New Caledonia: what is “Kanaky”?

New Caledonia: what is “Kanaky”?
New Caledonia: what is “Kanaky”?

The term “Kanaky” has been regularly used since insurrectional violence affected the archipelago.

This is the name given by the separatists to their own territory.

The Kanaks are one of the two main communities in this South Pacific territory.

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New Caledonia: a constitutional revision that sets fire to the powder

“Long live the free and independent Kanaky”. This slogan was already used well before the start of the riots in New Caledonia. But, for several weeks, the term “Kanaky” has been used regularly, visible in particular on the flags of the separatists, while insurrectional violence affects the archipelago.

This word designates the name given by the Kanaks to their own territory. New Caledonia has only been called this way since the arrival of James Cook on the archipelago in 1774. The navigator then named it “New Caledonia”, to give its discovery the name of a region of Great Britain (“Caledonia” is the old Latin name of the province corresponding to Scotland). France then colonized this territory and kept the name.

“Ten days for Kanaky”

The socialist Kanak National Liberation Front (FLNKS), an independence organization founded in 1984, decided to create that year a “provisional government of Kanaky”, a parallel executive with authority over the areas it controls. The FLNKS was then chaired by Jean-Marie Tjibaou, a political figure of Kanak nationalism assassinated in 1989. The FLNKS reappropriated the term “Kanak” in order to make it a symbol of its struggle for independence.

The Kanaks, one of the two main communities of the archipelago, with 41% of the population, come from a Melanesian migration dating back 4000 years. Their resistance to colonization was manifested in the 19th century through revolts and continued through independence demands.

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The separatists are protesting against the constitutional reform, adopted by the National Assembly. The latter provides for the thawing of the electoral body and therefore its expansion to all native Caledonians and residents for at least ten years for the provincial elections.

From May 4, the Field Action Coordination Unit (CCAT) increased its actions to show its opposition to the bill as part of an operation entitled “Ten days for Kanaky”. The CCAT, set up by the Caledonian Union (UC), brings together several independence parties and movements. It is in the sights of the executive: the Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin described this organization as “mafia”.


J.C.

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