Martinique curiosities, traditions and legends
Cafard Slave Memorial
The legacy of slavery is represented in many different forms in all places of the Caribbean. In some islands, memories and memorials are mild and sober, as if to suggest that it is better to spend just above. Among the most affected are the Anse Cafard Slave Memorial. Completed in 1998, in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the emancipation of slaves in the French West Indies, the memorial consists of 20 statues, each eight feet high. As you can see in the picture above, it's big statues with expressions curpe, shoulders hunched and head down, the figures look out to sea from what is otherwise a grassy field pleasant and breezy.
The memorial evokes an unmistakable sense of loss and grief, in line with the infamous story that inspired its creation.
The importation of new slaves to the Caribbean was declared illegal in 1815, but that did not stop the illegal trade that continued for many years after. To avoid detection, the slave traders chose the port to moor their ships at night. As you can imagine, this dangerous practice often had tragic results ...
On the night of April 7, 1830, a ship carrying a cargo of African sank in the waters off the rocky coastline of Le Diamant. More than 40 would-be slaves chained together in the hull of the ship, drowned.
The tragedy is ably commemorated by the sculptor Laurent Valére. The statues, composed of plaster, concrete and sand, are arranged so as to draw a triangle. They are also standing at an angle of 110º directly in line with the Gulf of Guinea.
Visit Anse Cafard is a moving experience. Art installations in most museums and public places are usually cordoned off somehow. Not here, there are no doors, no velvet ropes he guards; nothing stands between you and the statues.
The 'biguine' (or 'beguine'), a French-African dance music with a rhythm similar to the bolero, was born in Martinique in the 30s of XX century. A more recent creation of the French Antilles, zouk, which is based on the Beguine and other forms of local folk, has spread to Europe and the French Caribbean. Since the 30s, the "Beguine" became very fashionable in France in what was then called the "dance of the blacks", and then slowly disappear in the 70s in favor of Cuban music and variety.
The local beer is called Lorrain, but the rum island are clearly favorites. In Martinique, the aperitif penalty is the 'ti-punch', made with white rum, sugar cane juice and a slice of lemon. Another typical drink is the 'planter punch', a cocktail with hot rum and fruit juice.
Before colonization, the West Indies hosted a population of Carini and Aruachi, excellent farmers and potters, who lived in permanent villages, ruled by despotic hereditary chiefs. During the colonization, these were quickly decimated and replaced by French settlers never went beyond that, however, not the number of 10 to 12,000 for each island in the late eighteenth century, a time when the economy of the plantation reached its apogee with labor poured on islands, through it, from 1650 to 1815. these two essential elements of the population and mestizos born of their crossing were added in the second half of the nineteenth century, workers recruited in India, many of whom remained in Guadeloupe and Martinique at the end of their contract. The French West Indies have thus a population entirely transplanted and multiracial.
In 1902, the Mont Pelèe (an active volcano) was the most violent eruption never happened in the twentieth century. The cloud Pyroclast that which descended from its slopes destroyed Saint-Pierre. The cloud hot and fiery ashes developed an energy equal to 40 atomic bombs. Of the 30,000 inhabitants of the city they saved only two. One of them was in prison and was saved thanks to the protection offered by the thick walls and the small size of the grille outward.
Léon Compere-Leandre, a shoemaker in the city dweller, he describes his experience of the previous day and his miraculous survival after being found in terror: "I heard a terrible gust of wind, the earth began to shake and the sky suddenly went dark. I went home with great difficulty, even three or four steps that separated me from my room seemed to many, I felt my arms and my legs burn. I dove under a table. four others came to hide in my room, screaming in pain. Ten minutes later I see the little Delavaud about 10 years died next to me. the other three seem dead too. I lose the senses for about an hour and when I recover I see that the roof was burning . with my last remaining forces and although they are full of burns I leave the house and I run with death and destruction .... "