By Laura 'Simply Leah' McNeil
The 2019 CaribbeanTales Film Festival music night has been quite a night! It’s surprising how much our history can and has been expressed through music. In hindsight, that’s how my ancestors were able to communicate with each other during the time of slavery. This short film entitled Karukera Blues by Pierre Huberson reaffirmed that notion and then some.
In Karukera Blues Pierre Huberson returns to his ancestral homeland of Guadeloupe. While there, he takes us on a journey through the indigenous history of his native land. Now most of us are aware of the colonization that took place in the Caribbean islands and all over the world, however in this film our writer and director Pierre Huberson touches on some of the contradictions faced by his people as they journey to find their post-colonial Caribbean identification. All of us who are descendants of the Caribbean can identify with this, as we are faced with these contradictions every day. We take pride in the native tongue impressed up on our ancestors during colonization, be it French, Spanish, or English, and grapple with the knowledge that that is not our actual native tongue.
I felt it when Pierre said: “While my mouth speaks English, and my brain thinks French, my heart beats Creole.” Pierre Huberson shows true creativity with an excellent use of cinematography in this film, by capturing monuments that assist him in telling his story of past colonization and how his native land has evolved since then.
Guadeloupe is made up of a group of islands, six of which are inhabited, and many more which are not. The name ‘Karukera’ was given to this country by its original people the Arawaks, and it means ‘The Island of Beautiful Waters’. Pierre Huberson does an excellent job at showing that his native land still lives up to this name with this visualization. Through Pierre’s eyes, we see customs and traditions that would only be seen if you actually lived there. I appreciated this perspective as it reminded me that the Caribbean is a lot more than just sun, sand and sea water. As a foreigner living in the cold, it’s easy to forget these things, and I’m sure some of you can agree with me on that. Another stand out for me in this film was the deep connection these islanders have with music and dance. I enjoyed the glimpse into Carnaval Guadeloupe and it was very evident that the people of Guadeloupe take much pride in this tradition. Upon further research, I discovered that this tradition is three months in length. There are four essential celebrations during this time 'Dimanche Gras’, ‘Lundi Gras’, ‘Shrove Tuesday’, and ‘Ash Wednesday’.
Overall, Karukera Blues definitely left a lasting impression, as did the other features of the night. If Pierre Huberson’s goal with this film was to raise awareness and create the desire to discover more about his homeland, he nailed it!
*Editor’s note: Karukera Blues was screened at the CaribbeanTales International Film Festival ‘19