ARCAHAIE, 18 MAI 1803
VOLUME 50, No. 4 DECEMBER 2004
(Copyright reserved and reproduction without permission strictly forbidden)
Haiti- Essays in honour of the Bicentenary of Independence
Guest editor: Carl Campbell
The Haitian Revolution and Jamaica 1790s -1834 1
Dave St. A. Gosse
Education and Society in Haiti 1804-1843 14
Vive 1804; The Haitian Revolution and the Revolutionary Generation of 1946 25
Matthew J. Smith
Language, Culture and Power. Communication and Society under the Duvaliers 42
R. Anthony Lewis
"I am Sorry: a visit to Haiti" 52
The Tree that does not hide the Forest: Raoul Peck's Aesthetical and Political
Approach to Cinema 63
Book Reviews 72
Books Received 83
Notes on Editor and Contributors 86
Information for Contributors 87
Ai -'. o
UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST INDIES
Professor, the Hon. R.M. Nettleford, O.M. Vice Chancellor, Editor
Professor H. Beckles, Pro Vice Chancellor, Principal, Cave Hill Campus, UWI
Professor K. Hall, Pro Vice Chancellor and Principal, Mona Campus, UWI
Dr. B. Tewarie, Pro Vice Chancellor and Principal, St. Augustine Campus, UWI
Sir Roy Augier, Professor Emeritus, Dept. of History, Mona
Professor Neville McMorris, Dept. of Physics, Mona
Dr. V. Salter, C.S.I., Office of Vice Chancellor, Mona (Managing Editor)
All correspondence and contributions should be addressed to: The Editor, Carib-
bean Quarterly, Cultural Studies Initiative, Office of Vice Chancellor,University
of the West Indies, PO Box 130, Mona, Kingston 7, Jamaica
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The journal is abstracted by AES and indexed by HAPI
Caribbean Quarterly, Vol.50, No.4 celebrates the bicentenary of Haitian
Independence, with this special issue which includes six articles carefully chosen
by our Guest Editor, Professor Carl Campbell. The Haitian Revolution and
Jamaica 1790s -1834, by Dave St. A. Gosse, Carl Campbell's essay Education
and Society in Haiti 1804-1843 and Vive 1804; The Haitian Revolution and
the Revolutionary Generation of 1946, by Matthew J. Smith reflect the histori-
cal facts, whereas Language, Culture and Power. Communication and Society
under the Duvaliers by R. Anthony Lewis, Pat Mohammed's "I am Sorry: a
visit to Haiti", and The Tree that does not hide the Forest: Raoul Peck's
Aesthetical and Political Approach to Cinema by Marie-Jose N'Zengou-Tayo
give the reader insight into some of Haiti's rich cultural heritage as exemplified
in its language, its indigenous art forms and cinematography. Book Reviews on
Haiti are also included. This special issue is also accompanied by an addendum of
all Haitian materials stocked by the University Library, Haiti Bibliography 1990
- 2004: An Annotated List, compiled by Rosemarie Runcie and Gracelyn Cassell.
Caribbean Quarterly thanks Pat Mohammed for allowing her photograph to be
used on the cover.
The significance of the Haitian revolution in human history is hardly a
matter for doubting. However, this event in modem Atlantic history continues to
challenge the collective intellect and creative imagination in continuing discourse
on, and repeated re-affirmation of, self and society. The challenge equally has to
do with engaging a memory of the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and plantation
slavery as well as contesting the threat of ignorance and silence through a con-
scious search for knowledge. As such, it summons a great many of our scholars
and artists throughout our region and in the African Diaspora to celebration and
challenge through drama, ritual, visual arts, song, poetry, dance, historical analy-
ses and explication as well as through the sort of re-call that now puts it at the
centre of UNESCO's observance of Year 2004, the bicentenary of the Revolution,
as the International Year of Commemoration.
This, of course, follows on some years of debate and discussion on the
Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and its offspring Plantation Slavery. This in turn led
to the introduction by UNESCO of the Slave Route Project designed to restore to
human consciousness a zone of memory that would hopefully prevent any future
indulgence in what has at last been acknowledged as a crime against humanity.
The Haitian Revolution brings us back to that major responsibility of all
who wish to advocate a progressive enhancement of the quality of life for all who
tenant Planet Earth. From the late eighteenth century entry into Saint Dominigue
of Boukman, the Jamaican slave, to the recent admission of Haiti as a full-fledged
member of the Caribbean Community, the Commonwealth Caribbean as part of
the African diaspora, has bonded with that part of African Diasporic history
which transforms Saint Dominigue, the iconoclastic rebel, to Haiti, the icon of the
freedom and liberation struggle which is fundamental to the history of all who
wish to maintain the integrity of their humanity.
It is our Caribbean intellectuals and creative artists like Aime Cesaire,
Derek Walcott, George Lamming and CLR James who have long addressed this
reality. James' Black Jacobins remains a flagship entity in Haitian and slave
liberation studies which have focused on the nature of the revolution, the relative
roles of the different racial and social groups, the roles of the different colonial
powers or the formidable leadership skills of Toussaint L'ouverture. If, as Profes-
sor Anthony Bogues asserts, too little attention has been paid so far to the political
ideas of the revolution, now is the time, indeed, to place greater emphasis on the
seminal contribution the revolution in particular and the struggle against slavery in
general have made to the development of the idea of freedom a development that
is independent of the ideas' European and Graeco-Roman origins. Even Africans,
we are forced to concede, can think as well as sing and dance.
I hope that this particular issue of Caribbean Quarterly will serve to
drive the wider University to greater, deeper interest in investigating and analyz-
ing slavery and the Haitian Revolution in this regard.
This issue is intended to contribute to the on -going discourse of Black
liberation and of the ex-slave of the act of "becoming", and of the contradictions
and schizophrenic nature of Caribbean identity issues and the sacred responsibility
of our people to design for themselves narratives of actualization that go beyond
the intellectually dominant models provided by Europe from the Glorious Revolu-
tion of John Locke through the American and French Revolutions of the late 18th
century rooted in the Rights of Man and flowering in the Enlightenment, to Karl
Marx who arguably came nearest to the Haitian understanding of the links be-
tween freedom/liberty and labour exploitation embodied in racial slavery and
I was therefore moved somewhat in fact more than somewhat --by a
recent event at the Cave Hill campus which staged earlier in 2004 in my honour
C.L.R. James's play "The Black Jacobins (the dramatization of his great seminal
narrative on which many of us were brought up). It was really C.L.R. James's
night but I would be guilty of false modesty were I to pretend that I did not take
pride in reading in the Introduction written in the programme brochure by my
colleague, the historian Hilary Beckles, who generously writes: "Tonight we
celebrate Rex Nettleford who like Toussaint, refused colonialism and resisted its
authority while promoting his personal humanity as a core strategy in our war on
imperial error" [And by "imperial" he meant the 19th century obscenity of con-
quest and not the Haitian understanding of imperiumm" as Professor Anthony
Bogues 'cleared up for us in his insightful essay on the 1805 Constitution of
Emperor Jean-Jacques Dessalines]. I have been described by all sorts of soubri-
quets, some no doubt unutterable, but to be designated a "Jamaican Jacobin" is
more than I would dare to ask for. Indeed, one's "lifelong journey within [the]
academy, the wider Caribbean, and the world, speaks to the celebration of the
spirit of Touissaint" and "reminds us [and certainly yours truly] of the trials and
tribulations that lie ahead". This last reference to the continuing struggle speaks to
the second half of the theme of the UWI (St. Augustine) Conference held in June,
2004 viz "the Cultural Aftershocks from 1804 to this day."
our Caricom Caribbean is even now battling with one such aftershock
that will no doubt be called the Aristide Affair or one of the Affairs if the
diminutive charismatic ex-priest's 1991 ouster, his 1994 return and the 2004
second ouster are to be separately recorded. There exist, indeed, cultural after-
shocks of that historic momentous event of modern human history, affecting both
victims and victors, Blacks and Whites, Africa and Europe, both those who
believe in the universal humanity of human beings regardless of race and those
who would restrict legitimate membership in the human family to a Chosen Few,
as well as those who inhabit the prosperous One-Third World and those who
tenant the other Two Thirds misnomered the Third World. Jamaica had an early
experience of the aftershock when in response to the Morant Bay Rebellion led by
ex-slaves in 1865 an English governor (Governor Eyre) meted out to rebels one of
the worst examples of State terrorism, using the Haitian Revolution which had
taken place 61 years before as an excuse to justify his orders to kill suspected
insurgents on sight and to hang two of the leaders Paul Bogle and George William
Gordon. The fear of decimation of the white population by the descendants of
black slaves was cited in the enquiry that followed as a reason for the uprising.
This fear was to inform British colonial policy for decades after. Indeed, the
Haitian Revolution fueled such fears throughout the late 19th century as the fear
of Cuba exporting advanced socialist insurgency was in the latter half of the 20th
Cultural aftershocks are therefore very evident in our times and not least
in this brazen beleaguered Caribbean of ours. So listen to a Jamaican journalist
writing in the august Sunday Gleaner of May 16, 2004, the bicentenary year of the
Haitian Revolution. She was commenting in her article, headlined "A shocking
Slave Mentality", the hospitality extended by the Jamaican on Government to
fugitive Haitians, a mere 600 of them, seeking asylum on Jamaican soil in the
wake of the Aristide ouster, as others before them had done in the past (including
the present interim President of Haiti Gerard LaTortue when he fled Duvalier way
back when). She writes with disdainful impatience: "PNP propagandists including
the Most Honourable [sc. Jamaican Prime Minister, P.J. Patterson] are usually
Blackists. [sic] They are people who believe that there is no price too high to pay
in the name of race. So they never tire of making a point of it. In so doing, they
reveal a grudging admiration for the white man, which quite poisons their policy-
making.lf the Most Honourable [how she would have scoffed at the illiterate
Dessalines as the self-appointed Emperor a title which she would have no doubt
felt more fittingly belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte who in any case had thus
crowned himself] if the Most Honourable takes limitless amounts of Haitian
refugees, he will show up U.S. President George W Bush who has refused to take
them out of national self-interest. Mr. Patterson hopes to impress the United
Nations. It's as simple as that. And it lays bare a shocking slave mentality whether
he likes it or not. People like the Most Honourable are properly ignored. They [the
Haitians] can't put a single chicken in any Jamaican pot." Then, in fulmination
against the daring efforts by the region's people to integrate she declares: "Having
given our banks to the Trinidadians, our insurance companies to the Barbadians,
they now give our housing to the Haitians. And all in the hope ofa mention in some
obscure periodical overseas ",
Enough said about this cultural aftershock following, or should I say,
despite the impudent insolent Haitian revolution which at the birth of Haiti
extended its hospitality to all including this very journalist's forebears who suf-
fered slavery and through it racial discrimination. Except to emphasize that the
free independent Caribbean territory projected itself as a place where no one
would ever again be a slave, meaning never again be the property of another or be
deprived of one's natural humanity but be the claimant, instead, to all that are
deemed to emanate from such natural humanity but be the claimant, instead, to all
that are deemed to emanate from such natural humanity .equality and freedom.
Legend has it in Jamaica to this day that when some Jamaican slaves following the
ancestral Boukman, the Jamaican slave who is credited with fueling the first
insurrection of 1791, took off with a vessel to Haiti, the owners in Jamaica
demanded the return of both forms of property i.e. the slaves and the boat the
Haitian authorities reportedly replied that the owners could have back the boat but
not the slaves since said slaves were now "citizens" of Haiti which meant they
were free from chatteldom and duly rehumanized with a sense of rights and duties
as part of a society tenanted by human beings.
Such are the legends that have informed the sense and sensibility of many
Jamaicans like myself who had the good fortune to learn of Haiti and its transfor-
mation from the slave-holding Saint Domingue to the brave and subsequently free,
even if penurious, independent Haiti. Jamaicans like myself, once we were
exposed to the saga of that iconic event in the history of people of African ancestry
in the Americas, learnt as well from early that the newly independent United States
denied to the newly independent Haiti the recognition it earned and deserved to
have on the diplomatic international stage; and for the reason that the United
States, for all its declaration of inalienable rights and equality from birth of all
men, was a slave-owning society and could not forgive those uppity chattels in
Saint Domingue for their insolent success nor afford them the dignity of recogni-
tion for fear of the wrong message being sent by the US Founding Fathers, many
of them slave-owners, who all regarded property rights to be sacrosanct. And
slaves were after all "property". A nation lorded over by the former black
property of white masters could therefore not be part of the vision of a modern
civilized state certainly not to the Americans and not to France under Napoleon
Bonaparte whose efforts to reinstate slavery in Saint Domingue clearly in France's
national interest at least forced L'ouverture's Francophilic vision of a slave-free
Haiti though in alliance with France to give way to Emperor Dessaline's realiza-
tion that the nationalist imperative without reversion to slavery was the only way
out of the dilemma that haunted the early leaders of the Haitian Revolution. Not
only France but also Britain, both great colonial powers, had to be kept at bay if
the new nation of Haiti was to be a reality.
History as we know it in the best of intellectual traditions does not repeat
itself not quite anyway, the temporal spatial factor itself being a major deterrent.
But such dilemmas that plagued those early Haitian revolutionaries those Black
Jacobins seem to be with us again. Not dissimilar challenges confront our
contemporary leaders, daring them to bite the bullet and release themselves from
the colonial umbilical chord albeit with the skill of an expert midwife and take the
courage to devise for their polities new and appropriate institutional frameworks
like the Caribbean Single Market Economy (CSME) and the Caribbean Court of
Justice (CCJ) that will bring fulfillment to the foundational mechanisms that are
intended to effect the decolonization which found initial positive form in Inde-
pendence ever since Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica took on the mantle in 1962.
No contemporary West Indian political leader viewing the CLR James play could
fail to empathize with the anguish and agony of a L'ouverture in being forced to
face taking the sort of decisions that would not compromise the core of his
revolutionary being freedom from racial slavery as freedom from colonial
dependency must now be to our beleaguered leaders presiding over fragile, vulner-
able, near penurious debt-rich economies. Who said Haiti of 1804 and immedi-
ately after and even now has no lessons to teach us? The cultural aftershocks
should make us take heed. Knowledge of such a past is an imperative to offset
ignorance and break the silence, itself a manifestation of ignorance.
James' brilliant characterizations and analysis of such forebodings in
both his play and his classic chronicle has helped many of us to understand better
the tragedy, possibilities, aspirations and enduringly harsh challenges of the de-
scendants of the millions carted forcibly from ancestral hearths for some three
centuries to these lands across the Atlantic. Yet a great many have missed the
significance of the first really successful effort to uproot from the consciousness of
Western civilization the early off-shoots of the seeds of control over labour, over
human psyches, and over so-called lesser races, seeds sown in the soil of chattel-
dom fertilized with a form of psychological terrorism. What the Haitians started
two hundred years ago in 1804 provided a source of energy and it remains a
legacy for all who followed in their struggles to break a would-be imposed silence,
if only by speaking out as Marcus Garvey did back in 1937, providing the likes of
a young Bob Marley with that now historic couplet about emancipation from
mental slavery with the reminder and assurance that none but ourselves can free
the mind. Such injunctions are forms of action.
And this despite the fact that post slavery and post-Independence Haiti
was indeed deprived of the economic tools of nation-building and modem devel-
opment thanks to the thwarting of all such efforts by not only external forces but
also internal alliances with that band of ancien affranchis known in the English
speaking Caribbean as Free Coloureds some of whose "browning" descendants
continue to be the far too ready and compliant allies of such external forces as,
indeed, are some black newcomers to wealth and bling bling. Scholars will add to
this the impact of a dysfunctional ambivalence in much of the earlier leadership
echoed by a psychic ambivalence which persists in the leadership of the contem-
porary Caribbean challenged by the pressures of adjustment confronting so many
who must respond to the harsh realities of 21st Century change. Yet the mass of
the population in the newly free but encumbered Haiti found ways of sustaining
its immunity from the oppression of racial slavery, mentally speaking, through the
intangible heritage of its creolized identity manifest in such cultural phenomena as
religion (never mind that Bush the Elder dismissed a certain kind of economics as
"voodoo-economics"), in the language of kweyol (a rich storehouse of philosophi-
cal expressions, indigenous wit and wisdom of the Haitian people), and in dance
and music. Seen as cultural aftershocks by people who rate the rules of repre-
sentation devised by Europe superior to all others, many of these aftershocks have
been means of survival and beyond for the descendants of slaves.
Thanks to the University of the West Indies, a whole generation of its
graduates was exposed to much of this. Derek Walcott introduced his play "Henri
Christophe" to many at the UWI, Mona Campus, Jamaica. The Congo drumming
now popular in Jamaican schools among boys (a not unimportant factor is the
growing disconnect between school and young males) received inspiration from a
Haitian connection dating back to the 1950's when the great Haitian drummer
Tiroro appeared in the 1955 Tercentenary Celebration followed by Edner Cher-
isme who came to the Mona Campus with Lavinia Williams throughout the Sixties
to conduct summer schools in dance later to be followed by Leon Destine who did
the same. With them came Haitian music and voodoo rituals translated to the
performing arts. Then there were visits by Jamaican artists to Haiti, and Haitians
to Jamaica and a burgeoning interest in African retentions and the cultural impact
of the African Presence on Jamaican and wider Caribbean life. But the connexion
continues. In 2003, the young Haitian choreographer Jean-Guy Saintus mounted
on the National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica a moving dance-work entitled
"Incantation to the music of Haitians Toito Bissainthe and Martha Jean-Claude
Zao. There is cultural exchange in the form of the Rastafarian belief system and
artistic expression penetrating Haitian contemporary popular music. The Bouk-
man Eperyons music group has made much of the Jamaican connection in its
protest music. They have all contributed to breaking the silence.
