Bananas in New Caledonian Kanak Society: Their socio-cultural value in relation with their origins

Valerie Kagy, Françoise Carreel

Abstract


The introduction of bananas into New Caledonia is directly
linked with the arrival of various peoples on the islands of
the Pacific. The genetic characterisation of bananas culti-
vated in Asia and in the Pacific (Carreel 1993,1994, Lebot
et al. 1993) has enabled their relation with wild species to
be demonstrated which in turn can be used to put forward
strong hypotheses concerning the various migrations of
people in the Pacific area and to better understand the so-
cio-cultural role that the banana cultivars Maoli and Popou-
lou occupy in New Caledonia’s Kanak society some 3500
years after their introduction. At the present time there are
still “true” bananas and “ others”. The former which were
introduced by the first people to arrive have a sacred an-
cestral value as well as a social role, while the latter, in-
troduced during the period of colonisation have gradually
become revenue generating crops.

Abstract in Xâracûu language
Kè pè jati nâ rè pwi tö xû nei a Calédonie, è gè wâ ké fädë
rè dèèri mê ba töwâ mîî wâ neï bwa tö Pacifique. Wâ kè
bwarè nè rè, pwâ rè mê kwiö wâ pwî dobwa è nä nâü rè tö
nèpwé kètè Asie mê Pacifique (Carreel 1993,1994, Lebot
et al. 1993) fa ba gwéré kè nä bwa rè pwî è näü mê pwî
bwa è tuè cicöö. E dù kè té gwéré kè fädë nâ rè dèèri tö
nèpwé kètè Pacifique, nè dù kè té xwaé tèpe rè pwî Maoli
mê Popoulou töwâ muru rè ka ngürü kè Calédonie, 3500
xwâda nêdùù ké toa nâré pwî. Nâmwâ è xwî nâ « döpwi
»mê pwî pwângara. « Dopwî » ù pè mê nâ rè ké dèèri bwa
ri toa mââ nâ tö xû nei a, è baa nâ kwiö sègû mê tèpe rè
tö wâ xwâ sègû rè kaa ngürü. Mîî pwî dè, è toa nâ wi rè ka
pwângara, è nä pwâwâ näü rè ri nâ kè xwiri ngê pwâ rè.

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