PUBLISHED 2020-11-25 17:46
Maxette Olsson, born Fèvrin, Stockholm, has died at the age of 70. The closest relative is her husband and life partner Malte Olsson.
How someone as alive as Maxette Olsson can die is beyond my comprehension.
My earliest memory of her is when I took a job training course at Liljeholmen in Stockholm in 1992. I remember how Maxette with black skin, red lipstick, white dress, white hat with plumes and a sparkling smile on immaculate teeth, sat down at a computer in the ordinary office space with fluorescent lighting and linoleum carpet. How could someone so exotic find something as anonymous as the AMS premises in Liljeholmen?
It did not take long before we came to talk. The education was called "Data for young people under 24 years". Maxette was then 42 and said to me with her lovely French accent: "Yes, but it is 24 backwards so it does not matter." Then she burst into the most resounding laugh. From that day on, I loved Maxette as if she were my sister.
Countless are the parties she has organized with people she has just met on the street and invited to a Caribbean banquet. At home, the love of her life Malte Olsson served Caribbean rum, zouk music flowed from the speakers and from her mouth was heard that laughter so contagious that after a few hours I had to go home to rest.
At the same time, Maxette was one of the most thoughtful and profound people I have ever met. Her background with a stepfather who abused her throughout her childhood left deep traces. But her attitude to life was contagiously full of optimism. She became known to a larger audience when Ikea engaged her ten years ago for a number of commercials where she talked about sports shoes and pointed to a number of high-heeled shoes.
Maxette used to say that she did not understand why people give flowers to the dead at funerals. “What do I do with flowers when I'm dead? Give me the flowers today instead!”
Despite that, I buy a bouquet of flowers for Maxette. She is so sorely missed. Rest in peace.
/Alfred Skogberg (free translation Malte Olsson)
When the sun's rays shine, you make me see. When the sun's rays reach me then I shine like you.
When the sun's rays give me warmth then it is your love I can feel.
When the sun is not shining then you are at rest.
Where you go, there I go next, I never want to leave you.
Even though I cannot feel, I remember, see and hear.
Your laughter is copied, pasted and can never be deleted.
Through a shop window in Kiruna you came with polar lights, dressed in white as snow and shone with your light on me. I will never forget, you will always be there, because wherever I go you go with me.
Over the years, we have laughed, danced, traveled and experienced life together.
You and Malte you are my family and the friends you have given me are like siblings and cousins.
You are love, and everything I ever wanted.
You were adventure, joy and the master of laughter.
Milley Maxette became your granddaughter who makes your name live on.
Let us close our eyes, feel the heat, start meditating. Give a moment of reflection, a memory with you, our sun goddess.
Mom Maxette. I love you.
/Kimberley Ahlström, 2020-11-25 (free translation Malte Olsson)
"The only thing I have to offer is the happy spirit that is in me" - so Maxette describes herself on her website for "Caribbean Yoga Laughter".
Anyone who knew Maxette can attest that it is a great understatement.
Maxette had so much to give; friendship, closeness, a listening ear, wisdom.
Maxette was the laughter personified.
Maxette was energy, courage, strength. She had an enormous drive and desire to continue on her way forward.
"She was like a volcano," you say, Malte. You two met in the 90's, in your brother Max's art gallery here in Stockholm. As different as you can be and so perfect together: your peace and your loyalty and security were exactly what Maxette sought and needed. Instead, you got a volcano of joy, great emotions and antics by your side.
There are lots of movies, photos, articles and more that describe Maxette both through the eyes of others and through her own - in her blog, in articles and books, she has shared her thoughts and wisdom, about the big and small things in life. This is how she writes in an article:
I love proverbs. It is through proverbs that one learns about the people's traditions and way of life. Swedish proverbs are so enriching. My favorites are "Sour said the fox, about the rowan berries." (The fox cannot reach a bunch of rowan berries when they sit too high, and then say that they are "still sour") and "Knowledge is knowing how little you know." Being aware of how little you know means that you never become blasé. You look at everything that you see as if it is for the first time. That way I can take the same path several times and see it each time as if it were for the first time. Read about that text again and you will see!
It's hard to sit still when watching her dance movies. That was probably the point, wasn't it, Malte? You made movies and posted them on Facebook, sometimes once a week. The obituary of Maxette, written by her friend Raphaël Confiant, reads as follows: "You sing, dance, give us strength and courage to cope with life's difficulties." For Maxette herself, communication through dance, music and words was vital. She herself had gone through very difficult periods in life and reached a point where she actually took a stand for life. Having the knowledge that it can turn around and dare to talk about the difficulties in life gives weight when you, like Maxette, wanted to raise existential questions. She did it in many different ways. She was an ambassador for Life.
She describes the importance of breathing and laughing as follows:
The most important thing is to feel the joy that is good for breathing and when you take care of your breathing, you feel good. You should like the sound of your own laughter. When you laugh heartily, you think of nothing but laughing. It's pure Yoga. You are neither concentrated nor focused, you just are. What a breath of fresh air!
Free in thought. Free in spirit. Outspoken
A fresh breeze.
For many of you, it was probably just like for you Malte, an awakening when you met Maxette for the first time. She gave of herself and was super curious about other people. To really SEE another human being, not just "look" is an art. You have to be focused, curious and care - for real. Maxette did that and she made new friends wherever she went, stood or sat; on the bus, at the checkout line, at a bus stop or in a store. It did not matter where you came from or where you were going - Maxette wanted to get to know you and she did. You are so, so many who have been invited home to Maxette and Malte. Who has come there, been offered homemade food, maybe chicken with Creole spices, and then invited to dance to Konga drums... Malte you used to film and after the party it often became a book with your pictures and Maxette's texts and drawings. Memories to keep and rejoice in.
