Saturday, 28 May 2016

Antillean Week

It's not often such a colour outfit is seen in Cormatin
Every year the Antillean society in Saône-et-Loire has a week of events in this region. They seek to promote understanding of the Antilles, their culture, their gastronomy and their history and each year their week centres on a theme. This year the theme was the abolition of slavery.

France abolished slavery in 1794, but Napoleon reintroduced it in 1802 and it wasn’t until 1899 that all French colonies had abolished slavery once and for all. It wasn’t clear to me why this year was chosen to dedicate itself to history surrounding the abolition of slavery, but this year it was.

Plaque on the chateau wall
There were a number of different events throughout the week but the one that caught our eye was of course the event in Cormatin. The day started with an Antillean mass in Cormatin church, then proceeded to the unveiling of a plaque at the chateau, laying a wreath in Ameugny cemetery and a glass of wine and a presentation on the history of slavery in Ameugny village hall. In the afternoon there was a play in St Roch hall in Cormatin, but sadly we were expecting a gite guest to arrive and we had to miss the afternoon session.

Poppies on the walk through Ameugny village
So why Cormatin and what was on the plaque?

There was a certain General Lavaux who was the governor of St Domingue (Haiti today) who bought the chateau and he died there in 1828. He was a good friend of both Toussaint Louverture and Lamartine and these relationships proved to be critical in the eventual abolition of slavery.

The tomb of General Lavaux
Toussaint Louverture was the leader of the Haitian slave uprising which was a pivotal moment in the fight against slavery in the colonies and through him, General Lavaux became convinced of the anti-slavery cause and was able to lobby the influential Lamartine and other government officials to formulate the abolition of slavery bill, which he sadly did not live to see being passed in parliament. So a plaque has been erected to honour the work of this man who has been a little bit forgotten by history and it was his grave we laid the wreath on.

We think of this as only a lesson in history, but we were reminded that even with all these noble treaties, there is still slavery today, in many cases clandestine but in some areas just accepted and ignored.

All in all a very interesting, sobering and worthwhile morning contemplating the horrors of slavery and hopefully spreading the seeds to enable us to learn from our past and abolish this trade for ever.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...