
rulers of this land, except of course for the "Valley of the Ancient
Here one still find sculptured rocks, heavily incised with Carib
Indian picture-writing that are among the most impressive of the few
relics left by the fierce race that dominated the Caribbee.
Memories of the French supremacy on the Island lingers in the
dark underground passage-ways and.damp dungeons at Fort Fleur de LtEpee.
On Les Saintas and St. 3D-rthelemy, both Island dependencies of
Guadeloupe, the people are of a different breed....have a different
culture. On Les Saint s, the descendants of Breton and Norman sailors
who look almost like blue eyed Vikings, live a life of their own liking
much of it spent roaming the Caribbean sea; while on St. Barthelomy the
people still speak an old Norman-French and wear the provincial costumes
Guadeloupe, which is really two Islands separated by a narrow
channel, is a pot-pourri of all these peoples Bretons-Normans, Caribs,
English, French, African, Syrian, East Indian and the lot.
The works of art, literature, folk-art etc. that they are
bringing to C..RIFESTA will give artistic meaning to this pot-pourri and
add a touch of romance to the three-week Cultural Exposition. (Oliver Hunter)