Such cultural resonances hopeful, even joyous in the persistence of
ancestral echoes, are, however, countered by contemporary realities that have
served to sully the promise of celebration and remembrance in the bicentenary
year. Bertrand Aristide the 33rd Haitian President to be exiled in defeat is part of
that legacy which is claimed to be our lot by those who continue to forge
disjuncture between the liberated as human beings on the one hand, and on the
other hand human beings as economic producers though not shackled to a material
productivity whether it is the African ex-slave diaspora or the diaspora of East
Indian indentured. Such exploited labour under indentureship and the double
jeopardy of exploitation and chatteldom under slavery have left scars throughout
the region from Haiti to Guyana. La luta continue indeed and so we must continue
to struggle against the aftershocks which find expression in underdevelopment,
labour exploitation, political corruption, the immiseration of the labouring classes
and that race-class phenomenon marginalising the mass of our populations whose
numerical majorities are called upon to function as cultural minorities even amidst
the cry of "democracy" majoritarian-style.
For as Anthony Bogues asserts (and I share his view) "Freedom in the
Caribbean tradition seeks to grapple not with political authority as a special form
of domination. Caribbean freedom has a preoccupation with values and dignity
and respect in ways, which the other stories of freedom do not pay attention to".
We dare not give up hope despite a history of disapproval and frustrated promises.
The American academic Sidney Mintz speaks aptly about Haiti's predicament in
his Caribbean Transformations: (NY, Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 263) &
quoted by Sybille Fischer in her Modernity Disavowed Haiti and the Cultures of
Slavery in the Age ofRevolution (UWI Press 2004, p. 262).
Haiti was launched upon its independence with what might well
have been the most pessimistic prognosis in modem world
history: ravaged, hated and feared by the slaveholding powers
(including the United States); chained by economic indemnities
to its former colonial master; and almost totally lacking in the
skills, diplomatic contacts, and means necessary to build a mod-
em nation... Surely the wonder of the second republic of the
Hemisphere is not that it fared badly, but that it has fared at all.
This is indeed a thought worth pondering the fact that Haiti has fared at
all but also with a genuine belief that with intellect and imagination Haiti, like the
Caribbean region and the rest of the African diaspora in the Americas with which
they share historical pedigree, is geared to having themselves fare genuinely
better without ever abandoning the ancestral fight against dehumanisation an
obscenity which stubbornly continues to plague the likes of us in the name of
globalization even as it did under other names in pre-and post-Enlightenment
times when darkness threatened the very souls of our subordinated, but by no
means faint-hearted, feisty forebears.
I dare to now ask what I asked on January First this year hasn't that great
event served to remind us in the words of Patrick Chamoiseau that "freedom is not
given, must not be given [since] liberty awarded does not liberate [the] soul"? We
celebrate the possibility of our capacity to self-liberate as the Haitians clearly
indicated in 1804. The way forward has to do with identifying the ways and means
of never ever squandering that capacity but to proceed to action on the basis of that
serviceable definition of self and the society, and to empowerment for positive
action and overall achievement in designing institutions of growth and instruments
of development, whatever may be the efforts outside and within the gates to
prevent us achieving what we set out to do.
Caribbean Quarterly congratulates the Faculty of Humanities and Edu-
cation at St. Augustine on the initiative taken in mounting a commemorative
Conference and for contributing so splendidly to our University in its endeavours
to bring the people of the Caribbean and others around to the historical importance
of the Haitian Revolution thus guaranteeing its lasting iconic stature in what is,
after all, a never-ending struggle to maintain the dignity, freedom and sense of
personhood denied hoards of humanity for far too long.
Ladies and gentlemen, Brothers and Sisters.
I bring you peace from the Department of History and Archaeology
My job this evening is an impossible job; but what else is to be expected
when the job was given to me by mad, mad Professor Carolyn Cooper? She said
to me "Carl Campbell, you are a historian; we know you cannot sing; we know
you cannot play any musical instrument; we know you cannot dance. Therefore
you have to use words as your contribution. "What you have to do Carl is to tell
the people on the 2nd January Two Thousand and Four (2004) at the celebrations
to mark the Haitian independence Bicentenary, you have to tell the people
gathered there in ten Minutes (10 minutes) the entire history of Haiti from Inde-
pendence day 1804 to the present day, Two Thousand Four, (2004)". 200 years of
history in ten minutes.
Well if Professor Cooper is mad, I am also mad. So allow me (with the
help of the drummers) to take you backwards in time to some selected historical
highlights and flashpoints in the evolution of the Republic of Haiti.
(1) DID YOU KNOW OR HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN that Haiti in 1804 de-
clared its independence to the entire universe, not just to the world, but to
the universe, by which they meant, on my interpretation, not just an ordi-
nary declaration of independence to France or to the other great powers, but
an extraordinary declaration to the Sun and the Moon, to Jupiter and to
Mars.-just in case anybody was living up there on those planets. Dessalines
wanted all creatures great and small to know that an astounding event had
taken place in the universe. I would not be surprised if wise men in the east
saw some strange stars!
(2) DID YOU KNOW OR HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN even for a moment that
the independence of Haiti was really the means of defending the self-libera-
tion from slavery by a Caribbean people; and that this self-liberation was
the most outstanding event in the history of the Caribbean. We are here to-
day to face up to slavery; and to celebrate its defeat by war.
(3) DID YOU KNOW OR HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN that the revolutionary en-
ergy generated in the establishment of the independent republic in 1804 led
the great Haitian generals of the early 19th century to march eastward into
what is now the Dominican Republic and to conquer and annex the entire
country to Haiti -so that between 1822 and 1844 the entire island of His-
paniola was officially one country -Haiti? Did you know or have you forgot-
ten that this aggression this preemptive war, as President George Bush
would now call it, was done to defend the Independence of Haiti- which
was the same thing then as defending freedom from slavery?. I doubt that
the people of the Dominican Republic have forgiven the Haitians up to this
(4) DID YOU KNOW OR HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN that in the first two gen-
erations after independence Haiti was such a beacon of hope in world of
slavery and discrimination against the black man that independent Haiti
was seen by hundreds of black people in the Americas as a place of refuge,
as a place to enter, as a place to which the black man could migrate and be-
come a citizen? Nowadays our mental images of Haiti are dominated by
people fleeing from the territory by any desperate means; but it was once
the other way round. In 1817 about 15 slaves from Jamaica stole a boat and
sailed it, not to the United States, but to Haiti to seek refuge. President
Petion, despite all entreaties from the authorities in Jamaica, sent back the
boat, but refused to send back the Jamaicans.
(5) DID YOU KNOW OR HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN that the hardest people to
outsmart in the entire world are white people? Did you know or have you
forgotten that after the Haitians had defeated the white people from the
great nations, after the Haitians had established their independence, after
the Haitians had set up constitutional blockages against white people own-
ing land in Haiti, after the Haitians had set up commercial defenses against
white retail traders and white merchants did you know or have you for-
gotten that after all these measures the crafty white people from the great
nations and even from the Middle East- managed to repenetrate Haiti in
the later 19th century not now as political rulers, but as merchants and
traders, as bankers and diplomats, as representatives of the great nations and
also as Roman Catholic priests and nuns?
(6) DID YOU KNOW OR HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN that the repenetration of
Haiti by hundreds of whites posed at the turn of the 19th into the 20th cen-
tury a tremendous challenge to the independence of Haiti, not now to the
maintenance of freedom from slavery, but to the maintenance of economic
independence and political sovereignty.
(7)DID YOU KNOW OR HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN that between 1915 and
1934 for about 19 years- the United States without any invitation occu-
pied Haiti and in so doing took away the most precious possession of the
Haitians their independence. And the Haitians, mostly the peasants and
the intellectuals had to fight, with sticks and machetes, with fountain pens
and with poetry and prose to get back this independence which they suc-
ceeded in doing but only when the Americans themselves were ready to art
(8)DID YOU KNOW OR HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN that this Haiti -so mag-
nificent in the defense of its independence- so successful in the education
of black intellectuals and professionals, so brave in accepting the burden of
defending intellectually the black man's claims to international recognition
as the equal of the white man -did you know that alas this same Haiti fatally
and enduringly allowed military society to become more important than
civil society and army generals to become more important than civilian citi-
zens? By this fatal flaw in its internal politics, the rulers and elites of the
Republic of Haiti failed to put sufficient value on the practice of democracy
or on the protection of human rights.
(9) DID YOU KNOW OR HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN that the Republic of
Haiti, so jealous in its defense of independence, so race conscious of its his-
toric burden as the regenerator of the black race out of slavery- did you
know that the rulers and elites of the republic did not discover in the years
after independence or up to the present- the model of prosperous economic
development to match the evolution of the black millions into the largest
peasantry in the Caribbean; but hear this now- out of the despised culture
of the poor, downtrodden peasant masses there arose amazingly in the 20th
century a great cultural diffusion which brought the black authentic culture
of the peasant masses into the acceptable, respectable mainstream of elite
culture and that, my friends, that first happening in the 1920s and the 1930s
was the birth of a new black conscious modern Haiti. That was when black
became beautiful in Haiti; black became beautiful nearly two generations
earlier in Haiti than in Jamaica.
(10) DID YOU KNOW OR HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN that in the late 1950s,
and throughout the 1960s and 1970s when we here in Jamaica were cele-
brating successively a delayed internal self government, a slow march to
independence and a quick exit from the West Indies Federation into a sort
of non-descript Jamaican nationalism did you know that the Republic of
Haiti survived nearly 30 years of blood and tears under "Papa Doc" Duva-
lier and "Baby Doc" Duvalier- two predatory presidential dictators who
left the nation hungry for a new deliverer who looked alas like the now
embattled President Aristide?
Have you forgotten that?
DID YOU KNOW OR HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN -but how could you not
know after this my brilliantly concise exposition of the foundation of Hai-
ti's past- how could you possibly not realise now that the main problems
which currently afflict Haiti in the last 20 years the problem of economic
development of the peasant masses, the problem of militarism, the problem
of the undervaluation of human rights, the problem of the construction of de-
mocracy -all these current problems are deeply rooted in the heroic past of
Haiti; and we should not forget them as we celebrate the Haitian declara-
tion of independence in 1804, an independence declared, as I have already
said, not just to the France or to Europe, not just to the world, but to the
universe that is to the Sun and the Moon, to Jupiter and to Mars. Amen
*Speech by Prof. Carl Campbell on the occasion of the bicentenary celebrations of Haitian
Independence (2nd January 2004)at the undercroft of Senate House, University of the West Indies,
The Haitian Revolution Race & Plantation Management in
Early Nineteenth Century Jamaica
DAVE ST. A. GOSSE
One of the ironies of Eric William's ground breaking work Capitalism
and Slavery is that racism as a feature of slave society in the British West Indies
has been relegated in favor of economic determinism. Although some scholars
argue that racism is most difficult to measure plantation correspondence is replete
with racial assumptions. One would be very surprised at the extent of racial
comments by the Jamaican planters resulting from the Haitian revolution.
Many of the Jamaican planters, while concerned with issues of security,
were more concerned with the implications of a Jamaican society managed by
former enslaved Africans. They could not imagine "uncivilized" Africans creat-
ing an orderly, stable and successful society. This paper argues that the paranoia
among many of the Jamaican planters to the Haitian revolution, indirectly, contrib-
uted to further socio- economic and political decay in early 19th century Jamaican
slave society. The planters' hysteria and repression towards their enslaved Afri-
cans were racially motivatedI and resulted in their vigorous resistance and sabo-
tage of amelioration that was being recommended by the metropolitan authorities.
The Jamaican planters were fearful of the results of amelioration. With the
constant decline in the protection of British West Indian sugar from free trade
advocates in London, the Jamaican planters' resistance to amelioration was
counter-productive to efficient plantation management. Secondly, this paper re-
futes Eric Williams' argument that racism was a result of the economic forces
existent in British West Indian slave society. I will show that both racism and
economics operated simultaneously from the very beginning of British West
Indian slave society. Thus, racial and economic motives were not in opposition to
each other but were mutual partners.2
Development of Racial Theory:
The larger European context from which the British emerged has to be
the starting point for any serious study of racism in the Americas.3 Were the
British racists in their categorization of Africans even before they arrived in the
New World, as hinted by William Green?4 Was racism a by-product of slavery,
as Williams claimed? In examining the development of racial theory the defini-
tion of 'race' has to be first studied followed by its meaning in both Catholic and
Protestant thought. When that is examined, then, the practice of European racism
can be described as a continuous development. European racism towards Africans
started before their arrival in the Caribbean and developed into the scientific
racism of the late 19th century.5
Franklin Knight argues that attitudes towards race and towards slavery
were not necessary the same. The European concept of race started as a form of
identification among the extended family, friends and members of one's village.
It then moved onwards and outwards to the larger society. Thus, Englishmen in
the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries thought of themselves as a race distinct from
the Spanish, the Portuguese and other Europeans. Nevertheless, as the English-
men pushed farther and farther into the wider world and as they began to realize
the diversity of the colours and conditions of man and society they changed their
notions of race. Race took on characteristics of colour since all Europeans had
similar features to be classified as white; Asians had similar features to be de-
scribed as yellow and Africans south of the Sahara had similar features to be
described as black. The colour element in race replaced the previous distinctions
of'Christians' and 'Infidels'. 6
Once colour and culture became associated with race then the next
logical step was the stereotyping of cultures which eventually led to racial dis-
crimination. By the 16th century European ethnocentrisms had a tendency to
place all non-Europeans in a colour continuum. Those more closely approximat-
ing white in appearance were regarded as more pleasing, while those less approxi-
mating white were less pleasing. Even persons such as Las Casas who fought for
the defense of the Indians were not immune to racial stereotyping. Las Casas'
Historia which denounces the Portuguese slave raids in Africa also contains the
description of the various gradations of captives. Las Casas writes:
Those who were reasonably white handsome and elegant, others
less white who seemed to be pardos (gray or dusky), and others
as black as Ethiopians, so malformed in their face and bodies
that they appeared to those who looked at them to be the image
of another and lower hemisphere
Numerous studies further show that European societies by the sixteenth
century had developed racial assumptions about Africans being barbarians and
being aesthetically un-pleasant (ugly), in their literature. 9 In addition, influential
thinkers and priests such as Spanish Juan Gines de Sepulveda, developed Thomas
Aquinas's 'natural theology', to argue that some men were naturally superior to
others in terms of reasoning ability and leadership. Thus some races such as
African were destined to be ruled by Europeans since they were far superior.o
Portugal also presents a further example since they were the first Euro-
pean country to have a significant amount of West African immigrants by the end
of the fifteenth century. One of the early Portuguese stereotypes of Africa south
of the Sahara was that it was occupied by monsters. 12 Furthermore, the Portu-
guese regarded non Portuguese living in their country as inferior since they were
confined to physical labour, which they viewed as demeaning. In addition, the
Portuguese believed that the culture and the morality of non-Portuguese were so
inferior that regular contact with them would result in those cultures becoming
The belief that West Africans were ordained as slaves was not the general
view in fifteenth century Portugal, although evidence does exist that the link was
already made by medieval writers. The royal Chronicler, Gomes Eanes de Zuara,
for example, argued that West Africans were the inheritors of the curse of Ham
and, thus, were generally condemned as slaves. In addition, the sinful nature of
many West Africans made them sub-humans and generally inferior.14 Regarding
the physical appearances of blacks, Zuara writes, "For amongst them there were
some white enough, fair to look upon and well proportioned; others were less
white than mulattoes; others again were as black as Ethiops and so ugly, both in
features and in body as almost to appear... the images of a lower hemisphere".15
Although Zuara's depiction of blacks in fifteenth century Portugal repre-
sented the exception than the norm, sixteenth century literary works were much
more judgmental of West Africans. They were presented as devilish; their speech
pattern was ridiculed; and one particular writer Vincente, included a black charac-
ter who wished he was white as a hen's egg, with a well shaped noise and a thinner
lip.16 A.J.R. Russell-Wood concludes that the doctrine surrounding the 'purity
of blood' was one of the most dangerous doctrines that the Portuguese passed on
to the Americas. Holders of public offices in both church and state had to ensure
that their blood was not tainted with that of a Jew, Moor, Morisco, Mulatto, or of
any other infected nations.17This obsession among Europeans with purity of blood
was also present from the arrival of the British in the West Indies and in the
American north. Mulattoes for example, were generally lumped with Africans in
the slave codes and in statues governing the conduct of free Africans. 18 On the
North American continent, the English settlers described persons born with Afri-
can blood as mulattoes, while in the British West Indies, four different words were
used: mulatto, sambo, quadroon and mestize. 19 These four characterizations
described not only the different levels of blood mixing but also indicated the
distance each category was, from the ideal of whiteness.
In Jamaica, the slave code of 1733 provided legitimacy to mulattoes who
were distanced from their African ancestry by at least three generations, to become
English men free from the taint of African blood. As such, they could attain the
right to vote in elections if they were brought up in the Christian Religion.
However, around the same time period in Barbados, the slave codes barred
mulattoes from voting or testifying against whites. 20
By the end of the 18th century in the British West Indies, racial stereotyp-
ing of Africans as sub-humans, by the "purity of their blood" was the norm. This
level of racial stratification where Africans were the least important in the social
matrix was even common amongst the more 'progressive' planters, such as Bryan
Edwards. Edwards was much more tolerant of Africans gaining more privileges.
