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Traditional Brown Girl de la Martinique




Saturday, September 19, 2009
Oooooooo.  I love Martinique.  I've only been there twice, but this fabulous French Caribbean island and its people left quite an impression on me. With my genuine love for France as well as the Caribbean, Martinique is my perfect little paradise. 
An overseas region of France, Martinique is a part of the European Union and its currency is the euro.  The island enjoys a higher standard of living than most other Caribbean countries and its official language is French with a Martiniquan Creole being widely spoken.  (My husband and I got into a little fender bender in a roundabout once and neither one of us understood the French creole being spoken even though our French language skills are fair enough.  It was, as you can imagine, an animated exchange.)  "Martinique's Creole is based on French and African languages with elements of English, Spanish, and Portuguese. It continues to be used in oral storytelling traditions and other forms of speech and to a lesser extent in writing. Its use is predominant among friends and close family. Though it is normally not used in professional situations, members of the media and politicians have begun to use it more frequently as a way to redeem national identity and prevent cultural assimilation by mainland France. For the most part, the local Creole is intelligible to speakers of Standard French, as it has lost some of its distinct dialectal qualities."  (Yeah, you're telling me.)  [Source: Wiki]
As is common in most Caribbean islands, most of Martinique's population is descended from enslaved Africans brought to work on sugar plantations during the colonial era, generally mixed with some French, Amerindian (Carib people), Indian (Tamil), Lebanese or Chinese ancestry. Between 5 and 10% of the population is of East Indian (Tamil) origin. The island also boasts a small Syro-Lebanese community, a small but increasing Chinese community, and the Béké community, descendants of European ethnic groups of the first French and British settlers, who still dominate parts of the agricultural and trade sectors of the economy.  [Source: Wiki]
Now that I have successfully made myself ache for Martinique (without even saying that much), I'm going to go read a Martiniquan travel book or something and daydream about an upcoming trip my husband and I have planned.  Might as well get ready.  =)
Fun fact:  Martinique is the main setting of the 1944 film To Have and Have Not starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, and although I doubt the movie had very many people of color traipsing about, I absolutely adore the vintage photo of Martiniquan Brown Girls above.

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