Small Island
I started with the fictional story of Freme, the African-born ma-
roon resisting slavery and mobilizing the slaves of Reunion in the
struggle for liberty and fraternity. Freme established his headquar-
ters in the mountains of the Salazes, becoming the leader of an
army of maroons who threatened the white colonial world of the
plantation. I ended with the real story of Yves-Joseph Olivier, a
poor Creole man, roaming through the Salazes, condemned to a
pathetic life of poverty, who committed parricide and was sent to
prison. By ending a narrative about
and emancipation in
Reunion with Yves 0., was I implying that the fate of the Creole
man was madness, crime, and solitude? It would appear that way.
The promise of 1848 seemed to have brought misery, repression,
and powerlessness. Yet throughout my research, fiction and facts
have woven a more complex story of the men of Reunion. Slavery
made women and men the property of men. Becoming a maroon
signified rejecting the terms of private property under slavery. Post-
emancipation society enforced the respect for private property,
work, and bourgeois propriety to maintain and perpetuate racial
inequalities and social hierarchy, but now with the pretense of a
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