Interestingly, the Jamaican slave society had become so rigid in terms of race and
class stratification that even fellow white men, especially from non-British territo-
ries, could not escape the inferior/superior category. For example, Governor
Nugent was asked his opinion, in a colonial office correspondent, whether "an
inferior class of white persons could be settled into the population of Trinidad".21
The classification of fellow whites from non-British territories, in the
superior/inferior category, demonstrates that racial theory in Jamaica was not only
based on physiognomy but was also cultural. As a result, each cultural group,
despite their physical features, had to be aware of their social standing and had to
comply in order that those of pure Anglo-Saxon culture and pure blood would
retain their superior status. Already, the high extent of miscegenation in Jamaican
slave society was threatening the very fabric of the social matrix. 2 Governor
Nugent acknowledged this by stating that they had to facilitate the importation of
European white women, since they were too many mulatto women in the island.
Jamaica in the early 19th century already had a high proportion of inferior
The nexus between race and economics was most obvious as a result of
the Haitian revolution. White individuals from all the various cultures, resident in
Jamaica, realized that they had to unite around a kind of 'racial contract' to protect
their economic interests. Such an indirect 'racial contract' on behalf of the
white residents of Jamaica was necessary to sanction the continued slavery of
Africans who were at the lowest level of the social ladder. 25 By the end of the
18th century, this 'racial contract' was entrenched in Jamaica despite the attempts
by the Colonial Office to introduce amelioration and to offer Africans further
privileges. It is at this juncture that the Haitian revolution played a critical role in
the discourse between Jamaica and the metropolis regarding the efficiency of slave
labour and the need for amelioration. Although the Jamaican planters stressed the
need for extra security to thwart any intended rebellion, the planters feared the
destruction of the racial contract by the Africans. In addition, they also feared the
loss of their economic interests.2
This racial contract was not only limited to the British West Indies but
was also a feature of slave life in other territories such as the Danish West Indies.
In Danish slave laws enslaved Africans were reminded of their divinely ordained
status as manual labourers, since, they were restricted from conducting businesses
in the towns. 27 Most important, the laws of 1758 demanded that Europeans,
despite their social class, had to dress properly and decently to differentiate
themselves from enslaved Africans. Poor Europeans were even given free outfits
to wear at significant events as an attempt to unite them and to distinguish them
from other persons in the society. The extent, to which the authorities in the
Danish West Indies sought to unify fellow Europeans in a racial contract against
Africans, is further described:
...people of means engage in the services of these poor folk
[poor Euro-Caibbean] and employ them on their plantations,
either employing them to keep watch on things or smply pro-
viding them with something to do. In this way they make it
possible for them to earn their livelihood without having to beg,
since beggars are not tolerated there It is considered the great-
est shame if a white person has to beg. 28
In addition, the type of punishment given to whites had to be different
from what was given to Africans. For example, one Richard Brown maltreated
two of his enslaved Africans to the point that they died. Brown who was con-
stantly in trouble with the law was given a mild sentence of one year with mild
labour from the colonial court. The Governor General of the Danish West Indian
colony sent the case to the Danish Supreme Court in Denmark, since he was
insistent that no white person should be severely punished in the colony since it
would jeopardize the moral and social standing which whites had over blacks.
Incidentally, the Danish Supreme Cour. sentenced Brown to two years hard
As a result of this informal racial contract, it is easier to understand why
the white planters of Jamaica felt that their racial contract would be shattered if
they did not put a stop to the amount of Haitian refugees fleeing to Jamaica as a
result of the revolution. The Jamaican planters felt that the high ratio of Haitian
immigrants in Jamaica would challenge their acknowledged social and political
position. In addition, the planters had to also resist metropolitan plans for greater
amelioration among their enslaved Africans since it could also threaten their social
paradigm. Such planter resistance, however, in early nineteenth century Jamaica
had serious implications for procuring enslaved children naturally, since the abo-
lition of the slave trade in 1807, meant, they could no longer be purchased.
The Haitian Revolution and Plantation Management:
In light of the economic decline in the sugar industry in early 19th
century Jamaica,30 plantation management necessitated ameliorative measures
aimed at maximizing African labour and encouraging African entrepreneurship.
In 1803, the Jamaican Assembly debated a bill proposed by some new planters,
which sought to revolutionize labour by having the enslaved Africans change from
their traditional work in gangs under the whip, to that of 'task work'. The bill
stated that the estates should be entirely run by 'Negroes'. Thus, plantations that
had a ratio of 100 enslaved Africans without any white individual would be
exempt from deficiency. The former clause stated that for every one hundred and
fifty Negroes, there had to be at least two white persons. The bill was eventually
defeated by an angry Jamaican Assembly since they understood the bill's social
implication on their existing social structure. One attorney from Westmoreland
was quite infuriated that the proposed bill had the backing of the Lieutenant
Governor. He was totally against the initiative and was now against the Governor,
since the initiative, if passed, would ruin many plantations. 31
The proposal of such a radical Deficiency Bill signaled a series of
'progressive' attempts in the late 18th century by 'progressive' planters, such as,
Bryan Edwards. Edwards accepted the reality that if Jamaica was to survive
economically in the new world of free trade, they had to practice planter ameliora-
tion. Thus, as early as the 1790s, Edwards advocated task work along with the
granting of financial incentives to enslaved Africans who did extra work in their
free time. 32 In addition, the Jamaican Slave Laws which was passed in the late
1800s were also 'progressive', in the context of the earlier laws.
It must be stated, however, that the Jamaican planters only passed these
laws, to please the authorities in London and to hinder their efforts at abolishing
the slave trade.33 Edwards' openness to amelioration was based on the economic
reality that the planters faced and not because he was in favor of miscegenation or
the building of a cohesive multi-racial society. As 'progressive' as Edwards was,
he too had a paternalistic attitude to Africans since he viewed them as childlike
and impressionable. He believed that "creolized" Africans were more civilized
and would not rebel against their masters, unless inspired by outside revolutionar-
ies, like the 'Negroes' in Haiti, whose savagery was clear for all to see.34
In contrast to Edwards, Simon Taylor the renowned sugar tycoon,
argued vehemently, against London's prescribed amelioration. Taylor wanted a
strong military in Jamaica. He was convinced that if enslaved Africans were not
repressed and controlled, they would surely replicate the Haitian revolution. He
constantly argued that Jamaica was fast becoming a Negro colony and as such, it
could no longer attract the caliber of white families who were the backbone of a
stable society. Taylor writes, "From all appearances the colony is fast becoming a
Negro colony... where no whites can live. I am so convinced of it, that I am
determined to quit as soon as I possibly can, and must retire to America with
everything I have, and let matters take their course".
Taylor was convinced that amelioration would result in Jamaica becom-
ing another Haiti, that he advised his nephew, to take his mother and sisters to
America, especially New York. If they wanted to live in New York he would
purchase a home there, so that they could have a descent way of life. He
concluded that the reason the white inhabitants of St Dominique had to run to
America was not just for their safety, but because they would starve to death, from
the African 'savages', with whom they would have had to live.3
Taylor further lamented how a once prosperous colony, like Jamaica; a
haven for young white males looking for wealth, could have become so doomed.
He stressed that if Jamaica continued to follow London's concept of amelioration,
very soon the Africans would take over Jamaica and he had no doubt that every
white person would be butchered, as in St Dominique. 37
It was conservative planters like Taylor,38 who wielded enormous influ-
ence in the Jamaican Assembly, as acknowledged by Governor Nugent in 1802.39
These planters insisted that the enslaved Africans' nature dictated that they had to
be forcibly controlled. One bookkeeper from the New Yarmouth plantation in the
parish of Vere informed the Governor that planters all over the island were
extremely irritated with him since he was fighting for the rights of Africans by
encouraging amelioration. He was playing a dangerous game as the revolutionary
breeze which was blowing all across the Americas would soon result in massive
bloodshed in Jamaica.40 Having worked with the 'Negroes' for such a long time
he could teach him about the Africans' nature. He writes:
"They are a race of beings tha cannot bear prosperity... any
interference of his majesty's government, they always construe
for emancipation as they have no other ideas of other inten-
tions... It will be a lapse of ages before the Negro can even
participate of the blessngs of freedom, the very name of the
African, must cease to exist in their memories before their
customs are obl iterated" .41
Throughout the early 19th century, the Jamaican planters relied on the
institutions of the state, the judiciary and the military, to repress the enslaved
Africans. Such repression came in the following forms: an Alien Act, Martial
Laws, a Proposed Police Bill, Illegal detention of Africans, an unusual amount of
Africans transported from the island and a litany of judicial cases, which incurred
the wrath of the Colonial Authorities in London.
The Assembly passed a bill entitled, the "Foreigners of Dangerous De-
scriptions" Act or an Alien Act in the 1790s, which was aimed at deportinA
dangerous, idle and un-certified Haitian immigrants and their enslaved Africans.
French immigrants who did not possess a certified ticket, signed by at least two
magistrates in their neighborhood, attesting to their legal employment, were to be
arrested and deported.
In 1799, Governor Nugent of Jamaica was pressured by the Assembly
to reinforce the Alien Act, since there were too many 'idle' Haitian immigrants
residing in Kingston.43 In 1800, Governor Nugent assured the Jamaican Assem-
bly that the 399 French men residing in Kingston were certified and posed no
threat to the island. As such, they were not in violation of the "Foreigners of
Dangerous Descriptions" Act. Nugent further stated, that the French men who had
settled in the mountains and in the interior of the island working as planters and
overseers were also certified. In addition, all the male French slaves in the island
below twelve years of age were also accounted for. 44
The Alien Act was not a temporary measure to deport un-certified
Haitians. It became a regular feature of Jamaican life throughout the early 19th
century. During the years 1823 to 1825, twenty-four additional persons were
deported under the Alien Act. Two of the more noted French persons of colour
charged under the Alien Act, were Louis Lescene and John Escoffrey. The
Jamaican government was severely rebuked by the Colonial Office in 1828, for the
way in which they mis-handled the case. 45 The Governor at that time convicted
the men using a 'secret committee' which was not properly constituted. Both men
were eventually exonerated in London and sent back to Jamaica.
In 1802, the Jamaican Assembly proposed a Police Bill, which was
aimed at having lower class Europeans patrolling the streets of Kingston. The
proposed bill was withdrawn a few months later after much discussion, since the
Assembly felt it would be placing too much power in the hands of a turbulent
lower class.46 Extra security measures were nevertheless, the order of the day, as
30 out of 100 new Haitian immigrants were further detained and transported off
the island in 1802.
During the years 1801-03, the Jamaican government also detained
French persons of colour indefinitely on prison ships. The Jamaican Assembly
even declared the country under Martial Law and gave the Governor sweeping
powers to act decisively.47 As a result, the Jamaican government hung two
additional suspected French conspirators48 and the Assembly provided a sum of
?20,000 to transport off the island every French immigrant and his slave who were
not naturalized nor had property.
The planters' paranoia for tightened security in Jamaica was one instance
based on alleged information given by Toussaint L' Overture stating that his
fellow Haitians were planning a military expedition to overthrow the British
government in Jamaica. 50 Renown Haitian scholars such as David Geggus is
still uncertain whether Toussaint really knew of such a plot or if was one of
Toussaint's brilliant schemes to pass on such in-accurate information to Jamaica
with the hope that it would improve his relations with the British government.5
The point that must be made, however, is that the planters' response in initiating
extreme security measures to stifle any form of resistance from the enslaved
Africans of Jamaica continued long after the revolution no longer posed a threat.
The planters continued to display a heavy handed approach in using the institu-
tions of the state to punish the Africans throughout the early 19th century, even for
minor offences. This eventually led to increased resistance by the enslaved Afri-
cans of Jamaica. In addition, the Colonial Authorities in London that continued to
monitor the progress of the Jamaican planters were disappointed at their slow pace
of ameliorative reforms.
The seeming savagery of blacks butchering whites in Haiti was a constant
reminder to the planters' and it coloured the daily interaction between planters and
their enslaved Africans. In 1823, the Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica was told
that the House of Commons in London demanded an explanation of the 1392
Africans transported off the island from 1808-22.52 The Lieutenant Governor
admitted that they were transported for disciplinary reasons and that during his
brief tenure, he had to change the legal system where he personally began to
review capital convictions. This had become necessary since the Jamaican magis-
trates were punishing enslaved Africans with capital convictions for even minor
offences.53 To make matters worse, Jamaica's judicial system had remained
ineffective since the Jamaican planters were above their own laws. (See Appen-
The planters' harshness contributed to the increase in slave rebellions.
The rebellions between the years 1800-34, increased both numerically and with
intensity as is seen below.
Early 19th Century Rebellions in Jamaica.
Year Parishes Type Outcome
1806 St. George Small 2 slaves were executed while
one was transported.
1807 Portland Small ?
1808 Port Royal Small ?
1809 Kingston Medium 2 slaves were hanged and over
1815 St. Elizabeth Medium 2 slaves were convicted.
1819 St. Catherine Large Extensive maroon community
1823 5 Parishes Very Large 25 slaves hanged and damage
was estimated at 15,270.12.
1831 9 Parishes Extremely Large Thousands of slaves were
In concluding, the Haitian revolution was the most significant event in
the late 18th and early 19th century which drove the Jamaican planters to adopt the
harshest of measures to discipline and to control their enslaved Africans. Such
measures, although justified at times, were more a result of their racial image of
Africans, as savages, and less to do with issues of security. As the planters'
harshness increased, so were the rate and the intensity of slave rebellions.
The memory of the Haitian revolution provided the context for the
planters' continued resistance to London's attempts at amelioration. The 'African
savages' had to be put in their place since the created order did not allow for an
egalitarian multi-ethnic and multi-racial society. The issue of race and its signifi-
chance to Caribbean historiography is therefore a significant factor in the study of
plantation management. Unfortunately, early 19th century Jamaica, necessitated
planter amelioration to maximize African labour. Given the economic context of
the early 19th century, the planters' harsh measures motivated by racial fears were
counter productive to efficient human resource management and could only lead
to one eventual end the abolishment of slavery, in 1834.
Appendix. A. Injustices in the Jamaican Legal System, 1817-22
On August 24th 1821, an attorney in Clarendon castigated the magis-
trates in his parish for numerous irregularities in severely punishing a head
watchman. The Attorney General agreed that a proper jury was not constituted
and warned the magistrates that they would be removed if other un-constitutional
occurrences took place.
On March 20th 1817, one planter Edward Bolt was convicted of mur-
der. It was however recommended by the jury and the Chief Justice of Jamaica
that he should be tried for manslaughter and not murder, since he was provoked.
The governor sought the advice of the Colonial Office.
On March 8th 1822, one planter Charles Newman in Manchester killed
his slave by punishing him with a large stick while he was in stocks. He too
disappeared from the island and charges of neglect were brought against the
coroner and the two magistrates in the Grand Court. All three persons were
released since there was not sufficient evidence to have them convicted. The
alleged persons had removed the evidence.
On August 5th 1822, one planter Thomas Simpson was convicted in the
Cornwall Assize court for raping an infant under ten years old. The case was sent
to the crown to be decided as it was argued that Simpson was at times mentally
deranged and furthermore, he was tried by an English law, which was not applica-
ble in the Jamaican context.
Appendix. B. Injustices in the Jamaican Legal System, 1826-32
On August 9th 1826, one white person Adam S. Mckay, was convicted
of murder under the 1826 law. The case was sent to the crown and the judges
asked that his sentence should be dis-allowed as slave evidence was used to have
him convicted under the 1826 Jamaican laws.
On April 22nd 1828, one fellow white planter Henry Benjamin accused
the incoming Custos or Chief Justice of Trelwany, William Miller for being a
tyrant. He bullied his jurors until he was told the verdict that he wanted. The
Attorney General in his investigation agreed and stated that in his trials no proper
notes were taken. Whenever such notes were taken, they were written in pencil,
and then later transcribed.
On Dec 2nd 1830, the Custos of St Andrew was accused by a fellow
white person W. Taylor that they did not offer a Council of Protection to his slave
and it resulted in her being severely beaten by the jailor. Lord Goderich ordered
that the enslaved woman be released and he further reprimanded the magistrates
for being very insensitive.
On May 15th 1832, Lord Goderich again censured the magistrates and
Custos of St Mary for their mis-handling of a murder investigation.
Notes and References
1. CO/137/162; Jamaica's judicial system in the early 1900s came under intense scrutiny by the Brit-
ish authorities since there was an increase in the miscarriages of justice by most planters. The
planter class initiated various measures to suppress enslaved Africans. They also harassed and
deported French immigrants and their slaves. Such paranoia was as a result of the Haitian revo-
lution. As a further demonstration of the planters' concern for tighter security they pressured
the Jamaican government to transport a voluminous amount of enslaved Africans from the is-
land of Jamaica. It became so striking that the British authorities had to further rebuke the Ja-
2. See Eugene Genovese, The Political Economy of Slavery, (New York: Vintage Books, 1965), p.
221. He argues that slavery as an economic institution cannot be successfully studied outside
of its political and social contexts.
3. James Sweet, "The Iberian Roots of Racist Thought" in William and Mary Quarterly, LIV
4. William Green, "Race and Slavery: Considerations on the Williams Thesis" in British Capitalism
and Caribbean Slavery. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), p. 48.
5. See Franklin Knight, The African Dimension in Latin American Societies. (New York: Macmillan
Publishing Company, 1974). He mentions the impact of Social Darwinism as a significant fac-
tor in cementing scientific racism.
6. Ibid, p. 52.
7. Gordon Lewis, "Pro-Slavery Ideology" in Caribbean Slavery in the Atlantic World. Verene Shep-
herd and Hillary Beckles, eds., (Kingston: lan Randle Publishers, 2000), p. 545.
