Translation: Damien Ligot
The singular and powerful voice of Syaman Rapongan, an aboriginal long rejected on the fringes, takes part in the debates on the future of the world.
Syaman Rapongan, author belonging to the indigenous group of Tao and who likes to define himself as a writer-fisherman, looks back on his youth, when he left his native island of Botel Tobago (Orchid Island off the east coast of Taiwan) to join the Taiwanese “mainland”. In this largely autobiographical work, Syaman Rapongan recounts how he was encouraged to leave his birthplace and that of his ancestors to find work in the "civilized" metropolis. He tells about his identity mistakes, the discriminations he suffers, both as an indigenous and as a proletarian, and also what pushes him to reconsider the value of the culture of his ancestors, and finally, to return home and to fight. for the recognition of the rights of its people.
The Taiwanese social chronicle of the 1970s and 1980s, at a time when Indigenous people were still considered backward and savage, Les Yeux de l’océan - Mata nu Wawa ("Eye of the sea - Mata nu Wawa") offers another facet of the "Taiwanese economic miracle." With a pen both full of anger and hope, Syaman Rapongan recounts how the injustices of yesterday have helped to shape today's Taiwan and how the cultural heritage of the Formosan indigenous people can regenerate contemporary Taiwanese culture by situating it in a new transpacific dynamic. Despite his double marginalization, as an indigenous and as a Taiwanese, Syaman Rapongan also shows how Taiwan can participate in debates about the future of the world.
Syaman Rapongan was born on October 31, 1957 on Ponso no Tao, a small island off the eastern coast of Taiwan. He belongs to the Tao group, one of 16 indigenous groups officially recognized today by the government of the Republic of China in Taiwan. Having gone to study and work on the Taiwanese “mainland”, Syaman Rapongan took part in numerous movements for the defense of indigenous rights and returned to his native island at the end of the 1980s, to relearn and highlight the ancestral cultural practices of the Tao linked to the ocean. Author of nine books, including collections of legends, essays, short stories and novels, in which he recounts his daily life and that of members of his community, as well as his travels to the other islands of the Pacific Ocean. A collection of stories has been translated into French: La Mémoire des vague (Tigre de Papier, 2009). Translation: Marie-Paule Chamayou, as well as a story in n ° 1 of the review Jentayu.
© Kun Yung Wu
Damien Ligot is a teacher of Chinese at Lycée Saint-Denis d´Annonay and a translator from Chinese to French. He obtained a Master 2 in Language, Literature and Civilization - Chinese, at the University of Lyon Jean Moulin (Lyon 3) and a Doctorate in Studies of Asia and its Diasporas at the same university.
He notably translated:
Lay Chih-ying, « la libellule rouge », in the serie of short novels Formosana - Histoire de démocratie à Taiwan, L'Asiathèque, 2021
Chang Wan-k’ang, « Vidéoman », in the serie of short novels Taipei - Histoires au coin de la rue, L’Asiathèque, 2017
Ping Lu, « Virtual Taiwan », dans le numéro Spécial Taiwan, Editions Jentayu, 2016