As part of the program entitled “Plural identities”, the city of Pointe-à-Pitre decided to highlight culture of all foreign nationals who live on its territory. After Lebanon last March and Haiti last May, it was the island of Cuba’s turn to exhibit itself at the Pavillon de la Ville, on October 8 and 10.
“Plural identities”, because we are the fruit of a racial and cultural mixing, one of the components is the Caribbean and Cuba is the largest island, we invite you to discover it, for its prodigious history, its literature, its music, its traditions, its arts, its dances and its songs, and the traces it lovingly left in us (…)”, wrote Gyslaine Nanga, the director of cultural affairs and heritage at the city hall of Pointe-à-Pitre in the programme of the event. According to the city, 250 Cubans live in Guadeloupe.
On the ground floor of the Pavillon de la Ville, Cuban flags, several photos of the “Che”, books on his life, books on Cuba and various objects were on display. One of the rooms host two exhibitions entitled “Rumba de Cuba” and “Santéria de Cuba” and lent by the Bettino Lara Media Library located in Basse-Terre. In addition, Cuban sculptor and ceramist Katia Gonzalez Salazar exhibited her beautiful works which attracted the attention of many visitors.
Two historic figures
During this cultural event that lasted only two days, two important figures in the history of Cuba were celebrated. On October 8 was dedicated to the Argentinian doctor Ernesto Guevara, nicknamed “Che”, who took part in the rebellion against President Fulgencio Batista who governed the country since 1933 with Fidel Castro in 1956 and, on October 10, a focus was made on Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, the great sugar producer who, on October 10, 1868, launched an uprising against Spanish power; this First War of Independence lasted ten years and caused the death of 200,000 people before a pact was signed in February 1878.
The audience attended the screening of several documentaries and films such as “Le Che”, “Journal de Bolivie”, “Roble de Oro” as well as “La flauta de cinco llaves en Cuba” and “Los caminos de la rumba cubana en Paris” by Elis Roca Garcia.
On Monday October 8, in the afternoon, pupils from Sadi Carnot college who were with their teachers, saw “Le Che” and they did not hesitate to ask questions to Gaston Gontour (founder member and vice-president of the Association des Amis de Cuba).
Years of friendship between Guadeloupe and Cuba
The 78-year-old retired technician has a passion for Cuba, like the other members of the association which was founded in 1999. In november 1999, the “Association des Amis de Cuba” had invited in Guadeloupe “Che” Guevara’s daughter, Aleida Guevara who is a doctor like her father…
Today, if 300 people joined the association, only about sixty members paid its subscription…
“I experienced the movements in the 60s in the world and in 1967 in Guadeloupe. I had a grandmother named Clara Antonia, I began investigations to know where she was from but they have come to nothing. My cousin also went to live in Venezuela (…)”, said Gaston Gontour.
“L’Association des Amis de Cuba” works with the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) and its main activity consists in participating in the “Volunteer work and Solidarity Brigades with Cuba” that take place in August of each year in Cuba.
Note that if the “Association des Amis de Cuba” was officially created in 1999, 26 Guadeloupeans (13 men and 13 women) already took part in the 5th “brigade” in 1998. “Over in Cuba, we met some participants from other Caribbean islands and Latin America. In August 2018, four members of the association went to Cuba, the majority is more than 50 years old. There were 62 representatives coming from 13 countries: Argentina, Chile, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Ecuador, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Guadeloupe, Panama, Peru, Canada (Quebec)”, Gaston Gontour said.
Travel through the arts
For his part, he had the opportunity to visit Cuba about fifteen times. He remembered once that he absolutely wanted that one of his friends to give a little notebook to Fidel Castro who was sitting not far from them so that he wrote a dedication, surely he was too intimidated he did not dare to do it. “One of the bodyguards who had seen us told me to go to another meeting at night where Fidel will be to try to get my autograph, but when we arrived there were lots of people”, he told.
During these two days, there were conferences on “El Che, a meteor in the Cuban revolution” with the political scientist Éric Nabajoth and “The poet Nicolas Guillen, from Cuba to Guadeloupe” with Aimé Bertin; a discussion about “Ma Chair Cuba” with Michel Bangou and José Cipolin, founder members of the first friendship association with Cuba, “Guadeloupe-Cuba”, created in 1971; singing performance with pupils from Saint-John Perse secondary school in Grand-Camp (Les Abymes), dancing performance with José Yuste Martinez (dancer, choreographer) and music performance with the school “La Corde La”, managed by Jacqueline Jardinez Lopez.