9. A. J. R. Russell-Wood, in Caribbean Slavery in the Atlantic World, Verene Shepherd and Hilary
Beckles, eds., (Kingston: lan Randle Publishers, 2000), p. 27.
10. Franklin Knight, The African Dimension in Latin American Societies. (New York: Macmillan
Publishing Company, 1974), pp. 53-54.
11. A. J. R. Russell-Wood, in Caribbean Slavery in the Atlantic World, Verene Shepherd and Hilary
Beckles, eds., (Kingston: lan Randle, 2000), p. 21. He states that these West Africans slaves
gradually supplanted Moorish slaves.
13. Ibid, pp. 22-24.
14. Ibid, p. 25. He made this point in his Cronica dosfeitos de Guine. He did not attribute all blacks
to such a position as some black leaders were seen as outstanding warrior leaders.
15. Ibid, p. 27.
17. Ibid, p. 29. Winthrop Jordan "American Chiaroscuro: The Status and Definition of Mulattoes
in the British Colonies" in Slavery in the New World, Laura Foner and Eugene D. Genovese,
eds., (Englewood Cliffs: New Jersey, 1969). He argues that Portuguese and Spain developed a
rigid social hierarchy depending on the degrees of intermixture of Negro and European blood.
Other publications with similar themes in Latin American history are Richard Fletcher, Moor-
ish Spain, (University of California Press, 1992); Anthony Pagden, European Encounters in the
New World, (Yale University Press, 1993).
18. Ibid, p. 190.
19. Ibid, p. 196.
20. Ibid, pp. 200-201.
21. Colonial Office to Governor Nugent, CO/137108, vol. 2, April 2nd 1802, p. 42.
22. Governor Nugent to the Colonial Office, CO/137/108, vol.3, Dec Ist 1802, pp. 6-9. On a tour
of the island he concluded that there were too many mulattoes in the island.
24. See Charles W. Mills. The Racial Contract. (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press).
This theory is based on the social contract tradition that has been central to Western political
theory. He argues that this racial contract is a formal or informal agreement and was not reflec-
tive of everyone in society but between the people who really count who were usually white.
Thus, it becomes a racial contract. He further argues that the philosophy under-girding such a
contract is one that assumes that their subjects are usually second-class residents of a state and
thus has no inherent right to engage in dialogue regarding the nature of nation building. As a
result, those who nature has placed to rule them (white population) have the moral obligation to
prescribe their role (slaves) in society.
26.See David Geggus. Haitian Revolutionary Studies, (Bloomington: Indiana University Press,
2002), p. 24.
27. Gunvor Simonsen. "Skin colour as a Tool of Regulation and Power in the Danish West Indies
in the Eighteen Century" in Journal of Caribbean History. Vol. 37, no. 2, (2003), p. 262.
28.Ibid, p. 261.
30.One of the recent publication highlighting early decline in the British West Indies is Selwyn
Carrington's, The Sugar Industry and the Abolition of the Slave Trade, 1775-1810. (Gaines-
ville: University Press of Florida, 2002). Carrington's work extends the on-going debate of an
early or a later decline in the British West Indies sugar industry.
31. Rodgers to Barham. MS.Clar.Dep.b. 33-38. December 15th 1803
33. Bryan Edwards. The History, Civil and Commercial of the British Colonies in the West Indies,
1793-1891, vol. 2, (Stockdale: London, 1794), pp. 180-181.
34. See Heather Cateau. Management and the Sugar Industry in the British West Indies, 1750-1810,
(Ph.D. Dissertation, University of the West Indies, 1994).
35. Olwyn Blouet. "Bryan Edwards and the Haitian Revolution" in The Impact of the Haitian Revo-
lution in the Atlantic World, David Geggus, ed., (University of South Carolina: Columbia,
2001), pp. 44-53.
36. Simon Taylor to Simon Richard Taylor, 120/1/H (May 15th 1800).
37. Ibid August 30th 1806, No. 27
39. Governor Nugent to London, CO/137/108, June 28th 1802.
40. G Gilbert to Governor. CO/137/155, October 21st 1823, p. 62
42. Aliens Deported from Jamaica since Jan 1st 1823. There are 24 such persons who have been de-
ported as a result of the Alien Act. This includes Louis Lescene who is described as Sambo
and John Esscoffery who is described as brown. Among the 24 persons 3 are described as
white, 3 as unknown, 6 as brown and the remainder as black.
43. Letter Book of the Jamaican Assembly, IB/5/13, Nov 19th 1799, pp. 196-197.
44. Governor Nugent to the Jamaican Assembly, 1B/5/1/45, Feb 6th 1800, p. 507.
45. CO/137/168, Feb 18th 1828. Alien Law & Answers from Haskisson to Hibbert. First, regarding
Lescesne and Escoffery Hibbert is told that the majesty ministers believe that the Assembly
was wrong to charge them as aliens as Haiti was a British nation when they were born, thus,
they were not aliens, (p 45-46). See also appendixes for other mis-handled cases.
46. Governor Nugent to the Colonial Office, CO/137/1802, June Ist 1802.
47. Lt. Governor to Lord Hobart, CO/137/10, March 4th 1803.
48. Ibid. August 23rd 1803.
49. Ibid, December 19th 1803.
50. David Geggus. Haitian Revolutionary Studies, (Bloomington: Indiarla University Press, 2002),
52. Colonial Office to Governor, CO/137/ 155, June 28th 1823.
53. Governor to the Colonial Office, CO/137/155, June 28th 1823.
Education and Society in Haiti 1804-1843
Ms. Gift: Faculty of Arts postgraduate (female)
Dr. Payne: University Lecture in Sociology
Mr. Ryan: Faculty of Social Science postgraduate (male)
Dr.Wells: University lecturer in History (male)
Ms. Wilmot: Faculty of Pure and Applied Science postgraduate (female)
The following paper takes the form of an imaginary discussion among two univer-
sity teachers and three postgraduate students from different Faculties of the Uni-
versity of the West Indies. The discussion follows lines designed to elucidate the
history of education in Haiti between 1804 and 1843. The discussion is similar to
what might well take place in a small graduate seminar on the subject after a paper
in the usual narrative/ analytic form has been presented. The difference is that in
this case there is no paper, but the discussion itself takes the form of the paper.
The structural integrity of the discussion resides in the phase by phase, event by
event management of the views of the participants. This inherent structure
replaces headings and paragraphs which woVld appear in a traditional continuous
The author in adopting this approach does not desire to enter the postmodernist
debates about the viability of the traditional narrative as a vehicle of history. The
author's methodology still involves a search for the truth about what really
happened in Haiti through the traditional use of the sources. The unusual presen-
tation has been adopted because of a number of advantages it appears to possess.
The conversational form hopefully will make the substance of the paper easier to
grasp by both specialists and the general reader, and more attractive to historians
and educationists who find the history of Caribbean education systems an unfash-
ionable product in the history and education industries. Neither West Indian
history nor West Indian education appears entirely comfortable with it (history of
education). Another advantage (not so readily noticeable in this particular case )
is that it seems to make possible a quicker coverage of long periods, by allowing
the author to raise points and drop them without full investigation, and to twist
and turn in different directions in a manner which might seem inappropriate in a
continuous narrative but appropriate in a hydra-headed discussion.
It should be emphasized that the presentation is not meant to be a kind of drama;
nor are the matters discussed fictional. Only the characters participating in the
discussion are fictional, but they are all talking about the history of Haiti as they
know and understand it. The author is responsible for the views of all the
participants; they express his knowledge, his lack of knowledge, his switches of
perspectives, his questions, his doubts or uncertainties.
Have you ever seen a copy of Dessalines constitution of 1805? Daniel
Fignole says that article 19 of it called for a school, presumably a government
school in each military division of the country Since there were then 6 such
divisions, Dessalines and his advisers were thinking of only 6 schools.
Given the recent bloody, destructive conflict, we are lucky he was think-
ing of schools at all- I mean government schools.
Well, he was thinking of private schools as well- for according to
Fignole, his regime set the rates private tutors could charge for infants.
So it is from Dessalines that the recognition of the states' obligation to
lead in the provision of schools date? Or it is from his successors?
How could an illiterate man, who according to C.L R. James could not
see further than his nose, hit upon such a powerful principle as the obligation of the
state to take charge of education?3
Look, these early leaders in fact all leaders had advisors, educated
persons. The next thing you well tell me is that Dessalines himself wrote the
Declaration of Independence and not some educated person.
But why are we jumping to this conclusion. Did the constitution of 1805
Part of the problem is the extreme polemical nature of early history
writing (in fact down to the 1940s) in which partisans of black presidents or
partisans of coloured presidents enhanced or detracted from the performance of
presidents. Clearly for instance, Daniel Fignole, a black politician, wanted to say
that black presidents, Dessalines, Christophe, Souloque and Solomon did more
than coloured presidents.
Dessalines must have had advisors around him who being educated men
could see the need for the government to take the lead. Who else was there? Not
the Roman Catholic Church, and how long does it take an illiterate revolutionary
to understand that the construction of an independent state required literate civil
servants, not just brute soldiers?
I thought that the debate was going to swing around the question: were
any government schools started, where, and for whom? It certainly is dangerous to
assume that schools take their rise from the paper on which constitutions or laws
The early -indeed the entire 19th century history of education in Haiti
is bedeviled by great uncertainties, indeed controversies, about the existence or
non-existence of schools said to have been started.
Fignole 5 speaks confidently of the 6 schools started by Dessalines and
that historians are unanimous about this- but I do not see the historians saying this.
Well, if you wish to be charitable to Dessalines or over -confident of
Haiti, you could guess that Dessalines and his advisors did manage to start
We just cannot be sure of the existence of any government schools under
Dessalines. But surely there were families teaching their children to read and
write, and even private tutors.
It might be better to follow the lead of the greater number of writers who
start the history of education in independent Haiti from Dessalines' successor in
the North, Henri Christophe.
Yes. No point even blaming Dessalines. What could be done in two
years? What could be done when everything had to start from below scratch?
We say that the British West Indies had to start schools from scratch, but
that is not really true compared with the scratch which faced Haiti. The British
West Indies had missionary Sunday and ever day schools in operation in 1834,and
missionaries and clerics ready to put in more, and a helpful metropole, not at war
with the colonies.
Right- the Haitian situation in 1804 was totally unique. One thing they
had in their favour: a sort of revolutionary fervour, an understanding of the
historical greatness of the situation in which they found themselves. They knew
that they had to build a nation. They knew that they had to have schools.
You can start putting in schools for your top people or you can start
putting them in for your bottom people- forget the middle, they will hang on to
whatever is going on.
Can you do both at the same time? I mean start with the top and bottom
people at the same time, since bottom, top and middle all needed schools at the
Catts Pressoir makes the point that under Dessalines the focus was on
grandss travaux d'art militaire" and there were hardly any books around and that
only private efforts could bring brittle little schools into existence.
If under Dessalines six schools in the coastal towns were started it would
have to be for sons of top people even if they were elementary schools it was
inconceivable to send the 'masses" to school in the towns- if top people or middle
people had no public provision, but I do not know if as yet the criteria in favour of
sons of soldiers and civil servants had been laid down admission would have to
More can be expected of Christophe and Petion than of Dessalines. The
latter had only two years in a war torn country; Christophe had nearly 14 years and
Petion almost the same and both were living in a country more poised for
reconstruction or construction.
Well, if you are going to assess performance in terms of length of stay in
office, no one can beat Boyer who retained power for 25 years more than any
other president in the 19th century and ruled over a ""united Haiti- including
Santo Domingo for 22 years. He was after all criticised by the liberal reformers of
1843 some of whom helped to overthrow him, and proposals to introduce
government schools was part of their political platform.8
Yes, Boyer is the biggest disappointment of all three. He was suffi-
ciently distanced from the destructive revolution to think of reconstruction, and he
had the time.
Well do not speak as if Haiti did not stand in danger of a French attack in
Boyer's time. Until its independence was recognized by France in 1825, it was not
safe; and the invasion of Santo Domingo put the country on a war footing.
Still the idea that Boyer was the sole major problem needs to be re-exam-
ined. The politics of revolutionary coup d'etat had already settled on the country;
there was already no sure way to get to power and to keep power except through
the army. Haiti was a military state.
With a democratic looking constitution in the case of Boyer.
What has this discussion got to do with education?
The relevance is that getting and keeping power was the centre piece of
the politics of all the early presidents and internal security was the top priority of
all the regimes.
Was this different from any other state?
Yes in degrees- the Haitian state was unique in the early 19th century.
The uniqueness was a disadvantage more than a feasible opportunity for nation
My reading of the literature on education has helped to amend one fallacy
in my mind: government was not just a matter of what the president did or did not
do: the formal structure of the government looks quite normal and commendable.
There was an Executive; a legislature,and a judiciary. Minutes of government; top
civil servants, advisers; lobby groups; special interest. What I mean is that even if
a President was illiterate like Christophe or indifferent to education as Boyer
allegedly was, there were advisors and Ministers who could get policies adopted
or laws passed.
I do not seem to read of any Minister or powerful individual behind
Christophe and he was illiterate. How could he have written letters to humanitari-
ans in England?
There had to be Ministers and advisers around him- his education poli-
cies were too constuctive for an illiterate man..
Well, do not underrate the illiterate. The spirit of enterprise is important.
According to the black legend the best presidents were the black ones, Dessali-
nes, Christophe, Souloque despite their personal educational underachievement.
The allegation is that they were closer to the masses.
Well in education no president before 1848 is credited with doing any-
thing for the rural masses. The schools were not for the rural massses. They were
either for the elites urban elites or the better class urban people, let us call some
of them middle class if you will.
Was there any independent state in the early 19th century which set out
to educate its masses? I do not think so.
I do not know if blame is squarely attached to Dessalines, Christophe,
Petion or even Boyer for not educating their masses- well I am not too sure about
Boyer. It is more a matter of criticising them for not including some of the rural
Most of the masses had been slaves or the children of slaves. Why would
rulers of Haiti seek to educate them? Let us assume for the moment the improbable
situation that the political security of the country allowed schools to become a top
Why -well- there was no compelling reason why they should. I mean
they did not wish to convert them to Christianity like white missionaries in
Jamaica or Barbados.
It might have been difficult for rulers to see a positive connection be-
tween popular education-let us say basic literacy and numeracy and the develop-
ment of the economy. Did literate peasants make more productive peasants?
Socially, popular schools might lead to some measure of upward social
mobility for a few; politically it might raise expectations to a point of opposition
to the presidents.
What are you constructing? A scenario to illustate why rulers might want
to support popular education or why they might not want to do so?
Well, both really, except that in this case there might have been more
compelling reasons to leave the peasants in ignorance.
The urban elites and the urban middle class I suppose most of them
would be coloured people- they would understood the value of schools for their
own children. All useful careers were open to them I mean the sons, not the
The nation needed professionals and top civil servants. I believe that all
rulers must have seen the cogency of an independent nation educating its leaders.
I think I know what you are coming with. You have in your mind the
notion that the Presidents and their Ministers put more attention and resources
into schools for the elite than for the masses: that they did more for the top than the
Well yes- who would benefit from Christophe's School of Painting,
Design and Music10 except the sort of people who would crowd his royal court?
No matter that nothing came of this school. We are talking about social intentions.
Or who would benefit from the School of Medicine which Christophe
in Le Cap and later Petion in Port au Prince grafted onto their military hospitals?
The elite or middle class whose sons might become doctors.
Or who might benefit from the Royal College at Le Cap started under
Christophe or the Lycee National in Port au Prince commenced under Petion. 12
The sons of the elites or middle class who might become civil servants or profes-
sors, some after further study in France.
Where do you put the sons of the patriots- the sons of military officers
dead or alive, the sons of those who had served the country? This was a well
known clientele for at least the Lycee Petion.
Again these would be elite or middle class people, but some sons of
illiterate black generals might qualify.
I really do not get the impression that any one of these schools for the
urban elite or middle class at secondary level or tertiary level for I suppose that
was the level of the School of Medicine was well founded. The Lycee Petion was
clearly the most important single educational institution in the country from 1816
to 1843, and possibly beyond. As for the School of Medicine did they ever have
more than a few students and do we hear of any graduates?
Come now, after so many years they must have graduated some
doctors, not as prestigiously as the French educated ones, but good enough for
The Royal College of Christophe a secondary school that failed from
its disappearance from the story. But why?
Possibly it was a victim of politics. For when Boyer became President all
schools in the North- now the distant North- might have fallen out of favour with
a Port au Prince central government.
Possibly the Royal College was a victim of internal contradictions. For it
might have been modelled on an English secondary school, teaching in English13
well how could such a school square off with a French oriented environment?
The Lycee Petion naturally was not too much to boast about in 1816-
1818 under Petion, but under later Directors,14 especially Pierre Faubert 1837-
1843 it was a proper lycee. 150 students in 1843, mostly coloureds 15 was not a
great deal, but by the standard of 19th century Caribbean secondary schools, it
had "many" students.
I still do not know the secret of this school's relative success, except that
it was for the sons of the top persons in the nation.
Well, that is enough explanation. It drew the best professors; clearly other
lycees were meant to be inferior to it.
The author- Lamy- who tried to write a history of this school failed
miserably. All we have are snippets of the biographies of some of its Directors and
little about the school itself16
Yes, I do not even know if it worked for French examinations like
Queens Royal College in Trinidad which worked for exams set in
England; or if it was content to follow the lines of French lycees so that its
graduates could fit themselves for French universities.
It took the tone and orientation and.curriculum of a French lycee. it was
a French type of theoretical education.
You know that the boys who all wore the same uniform as the staff did
fencing- rather military if you ask me 17 but these boys were expected to be
patriots, to be the stuff from which future military officers were made- gentlemen
professionals, civil servants and soldiers.
