2 Aug 2009
Mumia writes on the black revolution of 1791
This is pretty amazing...just ordered CLR James The Black Jacobins from radical online book store Housmans, going to be doing less Amazon and more Housmans....any way the best things in literature are free,,,,this is pretty amazing from Mumia.
Black August - 2004
by Mumia Abu-Jamal
“Among these large bodies, the little community of Haiti, anchored in the
Caribbean Sea, has had her mission in the world, a mission which the world had
much need to learn. She has taught the world the danger of slavery and the value
of liberty. In this respect, she has been the greatest of all our modern
teachers.” - Hon. Frederick Douglass, former U.S. Minister to Haiti, Lecture on
Haiti, Jan. 2, 1893
It was a sweaty, steaming night in August when a group of African captives
gathered in the forests of Marne Rouge, in Le Cap, San Domingue. It was August
Among these men was a Voodoo priest, Papaloi Boukman, who preached to his
brethren about the need for revolution against the cruel slave drivers and
torturers who made the lives of the African captives a living hell. His words,
spoken in the common tongue of Creole, would echo down the annals of history and
cannot fail but move us today, 213 years later:
“The god who created the sun which gives us light, who rouses the waves and
rules the storm, though hidden in the clouds, he watches us. He sees all that
the white man does. The god of the white man inspires him with crime, but our
god calls upon us to do good works. Our god, who is good to us, orders us to
revenge our wrongs. He will direct our arms and aid us. Throw away the symbol of
the god of the whites who has so often caused us to weep and listen to the voice
of liberty, which speaks in the hearts of us all.”
The Rebellion of August 1791 would eventually ripen into the full-fledged
Haitian Revolution, lead to the liberation of the African Haitian people, to the
establishment of the Haiti Republic, and the end of the dreams of Napoleon for a
French-American Empire in the West.
Two centuries before the Revolution, when the island was called Santo Domingo by
the Spanish Empire, historian Antonio de Herrera would say of the place, “There
are so many Negroes in this island, as a result of the sugar factories, that the
land seems an effigy or an image of Ethiopia itself” (from Paul Farmer, “The
Uses of Haiti,” Monroe, Me.: Common Courage Press, 1994, p. 61).
Haiti was the principal source of wealth for the French bourgeoisie. In the
decade before the Boukman Rebellion, an estimated 29,000 African captives were
imported to the island annually.
Conditions were so brutal, and the work was so back-breaking, that the average
African survived only seven years in the horrific sugar factories.
In 1804, Haiti declared Independence, after defeating what was the most powerful
army of the day: the Grand Army of France.
Haiti’s Founding Father Jean-Jacques Dessalines, at the Haitian Declaration of
Independence, proclaimed, “I have given the French cannibals blood for blood. I
have avenged America.”
With their liberation, Haitians changed history, for among their
a) It was the first independent nation in Latin America;
b) It became the second independent nation in the Western hemisphere;
c) It was the first Black republic in the modern world;
d) It was the only incidence in world history of an enslaved people breaking
their chains and defeating a powerful colonial force using military might.
What did “independence” bring? It brought the enmity and anger of the Americans,
who refused to recognize their Southern neighbor for 58 years. In the words of
South Carolina Sen. Robert Hayne, the reasons for U.S. non-recognition were
clear: “Our policy with regard to Hayti is plain. We never can acknowledge her
independence ... The peace and safety of a large portion of our Union forbids us
even to discuss .” - Farmer, p. 79
In many ways, Black August - at least in the West - begins in Haiti. It is the
blackest August possible - revolution and resultant Liberation from bondage. For
many years, Haiti tried to pass the torch of liberty to all of her neighbors,
providing support for Simon Bolivar in his nationalist movements against Spain.
Indeed, from its earliest days, Haiti was declared an asylum for escaped slaves
and a place of refuge for any person of African or American Indian descent.
On Jan. 1, 1804, President Dessalines would proclaim: “Never again shall
colonist or European set foot on this soil as master or landowner. This shall
henceforward be the foundation of our Constitution.”
It would be U.S., not European, imperialism that would consign the Haitian
people to the cruel reign of dictators. The U.S. would occupy Haiti and impose
is own rules and dictates. After their long and hated occupation, Haitian
anthropologist Ralph Trouillot would say, “(It) improved nothing and complicated
Yet, that imperial occupation does not wipe out the historical accomplishments
During the darkest nights of American bondage, millions of Africans, in America,
in Brazil, in Cuba, and beyond, could look to Haiti, and dream.
Taken From: http://www.sfbayview.com/081804/soledadbrother081804.shtml
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