New Caledonia and the world of literature are in mourning.

Déwé Gorodey, the first Kanak novelist and pioneer in the struggle for the independence of the archipelago, died on Sunday at the age of 73, the government announced, prompting unanimous tribute.

Suffering for many years from cancer, Déwé Gorodey died at Poindimié hospital, on the east coast, said the Caledonian collegiate government.

He paid tribute to an "independence politician and Kanak writer of international renown, who marked the life" of the local executive, of which she was a member for 20 years from 1999 to 2019, in particular in charge of culture, the status of women and citizenship.

"A strong woman with tireless commitment"

The FLNKS, the historic coalition of the Kanak struggle, hailed "a great lady of heart and spirit", who "has always fought for the freedom of her people and the full sovereignty of her country", while the deputy Philippe Dunoyer (Renaissance) regretted the death of “a woman of spirit, a strong woman with tireless commitment”.

Born in 1949 in Ponérihouen, in the north-east of New Caledonia, Déwé Gorodey studied literature between 1969 and 1973 in Montpellier, where she opened up to both writing and politics, immersing herself protest and liberation ideas of May 68. As soon as she returned to her native island, she became involved in the first Kanak independence movements and participated in militant actions, which earned her several stays in prison.

She was a member of the Palika (Kanak Liberation Party), one of the two main components of the FLNKS.

poetry in prison

It was behind bars that she composed her first collection of poetry entitled

Under the Ashes of the Conches

, a militant work and a hymn to her Oceanian culture.

Déwé Gorodey is also the author of several collections of short stories, aphorisms and a play.

In 2005, this feminist activist published


, the first Kanak novel ever published, which broke the taboo of sexual abuse and violence against women.

“Déwé Gorodey leaves us a remarkable literary work.

In 2008, Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature, associated him with illustrious French, overseas or international authors who accompanied him on his writing journey", recalled Gilbert Bladinières, his publisher. in New Caledonia.

The New Caledonian cultural world, for its part, hailed the legacy of its action within the government, citing in particular the creation of the House of Books, the Academy of Kanak Languages, the International Oceanic Book Fair (Silo), or the Pôle export of music and dance (Poemar).


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