Yes, in 1816 Petion knew that he was founding a lycee for an inde-
pendent country. Queens Royal College and the College of the Immaculate Con-
ception in Trinidad were founded in a colony; loyalty was expected to England not
to Trinidad. Patriotism was expected from the Lycee Petion boys.
I suspect that by 1843 youths would have been proud to claim Lycee
Petion as their Almer Mater.
Yes, if they could not claim a French Lycee!
We are not going to leave this subject without saying something about
the education of girls?
Well, it was not until 1843- after the so called liberal revolution of 1843
overthrowing Boyer that the new constitution made specific mention of educa-
tion of girls- for the first time,18 But Christophe had shown some interest in the
education of girls by visiting private girls schools 19 and the six English teachers
he imported from England were they not females?
It is well to remember that the education of girls was left mostly to
parents private schools and private tutors- I mean for those who could afford it.
The most significant development in the education of girls before the
constitution of 1843 was that Petion imported an English woman from Jamaica -
who knew French- and used her to set up a girls boarding school in Port au Prince
which was supposed to be the female counterpart of his Lycee.20 This school
lasted a long time, right down to the United States Occupation in the next century.
There is however a difficulty in understanding its nature when it got
started. There seems some doubt whether it was a government school or a private
school with the sympathy of the government21 and as with these early boarding
schools for girls you might have some difficulty in distinguishing whether they
were at a true secondary level or at a sort of superior elementary level.
What would girls do with secondary education of the type offered in a
Indeed. There is another difficulty connected with the education of girls.
The prevailing philosophy deriving no doubt from Roman Catholicism and from
the social customs of the elite class was that girls should be educated separately
from boys. There might have been a few exceptions perhaps if the boys were very
So if the government could hardly open schools for boys in the rural
areas, how could it open a separate set of schools for girls in the countryside?.
That was the problem.
I. Daniel Fignole, L 'instruction publique en Haiti 1804-1859 (Port au Prince, 1940), p.18
2. Ibid. pp.8-9
3. Carolyn Fick, The Making of Haiti. The Saint Domingue Revolution from Below (University of
Tennessee Press, 1990)
4. Fignole, op. cit.
5. Fignole. p.10
6. Ibid. p.10
7. Catts Pressoir, "Historique de 1'enseignement en Haiti", Revue de la Societe d'Histoire y
Geographie d'Haiti vol. 6. no. 17, Jan 1935 pp. 33-34
8. Mimi Sheller, Democracy after slavery. Black publics and peasant radicalism in Haiti and Ja-
maica (University Press of Florida, 2000), p.104
9. See David Nicholls, From Dessalines to Duvalier; race, colour and national independence
10. Catts Pressoir p. 36
II. ibid. p.36
12. Fignole p.16
13. Fignole pp.53-54
14. Amilicar Lamy, Le lycee Alexandre Petion 1816-1950 (Imprimerie de L 'etat, Port au Prince,
1950), pp. 22-23
15. Catts Pressoir pp. 38-39
16. Lamy, op. cit.
17. Lamy p.17
18. Mercer Cook p. 14
19. Catts Pressior p. 36)
20. Ibid., pp. 36-37
21. Fignole p.10
VIVE 1804!: The Haitian Revolution and the Revolutionary
Generation of 1946.
MATTHEW J. SMITH
"1946 will be the year of freedom...Long live Democracy in
action...Long live 1804!" 1
"The victory of the proletariat is the victory of us all...the hour
is now for us to finally realize 1804." 2
"Yes, this IS a revolution... 1804 was a revolution...and now
"The Revolution of 7 January  like that of 1804 was won
by a large group...to defend the interests of the working class
and the masses we should rally together as true militants who
believe firmly in TOUSSAINT."4
On January 11, 1946, Elie Lescot, the thirtieth Head of State of Haiti fled
the black republic into exile.5 Such events were nothing new in Haiti's troubled
political history. Lescot's ouster had been the outcome of a five-day general strike
precipitated by a left-wing student movement that drew inspiration from both
communist and Black Nationalist ideologies. However, the revolutionary events
of 1946 represented a first for Haiti and post world War II Latin America in the
1940s: a popular overthrow against a U.S.-supported dictatorship led by local
radicals. In the months following the dramatic events in January, the black repub-
lic fell headlong into a fierce political debate that transformed the political history
of the nation and introduced new ideologies into an already crowded political
space. There were noteworthy developments: for the first time, a labor movement
formed, the Haitian press gained unprecedented freedom with scores of radical
newspapers sprouting up across the country, and Haitian Marxists, who were
underground for over a decade, surfaced and presented a powerful challenge to the
Most significant of these developments was the rise of a new class
politique, consisting in the main of young black radicals, who relied heavily on
distinctions of class, colour, and experience to legitimize their new position. One
of the central ideas of the young revolutionaries of 1946 was their responsibility to
fulfill the historical promise of Toussaint and Dessalines; now blacks with little
foreign interference could finally rule Haiti. Most of these men subscribed to the
black power ideology of noirisme, which advocated total control of the state
apparatus by black representatives of the popular classes. Where their nineteenth-
century forebears had failed, the young noiristes of the forties argued, was in their
inability to retain political power, which had traditionally been controlled by the
light-skinned oligarchy. 1946 presented an unprecedented context for real political
change in Haiti, as the exploits of muldtre rule were laid bare and the contenders
for control of the state were mainly black. The conclusion to the months of intense
political and ideological debate came on August 11 with the election of peasant-
born black schoolteacher, Dumarsais Estim6 as president of the republic.
The idea of fulfilling the lost promise of 1804 figured heavily in the
rhetoric of the leading radical groups in Haiti in 1946. What did 1804 mean to
Haitian radicals in 1946? How did the noiristes and Marxists differ in their
interpretations of the Haitian past at the intense moment of 1946? How did these
differences contribute to the bitter divide in Haitian leftism and the breakdown of
radical politics in Haiti by the 1950s?
This essay addresses these and other questions through a careful explora-
tion of the emergence of various ideological strains of radical nationalism in Haiti
during the 1946 movement and the role the Haitian Revolution played in the
political rhetoric of various radicals. The essay draws heavily on the Haitian press
of 1946, a large and under exploited source. Special attention is given to the
debates in the radical press and the relationships between these radical groups and
the traditional power structure. Along the way, the essay offers several correctives
to the complicated and often misunderstood narrative of this important period in
modem Haitian history.
The Five Glorious Days: An Overview of the Haitian Revolution of 1946
The movement to topple Lescot emerged not from the disparate noiriste
factions, but from the communist youth, a point underemphasized in most analyses
of the period. The victory of the Allied forces in the war had invigorated young
Haitians with a new sense of self-confidence, optimism, and the possibility to
effect profound change in their society. For the minority who attended the Univer-
sit6 de L'Etat the desire for change was urgent.
On December 7, the first issue of the student weekly, La Ruche,
appeared in Port-au-Prince. The editorial board was a group of fifteen students the
most important being Jacques Stephen Alexis, Ren6 Depestre, G6rald Chenet,
Theodore Baker, Bloncourt, G6rald Montasse, George Beaufils, Raymond Pres-
soir, and Max Menard. The writers would often go into the popular areas of the
city and translate the French articles into Kreybl for their largely illiterate audi-
ence.6 The articles in the paper were often bold, defiant, and idealistic, driven by
a revolutionary zeal and naive optimism in Marxism. Unlike the noiristes, their
resistance to Lescot did not derive from colour politics but on the repressive nature
of the state, which they equated with fascist Italy. As Montasse remarked,
Our movement is not against the person of Elie Lescot. It is
against colonialism and bourgeois greed ... that is the greatest
sorrow of the Haitian people. We have given ourselves to a new
politics. This new politics is national, anti-bourgeois, demo-
cratic, and socialist.
The potent discourse of the La Ruche collective was fashioned not only
from Marxism but also from French cultural theory. None proved more influential
than surrealism. In early December Andr6 Breton, the doyen of the surrealist
movement, visited Haiti for a series of lectures on surrealism and modern art.8
The students were most fired by Breton's non-conformism, and staunch denigra-
tion of dictatorship of all kinds, given powerful emphasis by his refusal to greet
Lescot after his third lecture on the 20th of December. Emboldened by Breton's
presence the writers of the paper decided that the special edition they were
planning to honor Haitian independence on January 1, would instead be a tribute
to Breton. The paper brimmed with harsh critiques against all forms of oppression.
The opening of Depestre's front-page article crystallized the exuberance of the
youth: "The year 1946 will be a year of profound experiences ... January will no
longer be called January but Justice, February, liberty, April will be called deliver-
ance, May, union etc. A new future for man will begin."1 It was, however, the
scathing page-length tract they ran on the second page that proved most incendi-
1946 will be the year of Freedom, when the voice of real
democracy will Triumph over all forms of fascist oppression.
Down with all the Francos!
Long Live Democracy in Action!
Long live the Youth!
Long Live Social Justice!
Long Live The World Proletariat!
Long Live 1804!11
The appearance of that page, which was widely circulated in the city, was
the straw that broke the camel's back. Two days after the paper appeared, police
acting on Lescot's orders, stormed the Ruelle Roy headquarters of the newspaper
and forced its immediate suspension. Depestre and two other members of the
group were arrested and released the following morning. On the afternoon of
January 4th Franck Magloire, the editor of Le Matin, whose printing press was
used by La Ruche, was temporarily detained by the Garde and questioned about
his involvement with the students.
That night at Alexis's house Raymond Pressoir, Alexis, Depestre, Baker,
Chenet, and Bloncourt met to strategize. They agreed that drastic action had to be
taken against the government. Alexis and Pressoir suggested that the best way to
demonstrate their anger would be to organize a student strike similar to the
Damien revolt.13 Damien's success owed much to the marines' reluctance to
open fire on the students in the streets. A student strike, they averred, would
precipitate a social revolution and the overthrow of the regime.
Shortly before ten o'clock on the morning of Monday January 7, the
students alerted the press and the U.S. embassy to the impending strike, which
would culminate with a demonstration in the embassy's courtyard. The task of
contacting the Embassy was given to Depestre who, fearing arrest, seized the
opportunity to plead for U.S. asylum but was refused and immediately went into
hiding.1 That morning the strike began in earnest.
The members of La Ruche along with their supporters from the law and
agricultural faculties filed out of their classes and met outside of the Medical
School, shouting "Vive La Revolution!" No sooner had they gathered that they
were met by the police who beat the students with batons. Alexis, who was badly
beaten, urged Bloncourt to rally students from the nearby Lyc6e des Jeunes Filles
where Bloncourt's mother taught. After convincing the female students that sol-
diers were beating university students, they entered the courtyard of the Medical
school and formed a wall around the students forcing the soldiers to desist from
beating them. They marched toward the Champs de Mars attracting a large crowd
of secondary school students and workers along the way.
With clenched fists raised the students passed through the leading secon-
dary schools, Lyc6e P6tion, St Martial, St Louis de Gonzague, and the all-girls St.
Rose de Lima, singing the Haitian national anthem, La Dessalinienne.15 The
numbers of protesters grew remarkably as they marched throughout the central
streets of the city. Using word of mouth, leaders of the strike rallied support by
spreading false news that the purpose of the strike was the severe beating of two
students by the soldiers. As the crowds moved through the heavily populated slum
areas of Bel-Air, La Saline, and Croix des Bossales, nearby businesses closed
down. The newspapers quickly issued appeals for order demanding the interven-
tion of the parents of the rebellious students.16 Once the protesters arrived at the
embassy, members of the Garde were already on hand and temporarily detained
several activists, most notably, Max Menard, Bloncourt, Max Pennet, and the poet
Jean Brierre. Several other students were severely beaten during the merle. Mili-
tary intervention did little to dampen the resolve of the protesters.
Lescot, who had grossly underestimated the determination of the stu-
dents, was shocked at the demonstration. Previously he ordered the head of the
secret police, Lucien Marchand, not to keep the students under surveillance and to
desist from harassing them claiming that "the youth were not dangerous. They are
only dialecticians." Though he expected the strike to have subsided by Monday
evening, he took no chances.
As soldiers packed into police jeeps patrolled the deserted streets of the
city Tuesday morning, the students put into effect their new plan of attack..18
Around midday in front of the Henri Deschamps bookstore on Grande Rue,
Bloncourt, who had made his way downtown in disguise, attacked an unarmed
soldier. Panicked storeowners closed their stores as bystanders began hitting pots
on the telephone poles sending signals of protest throughout the streets of Port-au-
Prince.19 Employees from the departments of labor, agriculture, and education, all
of which were controlled by the unpopular Dartigue, joined the students.20 Strong
support also came from the Morne-a-Tuf region near the medical faculty where a
student from the community had died from beatings sustained during the protest
the previous evening.
On Thursday the revolt intensified. In the morning, the Comit6 D6mocra-
tique F6minin, a women's movement headed by Jacques Roumain's wife Nicole,
led a march to the cathedral to appeal for peace, freedom of the press, and the
liberation of political prisoners.21 When a few supporters shouted A bas Lescot,
nearby officers fired into the crowd killing two young men and wounding two
women.22 In retaliation, large mobs began to spread throughout the city storming
the police headquarters and hurled rocks at members of the Garde before dispers-
ing in the streets. The houses and property of leading ministers and their henchmen
were ransacked and destroyed and stores looted. In the hillside areas that surround
the capital the sound of vodou drums and rara vaksins (hollow wooden instru-
ments made from bamboo) reverberated throughout the city as the factories of
government officials burned to the ground.
By that afternoon it was clear that the government was unable to deal
with the crisis. Over two dozen people were killed and many more injured during
the week ofdechoukaj (uprooting). A wide range of workers including bus drivers,
agricultural workers, bakers, and butchers went on strike for the first time in the
city's history, and the U.S.-run companies of SHADA, Standard Fruit, and the
Atlantic Refining Company were forced to close their operations. Led by Dr.
Georges Rigaud, a coalition group of professionals, businesspeople, journalists,
and opposition leaders formed the Front D6mocratique Unifi6 (FDU) in Port-au-
Prince, which openly supported the students and called for the right to form
political parties. Similar groups formed among students and businesspeople in the
southern department of the Grand'Anse.23 The movement spread to the other
departments by the end of the week. In Jacmel, where large numbers of students at
the Lyc6e Jacmel had received and read La Ruche, student strikes on the 7th were
augmented by the participation of workers and peasants the following two days by
which time, according to one participant, "the Revolution had conquered
In an effort to avoid overthrow, Lescot agreed to have the cabinet dis-
solved and met with George Rigaud and other political leaders intimating that he
would resign on May 15 the anniversary of his installation. In a private audience
with Col. Lavaud, the head of the Garde, a desperate Lescot ordered Lavaud to use
all necessary force to breakup the mobs. Lavaud refused and Lescot ordered his
immediate arrest. The second ranking officer of the Garde, Colonel Antoine Levelt
instead counseled with Lavaud and U.S. ambassador Wilson to decide the best
course of action. In conjunction with the embassy they formed that evening a
Conseil Ex6cutif Militaire (CEM) which demanded and successfully obtained
Lescot's resignation once they had convinced him his life was in danger if he
remained in Haiti a day longer. Petrified, the rest of the cabinet submitted their
resignations that afternoon and fled the country. The three-man junta that headed
the CEM, which included Paul Magloire, Levelt, and Lavaud, put Lescot under
house arrest. At three o'clock, the morning of January 11, Elie Lescot and his
family huddled in the back of a police car drove to Bowen Field then boarded a
waiting plane to Miami, reviving a pattern of Haitian presidential exile.25
"The Spiritual Sons of Toussaint": Legend and Myth in 1946 Political Dis-
The immediate success of the radical movement in deposing Lescot was
but the beginning of a wider movement for social change. Within days of Lescot's
exit, the Haitian press was liberated and there was an unprecedented explosion in
the numbers of political and social papers, with over a hundred appearing in
Port-au-Prince alone.26 This freedom was manifest in the widespread formation
of political parties for the first time in the country's recent history. Nearly one
hundred political parties formed across the island. On the day of Lescot's over-
throw light-skinned conservatives resurrected the old Liberal Party renamed Parti
Liberal Socialiste under the leadership of Francois Dalencour. Other conservative
groups included Edouard Tardieu's Parti Populaire Social Chr6tien and F. Burr
Reynaud's Union D6mocratique Haitien. It was readily apparent, however, that
popular currents would not sustain these traditional groups. Radical groups figured
more prominently on the political scene and none were more influential than those
that derived from noiriste and communist political ideologies.
The noiristes formed the Parti Populaire National (PPN) in January with
radical labour leader Daniel Fignol as the vice president, and including Lorimer
Denis, Francois Duvalier, Love Leger, and Clovis D6sinor. The party's organ
Flambeau, became the central organ for noiriste propaganda in 1946. For the PPN,
1946 was, after 1804 and 1930, the third national revolution in the country's
history and the most important because it promised the total liberation of the black
majority.27 As Duvalier and Denis asserted, "Finally the Haitian bourgeoisie is
no longer the master of power." Duvalier and Denis, along with Emile St. L6t,
fast became the leading proponents of noiriste thought in 1946. For them, as with
several other black intellectuals, 1946 was a new awakening. The black intelli-
gentsia was the product of educational reforms dating to the late nineteenth
century, and achieved a degree of social prominence by World War II. However,
access to state power had been denied them largely through a well-entrenched
system of light-skinned control of the means of production and the state.
The popular overthrow of Lescot from all sectors of Haitian society
seemed to vindicate their ideas, nurtured in the 1930s, of the necessity for black
rule in a black nation. Moreover, where the ideas of the noirisles of the thirties had
up until then been the province of a few, in 1946 they found widespread support.
