The Bridge of Beyond was written by Simone Schwarz-Bart, who is a French writer with family roots from the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe.
Slavery first made its way to Guadeloupe in 1644 when slaves were brought there to work on plantations that grew sugar, coffee, and other crops. In 1703, Jean-Baptiste Labat, one of the founders of the Basse-Terre colony met with the African slaves of Guadeloupe and gave them weapons so they could assist them in fighting the English. It wasn't until 1848 that slavery was finally abolished in Guadeloupe. In 1974, the island became a region of France and remains so today.
Even though it has been many years since the abolition of slavery, the entire atmosphere of of Fond-Zombi is still redolent with the voices of ancestors; in fact, the old practices are still influencing behaviors and customs today. Just as slaveholders rarely ever accepted marriages between slaves, it seems that maybe the term "marriage" is being used loosely here; perhaps cohabitation is a more accurate description. When Telumee's first husband comes home and demands a divorce, she must grant him one (since they do not technically have a legal bond).
Note that Telumee's feelings about her home are all negative. She obviously has a very deep spiritual and physical connection to Guadeloupe:
And if I could choose it’s here in Guadeloupe that I’d be born again, suffer and die. Yet not long back my ancestors were slaves on this volcanic, hurricane-swept mosquito-ridden, nasty minded island. But I didn’t come into the world to weigh the world’s woe. I prefer to dream, on and on, standing in my garden, just like any other old woman of my age, till death comes and takes me as I dream, me and all my joy.