Gérard Hilaire passed away, a Guadeloupean cultural activist is gone…

Gérard Hilaire - Photo: Évelyne Chaville

Many people discovered Gérard Hilaire through Kako Art which he had created in 2005 in Baie-Mahault. From 2 employees at the beginning, the structure had more than 30 in 2010. Around him, there were plastic artists, designers, musicians, the objective was to integrate young people through art. The association has left its mark on the Guadeloupean cultural landscape.

Then, in 2013, Gérard Hilaire created a new association – Ka’Ribbean Art 971 – to take over from Kako Art because he wanted to continue to “promote art in its diversity and to highlight its economic nature”. The “Carrefour des Arts” was already launched, it was a multi-artistic festival to promote the knowledge of the artistic and cultural heritage, to train and to integrate by the work the young people and to develop the tourist economy of the municipalities of the leeward coast. The public was invited to discover art in nature, on a river bank. We remember in particular the August 2017 edition that paid tribute to Patrick Saint-Éloi, the King of Zouk-Love and which took place in Ferry, Deshaies, with exhibitions of painting and sculpture, art therapy, body painting, music, poetry, storytelling or a lunch at the river.

This Pointe-à-Pitre native who spent his childhood in Raizet (Les Abymes) was passionate about horticulture and, during his career as an educator, he also integrated young Guadeloupeans in this sector.

Gérard Hilaire was also a music lover. In the 90s, he was a manager and worked with a record company. Gérard did not forget to bring to the media the new CDs (internet downloads were not yet in fashion) and “defend” the artists he was in charge of. Gérard Hilaire, the event creator, was at the origin of the great musical festival “Karukéra en Folie” attracting nearly 40 000 spectators between 1994 and 1996, this festival having been relaunched in 2018.

At the end of the 90’s, we met Gérard in a store on Nozières street in Pointe-à-Pitre, he was talking with a lot of pride about a clothing brand called “100% Nèg”.

Gérard Hilaire always had a head full of projects. In October 2019, during our last meeting at the Open Day of the Centre des Métiers d’Art in Pointe-à-Pitre, he told us about, among other things, the financial difficulties he had faced due to the lack of help from certain local authorities, he even spoke of “political blackmail” to dismantle Kako Art…

However, Gérard was not discouraged and we had agreed to meet so that he could present his new cultural projects to the readers of Kariculture. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 epidemic delayed this meeting which will not take place. Gérard Hilaire passed away of a heart attack on Tuesday, September 20, 2022 at the age of 64.