This served to invigorate the chief ideologues, particularly Duvalier and Denis
who found in 1946, the fulfillment of a struggle for black democracy that began in
Duvalier and Denis, like other noiriste writers, reduced Haitian history to
a fight between two opposing classes. However, colour became central to class
and could not be divorced from it. In the early months of 1946, both men aligned
themselves with Fignol6 and his newly formed party, Mouvement Ouvriers et
Paysans (MOP). MOP's central paper, Chantiers, became an organ where they
could express their revised theories of colour, class, and history in Haiti. This was
appropriate as Chantiers editor, Fignol6, had long used the powerful imagery of
the Haitian Revolution to incite class and colour consciousness. In 1942, for
example, he wrote, "The lazy, ignorant, egotistical, and sectarian bourgeois way of
life is an insult to the misery of the peasant...who works for the pleasures of a class
swollen with prejudices. These descendants of Toussaint and Dessalines are aban-
doned in filth and ignorance."29 Sharing Fignol's rabid noirisme and finding in
him the leadership of the urban popular classes that they themselves could not
provide, Duvalier and Denis put their support firmly behind him in 1946. In a
lengthy series of articles in Chantiers, beginning in the middle of the year,
Duvalier and Denis painstakingly retraced Haiti's history from the period of the
slave revolt to 1946. They argued that since the revolution, the "class of mulitres,"
have not played the proper role in maintaining a political system for the good of all
Two years later, Duvalier and Denis would complete this study and
publish it as Le problem des classes a travers I'histoire d'Haiti. Featuring the
Dessalinienne flag of red and black on the cover, this work represents the most
radical elaboration of noirisme. In the survey of Haitian history that opens the
work, the authors argue that since the days of Salomon and Antoine Simon in the
nineteenth century, blacks had enjoyed no access to political power until 1946.32
The book's most distinctive feature, however, was its analysis of the social and
colour divisions in the island. The superiority of black rule, once a scientific
argument, was now axiomatic. The fundamental reasons for the domination of the
black majority by the light-skinned minority was, they argued, a result of elite
attempts to maintain "exclusivity" by dividing the black groups along class lines.
As long as black groups remained complacent with minimal political and eco-
nomic power, the problem in social relations was destined to persist. The only
solution to this predicament was the creation of a powerful and unified 'black
class.' 33 "If we are to rise as a strong class and be respected for achieving
equilibrium in our Nation, we must meditate on these serious faults which have
haunted us since the birth of our natural life."
For Duvalier, as David Nicholls has pointed out, "equilibrium," the
opposite of mul&tre "exclusivity," meant black power in all areas of political and
social life. 35 "Since that famous night of August 1791 which prefigured the
Revolution of 1804...[the country] has fallen, over the past 144 years, into a night
of opaque ignorance." 36 In this "era of the masses" Haiti had finally found
equilibrium, which according the Duvalier, was the final and perfect stage in the
cycle of modem Haitian politics.37 Only with a black head of state, could the
fundamental realignment of Haitian politics be realized.
Central to this discourse was the application of what Nicholls has called
a 'black legend' of Haiti's past.38 Following in the footsteps of nineteenth century
nationalists such as Louis Janvier, Duvalier and Denis argued that the country's
most basic problem was created from Independence: the constant exploitation of
the majority of the black inhabitants by a small minority. This thinking, in fact, can
be found in Duvalier and Denis' earlier writings in the late thirties. In the journal,
Les Griots, Duvalier wrote in 1938 that 1804 was "more of an evolution than a
REVOLUTION." 39 He had long maintained that there was a strong correlation
between the colour of Haiti's leadership and its underdevelopment.
Although a powerful doctrine of black nationalism, noirisme was not the
only political theory that captured the hearts of young Port-au-Prince radicals in
the months following Lescot's ouster. During the first days of February a cadre of
former supporters of Jacques Roumain and other Marxist sympathizers led by
Edris St. Armand revived the PCH. The PCH, swept up by the enthusiasm of the
moment, likened the events of Janua7 7 not to the Haitian Revolution of 1804, but
to the Russian Revolution of 1917. In an editorial in the second issue of the
party's organ Combat, St. Armand remarked that communism was the "only
possible solution for the country to get out of the social stagnation and poverty."4
The party's initial programme, which argued for the creation of a "Socialist Soviet
Republic of Haiti," advocated inter alia, the socialization of all industries and
land, Soviet-style organization of all political institutions, and the democratization
of the Haitian Garde, which was to be renamed, "the people's army."42
The PCH supported the Front Revolutionnaire Haitien (FRH), a coalition
of eleven radical groups including the PPN, which formed on February 8. The
formation of the FRH indicated a certain level of unity among the radical groups
during the first months of 1946. Perhaps the most important radical group to
reform in these early months was the socialists. In late January, the Parti Socialiste
Populaire (PSP) was officially formed comprising in the main of contributors to
the radical paper of the early forties, La Nation. The party's leading members
were, Max Hudicourt, Anthony Lesp6s, Etienne Charlier, Jules Blanchet, Albert
Mangones, and Max D. Sam. The Marxist convictions among the members of the
party differed somewhat as Hudicourt, though referring to himself as a socialist,
retained a liberal nationalist outlook whereas Sam, Charlier, and Lespes were
more fervently Marxist.44 The party structure and ideology closely resembled
both that of the Socialist Party in the Dominican Republic and the Cuban PSP
(Partido Socialista Popular) with which it was aligned.
The philosophy of the PSP represented the starkest contrast to the
noirisme of the other radical groups. The intellectuals in the PSP, most of whom
hailed from the elite, privileged issues of class struggle over those of colour
divisions as the most important threat to Haitian society. Like the PCH in the
thirties, they argued that a reorientation of the polity based on colour would not
bridge the country's fundamental economic cleavage. noirisme, for them, was a
political weapon used by the black petit bourgeoisie to attain control of the country
but promised little for the welfare of the poor.
The Haitian Revolution cast a long shadow over Marxist analyses of the
events of 1946. As we have seen, the young Marxists of the La Ruche clique, many
of whom joined the PCH, employed the rhetoric of 1804 in their protest. This was
both a political device used to incite wide-scale rebellion and a reflection of their
idealization of a communist solution. The Social Party, however, had a more
complex view of Haiti's revolutionary past.
Etienne Charlier, a principal member of the party and a leading thinker
on Haitian politics expressed most clearly in his writings the Socialist party's
political position. His regular columns in the paper on the political problems in the
country, often included a Marxist interpretation of the country's past. Charlier held
firm to Marxist doctrine, but did maintain that the colour question had been a
central feature in Haitian conflicts since 1804. However, 1946 presented a unique
opportunity for Haitians to rectify this and to unite, "inde endent of class and
colour" to realize "true social democracy" in the country. Much of his early
writings in La Nation formed the foundation for his provocative, Apervu sur la
formation historique de la nation ha'tienne, published in 1954. In this work,
Charlier criticized other Haitian writers who, adopting the 'black legend' of the
revolution, argued that blacks were predisposed to revolutionary leadership of the
nation, and muldtres were by nature counter-revolutionary. This perspective was
dangerous in Charlier's view, insofar as it presented a false image of Haiti's
history as being determined by heroic black figures such as Toussaint and Dessali-
nes, and it undermined the central role of the people. For him, the historical
struggle for state domination was to be defined in terms of class and access to
economic power. This position aroused harsh criticism from the communist party.
The predominantly black and working-class PCH was markedly different in 1946
from its first incarnation twelve years earlier. It positioned itself against the PSP
adopting the slogan of the "Front Rivolutionaire des Partis Gauches Authen-
tiques. 46 In a departure from orthodox Marxism-Leninism which they claimed
as their guiding doctrine, they emphatically declared the colour question as an
"essential aspect of the present class struggle in Haiti," that, if ignored, would lead
to the reinstallation of a "bourgeois dictatorship." 47 The PSP, they argued,
evaded the colour question because the party was largely muldtre and conse-
quently feared the threat that a black government might pose to their status. 48
The PCH's strong emphasis on colour did not mean, however, that they
agreed with the ideas of the noiriste politicians in the PPN. On the contrary, their
exit from the FRH was in large part due to the disagreements they found with the
"petit bourgeois" noiristes. Jacques Stephen Alexis, one of the most profound
social critics in the party, argued that the noiristes were solely driven by a fight
against the mulitres but never attacked those "capitalists" he believed were most
responsible for the exploitation of the country, the Syrians, Lebanese, Italians, and
U.S. whites.49 Noiristes, moreover, never advanced any meaningful political
doctrine that sought to rebuild the country's damaged economy.
The contrasting perspectives on the question of ideology and the
legacies of the Revolution held by the leading Marxist parties illustrates how
divided radical forces were in Port-au-Prince in 1946. That the root of contention
among Marxists was la question de couleur also highlights how successful the
noiristes were in setting the terms of political debate. This situation would lead to
a peculiar insistence on the part of some Marxists that colour should be the
defining factor in Haiti's political future. Such was the approach of another
Marxist party that formed during this period of which considerably less is known,
the Parti Socialiste Haitien (PSH) led by Dr. Ren6 Salomon, grandson of the
celebrated president Lysius F. Salomon. Salomon had a notable presence among
Haitian intellectuals of the mid-forties having formed Cenacle des ttudes, a
political discussion group during the Lescot years. In 1946, however, he chose not
to align himself with any of the dominant political groups, declaring himself a
Marxist and choosing to form his own party, the PSH. What is most striking of the
PSH was that it was a Marxist party that held a noiriste view of the country's
revolutionary past. The party's April 7 manifesto was clear on this:
"If the military battle of 1804 was won, it was principally
because of the genius of one man: TOUISSANT LOUVER-
TURE...Brilliant strategist, tactician, courageous, military gen-
ius, diplomat, unique negotiator, and celebrated leader, he had
the first programme [of national development]...TOUISSANT
LOUVERTURE had a strong clear conscience and made it
possible for Dessalines to realize national independence. It is
the same situation in 1946. The spiritual sons of Toussaint
Louverture are now leaders of a band of dissidents ...the Masses
are the victims of the counter-revolution against the spiritual
sons of Toussaint...The Revolution of 7 January like that of
1804 will be won by a large group...We believe in Toussaint
and work for a NEW HAITI, UNIFIED AND STRONG. FOR
THE UNITY OF ALL AUTHENTIC OF TOUSSAINT LOU-
VERTURE WHO IS OUR SYMBOL AND GUIDE." 50
It is evident then that the liberative principles of Toussaint and Dessali-
nes inspired Haitian radicals of various persuasions to locate the January revolu-
tion in an historical context. At the same time, however, there was a conscious
romanticization of the 1804 Revolution's objectives and outcomes. The treatment
of the country's revolutionary forebears was naturally self-serving. noiristes and
black Marxists seldom addressed the early failures of the post-Revolutionary
Haitian state, preferring instead to view the black leaders of the past as victims of
muldtre duplicity. Equally significant, was the notable absence in noiriste analyses
of any extended critique of foreign interference in Haitian affairs. The Lescot
years were portrayed as the vulgar example of muldtrisme, but not a legacy of
nearly two decades of United States marine occupation. Although the socialists
frequently drew reference to the postwar world and the reach of the United States
in Caribbean politics, their counterparts in the communist, noiriste, and labour
factions, realizing the necessity of U.S. support in the upcoming elections, chose
to focus on the internal roots of the crisis.
Whatever their positions on colour or the Revolution, the political reality
of post-Lescot Haiti would force the divided left into direct confrontation with the
main powerbrokers in Haitian politics, the bourgeoisie and the military.
La Revolution en Marche: The 1946 Elections
The provisional military government upheld the constitutional provision
that the successor of a deposed president had to be elected by a majority in the
National Assembly. Over two hundred mainly black candidates presented them-
selves for election to the 21 senatorial seats and 37 deputy seats.51 After two
successive dictatorships, the political field was open and the promise of a demo-
cratic Haiti finally seemed to be realized. For the first time in the country's history,
leftist candidates had a large representation in the election campaign. Juste Con-
stant from the PCH was running for President, mayor, and senator; PSP executives
Max Hudicourt, Max Sam, Georges Rigaud, Etienne Charlier, and Ren6 Salomon
all ran for seats in the Chamber of Deputies. Labor leaders Fignole and the popular
Henri Laraque also sought positions as Deputies for Port-au-Prince and Cap
The results of the legislative election were staggering. With few excep-
tions the left candidates were defeated. Salomon, in an about turn, blamed the
defeat on the disunity of the Marxist Left which should have buried their ideologi-
cal conflicts and fought the "common peril."2 Radicals were most aggravated by
the reelection of several cabinet members closely associated with the Vincent and
Lescot regimes namely Charles Fombrun, H. Bourjolly, and Dumarsais Estim6.
They charged that the election results were tampered with by the Ministry of
Interior headed by Colonel Paul Magloire.
With their hopes of achieving success in the upcoming elections im-
peded, the leftists took to the press to object to the harsh new impositions. In La
Nation, Max Sam wrote that five months after the fall of Lescot the CEM had
created a tragic situation and reintroduced totalitarianism the "grave menace for
the future of democracy in Haiti." 53 The PCH chose not to back any candidate in
the presidential race since, according to St. Armand, all the candidates had the
potential to "deceive the masses." 54
Notwithstanding their hostility towards the noiristes, the PSP made a
judicious evaluation of the political situation in the summer of 1946 and acknow-
ledged that their candidate Georges Rigaud, had little hope of success. They
decided therefore to back Edgar N6r6 Numa, the conservative black deputy from
Les Cayes. The decision to back Numa, according to Sam who was then General-
Secretary of the party, was not taken because Numa was black but because he
appeared most sympathetic to the goals of the socialist party even though he
himself was not a socialist.55 Still, the fact that a mulitre candidate would never
win in the heated political climate of 1946 was not lost on the socialists. They were
well aware, as Sam concedes, that Haiti was not prepared for socialism and that a
strong nationalistic president with no direct ties to noiriste factions would be the
most realistic option. Noiristes like Roger Dorsinville, who thus far supported
Numa withdrew their support claiming that they refused to "back an understudy"
and put their efforts behind "the peasant" Estim6.56 The PCH chose to temporar-
ily side with its socialist rival. As the months wore on the party leadership grew
disillusioned with the electoral process especially after their dismal showing at the
polls in March. At a party meeting in mid June, Juste Constant argued that the
party no longer supported the "dangerous" colour question created by French and
U.S. forces to divide the nation and now used by the Fignolists and noiristes to
gain power: "Proletarians have no colour line and the same hunger pinches all. The
problem is international. The country is on the eve of great democratic currents.
Do not surrender yourselves to barbarity under the pretext of the noiristes." 57 He
also reorganized the political bureau of the party, withdrew his candidacy for
presidency, and urged party members who supported noiriste ideas to resign.5
The Labour Party took a different approach to electoral defeat. The
military's tampering with the election results denied Daniel Fignol6 a seat, but it
did not halt his determination. The necessity of having strong party support in
electoral campaigns was made clear to Fignol6, who thus far had relied almost
entirely on his personality. Along with a core group of supporters, including
Duvalier, Denis, and some of his former students, Fignol6 formed MOP as a party
on May 13, with Chantiers as its official organ. Under his leadership, MOP
became the most organized labor party in Haitian history and the largest mass
organization in the pre-Duvalier era.
Once it became clear that the noiristes in the Senate, and the military
hierarchy would do everything in their power to prevent Fignol6 from running in
the presidential race, MOP decided to back a conservative candidate,
D6mosth6nes Petrus Calixte, the former head of the Garde who had recently
returned to Port-au-Prince. The political bureau of MOP believed that Calixte had
gained significant influence in the north and the south over the course of the past
year. Popular support from the Fignolists in Port-au-Prince would provide him
with the greatest chance to win the election. Although Fignol6 seemed to prefer
Duvalier's taciturn and unassuming demeanor to Calixte's strong personality,
which often clashed with his own, he understood that a Calixte victory would
provide him with the surest chance to enter the Palais.
The decision to back Calixte as the popular leader provoked considerable
opposition among other radical groups. Radical Marxist students from the PDPJH
who thus far had respected Fignol6 were disappointed with MOP's decision.59 In
the pages of La Nation, prominent radical Georges Petit, who took sides with the
socialists on several issues, launched a harsh critique against Calixte, pointing to
his training under the U.S. marines, his close association with former president
St6nio Vincent, his role in the assassination of several officers, and his decision as
former chief of the Garde to seek haven in the Dominican Republic less than a year
after the 1937 massacre of Haitians by Trujillo along the Dominican border.60
Petit also took Fignole to task, pointing to his contradictory endorsement of a
military candidate following the harsh treatment he received by the CEM during
the congressional elections. "Why," he asked, "should we take D6mosth6nes over
Paul [Magloire] when Paul is already in place and also black!" 61
Bickering among leftists in the Labour and M. xist parties could do little
to prevent the CEM from pushing forward their chosen candidate. On the morning
of August 16th as tanks and reinforced troops surrounded the cordoned off streets
and the Palace Garde armed with submachine guns stood at strategic points around
the Legislative Palace, the senators dressed in white suits and carrying sidearms,
took their seats and cast their votes for the republic's new president. Only two out
of the customarily four ballots were necessary. Estim6 won the first with twenty-
five votes. Six votes were counted for Calixte, and seven for Socialist Party
candidate Edgar Numa. Following much discussion, the results of the second
ballot were pulled from the urn and proved more decisive. Estim6 again won the
plurality with thirty-two votes. Elected to serve a six-year term, the deputy from
Verettes became the first black president of the postoccupation republic.
