This book has been on my book list for a while. I finally purchased it. I thought my money would not be wasted. I wasn't disappointed.
The folks who call themselves creoles who are they really? Ms. Hall answers this question quite nicely. The foundation of LA culture and society owe its heritage to the Africans, i.e. Bambara, Woloof, Yoruba, Mina, Chamba, etc. However, the Senegambians are the true foundation of LA culture. These Africans came directly from the continent, not the West Indies.
I give this book a 4.5 star rating. The reasons I could not give it a 5 star rating is for the following reason:
First, the author uses terms that I am sure the average reader isn't familiar, though her writing style is not laborious. I feel that she could have solved this minor, yet irritating issue, by simple including a glossary.
Secondly, I feel that that the last chapter was an add on for the Point Coupee and Louisiana folks. I did not feel that it tied in directly with the overall them of the book, and I found myself annoyed and barely able to complete the last chapter.
Otherwise, the book is very informative about Africans in colonial Louisiana and the development of Afro Creole culture. I know that this book will set a lot of myths on its head. I would highly encourage all LA folks, West Africans (Senegambimas), African Americans, the French and all others who have an interest in African Creole development and how the Spanish and French involvement played out. The term Creole has a very interesting history and the author educates us. The original Creoles of LA were the children and grand children of the native Africans where 2/3 came out of the Senegambia region i.e. Bambara, Wolof, etc. The following excerpt interested me greatly:
"By the nineteenth century, the mixed-blood creoles of Louisiana who acknowledged their African descent emphasized and took greatest pride in their French ancestry. They defined creole to mean racially mixed, enforced endogamous marriage among their own group, and distinguished themselves from and look down upon blacks and Anglo-Afro Americans, though their disdain stemmed from cultural as well as racial distinctions. A recent study indicates that in New Orleans during the 1970s, the designation "black" and "creole" were irreconcilable. These young Afro-New Orleaneans embraced a definition of creole that is racially rather than culturally defined, as well as being a-historical.
Edward Braithwaite, writing about Jamaica, defined creolization as a social cultural continuum radiating outward from the slave community and affecting the entire culture in varying degrees. This definition is relevant for the United States as well as for the Caribbean. It is especially significant for Louisiana, where the slave culture was early and thoroughly Africanized and the first generation of creole slaves grew up in stable, nuclear families composed of African mothers and fathers and Creole siblings."
Who were these first French settlers in Louisiana? This excerpts answers this question quite nicely:
"The French colonization of Louisiana became to a great extent a penal colonization. During 1717 and 1718, the sentences of prisoners who had been condemned to the galleys were commuted, and these prisoners were sent to Louisiana to work for three years. The prisoners were brought to the ports under heavy guard and chained aboard the ships. Also during this period, soldiers who had deserted, vagabonds, and person without means were placed upon lists of those to be deported to Louisiana. Some had been arrested for acts of violence, murders, debauchery, and drunkenness, but they were mostly beggars and vagabonds from Paris and all the provinces of France."
I highly recommend this book.