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Haiti: Message of Hope and Solidarity

AUTHOR:  Jean-Bertrand ARISTIDE, commented by Samy Yildirim

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We thank all the true friends of Haiti, in particular the Government and the people of South Africa for their solidarity with the victims of Haiti.

The concrete action undertaken by Rescue South Africa and Gift of the Givers is a clear expression of ubuntu. Ubuntu ngumuntu ngabantu [I'm what I'm through you*].  As we all know, many people remain buried under tons of rubble and debris waiting to be rescued.  When we think of their suffering, we feel deeply and profoundly that we should be there, in Haiti, with them, trying our best to prevent death.  

To symbolize this readiness we have decided to meet not just anywhere, but here, in the shadow of the Oliver Tambo International Airport.  As far as we are concerned, we are ready to leave today, tomorrow, at any time to join the people of Haiti, to share in their suffering, help rebuild the country, moving from misery to poverty with dignity.  Friends from around the world have confirmed their willingness to organize an airplane carrying medical supplies, emergency needs and ourselves. 

While we cannot wait to be with our sisters and brothers in Haiti, we share the anguish of all Haitians in the Diaspora who are desperate to reach family and loved ones. 

Soufrans youn nan nou se soufrans nou tout [The suffering of one of us is the suffering of all of us*].

L’Union fait la force. Kouraj! Kenbe! Kenbe! [Strength Through Unity.Courage! Keep on!*]

Youn soutni lòt nan lespri Mèm Amou an. [The one supports the other in the spirit of mutual love*]

Our love to the nation now labeled the poorest of the western hemisphere.  However, the spirit ofubuntu that once led Haiti to emerge as the first independent Black nation in 1804; helped Venezuela, Columbia and Ecuador attain liberty; and inspired our forefathers to shed their blood for the United States’ independence, cannot die.  Today this spirit of solidarity must and will empower all of us to rebuild Haiti.                     

Ukwanda kwaliwa umthakathi [Thank you for being with us, in xhosa*].

Thank you.

* Tlaxcala's notes

The European maritime expansion which started in the early 1400s was intented to make the peoples in other parts of the Earth pay for the European crisis. (Sounds familiar, doesn't it?)

In 1441, the pope declared that it would be according to the teachings of the  Bible if Christian seafarers from Europe sailed to Africa and "took" Africans with them, as slaves. He "justified" this a passage from the Bible: "Curse and Blessing" (Genesis 9:18-29).

The first Christian seafarer to do precisely this was a Portugese (which doesn't come as a surprise to everyone who is familiar with this part of World's history):  Nuno Tristao (1443). He came back with 29 slaves. But in the following year, 1444, 5 (!) Portugese captains did this voyage and came back with 222 slaves. With these travels, modern-age slavery started. And Europe began to recover from its universal crisis of the 1400's.

Later on, the Portugese found - after decades of trying and failing - the all-water route to India. Hence, they were able to circumnavigate Africa - and the Moslim world. Hence, they could break the monopoly of the Arabs with respect to West-East trade on a continental scale.

The discovery of the Americas opened another source of illegal income to the European powers. The American Natives were killed (the greatest genocide in mankind's history) and replaced by Africans.

Of course, American Natives and African Slaves tried to fight against their Eurpoean "masters", and sometimes, they managed to ally with each other. The so-called Afro-American religions show this cooperation: there are influences from the Americas as well as from Western Africa.

The Africans were kidnapped mainly along the African West coast, and the majority of them belonged to peoples that spoke languages of the Yoruba family of languages. This explains the other technical term: the different facettes of the Yoruba world religion.

Marianne Lehmann considers these religions spiritual weapons in the struggle for freedom: "If you must fight, then you need weapons. If you do not have visible ones, than you take invisible ones." This is true, not only for Voodoo and Haiti (Marianne Lehmann lives in
Port-au-Prince since 1957 and has spent years and her famility heir to build up the largest collection of Voodoo objects in the entire world), but also for the others regions of the Americas.

What makes Haiti special, is the fact that the Haitian slaves managed to end French colonial rule and slavery on their own. Nobody helped them. Their spiritual weapon was Voodoo - which explains why people in North America and Europa have heard so many bad things about Voodoo.

The Haitian national heroes are:
Padre Jean (Voodoo priest and leader of the 1676-1679 revolt),
François Mackandal (Voodoo priest and leader of the 1751-1758 revolt which nearly succeeded),

Dutty Boukman (Voodoo priest and main celebrator of the Voodoo ceremony in Bois-Caïman in August 1791 which started the Great Revolt that finally succeeded),

Toussaint Louverture
(military leader of the Great revolt who was captured by the French on June 7,1802) and

Jean-Jacques Dessalines (his closest collaborator who followed him and finished the job).

But as Friedrich Schiller lets his "Wilhelm Tell" say: "Even the best noble-minded man cannot live in peace if the evil-minded neighbour doesn't want him to." France and Spain started a boycot against Haiti in 1804, and USA joined them in 1806. We also must pay attention to the fact that there were also Haitians who didn't follow Dessalines. After his
assassination (October 17, 1806), Haiti was divided between two rivalling groups of leaders of interracial ancestry.

 Jean-Pierre Boyer (1774-1850, President of Haiti from 1818 to 1843) re-united Haiti, but he belonged to those Haitians who wanted to get better relations to the Europeans.
In 1825, the French King sent a fleet of 14 ships to Haiti. Dessalines had foreseen this and tried to establish a militia. After his assassination, all these plans were cancelled. Instead of calling the Haitians to the arms and fight against the French (note that Napoleon had sent a fleet to end the revolt, but his men were defeated),
Boyer signed a treaty with the French that ended the French boycot against Haiti (Spain followed the French in 1825 while USA ended the boycot not before 1862, so we can say that the present 50-years blockade against Cuba has tradition !), but that urged Haiti to pay 90 million Francs (!) in gold (!) as reparation (for the loss of colony and slaves). [The victim had to pay the money!] This put a heavy burden onto Haiti's budget and further development until…1947 !
We will now not be astonished to hear that Boyer in 1835 signed some bills that remained valid for a long time. He declared French the only allowed language and Catholicism the only allowed religion. Voodoo was condemned as superstition. These bills remained valid till 1987. This all makes Jean-Pierre Boyer the first of all Third World dictators who betray
their people in order to win friends and good reputation in the West.

In 1843, Boyer was urged to resign. During the following 5 years, he repeatedly tried to regain power, but in vain. He eventually left Haiti forever in 1848: we went to France where he died two years later and was buried. In Haiti, nobody wants him back.

Jean-Bertand Aristide is surely not a man to compare with the national heroes of Haiti, but he is by far better than many others. Aristide repeatedly declared that USA, France and the other countries of the Global West are the under-developped countries - "at least, with respect to human values". Even more: Aristide repeatedly called Boyer a traitor and demanded that France give back to Haiti the money "it had stolen from us with the traitor's assistance".

If you agree on this, then you will not wonder why nobody in the Western
mass media mention Aristide.

Samy Yildirim

Source: Haity.net & Tlaxcala

Original article published on Jan.15, 2009

About the author

Samy Yildirim  is a member of Tlaxcala, the international network of translators for linguistic diversity. This article may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source and authorsare cited.

URL of this article on Tlaxcala:

SOUTH OF THE BORDER : 24/01/2010