« These words, before being
mine, belonged to the Wind, to
the Sea, to fairies, to Time, to Dreams
and to the Word itself. Now,
they belong to you… »
Waalo Fendo. There where the earth freezes… Mohamed Soudani’s beautiful film is shot in Switzerland. But what would these immigrants have to say about Quebec ?… Economic or political necessity has to be strong to get Africans and West Indians to plunge into the North American winter ! The frontiers only started to open up thirty years ago. Quebec’s invitation as special guest at the Paris Book Fair was the perfect opportunity to go and take a closer look. The Quebecker Pascale Pontoreau has been to meet artists of African or Creole origin in Montreal. What does this diaspora of the great north have to tell us through the work of its artists of all sorts ? How does a society whose migratory origins are not so far removed as all that react to these foreign voices ? Above all, does it see them as a necessary richness in the quest to affirm themselves before the Anglophone shark ?
The answer is far from straightforward, of course. « Good effort. Could try harder », as a teacher would say. But, as always, it is not so much a case of the host society opening up, as the newcomers coming to shake things up. Cracks are beginning to show in the tendency to withdraw into one’s own identity, blending is taking place, paradoxes are emerging.
The artists, for their part, naturally, endlessly, sway between the wrenching of exile, and their inscription in their new environment. And they illuminate our own quest by unravelling the complex threads of identity. It is not by chance that this dossier’s themes tend to pick up where those of the preceding issue on the writer in exile left off, and whose excellent article on Haitian literature by Bernard Magnier already focused on Quebec. But, as Joujou Turenne puts it, in Quebec, just like anywhere else, but there more obviously still, as it is a country less marked by the perpetuation of colonial relations, the artists of African origin offer the best of themselves to whoever is willing to listen : their Word.
///Article N° : 5341