Standing Alone?

One theme I picked up on when I was in Paris was the concept of national identity. My friend  is from French Guyana, a departement of France which borders with Suriname in South American. My friend is one of the kindest and most sincerest people I  have ever met.

I learnt a lot about French Guyana and I met many people from there. I am very curious about the ambiguous relationship that the French overseas departements have with France. When I did my French exchange in 2006 in Martinique, I learnt a lot about some Martinicans who want independence.

I asked my friend L whether French Guyana would ever consider independence from France. She said she doesn’t think that people in the country would ever vote for that. Interestingly as well, she told me that when asked, people will say they are from France, as opposed to saying French Guyana. Yet, there is a fierce pride of being from French Guyana. I am not trying to generalise all opinion on FG but I found it fascinating that there is a sort of deferential relationship to France, yet at the same time a unique identity.

Does anyone think territories like Martinique & French Guyana should be independent from France? Do black people from these nations need to separate themselves?


9 thoughts on “Standing Alone?

  1. Nonsense the french antillians have been rioting on the difference in pay and benefits that they recieve in comparison with mainland france.

    Independence is never an easy option, but independence and self determination are thebest thing any nation can have.

  2. I think keeping ties to France is the preferred thing. The difference between former British colonies and French Caribbean colonies is the way the mother country treats them. British colonies all wanted independence because Britain treated them with little respect, like they were just interested in what the islands had to offer, but they offered nothing to the citizens.

    I’m not sure about French Guyana, but I know that Martinqueans are essentially treated as citizens of France, as far as freedom to travel and live in France, healthcare, education. For many serious illnesses people from my island travel to Martinique for treatment as many of the treatments are not available here.

    Why gain independence and lose all those benefits?

    • but this is the thing. financially they are treated well but should people really sell out for money?

      i just find it peculiar that these post-colonial nations don’t want independence to start alone. look at nations like barbados. it’s a shining example of what good independence has dpne.

      instead of waiting for hand outs, why would it be bad for them to work for their own benefits?

  3. I think people want the pride of independence, but the security of a rich, powerful nation. The bottom line is that on their own, most of these countries would flounder. I think for it to be successful, they would have to somehow pair up with neighboring countries in the same position. For example, if the Caribbean formed its own nation with one leader, one currency etc. But if they still maintained some individuality like the various U.S. states.

    • but again, look at countries like barbados. it’s doing really well and it gained independence.

      i think there are always ways to make growth work. maybe martinique and co just don’t want to have the conversation.

  4. I don’t think that it is solely about the money or influence from France. There will now always be an underlying element in these nations that will essentially be French. If you go to the former British West Indies/island they all still have an element to their thinking, manner or infrastructures that is still essentially British.

    • I have to say, I don’t agree with the idea that some of the BWI islands are essentially British.

      Colonisation has an odd impact on countries and while islands in the caribbean were colonised for longer, just from what I saw when I went there, people seem very determined to carve out their own social and political identitites

      I don’t think the whole thought of them being ‘French’ is a reason to stick to France. The bottom line for me is this topic is uncomfortable for some people because from what I heard and saw in Martinique, the general consensus was people didn’t want to change a good thing supposedly.

      If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Well I just think thinkers like Frantz Fanon and Aime Cesaire were onto something when they wrote about the issues of Martinique. These issues of race and identity also have a political tone to them.

      I am in no way saying people can’t have their identities but I am sick and tired of some black people’s lame excuses as to why they want to stick with something.

  5. Aulelia,

    Maybe France contributes a lot of money and other support to those countries and that’s why many people would rather keep ties to France?

    Maybe in time they will seek independence.

    • I really don’t think they will seek independence.

      But again, why does money have to be the reason? I don’t think that is a good enough argument to an extent.

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