September 2023 \ Diaspora News \ INDIAN DIASPORA—GUADELOUPE

Here is an interview of Ernest Moutoussamy, an Indian-origin leader from Guadeloupe, a former Mayor for 19 years, and a former Member, French National Assembly for 21 years. It is brought to our readers by Christelle Gourdine-Mandjiny, a member of our magazine’s Global Advisory Board. The interview took place at St François, Guadeloupe, on August 2, 2023. It makes for a fascinating read and is one for the archives and posterity. It is published in both English and French.

No descendants, but do we know if this girl had brothers and sisters?
Research are difficult because the archives do not contain precise information concerning these Indians who came from India. When we find some documents, it is simply indicated “born in India”.
We, therefore, have not found any descendants from a biological point of view, but the name continued to exist, the name Mounoutchi still exists in Guadeloupe. As a coincidence of history, it would be the name of the first woman doctor of Indian origin in Guadeloupe.
 When I informed Dr. Mounoutchi about this child, I gave her the documents I had because despite her research, she had not been able to establish her origins.

Many people try to do genealogical research, I also tried in Guadeloupe, in Pondicherry, Calcutta but nobody can trace any records. I went to the archives of Trinidad and their documents are well preserved and research are possible. What happened to our archives?
 I think this is a major shortcoming of the French state.
English colonization recognized communities and therefore their existence was well defined and in all the islands under English domination, the Indian presence was well integrated and clarified.
In the French system, which is based on what is called “assimilation”, meaning integration, there was no such concern, and in fact the desire of the public authorities was to eliminate all which could explain “Indianness”.
Even the names were francized and did not respect the original spelling. These archives were not codified as required because those who arrived were not declared in official documents and they were only declared at the time of their death.
 This first page for newcomers remains completely empty and vague and it was only with the birth of children in the land of Guadeloupe that the first declarations were made.
Archives would also have been burned, some have been lost and in fact, today it is difficult to completely rebuild the family tree. Like you, I tried to do it for my family. For those who were born here, there is no problem but for those who arrived from India, it just says “born in India”.

Indeed, it is difficult to do this research and very frustrating not being able to go further than “born in India”, “born in Calcutta” or “born in Pondicherry”, the ports of departure. Thank you Mr. Moutoussamy for this interview and the announcement of this interesting event to come that will perhaps allow us to lift the veil on the mystery of our archives. The invitation is therefore “sent” to the Indian diaspora and the Indian government. You can count on the India Empire to talk about this event!