Category Archives: Saint Domingue

Two Hundred Years on and Still Fighting for Complete and Total Emancipation

Unfortunately, ever since the first slave revolt by Haitians in 1791, the country has been beset by abuses caused from within and without. It has never been able to fulfill its potential as a nation. Bill Clinton, What Haiti Needs in Time Magazine January 14, 2010

In the above quote, one gets a clear sense of how and where the troubles of Haiti began and how they were perpetuated. The problems of Haiti, typically, started when they sought to free themselves from slavery. President Bill Clinton (PBC) thinks of the 1791 uprising as “unfortunate”. In the very last paragraph (see the full quote below) of his piece on how to fix Haiti he calls for getting Haiti out of his past 200 years in chains.

If PBC were to make a little humble effort to read about the history of Haiti, and understand it within the parameters of what the Africans were confronted with, he would have to admit that there is more to Haitian history then his attempt at summarizing and silencing its most crucial parts.

For PBC, the model history is that of the US and how the US tackles disasters (e.g.Oklahoma City bombing 1995), it does not occur to PBC that to any history, especially one dealing with such disasters as confronting slavery, there are at least two sides: the one which wins and the one which loses. In the history of Humanity, the losing side may, one day, being the winning side. And vice-versa. As fables recount the world over, the side which reduces everything to how it sees things, will one day regret such shortsightedness.

From 1791 through 1804, the Africans who had turned Saint Domingue into the pearl of the French economic possessions had sworn at Bois Caiman (Televangelist Robertson calls this vow a pact with the devil) to end slavery. For an enslaved person to end slavery or any form of submission on his/her own timing is more than an affront to the enslaver (and his allies). Likewise with the colonized who seeks the end of his/her colonized status against the wishes of the colonizer. In the history of Africans, such thirst for freedom/liberty can only clash with the freedom/liberty of the owners of the physical and/or mental chains. This liberty is the liberty of capital. Ever since slavery, to this day, the liberty of capital has dictated the conditions under which it, and only it must prevail.

This is what PBC seeks to convey at the very end of his piece:

Before this disaster, Haiti had the best chance in my lifetime to fulfill its potential as a country, to basically escape the chains of the past 200 years. I still believe that if we rally around them now and support them in the right way, the Haitian people can reclaim their destiny.

“The chains of the past 200 years” were imposed because the Africans had removed the chains of slavery. And, clearly, the “right way” has to be in PBC’s mind the American way. The imperial language could not be clearer.

For the past 200 years, Africans of all stripes in Africa and beyond its borders, have been trying to unchain themselves from shackles of a predatory system which is against nature and against the principles of life. The responses from the system has been the same, over and over. PBC’s piece on what Haiti needs shows the formatting at work. Let Haiti be Haiti, let President Aristide go back to where he belongs. There is no better way of healing than allowing all Haitians, including President Aristide, and those who have been marginalized and/or rusticated for political reasons, to come together and recover.