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« Allons danser le calenda
Avant que le calenda ne finisse
Quand la liberté viendra
Il n’y aura plus de calenda »
Chant d’esclaves martiniquais espérant la libération au temps de la Révolution Française

Delving into the African roots of Caribbean music is by no means a neutral undertaking at this time of commemoration: it involves affirming that the cultural blending celebrated via the anniversary of the abolition of slavery is not a soup, but a salad! It’s the same old refrain spelt out in each of our dossiers: the mixing of identities is only reductive when it boils down to being assimilated into a single model. That’s what slavery was, of course, but when, to everybody’s amazement, Black people still found the energy to dance to their rhythms after having slogged away all day, it was not only recreation, but a re-creation: dance was word, a language, expressing not only their resentment against the abject world of oppression, but also the vitality of their culture, and their refusal to let themselves be robbed of it. In this sense, dance and music were a form of resistance, for freedom, in the same way that the uprisings, poisonings, suicides, abortions, lies, sycophancy, complaints, tales, songs, and escapes were… The slaves also fled through dance.

These musical forms have lost nothing of that force, to the point where they have got the whole world dancing. The return to the source at work today is not backward-looking, nor fundamentalist. On the contrary, it opens the way to a vital affirmation: cultural blending can be positive when it enriches each other’s cultures.

///Article N° : 5305

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