Virtual farewell of a Guadeloupe under lockdown to Jacob Desvarieux, the zouk legend

Jacob Desvarieux - Photo: Kassav' Facebook
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Photo: Video screenshot Burial of Jacob Desvarieux

The virtual appointment had been set up for Jacob Desvarieux’s fans on Thursday, August 5 at 1:00 pm. Everyone was connected to the television, radio, computer or mobile phone to say goodbye to the Zouk legend.

The ceremony took place at the Dorocant funeral home in Les Abymes in the presence of the artist’s four children – twins Marc and Michel, Alexandre and Aurore – his sister Sohanna, some nephews and nieces, cousins, relatives, allies and friends, not forgetting the members of the group Kassav’ : Pierre-Édouard Décimus, aged 73, who founded Kassav’ with Jacob Desvarieux in 1979; Jean-Claude Naimro; Georges Décimus; Jocelyne Béroard who was in Paris when the musician died ; Claude Vamur…

Vicar general Father Édouard Silène, parish priest of Pointe-à-Pitre, celebrated this mass and read, at the beginning, a long letter from Monsignor David Macaire, apostolic administrator of the diocese of Guadeloupe (which is waiting for its new bishop) and archbishop of Martinique, in which he paid tribute to the artist. The testimony of Pierre-Édouard Décimus, co-founder of Kassav’ with Jacob Desvarieux, was very short, he found that everything had been said by David Macaire and he reminded the children of the deceased that they could always count on the support of the members of Kassav’.

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Father Édouard Silène – Photo: Video screenshot Burial of Jacob Desvarieux

At the end of the ceremony, Aurore, the artist’s daughter, addressed a message of consolation to all those who loved her father, a father she and her brothers had not known well but whom they loved, she said… Note that the organist performed an instrumental version of the song “Sé’w mwen emné” (1984) during the service.

In the funeral home, the pallbearers performed some dance steps with the coffin as in Ghana, Africa; (Coffin dance) on the refrain “Asi pon Gaba mwen touvé on lélé” of the song “Kavalié o Dam”, released in 1984… The same track accompanied the procession which then took the direction of Saint-François, which it reached more than two hours later.

Guadeloupe was no longer a country under lockdown, because along the roads, thousands of Jacob Desvarieux fans (and onlookers) had gathered with banners expressing their love for their idol and flowers that they threw at the hearse. At the cemetery entrance, the crowd was also large. Despite the wish to bury the star in “the most strict intimacy”, some people tried to enter the cemetery but only the mayor of the city, some municipal elected officials and Xénia Caraïbe, Jacob Desvarieux’s cousin and artist, were able to join the people already present at the religious ceremony for this last farewell.

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Pierre-Édouard Décimus, co-founder of Kassav’ – Photo: Video screenshot Burial of Jacob Desvarieux

Guadeloupeans are still very shocked by the death of Jacob Desvarieux due to Covid-19, he had received three doses of vaccine that were supposed to prevent him from developing a serious form of the disease and arriving at the intensive care unit. The artist was even promoting the Covid vaccine to encourage the wary population to get vaccinated.

Some people wondered how the funeral of the guitarist, who died on 30 July in Guadeloupe, would take place, since the explosion of cases of Covid-19 (more than 3,000 cases in the last few days) had forced the prefecture to take drastic measures, including a new lockdown of the population, which came into force on Wednesday, August 4. It was therefore unthinkable that there could be an exceptional dispensation for the thousands of the artist’s fans to pay their last respects to him during a great public ceremony.

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Aurore, Jacob Desvarieux’s daughter – Photo: Video screenshot Burial of Jacob Desvarieux

On Tuesday, August 3, things became clearer with the publication of this post by Kassav’ on its Facebook page : “We sincerely thank you for all your messages and tributes received from all over the world since Friday night. We are deeply touched. As announced, Jacob will be buried in a private ceremony at the request of the family. However, the religious ceremony will be broadcast on our Facebook and on the Kassav’ YouTube channel (…)”.

The musician’s four children who live in France, in particular the two eldest Marc and Michel, now 36, were fully involved in the organization of their father’s funeral. They would even have liked to place Jacob Desvarieux’s body in a gymnasium so that the whole population could say goodbye to him. However, the Covid-19 epidemic and the restrictions imposed by the authorities forced them to opt for this virtual ceremony. However, the members of the Kassav’ band and the singer’s children are planning to organize a big event to honour the zouk legend, according to the same message published last Tuesday : “We are already working on a tribute that we will share with you, together with artists from our regions and elsewhere. Together we will honour Jacob as the artist and man he was”.

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Photo: Video screenshot Burial of Jacob Desvarieux