the names that enchanted France

Jean “Papa” Galmot was born in Monpazier, France in June 1879 and died in Cayenne, French Guiana, August 1928.

Galmot found here

He managed a gold mine owned by his stepfather in the forest of Guiana, making ​​a fortune while striving to improve the lives of its workers and employees. He relieved their poverty by paying them decently, applying labor legislation and creating local scholarships for the poor.

rocket launch in French Guiana found here

Galmot was a pioneer in many areas; an idealist, poet and writer of value. But he was poisoned and died, aged just 49, while working against injustice and for the rights of the citizens of Guiana. He then became the object of a cult. Spontaneously, hearing of his death, the people rose up and a riot broke out in Cayenne.

people of French Guiana found here

Janet Flanner reported on the trial of these rioters

“Indeed, the prisoners’ very names have enchanted the citizens of France. Buckaroos with gentle voices and criminal records are called Mith, Parnasse, Pilgrim, Avril, Mars and even Time. A woman who is said to have aided them in casting stones is a Mlle. Radical, possessor of four children and three professions, only one of which, prostitution, could be acknowledged. The giant Iquy, a deaf fisherman, was Galmot’s mameluke.

image from Mameluke Training Manual found here

An octogenarian named Moustapha is accused of having beaten men to death with his umbrella on the big day. When at home he lives in an inn called The Thirty Knife Cuts. None of the prisoners speaks French grammatically, all refuse to have interpreters, all mix their genders, lie magnificently, are affectionate, polite, and as a means of showing their admiration, call the lawyers and the judge “Papa”.

brass knuckle umbrella found here

Dying, some of them, from tuberculosis contracted in the cold prison where they have waited two years for trial, the accused, attired in evening clothes, green mittens and varnished boots, probably await either the guillotine or Devil’s Island. The giant Iquy wears a sweater embroidered with his motto: “Life is Lovely.”

man in embroidered clothing found here

If the evidence is long, the prisoners remove their boots. Those beheaded would remain in France. Those sentenced to hard labour for life would merely, ironically enough, go back home to Guiana. One can only regret that Conrad died too early to have written of their hearts of darkness.”

image found here

Published in: on September 29, 2011 at 9:35 pm  Comments (51)  
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51 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I love the Chicago-style umbrella. Keeps rain AND deadbeats off ya! :D

    • If you know how to wield it

  2. Err, Wow! I would dearly love to have those rioters fighting in my corner!

    • they’re a fantastic bunch aren’t they?

  3. The need to bring the embroidered clothing back in style.

    • Yes, I’m with you!

      • I’ve got embroidered jeans and i still have the little embroidered waistcoat my eldest son wore when he was two

  4. Imagine an entrepreneur making a fortune from a gold mine in Africa who was paying his laborers decently and creating scholarships for the poor. No wonder he was poisoned: probably by his mine owning peers.

  5. “Heart of Darkness” is one of those books I’ve deliberately blocked from memory, like “The Catcher In The Rye.” (shudder)

    • Catcher in the Rye? I love love love that book

  6. “…lie magnificently, are polite, call the judge Papa out of admiration…”

    They sound like wonderful people. I’d say they fought his corner admirably.

    • I’m rather partial to a polite liar myself

  7. Nice to hear that someone didn’t exploit the natives to their full potential.

    • Quite the contrary

  8. that umbrella has my name on it…. but hopefully, i’ve wiped the fingerprints.

    • You wouldn’t miss an important detail like that daisyfae

  9. I like that man’s pants!

    • I really like the jacket

  10. “three professions, only one of which, prostitution, could be acknowledged.” One wonders at the other two un-namable professions. Possibly Politics and Law?

    Colonial Justice – another of those inglorious oxymorons!

    • I think you might have answered the question that I was about to pose young Archie.

      • Archie’s always good with the answers

  11. Heart(s) of Darkness, indeed.

    • The poisoners? Nasty people.

  12. FCD stole my reply and should be consigned to said prison, or sent to hard labour

    • You’ll have to catch him first

  13. They remind me of the occupants of my local bar!!!!!!

    • your local bar sounds like fun

  14. Now *that* is a mustache.

    • Jean Galmot’s or charlie Logan’s?

  15. I’ve heard it’s bad luck to punch someone with your umbrella while indoors.

    • Or to kick them with your new boots on the table

  16. Good to hear of an entrepreneur who treated his employees like human beings rather than packhorses. They’re pretty thin on the ground. I suspect like Magichands that he was poisoned by his outraged rivals.

  17. I’m glad Conrad didn’t get hold of it. Having read Heart of Darkness some time ago, I feel confident he would’ve sucked all the life out of this story and transformed it into his bleak, miserable and impenetrable prose.

    • I like the two books he wrote with Ford Maddox Ford

  18. Oh, I like this man and his friends.

  19. Guess you can’t blame them for making him an object of a cult…

    • they could have done a lot worse

  20. Conrad, cheerful chap …

    • I’d call him a realist

  21. I too like this man and his friends – such panache!

    • Lulu! Haven’t seen you here for ages, we’ve missed you

  22. I imagine that once you’re beheaded, you don’t really care where you go – even France.

    • I’d like to keep my head AND go to France

  23. Interesting. I have actually been to Guyana…well, not by choice, our airplane was on fire so they did an emergency landing there since there aren’t a lot of places to land in the Amazon…but I digress…

    • Have you blogged that story VE?

  24. they say the good ones die early.
    he seems like a good man.

    • I think he was admirable

  25. Man, in no way did I see the cult aspect coming!


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