Abu-Jamal's Radio Broadcasts
5.10 MBs, 6:22
large bodies, the little community of Haiti, anchored in the Caribbean
Sea, has had her mission in the world, and 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 US Minister to Haiti *Lecture on Haiti* (Jan.
2, 1893) (Quinn Chapel, Chi.)
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,
men was a Voodoo priest, Papaloi Boukman, who preached to his
brethren about the need for revolution against the cruel slavedrivers
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
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.
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.
before the Revolution, when the island was called Santo Domingo
by the Spanish Empire, historian Antonio de Herrera would say of
the place, "There is 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.
so brutal, and the work was so backbreaking, that the average African
survived only 7 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.
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 accomplishments:
- 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
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 Senator Robert Hayne, the reasons for US 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* [it]." [Farmer,
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 January 1st,
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
US, not European, imperialism that would consign the Haitian people
to the cruel reign of dictators. The US, would occupy Haiti, and
impose their own rules and dictates. After their long and hated
occupation, Haitian anthropologist Ralph Trouillot would say, "[it]
improved nothing and complicated almost everything."
Yet, that imperial
occupation does not wipe out the historical accomplishments of Haiti.
During the darkest
nights of American bondage, millions of Africans, in America, in
Brazil, in Cuba, and beyond, could look to Haiti, and dream.
2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal
information and to order We Want Freedom, visit:
Check out Mumia's
"Faith of Our Fathers: An Examination of the Spiritual Life
of African and African-American People" at www.africanworld.com
The Power of Truth
is Final Free Mumia!
International Concerned Family & Friends of MAJ
P.O. Box 19709
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Phone - 215-476-8812/ Fax - 215-476-6180
E-mail - AND
OFFER YOUR SERVICES!
Send our brotha
some LOVE and LIGHT at:
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370
WE WHO BELIEVE
IN FREEDOM CAN *NOT* REST!!
© copyright 2003 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of the author.