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Presenting The Arada Pledge

A historical novel by Jean-Claude Martineau

[ISBN: 978-1-936431-36-6; 284 pages, Trilingual Press Editions, 2021.]

The cover of the Arada Pledge by Jean-Claude Martineau.

The cover of The Arada Pledge by Jean-Claude Martineau.

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.

—Trilingual Press October 2021

Ou ka jwenn liv nan adrès lyen pi devan yo:
Vous pouvez obtenir le livre en suivant ce lien:
You may purchase the book by following this link:

Trilingual Press

The choir of the groupe «Haiti Culturelle», with Carole Demesmin, Gertrude Péan, Paula Péan, J.C. Martineau and Rodney George.

The choir of the groupe «Haiti Culturelle». From left to right: Carole Demesmin, Gertrude Péan (deceased), Paula Péan, J.C. Martineau and Rodney George (deceased), father of Danielle Legros Georges (her courtesy).

The play “Djouman” Martineau and Leo Jean-Baptiste in the roles of Djouman and Norvilus.

The play “Djouman” Martineau and Leo Jean-Baptiste in the roles of Djouman and Norvilus respectively. —courtesy of Danielle Legros Georges

The play «Gouverneurs de la rosée» (“The Masters of the Dew”), Gervilen (Martineau) killing Manuel (Jean Marcelin).

The play «Gouverneurs de la rosée» (“The Masters of the Dew”), Gervilen (Martineau) killing Manuel (Jean Marcelin). —courtesy of Danielle Legros Georges

Jean-Claude Martineau at 20

Jean-Claude Martineau at 20. —courtesy of Danielle Legros Georges

Table of contents

Chapter One
Introduction
7
Chapter One
The Sacred Field
9
Chapter Two
Ganiloa
27
Chapter Three
The Footprints without Toes
49
Chapter Four
The Drums of Kalame
59
Chapter Five
The Centaur
77
Chapter Six
The Education of Bambolo
101
Chapter Seven
And The Sky Caved In
121
Chapter Eight
The New Kalame
141
Chapter Nine
The Curse of the Pledge
165
Chapter Ten
Three Abolitionists on a Slave Ship
199
Chapter Eleven
Flag Day
227
Chapter Twelve
Eladjo
245
Chapter Thirteen
A Ship Renamed Haïti
259
Epilogue
275

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