- Farzeen Heesambee
Ti- Jean (Small Jean) is one of the many Mauritian folklores about good winning over evil.
There was a time when grandparents would be the oral transmitters of such folklores; children would gather around the grandmother or father to listen to a zistwar (story)in the style of Père Castor, raconte nous une histoire.
There are different versions of Ti-Jean. Most share the core idea with varying endings or characters. The main gist is about a little boy called Ti-Jean who grows a pié kanet (a sweet tree) and a man who fools the boy into getting down from the tree and giving him some of his sweets. The man then grabs the boy, bags him and take him to his house where his wife/daughter is making a nice curry. The man says he has brought some yummy garson (boy) to be the main ingredient. The boy cunningly gets out of the bag and kill the wife/daughter and cooks her instead. Later on, the man sits down for dinner and enjoys his meal whilst a cat sings 'miaw miaw to p manz to madam/tifi' (miaw miaw you are eating your wife/daughter). It is a story to warn children about the danger of strangers.
Ti-Jean is a legacy of French colonisation as Ti-Jean folktales are found in many islands of French colonies; St. Lucia. Martinique, Guadeloupe and even French Canada have their own versions of Ti-Jean, where good triumphs over evil.