Maxette was good at cooking, she sometimes did it for larger parties but often in smaller groups at your home. Or in the TV-program "Half past seven with me" where she, among other things, according to the recipe cooked "Uer swimming in a Creole festival of tomato sauce, perfumed with thyme, rosemary, coriander, cloves, spring onions, parsley, garlic, lime.” which was then served with yam and bananas. Surely it sounds good !?
For Maxette, the Creole heritage was important to hold on to, whether it was food, music, spirituality or language. She saw it as her big task to tell about the Caribbean and the Creole language and actually lectured at Stockholm University. But there are always several parties in communication and Maxette also wanted to tell about Sweden and the life she lived here and therefore wrote articles on Creole that were published in Caribbean newspapers.
Maxette moved from Guadeloupe as a 16-year-old and first lived in Paris for a while and went to high school there but then moved to Africa and Belgium before she came to Sweden in the mid-70s. It must have been a big change for her to come to Sundsvall and find a working platform, but she did with bravur. She ran two boutiques during her time there. But there is so much more she has managed to do:
She supported herself as a dancer, developed "Caribbean Yoga Laughter", had the main role in IKEA's major advertising venture, held courses for their staff and also been a presenter at a big party for IKEA's executives. She has written books, articles, blogged and done Stand-Up! Laughter has always been involved, as has spirituality. In an interview after the pilgrimage to Martinique in 2007, Maxette said this about her faith:
All I know is that in order to pray, one must believe that there is a Higher Power than one's little ego. If you have a big ego, it is not easy at all. To pray is to feel present in Frid (inner peace). Frid. A sacred Swedish word. Frid cannot be reached without silence. So when you feel the inner silence, without the slightest thought, good or bad, then you are in contact with yourself. There you see everything and get everything. Because, if you are in Frid, you do not need anything: it is the point of non-desire. It's nothing. You literally leave yourself at peace. If you have a feeling of Frid, you are everywhere. Everywhere. An old Creole expression reads: The spirit goes faster than the body.
Thank you for coming here today and honoring Maxette and her life.
Keep spreading her message, read her lyrics, dance with her while watching the movies and above all: laugh!
We let Maxette's own words end:
When you laugh with someone, you feel safe with the person, because the joy strengthens the social bond. I can laugh alone when I am reminded of something fun, but it is clearly healthier and nicer to laugh with others. It's Yoga. And I repeat, Yoga means union and first and foremost to unite with oneself. Let us gather and laugh with each other until it becomes a habit and makes Sweden a healthier and happier country.
/ Katarina Blix Lundqvist, civil officiant, 2020-11-23 (free translation Malte Olsson)
Can we laugh at everything? Maxette would have replied in a loud, resounding... YES!
Maxette and laughter, one did not go without the other and vice versa! What an ability to make fun of what she heard in order to reproduce it in spontaneous, sonorous, frank, massive, and meaningful laughter. What joie de vivre she deployed and conveyed in her moments of hilarious ecstasy; life became simple, all you had to do was jump on the train and let yourself embark on the wacky imagination of laughter... Maxette never laughed at...she liked to laugh and make people laugh for the sake of gaiety, for the good humor it engendered and sometimes in her exuberance it was a howl. Hilarity that literally exploded, leaving one more than just, stunned.
It was that communicative youthful good humor that we envied. For her, paradoxically, laughing was a serious act. Hilarity with purpose.
Maxette, your laughter echoes within us, nothing will extinguish it; only the sorrow of your loss turns our laughter into tears.
Stockholm 26 October 2020
Translation from french to english by Haide and Nozar Mossadeghi
Tuesday 20 October 2020.
When you hear her laugh, it is as if you have opened a door to another universe. Although she has suffered a lot in her life, she is full of joy.
We met once, at the airport in Rézé, it's so many years ago so I can not say exactly when, but I can not forget that day. She was with her husband Malte, a Swede who did not speak much, and we started discussing creolity together. She said to me "I am not a learned person but I understand very well what work you do. I am a Creole myself and I tell about you, your culture, your books, in my husband's country Sweden."
I was amazed for a while that day.
You tied your hair with a mattress fabric and you had an old-fashioned blouse that made you more beautiful than a sugar cane of feathers in December. We talked, talked, talked so much that we fell into laughter but we had not gone crazy. You tell me that the divinity of the world, on the planet, is Creole. To get all the people of the world to look for a way to come to an agreement instead of fighting all the time. And you kept telling me in French:
"I am an ambassador for Creole in Sweden."
Language exists for a reason: with the Internet you can give a lecture anywhere, in any country, you can write articles about the Caribbean and our Creole culture. You have just made a TV appearance where you tell that Swedish has also become your language just like Creole and French. Almost every week you make a video on Facebook to give us your news. You sing, dance, give us strength and courage to cope with life's difficulties.
Today I am sad Maxette, so sad that I can not even look at the sky to see if your face shines brighter than the sun itself. It's like a part of my soul torn apart. But I know one thing: your other country, Sweden, should give you respect for what you are worth …
Free translation of the article "MAXETTE MONTÉ AN FILAO" by Raphaël Confiant.