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The Arada Pledge

Jean-Claude Martineau






The Arada Pledge, Jean-Claude Martineau •
ISBN 978-1-936431-36-6 • 284 paj • Edisyon Près Trileng, Cambridge, Massachusetts • 2021 • $20.00 + $3.95 (in the USA)

The Arada Pledge

In his debut novel, The Arada Pledge, legendary Haitian poet and lodyansè Jean-Claude Martineau (A.K.A. Koralen) traces the imaginative and historical link between our ancestral African culture and the advent of the Haitian Revolution.

In unflinching details, Martineau presents the horror and injustice of the trafficking of men, women, and children across the sea into forced labor, as well as the steadfast solidarity within a community that refuses to be victimized. The Atlantic world is revealed in its entirety, through the author’s expertly crafted connection between the protagonists, both fictional and historic, from Africa and those of St. Domingue/Haiti. The story connects their everyday lives and the evolution of their revolutionary praxis. Figures like Toussaint, Dessalines, Christophe, Pétion, Clervaux, Catherine Flon or Lamour Derance are not mythical figures from a faraway time, but complex, proactive people in their search of freedom and dignity.

Written with the flair of the poet and the memory of the historian and storyteller, the book is as enjoyable to read as it is thought-provoking.

J.-C. Martineau believes that it is incumbent upon Haitians to construct the positive narrative of their history: “If Europe, more precisely France, can use its culture to glorify its heroes who were nothing but enslavers and authors of genocides, why can’t we do the same to glorify the leaders of our resistance?”

Martineau laments the fact that Haiti is still paying for its victorious resistance against colonialism. Rather, Haitians should make it a point to tell their history and story from their own perspective if they want to avoid distortion and neocolonial reinvention: “Almost everything you know about Haiti has been thought by her enemies. Now it is our time to speak about our struggles, our failures and our successes. This book is a story to explain history”.

Like Jean-Price Mars before him, Martineau identifies the imitation of the masters’ world as a major impediment to Haitian liberation project: “I know French history as well as the average French citizen. I didn’t learn it at school. It came to me through songs, articles, magazines, films and novels. With d’Artagnan, Lagardère, Jean Valjean and Quasimodo, people from the former French colonies, Haiti included, learn not only the history of France, but more importantly its culture. The result is that their French educated elites come to know and love France better than their own countries” he says in the Introduction. This observation is brought to life by the cultures and characters of The Arada Pledge.

Another significant dimension of Martineau’s novel is the representation of brutalized human beings who have been treated as possessions who maintain—against all odds—what is good, human, and gracious within themselves. From Africa to the Caribbean, the steadfast goals of freedom and justice power these positive heroes and heroines to bear the sacrifices that it entailed to bring change to the degrading and inhumane conditions of their fellow companions in oppression.

The Arada Pledge is a masterpiece that channels our legacy of revolutionary persistence; for young and old, Martineau’s novel is a showcase of the great resilience of the human spirit.

Table of contents

Chapter One - Introduction

Chapter One - The Sacred Field

Chapter Two - Ganiloa

Chapter Three - The Footprints without Toes

Chapter Four - The Drums of Kalame

Chapter Five - The Centaur

Chapter Six - The Education of Bambolo

Chapter Seven - And The Sky Caved In

Chapter Eight - The New Kalame

Chapter Nine - The Curse of the Pledge

Chapter Ten - Three Abolitionists on a Slave Ship

Chapter Eleven - Flag Day

Chapter Twelve - Eladjo

Chapter Thirteen - A Ship Renamed Haïti


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Trilingual Press


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