The dominance of black nationalism in Haitian discourse after 1946 was
the defining ideological development in the country's modern political history.
The long and complicated course of events following the fall of Lescot and the
election of Estim6 in which racial authenticity became the main criterion of
political leadership was evidence of the impact of noirisme. One participant in the
movement of 1946 would later reflect:
1 told you: I was a noiriste. And I will add that whoever in my
social class in Haiti after Lescot, under Lescot, whoever was not
a noiriste would have been scum...They ran the country as they
would have a plantation. And me, living there, the fruits of a
certain education, being conscious of my identity, I would not
have been noiriste? Merde! 62
This comment, and the preceding discussion, forces us to consider sev-
eral important points. First, the noiriste surge in the forties and the political project
that evolved from it has to be explained by the increasing politicization of the
Haitian popular classes. The fact that the Haitian laboring classes were more
awakened to political and social issues made them identify with a political theory
in which notions of authenticity were central. The weakened state of other opposi-
tion movements, particularly the Marxist movement, only gave greater strength to
the appeal of noirisme.
Second, the noiristes used the rhetoric of 1804 to justify their claims to
state control. But 1804, in the heated climate of 1946, became a political trope. It
is clear that the euphoria that followed January 7 created a sense of fulfillment on
the part of Haitian radicals. By equating the toppling of Lescot and the perceived
fall of light-skinned domination of the state with the victory of Dessalines, they
were able to legitimize the noiriste movement by creating a myth of a glorious
revolution that had been derailed in the wake of Dessalines' assassination, and
then re-ignited with Lescot's overthrow. The enemies of the revolution became an
ever-changing mix of the bourgeoisie, the United States, the Marxists, the army,
light-skinned Haitians, and non-authentiques. It was therefore the task of the 1946
"revolutionaries" to uphold this lost dream of 1804 by preserving black control of
the state apparatus. This point emphasizes what Nicholls has called, "the propen-
sity of Haitians to discuss the past in terms of competing legends which have
practical consequences for the present, rather than in terms of a disinterested and
dispassionate attempt to understand the past for its own sake." 63
Third, and related to this, was an underlying desire for political power. If
ideological sympathies with Haiti's revolutionary beginnings served as early
inspiration for the noiriste radicals of 1946, it fast lost prominence once the
harshness of Haitian realpolitik set in during the long election campaign. On all
sides, the central objective by July 1946 was not the establishment of a democratic
system of governance in the country. Haiti had known nothing of democracy and
the new political elite, in spite of their rhetoric, had no real intention of instituting
it. Rather, the main intention was to consolidate a hold over the state. Indeed, the
deep fractures in the noiriste movement, between those who supported Estim6 and
those who supported Fignol6, illustrates just how volatile this contest became and
helps explain why Estim6 ultimately had to rely on corrupt alliances with army
officials to secure his presidency. Estim6's victory, therefore, must be seen as part
of a long power struggle in Haiti draped by an active mythologizing of the
country's revolutionary past.
But in adhering to this myth, the revolutionary generation of 1946 created
one of their own. Estim6, like other noiuristes, would reference the revolution of
1946 frequently throughout his short-lived administration, as Haiti's most impor-
tant modem turning point. A decade later 1946 would become a political myth
itself, used by various factions in one of the fiercest battles in Haitian political
history, the election of 1957. It would become the rallying cry for new generations
of Haitian radicals and ultimately be absorbed under the dark cloud that was
Notes and References
I. La Ruche, January 1, 1946. Except where otherwise noted, all translations are mine.
2. La Ruche, January 19, 1946.
3. Flambeau, January 22, 1946.
4. Classe Moyen et Masse, April 20, 1946.
5. Portions of this paper are taken from, Matthew J. Smith, "Shades of Red in a Black Republic:
Radicalism, Black Consciousness, and Social Conflict in Postoccupation Haiti, 1934-1957,"
(Ph.D diss, University of Florida, 2002), Chapter 4.
6. Rene Depestre, Bonjour et adieu a la negritude (Paris: Editions Robert Laffont), 213.
7. La Ruche, January 19, 1946.
8. Roger Gaillard, "Andr6 Breton et Nous," Conjonction (Decembre, 1966): 67; See also Paul
Laraque, "Andr6 Breton en Haiti," Nouvelle Optique 26 (Mai 1971): 126-138.
9. Mark Polizzotti, Revolution of the Mind: The Life ofAndre Breton (New York: Ferrar, Straus, and
Giroux, 1995), 605.
10. La Ruche, January 1, 1946.
12. Orme Wilson to Secretary of State, January 4, 1946, Port-au-Prince United States National Ar-
chives, College Park, MD [USNA] Record Group [RG] 84, 800/10-446.
13. Raymond Pressoir interview with author, Bethesda, Maryland, June 17, 2000.
14. John C. Howley, "Memorandum to the ambassador," January 7 1946, Port-au-Prince, USNA RG
84, 838.01/1-1946; Gerald Bloncourt interview with author, Paris, France June 18, 2001 [here-
after Bloncourt interview].
15. Le Matin, January 8, 1946.
16. Le Nouvelliste, January 7, 1946.
17. Elie Lescot quoted in E. Sejour Laurent to Max L. Hudicourt, February 22, 1946, printed in La
Nation, February 19, 1946.
18. Le Matin, January 9, 1946.
19. Bloncourt interview.
20. Le Matin, January 9, 1946.
21. It is interesting to note that several of the women in this group were wives of leading Marxists.
Their manifesto appeared in Le Matin, January 8, 1946.
22. W. Abbott to Secretary of State, January 11, 1946, Port-au-Prince, USNA RG 84, 838.000/1-
1146; Le Matin January 10 and 12, 1946; New York Times, January 13, 1946.
23. LeMatin January 11, 1946.
24. Bonnard Posy, "Jacmel 1946," Conjonction, no.202 (Avril-Mai-Juin 1997): 60.
25. On Lescot's personal reaction to the events, see Elie Lescot to Maurice Dartigue, April 26, 1946,
Quebec, Dartigue Papers, Schomburg Research Center for Black Culture[SRCBC], New York.
26. Fitz Jean-Baptiste, "ltude thematique et bibliographique de la press Haitienne de 1946-1950,"
M.A. thesis, Universite de L;Itat d'Haiti Ecole Normal Sup6rieure, 1999, 125.
27. Flambeau, January 19, 1946. The student strike at the agricultural school of Damien was the
catalyst for the launch of a popular movement against the U.S. occupation (1915-34) in 1930.
28. Ibid, January 22, 1946.
29. Chantiers, August 5, 1942. Not surprisingly, Fignole's radical views won him the hatred of the
Lescot administration and Chantiers was forced to close down in late 1942 only to reappear
shortly after Lescot's ouster.
30. Chantiers, June 15, 1946.
31. Franqois Duvalier and Lorimer Denis, Le problem des classes a travers I'histoire d'Haili (Port-
au-Prince: Imprimerie de L'Itat, 1948), reprinted in Francois Duvalier, (Euvres essentielles,
Tome II (Port-au-Prince: Imprimerie de L'Etat, 1964).
32. Ibid, 357.
33. Nicholls, From Dessalines to Duvalier, 200.
34. Duvalier, (Euvres essentielles, 365.
35. Nicholls, 200.
36. Ibid, 364.
38. David Nicholls, op.cit.
39. Les Griots, Septembre-Novembre, 1939, 3.
40. Combat, February 6, 1946.
41. Ibid, February 8, 1946.
42. Ibid, February 6, 1946.
43. Le Nouvelliste, January 23, 1946.
44. Max D. Sam [former General-Secretary of the PSP] interview with author, Port-au-Prince,
Haiti, May 7, 2001.
45. La Nation, March 26, 1946.
46. Combat, February 28, 1946.
47. Combat, March 23, 1946.
48. The issues of the debate between the PCH and PSP are taken from Matthew J. Smith, "Red and
Black in the Caribbean: Race, Color, and the Marxist Left in pre-Duvalier Haiti," in Darlene
Clark Hine (ed.), Diaspora Paradigms: New Scholarship in Black History (Bloomington: Indi-
ana University Press, forthcoming).
49. Combat, April 16, 1946.
50. Classe Moyenne et Masse, April 24, 1946. Emphasis included.
51. "Album de candidates I la Deputation et candidates au Senat," Bibliothique Haitienne F.I.C, Insti-
tut de Saint Louis de Gonzague, Port-au-Prince.
52. Classes Moyenne et Masse, May 26, 1946.
53. La Nation, March 26, 1946.
54. Jack West to Ambassador, "Memorandum on Communist Meeting of July 16," July 16, 1946
Port-au-Prince, USNA RG 84, 838.00B/7-1646.
55. Sam interview.
56. Demain, June 12, 1946.
57. The meeting was reported in La Nation June 18, 1946, and Jack West "Memorandum to the Am-
bassador Re-Communist meeting," June 25, 1946, Port-au-Prince, USNA RG 84, 838.00B/6-
58. Ibid; La Nouvelle Ruche, July 3, 1946. David Nicholls erroneously states that "by the beginning
of August ... radical black politicians were supporting Juste Constant" when in fact Juste Con-
stant withdrew from the presidential race two months before. See Nicholls, From Dessalines to
59. Rene Depestre "La revolution 46 est pour demain," 87.
60. La Nation, July 30, 1946.
62. Roger Dorsinville, quoted in Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Haiti. State Against Nation. (New York:
Monthly Review Press, 1990), 134.
63. Nicholls, From Dessalines to Duvalier, 203.
Language, Culture and Power: Haiti under the Duvaliers *
R. ANTHONY LEWIS,
The 1957 election of Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier as president of Haiti
saw the emergence of a political machinery which attempted, with varying degrees
of success, to exert greater influence over Haitian cultural-but specifically com-
munication-practices. Indeed, the establishment of a Duvalier dynasty following
the death of Papa Doc and the transfer of power to his son Jean Claude "Baby
Doc" Duvalier were signs that Haiti had entered a new era in its political develop-
ment. Not only was the transfer of power from father to son significant, but the
length of time that each president ruled broke all existing records in the country's
history. Thus, the almost thirty year rule of the Duvaliers, if among the most brutal
periods in Haitian history, was the longest stretch of uninterrupted government the
country ever experienced. The return to the tradition of coup d'6tat as a matter of
course in changing government under the younger Duvalier suggests that the older
Duvalier might have created a political balance that his son was later unable to
manage; in essence, that the Duvalier political machine was an aberration that
could not long outlive its chief proponent: the Doc himself, Frangois Duvalier.
Since the overthrow of Jean-Claude Duvalier more than 18 years ago, there have
been ten presidents serving a total or fourteen terms, only one of which was a
complete 4 year term. Two hundred years after independence and as the country
continues along the path of political instability, it is relevant to explore the legacy
of its most stable political period as well as some of the reasons for its return to
It has been suggested that the political stability Haiti experienced during
the years the elder Duvalier ruled were due to his persona and government style.
Papa Doc's way of governing Haiti placed indigenous cultural practices, including
the use of language and religion, at the forefront national politics. The younger
Duvalier, on the other hand, saw very little importance in embracing folkways and
was even less concerned with their use as political tools. An evaluation of
Duvalierism under its two forms therefore raises the following questions: To what
extent did Francois owe his stay in office to his knowledge and use of folk culture?
To what extent did Jean-Claude's distance from the folk lay the foundation for the
end of the Duvalier dynasty? The aim in raising these questions is not to suggest
that culture was the only or primary factor affecting the trajectory of the Duvalier
regimes but to recognize that there is a vital link between politics and cultural
practices, particularly those related to communication.
Language, Communicative Behaviour and Politics
In exploring the relationship between communication practice and spe-
cific political outcomes, this article assumes that communication is the primary
means by which culture is transmitted. This is best perceived when communica-
tion is treated as a complex of culturo-linguistic practices or behaviours, which are
deployed or suppressed based on the desire to identify or not to identify with a
group. This position follows the view, articulated by Le Page and Tabouret-Kel-
ler, of linguistic behaviour as the means used by individuals to communicate their
membership in particular communities. The authors argue that people's use of
language entails the projection of their inner views of the universe and an invita-
tion to others to share in these. Accordingly, by verbalising in particular ways,
individuals seek to reinforce their models of the world and hope for verbal acts of
solidarity from others .
For Le Page and Tabouret-Keller, people are directed towards or away
from particular language habits because of the strong urge that human beings feel
to identify with one another, a process to which language is central. Le Page and
Tabouret-Keller believe that the receptiveness of others to individuals' verbal
projections signal the affirmation of a shared identity.2 They point out that the
emergence of a Belizean national identity to replace varying local ethnic identities,
for instance, and the idea that "Belizeans speak Creole" have increasingly be-
come defining features of the language habits of persons wishing to be identified
as Belizeans. Similarly, Alleyne, in reference to Jamaica, argues that nationalist
and Rastafari movements have led to greater identification of basilectal Creole
forms with Jamaicanness. Thus, he claims, the use of basilectal varieties has come
to serve as one means by which middle- and upper-class Jamaicans as well as
members of ethnic groups "whose loyalty and commitment to Jamaica may be
suspect (whites, mulattoes, Chinese, Middle Easterners) attempt to demonstrate
their loyalty to the island as it develops a new and aggressive form of national
It seems, however, that the desire to identify with a particular group,
however, strong, is not the only force that drives linguistic behaviour; the desire to
control information or to control those using a particular linguistic code seems to
be alternative forces driving communicative behaviour, and these have certainly
been some of the reasons for standardising language. In this way, the result of the
standardisation process has always been inextricably linked to political entities or
to the social and political uses to which such result might be put. Offord com-
ments on the link between language standardisation and the controlling arm or
politics in the following manner:
For a government to govern effectively, for the mass media and
purveyors of literature-writers and publishers-to reach and in-
form or entertain maximum audiences, for educators to produce
pupils who can participate fully and intelligently in national life,
for the armed forces to control their personnel efficiently, for
justice to be dispensed with authority, a single, unified nation-
ally accepted language is required .5
The view that standardised language is critical to political power and
nationalism is shared by Joseph, who argues that whether or not language is one of
the elements originally motivating a particular nationalistic ideology, possession
of a common national language becomes a crucial symbol of that ideology6
The fact that Offord and Joseph are writing about standardised languages
does not diminish the importance of their comments as reflections of the social and
political uses to which language may generally be put. All rulers-but more so
absolute rulers-are interested in the manner in which language may be manipu-
lated in their interest. The interests of absolute rulers are particularly well-served
by enlisting the support of specialist users of language, from praise singers and
poets to translators and reporters, to prop up their power. While some communi-
cators will yield to the influence of their political contexts, others will resist
attempts at co-optation. When communication they fail or refuse to support the
political apparatuses of absolute rulers, they come to be perceived as threats not
only to the regime but also to the efficient management of society as a whole.
Thus, whether communicators wish to or not, they become, through structures of
patronage or censorship, engaged in the political agenda of the absolute regimes.
The question of group identity and the use to which a political directorate
puts language are interrelated concerns, since the relationship between language,
culture and group identity suggests the possibility of controlling a group through
the manipulation of its language. Indeed, language use determines people's cre-
dentials as members of certain groups and, ultimately, their ability to influence the
behaviour of persons in those groups. On the other hand, refusal to use particular
languages or language varieties may mark individuals as belonging to groups that
are socially or culturally different.
Language in Haiti
The language situation of Haiti reflects the blend of the country's cultural
heritage, with Krbyol-an African, Amerindian and French influenced language-
and French being the two languages used. Traditionally, use of the languages has
been described either as diglossic or bilingual. A diglossia, according to Charles
Ferguson (1959), is a linguistic situation in which two languages are used but in
different (high and low) social contexts. On the contrary, bilingualism assumes
that any of two languages may be used in a given social context.
Most Haitians speak Kr6yol, with only a small minority of the population
being also fluent in French. This minority is estimated at between 5 and 10 per
cent, meaning that the remaining population consists of monolingual Kr6yol-
speakers. Knowledge of one or other language generally reveals social back-
ground, with Kr6yol being associated with the peasant class and, therefore, being
accorded low status by members of the nation's French-speaking elite.
The socio-economic dominance of the French-speaking elite is counter-
balanced by the numerical dominance of the peasantry. Traditionally, more than
70% of Haiti's population comes from rural backgrounds, where Kreyol predomi-
nates. Connection with and control of the Haitian people, therefore, requires some
familiarity with their language and the forms that accompany that language.
"Our Doc who art in the National Palace"9
At the heart of the Haitian political structure lies the antagonistic relation-
ship between extreme power and extreme powerlessness. In this relationship, the
trinity of the Port-au-Prince-based French-educated commercial elite, the military
and the church have been the traditional powerbrokers. These groups maintained
a mutually beneficial relationship from which Kr6yol-dominant or monolingual
Kr6yol-speakers were excluded. Baguidy, a Duvalier defender, blames the mulat-
toes for the antagonism between them and Afro-Haitians. In his estimation,
L'lnd6pendance acquise, le mulitre haitien exteriorisera ses
v6ritables sentiments qui n'6taient que momentan6ment re-
foul6s a l'6gard de son fr:re noir, le compagnon de toutes les
batailles. Son comportement r6v6lera qu'il n'avait aid6 i com-
battre I'oppresseur, non point pour vivre dans I'union et la
fraterit6 jur6e, mais tout simplement pour le remplacer, en
d6ployant tout le long de I'histoire, de 1804 a nos jours, des
efforts d6sesp6r6s et calculus pour maintenir dans un esclavage
scientifiquement organism, dans la honte, la mistre et l'igno-
rance la masse noire, le principal ouvrier de la liberation nation-
[With the attainment of independence, the Haitian mulatto
showed his true feelings-only temporarily suppressed-towards
his black brother, who fought alongside him in every battle. His
behaviour demonstrated that he helped to fight against the op-
pressor, not so that he could live in unity and sworn brother-
hood, but simply that he could replace him, deploying
throughout the length of Haitian history, from 1804 to the
present, desperate and calculated efforts to maintain in a scien-
tifically organised slavery, in shame, misery and ignorance, the
black masses, chief workers of national liberation.] I
In this context, Papa Doc's rise to power on a noiriste platform was not
surprising. His doctrine consisted primarily of wresting power from the mulatto
elite by creating a rival Afro-Haitian elite. His efforts to remodel the Haitian
power structure comprised both suppressive as well as promotional activity. On
the one hand, he systematically eliminated all sources of dissent by banning trade
unions, opposition parties and exiling, imprisoning or torturing persons critical of
his government; he mollified the local Catholic Church by bringing its hierarchy
under direct state control, expelling expatriate clergy deemed troublemakers and
ascribing unto himself the right to elect bishops. On the other hand, Duvalier
attempted, based on an indigenist agenda, to instil in Afro-Haitians pride not only
in their African heritage but also in their right as possessors of Haiti. This
programme involved a resort to Haiti's rich culture, from its widely misunderstood
and misrepresented folk religion to its Afro-French language and indigenous art.
