"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)