“Madanm, madanm, Koukoune a manman-w! Kounia manman-w!” is the Guadeloupean extreme insult that the public relations officer of L’Artchipel, Scène Nationale, in Basse-Terre, has just thrown at me. But let’s start at the beginning. For several days now, I have been wanting to do two articles about this performance hall : an interview with the director Gérard Poumaroux and a photo report on the Voukoum association’s exhibition, “Mofwazé Métamorphose”, which is being held in the gardens of L’Artchipel until March 11. My phone calls were unsuccessful, I have already been to the place twice, all the doors are closed. It must be said that this cultural hall is currently under construction.
This morning, someone told me she had dialled the telephone number of L’Artchipel and a man from the public relations department answered. In the meantime, I arrived once again in front of the entrance to this exhibition where schedules were posted and I saw that Friday morning is reserved for schoolchildren from 9.00 am. I dialled the same telephone number again, tapping on public relations, a man picked up and hung up several times as if he couldn’t hear me. After trying several times, this L’Artchipel employee ended up answering me, repeating the schedules, telling me that it was Voukoum‘s exhibition, in other words that he wasn’t concerned, etc. “The general public is at night, 5:00 pm-10:00 pm”, he told me.
I asked him to let me access the gardens so that I could already take photos for my report. Nothing to do. I then asked him if groups of school children were coming to visit the exhibition this Friday morning, since I am there, I will wait for their arrival and I will meet a member of Voukoum for my report? This employee who is in charge of communicating with the public was more than annoyed. I then asked him what exactly he was doing at his job since he knows nothing, he hangs up the phone as if he didn’t want to be disturbed, he answers with an annoyed voice etc.: “This is not a place for you, your buttocks – “bonda” in Creole – should not be sitting in a cool air-conditioned room, insulting the public who pay you with their taxes!”, I told him. The man in charge of public relations then hung up on me.
As I was leaving, a passer-by with his little girl told me that someone was calling me. I turned around and saw a man arriving from L’Artchipel offices shouting “Madame, Madame, Madame!”. I replied, “I have nothing more to say to you, Sir, you didn’t want to talk to me on the phone”. This public relations officer from L’Artchipel, Scène Nationale ran after me along the fence to shout : “Madanm, Madanm, Koukoune a manman-w!, Kounia manman-w!!”. I admit that I was not very shocked, with this kind of individual it always ends with our national insult. Very embarrassed to have crossed a line because passers-by were looking at him and saw his behaviour, this employee ran back to the L’Artchipel offices.
I thought that the people in charge of communication and public relations had two very great qualities : courtesy and composure.
Many have complained about the more than low attendance at L’Artchipel, Scène Nationale, for years. Major and expensive work is being done to give this cultural structure created in 1996 a new look and finally attract the public, but with the kind of oddball that work there, it’s a losing battle. “Vagabond in a tie!!”.