St. Francis Xavier, Goycho Saib and the Politics of Contestation …..(I)

What is a meaning of the term Creole? The term is complex and shifts from persons to the languages that they speak. It seems to have emerged under the weight of colonization. We have studies that examine the creolization of Konkani. We certainly have a mutual absorption of Konkani and Portuguese under colonization. The Konkani that we speak in Goa is its creolized form. It would be certainly different from Konkani before the coming of the Portuguese, if at all anything of that exist in our days in a form of texts. We might find such a Konkani among the people that have left Goa and settled in Kerala or even Karnataka before the arrival of the Portuguese. There was not just creolization of Konkani, there came about a creolization of our culture which includes our cuisine and music. In the musical arena, we have the emergence of Mando in Goa which is said to be both related as well as different Portuguese Fado. There are studies about creolization of Mando through a performative politics.

In this study I am interested in the study of the term Goycho Saib and its ascription to St. Francis Xavier and its contestation in recent days. Ascription of the term Goycho Saib to St. Francis Xavier is form of hybridization under colonization. Hybridization under colonization has taken several forms ranging from crass mimicry to mimicry of forms, where Indic elements are framed in Colonizers molds. The micro-politics of this process of hybridization may be opened to us by the complex and dynamic process that we have come to call creolization. Creolization is mainly produced by the colonizers while hybridization is a resistence generated by the colonized. This is why, we shall consider the dynamism of creolization as well as hybridization. We shall try to open the process of hybridization in the light of creolization with reference of what we may say as ‘ Goycho Saibaization’ of St. Francis Xavier in Goa and understand its contestation under the weight of recent politics in Goa. This politics is hybridizing by creolizing the title form and wishes to bestow the same on Lord Parshuram

We need the assistance of lexicography to mine the sense of the term creole. The issue at hand is difficult as the said term is often used in an ideological way. One such source, roots creole to West African linguistic mold ( Chaudenson: 2002) . This hypothesis that proposes an African origin is proposed by Jules Faine . Although the general belief at that time was that the term creole had its roots in Spanish, criollo which referred to a person of European descent meant one who was born outside Europe. But the term creole seems that a form of dialectal French. Quickly the term creole transmigrated in from the Caribbeans to Indian Oceans. It appears that Faine assigned the African influence hypothesis to the term creole only to asserts it French etymology. This was done to keep away Spanish and Portuguese influence from being ascribed as the source of creole. Thus, we can already identify an ideology associated with the study of the evolution of creole.

The second hypothesis is even quainter. It was proposed by an anonymous author in Rideau de Cannes ( May-July 1963 ). The unknown author seems to follow the position of Jules Hermann ( 1846-19240) who held that Malagasy as the original language of humanity and attempted to seek global etymologies from it. Thus, for instance , Pologne / Poland to him comes from Malagasy Polo ina which meant divided into ten parts ( Chaudenson: 2002, 2-3). The unknown author suggests that the term creole comes from the Malagasy giri which becomes gre and when adjoined with ol ( from olona person) creole comes to mean a grey person. Thus, again we can identify ideology that seems to deny exactly what Faine upheld. Thus, the second hypothesis deny European origin of the term creole and roots it outside by favoring Malagasy.

Today lexicographers have found the Spanish and Portuguese roots of the term creole. It’s original etymons are crillo and crioulo respectively. The older form of the Portuguese crioulo is thought to be creoulo. This seems to have led some scholars to think that it is this Portuguese term that was later borrowed into Spanish (Chaudenson: 2002, 3-4). Although, the first time when the term was used was taken from Spanish when it was used in French. It came to be used in French in the translation of the book of Jose de Costa , Historei naturalle et morale des Indes by R. Regnault’s 1958. It has been said that it was only after the 17th century that creole lost its Hispanic character and underwent Gallicization and as time went the French rendering superseded over its Spanish and Portuguese ancestry and we have the creole having its recent roots in French.

We can certainly trace an exotic character to the term under our scrutiny. We can also trace a semantic diversification of the term. French Lexicographers have assigned it to stand for a person who is European born on Islands, broadening the meaning that Spaniards gave to their children born in the Indies. This led to the color grading of creoles who were then marked as brown as time went by. This means the term was used to refer to persons who are apparently mixed. Besides, ascribing the term creole to persons, the word came to stand for the process of transformation of languages. Creole as a language came out of an encounter of two or more languages that had very little or nothing in common. We thus, have the name creole to a certain jargon spoken in Senegal which is remotely similar of Portuguese. French also identified some languages but saw them as lesser than French (Bad varieties of French), the official Lingua Franca in the colony. They saw it as a mixed French. Creolization is a way colonial societies adjusted to the processes that colonization unleashed into them. It required an inter-speaking between the colonizers and the colonized. It was done through an approximations of the official language. ( To be continued)

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao