Dessalines Is Rising!!
You Are Not Alone!
really abolished slavery?
by Myrtha Dèsulmè, Contributer,
Gleaner, June 3, 2007
in Haiti by Jafrikayiti
(Jean St. Vil)
rules of "justice" and defamatory,simplistic and unfair
media reporting apply to the poor in Site Soley,
Haiti - Site Soley Update
April 19, 2007
to support this work
living abroad prop up Haiti's economy, sending more than $1.65billion
in cash to relatives
the Western economic calculation of wealth fit Haiti - fit Dessalines
idea of wealth distribution?
other national group anywhere in the world sends money home in
higher proportion (than Haitians living abroad.)"
Bourgeoisie Haitienne: Une Bourgeoisie Mediocre
to Self: Ezili Dantò's Note on Thabo Mbeki's "Letter
from the President: Nobody ever chose to be a slave," by
Marguerite 'Ezili Dantò' Laurent, Haitian
April 15, 2007
In the article entitled, "Letter from the President: Nobody
ever chose to be a slave," South Africa's president, Thabo
Mbeki, duly recognizes and acknowledges the importance of Haiti
in eradicating slavery before he commemorates the British law
prohibiting the slave trade. This is critical and we thank President
Mbeki for being one of the very few to give Haiti its due respect
and proper accolades. Thabo Mbeki writes it this way: "...the
global celebration in 2004 to mark (the bicentennial of Haiti's
independence and abolition of slavery and colonialism)..were much
more subdued than the recent celebrations, in 2007 to mark the
bicentenary of the adoption in 1807, by the British Parliament,
and the signing into law of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act,
which while NOT prohibiting slavery, made it illegal for British
subjects and institutions to participate in the transportation
This statement, along with this
quote: "All that modern nations have achieved is to disguise
slavery at home and import it openly into the New World,"
are the most important observations of the article.
But while Mbeki begins by acknowledging Haiti's great accomplishment,
he also quotes Hochchild's book (Bury
the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire's
Slaves) in glowing terms. Obviously those of you who
have closely followed Ezili's HLLN, know well we own a very different
view from that of Adam Hochschild, who elevates white
"abolitionists?" such as William
Wilberforce and even Napoleon, nurturing and pandering
to Officialdom's cultivated racist psyche, at the expense of always
failing to fairly acknowledge the great avant guard genius of
Jean Jacques Dessalines, Toussaint
Louverture, Boukman, the Haitian maroons and Dessalines' descendants.
Britain's liberty activists cannot match Haiti's founding fathers'
feats. Not by one iota. For, what Haiti's native son, Jean 'Jafrikayiti'
St. Vil, has written about the so-called US and French revolutionaries
also apply to Britain's (non) abolitionists!
Jean (Jafrikayiti) Vil, writes:
"...Men like Dessalines and Toussaint do not have equals
in U.S. or French history where so-called revolutions took place
only to further entrench racial slavery and denial of its consequences
to this day. For, unlike Napoleon, Dessalines and Toussaint weren't
fighting to steal other people's resources. Unlike Thomas Jefferson,
these illiterate men actually believed it to be self-evident that
all men were created equal...." (See, "Napoleon
was no Toussaint: Spare us the Insult (Adam Hochschild)!
by Jean St. Vil (Jafrikayiti) Haitian
Perspectives, Feb. 27, 2007
Hochschild's Neo-Colonial Journalism"
by Marguerite Laurent, May 30, 2004, http://www.margueritelaurent.com/pressclips/Hochschildresponse.html;
white folks feed on is not so eye-opening, just typically parasitic,
fearful, self-serving and delusional" By Ezili
Danto, March 3, 2007
President Thabo Mbeki and the ANC are to be commended for keeping
Haiti's accomplishments at the forefront of these 2007 commemorations.
For it is not lost on this Haitian woman and Ezili's HLLNetwork
that the ANC and you, join the rest of the world to celebrate
the bicentenary of the adoption by the British Parliament, in
1807, of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act.? But that you do
so, as you write, "cognizant of the fact that this epoch-making
outcome was the result of the historic victory of the African
slaves in Haiti and the relentless solidarity struggle of progressive
men and women in England."
However, we at Ezili's HLLN would emphazise and also recall, again
and again, to one and all, that Britain's 1807 Abolition of the
Slave Trade Act, which William Wilberforce is credited with, DID
NOT, prohibit slavery! It just "made it illegal for British
subjects and institutions to participate in the transportation
Yet, as President Mbeki's article points out, that bicentennial
drew forth MORE global celebration and accolades than Haiti's
2004 bicentennial marking the abolition of slavery AND colonialism!
In fact, we would add that Mbeki understates the matter; that
the former enslavers and current neo-colonizers have steadfastly,
bitterly and implacably REFUSED to acknowledge Haiti's and, for
that matter, Black peoples' greatest modern feat, and instead,
brought the bloody 2004 bicentennial coup d'etat and foreign occupation
(under UN tutelage as their military proxies) to Haiti as THEIR
WAY to mark and continue to undermine Black people in general,
through Haiti, in particular.
Indeed, Haiti's independence debt (now estimated at over $22billion
owed Haiti by France) was used by the modern nations (France,
then the US) as the imperialist blueprint for financial colonialism
(structural adjustment!) to be used everywhere
and to disguise indentured slavery in Haiti and elsewhere, while
the British abolition of the slave trade was use, is used, to
rewrite history and convince the world that the white nations
and settlers, not a viable Black nation, should receive accolades
for eradicating that which they've never truly eradicated either
at home for their Black populations nor abroad in the developing
No matter. Our will is indomitable and unconquerable. And, in
terms of accolades, as I've written many times over, all Black
people, all Haitians must witness to themselves, must witness
the good within themselves for themselves and extend it - witness
Boukman's prayer for the ancestors.
Yes, it is only fitting that we witness to ourselves like the
sun witnesses itself, eternally.
No occupation, containment in poverty or foreign-sponsored-coup-d'etat
can contain what's already free and witnessed within us for us
by the Ancestors.
Marguerite 'Ezili Dantò' Laurent, Esq.
Founder and Chair, Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network ("HLLN")
(Dedicated to protecting the full civil, human, economic and
cultural rights of Haitians living at home and abroad)
April 15, 2007
Letter From the President:
Nobody ever chose to be a slave,
by Thabo Mbeki, Anc Today, April 21, 2007
More than 200 years ago, in
1802, Haiti was in the grip of an intense military and political
struggle that was waged by African slaves, to liberate themselves
from French slave owners, and from French domination. Angered
by the sustained struggle of the slaves, Napoleon said:
"Toussaint...this gilded African...I will not rest until
I have torn the epaulettes off every nigger in the colonies...Toussaint
L'Ouverture has chosen a course of action which is quite impossible
and that which the Metropole considers most intolerable. At
this time, they don't even wish to discuss the matter further,
these black leaders, these ungrateful and rebellious Africans."
However neither Napoleon nor the French armies commanded among
others by his brother-in-law, General Leclerc, could tear the
epaulettes off the "ungrateful and rebellious Africans."
The struggle in Haiti culminated in the proclamation on 1 January
1804, of Haiti as the first ever, independent Black Republic.
Unfortunately, the global celebrations in 2004 to mark the bicentenary
of this historic event were much more subdued than the more
recent celebrations, in 2007, to mark the bicentenary of the
adoption in 1807, by the British Parliament, and the signing
into law of the Abolition of Slave Trade Act, which, while not
prohibiting slavery, made it illegal for British subjects and
institutions to participate in the transportation of slaves.
However, it was important that the international community should
commemorate this bicentenary as part of its response to the
challenge to address the massive legacy of slavery and the contemporary
forms of its manifestation.
PROPHETS AND REBELS
In the Introduction to his seminal 2005 book, "Bury the
Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire's
Slaves", the historian, Adam Hochschild, writes:
"At the end of the eighteenth century, well over three
quarters of all people alive were in bondage of one kind or
another, not the captivity of striped prison uniforms, but of
various systems of slavery or serfdom. The age was a high point
in the trade in which close to eighty thousand chained and shackled
Africans were loaded onto slave ships and transported to the
New World each year.
"In parts of the Americas, slaves far outnumbered free
persons. The same was true in parts of Africa, and it was from
these millions indigenous slaves that African chiefs and slave
traders drew most of the men and women they sold to Europeans
and Arabs sailing their ships along the continent's coasts.
African slaves were spread throughout the Islamic world, and
the Ottoman Empire enslaved other peoples as well...
"One measure of how much slavery pervaded the world of
the eighteenth century is the traffic on the Atlantic Ocean...So
rapidly were slaves worked to death, above all on the brutal
sugar plantations in the Caribbean, that between 1660 and 1807,
ships brought well over three times as many Africans across
the ocean to British colonies as they did Europeans. And, of
course, it was not just to British colonies that slaves were
"From Senegal to Virginia, Sierra Leone to Charleston,
the Niger delta to Cuba, Angola to Brazil, and on dozens upon
dozens of crisscrossing paths taken by thousands of vessels,
the Atlantic was a conveyor belt to early death in the fields
of an immense swath of plantations that stretched from Baltimore
to Rio de Janeiro and beyond."
About three weeks ago, on 25 March, the international community
joined together to celebrate the bicentenary of the signing
into law, at noon on 25 March 1807, by King George III of Great
Britain, of the Abolition of Slave Trade Act. Adam Hochschild
explains that the Act "banned British subjects, shipyards,
outfitters, and insurers from participating in the slave trade
to the colonies of France and its allies...(It) stopped all
slave ships from leaving the world's major slave-trading nation
after 1 May 1807, (and) gave hope to millions of people around
In a letter to one Pavel Annenkov, in 1846, Karl Marx also wrote
about the fundamental importance of slavery to the birth of
the new, post-feudal world. He said:
"Direct slavery is as much the pivot upon which our present-day
industrialism turns as are machinery, credit, etc. Without slavery
there would be no cotton, without cotton there would be no modern
industry. It is slavery which has given value to the colonies,
it is the colonies which have created world trade, and world
trade is the necessary condition for large-scale machine industry.
"Consequently, prior to the slave trade, the colonies sent
very few products to the Old World, and did not noticeably change
the face of the world. Slavery is therefore an economic category
of paramount importance. Without slavery, North America, the
most progressive nation, would he transformed into a patriarchal
country. Only wipe North America off the map and you will get
anarchy, the complete decay of trade and modern civilisation.
"But to do away with slavery would be to wipe America off
the map. Being an economic category, slavery has existed in
all nations since the beginning of the world. All that modern
nations have achieved is to disguise slavery at home and import
it openly into the New World."
INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY & REPARATIONS
Important as it was, in the ways indicated by Marx and Hochschild,
ultimately the slavery they spoke of became a thing of the past.
This came about as a result of the heroic struggles waged by
the African slaves of Haiti, and their colleagues throughout
the "New World". But this historic result was also
accomplished because of the actions of people of conscience
in the slave-owning countries, who felt it their duty to act
in solidarity with the slaves who were laying down their lives
to secure their emancipation.
In good measure, the book "Bury the Chains", is an
outstanding tribute to these people of conscience, and especially
those who raised the banner of anti-slavery in Great Britain,
then the principal slave trader along the African Atlantic coast.
These include Thomas Clarkson, John Newton, the freed slave
Olaudah Equiano, Granville Sharp, James Stephen, and, of course,
Writing of these people of honour, Adam Hochschild says: "Their
passion and optimism are still contagious and still relevant
to our times, when, in so many parts of the world, equal rights
for all men and women seem far distant.
"The movement they forged is a landmark for an additional
reason. There is always something mysterious about human empathy,
and when we feel it and when we don't. Its sudden upwelling
at this particular moment caught everyone by surprise. Slaves
and other subjugated people have rebelled throughout history,
but the campaign in England was something never seen before:
it was the first time a large number of people became outraged,
and stayed outraged for many years, over someone else's rights.
And most startling of all, the rights of people of another colour,
on another continent.
"No one was more taken aback by this than Stephen Fuller,
the London agent for Jamaica's planters, an absentee plantation
owner himself and a central figure in the proslavery lobby.
As tens of thousands of protesters signed petitions to Parliament,
Fuller was amazed that these were 'stating no grievance or injury
of any sort or kind, affecting the Petitioners themselves'.
His bafflement is understandable. He was seeing something new
The new thing Fuller saw was the inevitable growth, given the
birth of the global capitalist market, of the phenomenon of
international solidarity, which, later, gave birth to the powerful
and global solidarity movement against apartheid. The Church
of England and the Anglican Church internationally was an important
activist in this anti-apartheid struggle, including its present
head in his personal capacity, the Archbishop of Canterbury,
the Rt Rev Rowan Williams.
It therefore came as no surprise that, on the occasion of the
celebration of the bicentenary of the adoption of the British
Abolition of Slave Trade Act of 1807, Archbishop Williams raised
a question considered difficult and contentious by some in the
former slave-owning countries - the issue of reparations. In
this regard, the Archbishop's office said: "The point about
moral responsibility is that the slave trade yielded considerable
profit for institutions - but how that is dealt with now means
asking the wider question about how that heritage is used to
help most effectively those suffering because of the legacy
More specifically, the Archbishop of Canterbury raised the important
issue whether the Church should not find ways and means by which
to return to those who were enslaved the compensation it received
when the slaves it owned were freed as a result of the adoption
in Great Britain of the 1833 Abolition of Slavery Act. For his
part, British Prime Minister Tony Blair expressed his profound
sorrow and apology for British involvement in slavery.
In their 2002 Report to the Office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights, entitled "Abolishing Slavery
and its Contemporary Forms", David Weissbrodt and Anti-Slavery
International say with regard to the issue of reparations:
"While the Declaration (of the Durban 2001 UN World Conference
against Racism - WCAR) acknowledges that the transatlantic slave
trade and slavery were 'appalling tragedies' in history and
are a source of racism and related intolerance, it states little
in terms of express reparations for descendants of victims of
slavery. The Declaration notes that 'some States have taken
the initiative to apologise and have paid reparation, where
appropriate, for grave and massive violations committed,' and
it suggests that States find appropriate ways to restore the
dignity of victims and calls on States to take measures to halt
and reverse the lasting consequences of such practices. In addition,
the Final Declaration urges States to ensure the right of victims
to seek just and adequate reparation and satisfaction. In conclusion,
the WCAR 'acknowledge[d] that slavery and the slave trade, including
the transatlantic slave trade, were appalling tragedies in the
history of humanity not only because of their abhorrent barbarism
but also in terms of their magnitude, organised nature and especially
their negation of the essence of the victims, and further acknowledge
that slavery and the slave trade are a crime against humanity
and should always have been so, especially the transatlantic
slave trade, and are among the major sources and manifestations
of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance,
and that Africans and people of African descent, Asians and
people of Asian descent and indigenous peoples were victims
of these acts and continue to be victims of their consequences.'"
In the light of these decisions, agreed by the international
community in Durban in 2001, it is clear that Archbishop Rowan
Williams was perfectly correct to raise the issue he put back
on the global agenda - the need to find ways and means to address
the persisting material and other consequences of slavery.
SLAVERY IN NEW CLOTHES
The challenge facing the international community in this regard
is compounded by the fact that the contemporary global economy
and society have given birth to various forms of economic activity
affecting millions of human beings, that are akin to the loss
of personal freedom experienced by the classical slaves. This
suggests that the past historic victories against slavery succeeded
to defeat and suppress slavery only for a limited period of
However, I believe that it will help us better to contend with
the new reality if we consider what Karl Marx meant when he
said - "All that modern nations have achieved is to disguise
slavery at home and import it openly into the New World."
In the substance, he sought to make the point that, ineluctably,
economic systems predicated on private gain will always seek
ways to enslave the people who work for others, while accepting
that employers might be obliged to pretend that their relationship
with their employees is something other than one between a slave
and a slave-owner.
Surely this must mean that within the context of our pursuit
of the objective of a people-centred society, we must at all
times remain vigilant to confront the tendency towards the enslavement
of the working people, however disguised. To help us in this
regard, there has emerged a large body of knowledge that seeks
to define what are considered to be modern forms of slavery.
In this regard the view has been presented that:
"Common characteristics distinguish slavery from other
human rights violations.
A slave is:
* forced to work - through mental or physical threat;
* owned or controlled by an 'employer', usually through mental
or physical abuse or threatened abuse;
* dehumanised, treated as a commodity or bought and sold as
* physically constrained or has restrictions placed on his/her
freedom of movement."
With regard to the foregoing, the point has been made that the
following are the various types of slavery that exist today:
"Bonded labour (that) affects millions of people around
the world. People become bonded labourers by taking or being
tricked into taking a loan for as little as the cost of medicine
for a sick child. To repay the debt, many are forced to work
long hours, seven days a week, up to 365 days a year. They receive
basic food and shelter as 'payment' for their work, but may
never pay off the loan, which can be passed down for generations;
"Early and forced marriage (that) affects women and girls
who are married without choice and are forced into lives of
servitude often accompanied by physical violence;
"Forced labour (that) affects people who are illegally
recruited by individuals, governments or political parties and
forced to work - usually under threat of violence or other penalties;
"Slavery by descent (which) is where people are either
born into a slave class or are from a 'group' that society views
as suited to being used as slave labour;
"Trafficking (which) involves the transport and/or trade
of people - women, children and men - from one area to another
for the purpose of forcing them into slavery conditions; and,
"Worst forms of child labour (that) affects (according
to the ILO), an estimated 126 million children around the world
in work that is harmful to their health and welfare."
AN AFRICAN TRAGEDY - A LUTA CONTINUA!
In an earlier Letter in ANC TODAY Vol 5 No 40, we drew attention
to the tragedy facing large numbers of Africans who, driven
by dire poverty, daily risk their lives to reach Europe in search
of even the meanest of jobs, provided these give them the means
to avoid death by starvation.
This desperate flight from poverty in Africa creates the perfect
circumstances for some in Europe to employ Africans (and others
from Asia and Latin America), in conditions of disguised slavery.
Surely the moment will once again come round when the newly
enslaved will once more rise up to liberate themselves. Undoubtedly,
once again there will be people of conscience within the developed
world, who will join the newly enslaved in a concerted and sustained
uprising that will, once more, constitute a landmark in the
evolution of human society.
It is in this context that our movement and this journal join
the rest of the world to celebrate the bicentenary of the adoption
by the British Parliament, in 1807, of the Abolition of the
Slave Trade Act and its acceptance by King George III. We do
this cognisant of the fact that this epoch-making outcome was
the result of the historic victory of the African slaves in
Haiti and the relentless solidarity struggle of progressive
men and women in England.
Together, these comrades-in-arms created the possibility for
modern society to address the challenging question of how the
heritage represented by the progress achieved by those who benefited
from open and old slavery, and those who benefit from disguised,
contemporary slavery, should be used to help most effectively
those suffering because of the legacy of slavery in all its
When we opened the Durban UN World Conference against Racism
on 31 August 2001, we said: "Our common humanity dictates
that as we rose against apartheid racism, so must we combine
to defeat the consequences of slavery, colonialism and racism
which, to this day, continue to define the lives of billions
of people who are brown and black, as lives of hopelessness.
"Nobody ever chose to be a slave, to be colonised, to be
racially oppressed. The impulses of the time caused these crimes
to be committed by human beings against others. Surely, the
impulse of our own time says to all of us that we must do everything
we can to free those who to this day suffer from racism, xenophobia
and related intolerance because their forebears were enslaved,
colonised and racially oppressed."
[Letter from the President
Ayisyen: You Are Not Alone!
"When you make
a choice, you mobilize vast human energies and resources which
otherwise go untapped...........If you limit your choices only
to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself
from what you truly want and all that is left is a compromise."
Col. Dave Lapan faces off with the Network
Solidarity Day Pictures & Articles
May 18, 2005
and Articles Witness Project
Wilme, A Hero for the 21st Century
Letter From Jail
April 20, 2005
(Kreyol & English)
photo for larger image
Wilme - on "Wanted poster" of suspects wanted by the
"Dread" Wilme speaks:
Radio Lakou New York, April 4, 2005 interview with Emmanuel "Dread"
Crucifiction of Emmanuel
Demand a Stop
to the Killings
in Cite Soleil
Sample letters &
Denounce Canada's role in Haiti:
Canadian officials Contact Infomation
Urge the Caribbean
Community to stand firm in not recognizing the illegal Latortue
Show at the
July 27, 2004 Haiti Forum Press Conference during the DNC
in Boston honoring those who stand firm for Haiti and democracy;
those who tell the truth about Haiti; Presenting the Haiti
Resolution, and; remembering Haiti's revolutionary legacy
in 2004 and all those who have lost life or liberty fighting
against the Feb. 29, 2004 Coup d'etat and its consequences