Many academics studying Papa Doc's political strategy have rightly
focused on his exploitation of folk religion as a means of controlling the Haitian
people. In an article co-authored with Lorimer Denis and published in February
1944, Duvalier described vodou, in light of national independence, as the supreme
factor of Haitian unity, solidifying the African's past on 'le sol natal' the native
soil. Papa Doc's use of vodou in politics followed in the tradition of a long line of
Haitian leaders, who exploited the religion for their own ends. Hoffmann quotes
Smarth 12 who argues that the use of the folk religion by politicians rested on three
basic facts: the appropriation of the sacred force of the religion, the use of its
magic to hurt and eventually destroy opponents and its profane use as a channel of
political propaganda Smarth's third point is crucial to an understanding of Papa
Doc's use of vodou. To be successful, his political I lan required a workable
communication component. According to Nicholls, Papa Doc's reign was
propped up partly because he maintained a "network of information and control
which ran to the furthest corner of the country [keeping him] in touch with local
developments" This recognition of the importance of being informed coupled
with "his shrewd knowledge of the mentality and customs of the Haitian peasants"
helped to advance his political agenda.
In a country with a strong peasantry, knowledge of peasant culture
became a significant factor in determining the extent to which the political direc-
torate could exercise power. Vodou is everywhere in Haiti. Penetrating the
religion in a systematic manner was, therefore, a guaranteed way of communicat-
ing to or receiving information from the people. This suggests that Papa Doc's
exploitation of Haiti's folk religion rested not only on the desire to convert
houngans (vodou priests) into members of his feared militia, the volontaires de la
security national (VSN), popularly known as the tontons macoutes, but also on
his quest to establish the mechanisms for clear and direct lines of communication
between the Haitian masses and their presidency. In fact, Papa Doc's leadership
style was characterized by frequent personal interactions with members of the
peasantry. It was not unusual, for instance, for persons from the countryside to be
invited to meet with him in Port-au-Prince.
The Duvalier plan, thus, depended significantly on the interplay between
politics, peasant culture and the transmission of information, which required the
effective use of peasant language. The fact that Papa Doc's rule remains the most
stable period in Haiti's political history suggests not only that he was favoured by
context but also that he ran an effective political machine. This is confirmed by
the fact that instability in the Duvalierist plan appear only when his less politically
savvy, urban, French-speaking son asserted himself as president.
A Duvalier succeeds a Duvalier
Following Papa Doc's death in 1971, Jean-Claude was made president.
Jean-Claude's extreme youth made him unfit to rule the country. He, thus,
became "in many respects a titular ruler, with real power vested in the Duvalier
family as an entity and in certain trusted lieutenants" As 'Baby Doc' got more
involved in the political process in the mid 1970s, it became clear that he would
distance himself not only from his father's ideals but also his methods. He had
established the principle of Jean-Claudisme, which, according to Plummer, "rep-
resented an attempt at modernization. It intended to modify some of the more
infernal aspects of the family tyranny without actually ending repression". 14
Chamberlain describes Jean-Claudism as "Duvalierism reviewed, corrected and
broadened". 15 Beset by criticisms from home and abroad about the abuses of the
Haitian government, Jean-Claude began, in 1977, a process of media liberalisa-
tion. Within a few years, things changed for the better. There was the "encour-
agement of press criticism for image purposes during the August 1979 visit of
President Jimmy Carter's fiercely liberal envoy Andrew Young and ... during a
visit by the Inter-American Human Rights Commission".16 These changes marked
a "step forward which proved hard to reverse".17 The tone had been set a few
years earlier, as "the first important dissent in the domestic media appeared when
a new weekly magazine, Le Petit Samedi Soir, accused the government of incom-
petence and of having 'no interest' in tackling a severe famine in the northwest".18
The publication of this clear criticism against the government made Dieudonn6
Fardin, the editor of Le Petit Samedi Soir, "the pioneer in slowly giving Haitians
the confidence to speak up against the regime".19 Further signs of the cleavage
between the methods and ideals of father and son were seen in 1980, when
Jean-Claude married, against his mother's wishes, into mulatto society. Soon she
and Luc Desir, two of the most important hard line Duvalierists, were sidelined,20
leaving Jean-Claude free to create his own political impact. Acting to deflect
criticism in early 1981 that he was distancing himself from his father's legacy,
Jean-Claude allowed an editorial to appear in the state newspaper, Le Nouveau
Monde, clarifying his position in regard to his father's doctrines:
La revolution politique r6alis6e par feu le Docteur Francois
Duvalier, pare de la Nouvelle Haiti et la revolution 6conomique
pr6conis6e par son Excellence Monsieur Jean-Claude Duvalier,
Pr6sident-A-Vie de la R6publique, sont deux aspects distincts
mais ins6parables de la Doctrine Duvali6riste. 21
[The political revolution accomplished by the late Dr Francois Duvalier,
father of the New Haiti and the economic revolution advocated by His Excellency,
Mr. Jean-Claude Duvalier, are two distinct but inseparable aspects of the Duvalier-
Two criticisms may be made of this editorial. In the first instance, it
appeared in a context of an estimated illiteracy rate of 85% and secondly, it was
written in French. L6hmann argues that the fact that this editorial was written in
French meant that it could only be geared towards "ceux qui comprennent cette
langue, qui sont capable de la lire, c'est a dire a la minority constitute par la
bourgeoisie et la classes moyenne" [those who understand that language, who are
able to read it, that is to say, the minority comprising the bourgeoisie and the
middle class] This tendency to exclude Kr6yol speakers, L6hmann suggests,
was part of a plan that sought to communicate with power both within and outside
Haiti. Thus, in addition to targeting the minority class in Haiti, Duvalier sought to
curry the favour of"l'opinion international" [international opinion]2
The communication problem that this represented was clear to many in
Haiti. According to a report in Le Matin, the ambassador of the Federal Republic
of Germany to Port-au-Prince at the time observed that there was a widening
communication gap between Jean-Claude and the Haitian people. The ambassador
saw the need for communication "non seulement par lesjournaux qui sont lus par
quelques milliers de gens, mais par les radio, en langue creole" [not only in the
newspapers which are read by a few thousand people, but on the radio and in the
Creole language] Jean-Claude's inattention to this matter resulted in the com-
munication void being quickly filled by expatriates and a church that had become
more closely identified with the people and more attuned to the political chal-
lenges facing them. By the time the government recognized the need to communi-
cate more effectively with the folk, it had lost too much ground.
Powerful government radio (1977) and television (1979) sta-
tions were set up for the first time. But these were outpaced by
immensely popular radio stations such as Jean Dominique's
Haiti Inter, which pioneered reporting from the provinces in
which ordinary people voiced on air their gripes against the
There were other stations, too, which had come into being as a result of
the 1977 media liberalisation policies Jean-Claude had been forced to make by
overseas governments such as that of the United States. While some of these
stations represented no real threat to the regime, some made political criticism an
integral part of their operations.
The Catholic Church's Radio Soleil led the way, followed by
the more conservative Baptist station, Radio Lumiere, both
under the supervision of foreign priests (sic). Radio Soleil,
wrapping itself carefully in protective religious clothing, devel-
oped a network of provincial reporters who wrote about the
regime's abuses and ... publicized the strident calls of bishops
for justice and reform .
Radio Soleil's activism became even more irritating to Jean-Claude's
regime since it energised the ti-egliz movement, comprising Catholic church-or-
ganised democratic local committees. These anti-elitist committees would prove
to be the backbone of the final uprising that toppled Jean-Claude .27
A particularly important catalytic event for the folk-led church move-
ment and the media which related to it was the 1983 visit of John Paul II. The
pontiff, in no uncertain terms, condemned the excesses of the regime and called for
an end to poverty and injustice .28 The message was censored the following day by
the government but remained a weapon that would be brought out of storage at the
appropriate time to help in the overthrow of the government. As anti-government
media criticisms increased, the regime acted to protect itself. By 1983, an unen-
forced 1979 law banning press reports or broadcasts critical of the government or
security officials, and broadcasts and publications deemed subversive, was re-in-
troduced. But by late 1984, an uprising in the city of Gonaives had signalled the
start of the long process towards the fall of the second Duvalier regime. The
succeeding months were filled with turmoil, with Jean-Claude proclaiming a state
of siege which "effectively silenced all media except the state radio and television
channels and the official daily Le Nouveau Monde".29 The media suppression law
was enforced fully against the pointedly vocal Radio Soleil, which was declared
"an irritation and a threat to the state". The station was temporarily closed down
between December 5 and 23 of 1984, a sign that the regime was becoming
increasingly desperate. With the absence of radio news, the traditional Haitian
gossip network known as t6l6diol was revived. The height of the media protest
was reached in December of 1985, when the Cap-Ha'tien-based Catholic Radio
Ave Maria defiantly broadcast the pope's 1983 message. The people listened as
"radios were turned up to full volume all throughout the town, and the Pope's
message of support echoed in the streets" 3. The following month, the govern-
ment imposed an indefinite closure of all independent media houses. There were,
however, increasing signs that events had reached the point of no return. On
January 29, 1986 White House spokesman Larry Speakes announced that the
Duvalier regime had collapsed and that Jean-Claude had been exiled ." This
fuelled rumours that a coup had taken place. Jean-Claude took the opportunity to
clarify for the nation that he was in Haiti "strong and firm as a monkey's tail". But
the people would have none of it. If there had not been a coup, they meant for one
to happen. And so it was. Pressure from the crisis and from external sources made
Jean-Claude and his entourage flee Haiti in the early hours of Friday, February 7,
The concern raised in this paper relates to the role that communication
can play in the political agenda of regimes. With regard to the Duvalier regimes
in Haiti, it has argued that communication processes, driven largely by questions
of culture, language and identity-that is, identity with cultural and social groups-as
well as by the desire to control an entire populace, significantly influenced the fate
of Duvalierism. The paper has painted a picture of the contrasting relationships
the elder and younger Duvaliers had with Haitian popular culture, and the ramifi-
cations of these relationships on the hold each had on power in the Haiti. For
Jean-Claude Duvalier, the lack of an appreciation for the role of culture and
communication and the targeted use of the conduits through which they pass in
brokering relationships between government and the governed was a key failing in
his attempt to maintain power. It is suggested here that whereas the elder Duvalier
used the language and culture of the masses to bolster his own power, the son,
lacking the political and cultural knowledge of his father dispossessed himself of
the key means of controlling the Haitian people. Thus, his lack of control over the
popular culture and the channels of communication in the country eventually
contributed to his deposition and flight from Haiti.
Notes and References
* An early version of this article was presented at the 16th All African Students Conference at the
Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies.
1. Robert Le Page and Andrie Tabouret-Keller. (1985). Acts of identity: Creole-based approaches
to language and ethnicity. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, p. 181.
3. Ibid. p. 183.
4. Mervyn Alleyne, Mervyn. 1985. A Linguistic Perspective on the Caribbean. In Mintz, Sidney &
Price, Sally. Eds. Caribbean Contours. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, p. 170.
5. Malcolm Offord. (1990). Varieties of Contemporary French. London: Mac Millan, p. 3.
6. John Earl Joseph. (1987). Eloquence and power: The rise of language standards and standard lan-
guages. New York: Basil Blackwell, p. 47.
7. Albert Valdman. (1984). The linguistic situation of Haiti. In C.R. Foster and A. Valdman (Eds).
Haiti Today and tomorrow. Lanhan, MO: University Press of America, p. 79.
8. This is a line from the revised 'Our Father' that Francois Duvalier used for his Catechism. It is
cited in James Ferguson. (1987). Papa Doc. Baby Doc: Haiti and the Duvaliers. Oxford, Eng:
Basil Blackwell, p. 49.
9. Joseph D. Baguidy. (1946). Esquisse de sociologie hai'ienne. Port-au-Prince: Imp. de
10. I'ttat 1946, 10 and II, cited in Hoffmann, p. 80.
II. All translations are mine.
12. Lucien Smarth. (1984). Une culture nee dans la lutte. In Haiti, briser les chaines. Lausanne: P.-
M. Favre, p. 135, cited in Hoffmann, p. 141.
13. David Nicholls. (1979). From Dessalines to Duvalier: Race, colour and national independence in
Haiti. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, p. 35.
15. Brenda-Gayle Plummer. (1992). Haiti and the United States The psychological moment. Lon-
don, UK: University of Georgia Press, p. 195.
17. Chamberlain, Greg. (1986). Haitian media contribute to Duvalier's Downfall. Media Develop-
ment 4, p. 35
22. Lehmann, G6rard. (1984). Babydocratie et press ecrite en Haiti : considerations sur le regne de
I'illustre heritier du pere de la nouvelle Haiti de decembre 1980 .juillet 1981, p. 10.
23. Ibid., pp. 1I and 12.
24. Ibid., p. 8
25. Ibid., p. 10
26. Ibid., p. 42
27. Chamberlain, Op. Cit., pp. 35 & 36.
28. Ibid., p. 36.
29. Ibid, p. 36.
30. Plummer, Op. Cit., p. 206.
31. Chamberlain, Op. Cit., p. 36.
32. Ferguson, Op. Cit., p. 95.
33. Ibid., p. II.
34. Plummer, Op. Cit., p. 209.
Cap Haitien wall painting *
Haiti I'm Sorry
Haiti is not a place for the squeamish or the unseasoned traveler. "Atten-
lez derriere la ligne jaune Wait behind the yellow line" the sign says when you
nanage to find your way through the chaotic two and three headed snaky lines and
;et up to the glass fronted airport cubicles of the Haitian immigration officers.
surprisingly the immigration officials waited patiently, for the incoming visitor or
turning Haitian. But no one stayed behind the line. The line was not even yellow.
t was more of a jaundiced ochre, trampled over by hundreds of feet of laden
travelers. Waiting for the luggage is yet another Haitian experience the conveyor
)elt resembles a chaotic Dambala (African snake god) going round and round, a
lumped back snake misshapen by cello taped and stringed up broken cardboard
oxess, oversize and travel weary suitcases, even large bottles of potable water
:lothed in soiled linen. "Sorry to greet you in this condition", a sign apologizes
ibove the hot, crowded steamy baggage area with one ineffectual fan swirling the
heat around unevenly, "we are in the process of rectifying it". Signs of rectification
were hard to identify in the arrival lounge.Armed with one state of the art laptop
computer, three cameras and two smallish suitcases, our response of"vacance" to
the customs' officer conventional question "What eez the purpose of your vizeet
to 'Ayti" was understandably greeted skeptically. He looked over our heads to the
search officer, "pleez opaan ze baggaages". She rustled through the spare packag-
ing of clothes and essentials and helped politely to close the suitcase as he waved
us royally on. I remembered my sister's comment from her visit a few years ago.
Despite their depressed living conditions, she had found Haitians to be a polite and
extremely kind people. So far so good.
You manage to find a path through customs into another set of indetermi-
nate lines, pass the exit door held open by a large rock stone on one side. A yellow
hot midday sun against a sea of black faces, most of them self employed porters
vying and trying your attention, struggling to get a hand on your baggage. Others
shouting taxee taxee, others waiting for relatives or friends and obscuring an
escape route. Yet there was some method in this madness, the Montana had come
to Mohammed. The hotel driver had turned up to meet us.
I had come to Haiti, accompanied by my husband, to carry out research
for my book on Caribbean iconography. Minus one or two islands here and there,
ARCAHAIE, 18 MAI 1803
Rendition of Dessalines ripping white out of the French Flag to create the Haitian flag*
WIN 0" 01 dg. .
uJeM- -f'. -f HUffbioi
over the last two decades I had traveled throughout most of the Caribbean,
including to the Dominican Republic which adjoins Haiti. Haiti was still un-
knownterritory within the Region. Columbus had claimed the entire island for the
Spanish crown back in 1492, calling it Hispaniola or little Spain. The island was
later called Santo Domingo by the Spanish, who began introducing African slaves
into the colony from 1503. By 1635 the French had settled the western side and
of course translated the name into their tongue, Ste Domingue. A campaign of
terror through poisoning against white colonials led by maroon Francois Makan-
dal began in 1750. The real war however, was fought consistently from 1791 to
1803, with indescribable bloodshed and intrigue, plots and counterplots, between
white colonials and white planters, between small planters and big planters,
between white planters and mulattos, and against the mulatto and black popula-
tion. The events in Ste Domingue were spurred on by the revolution in France in
1789 for liberty, equality and fraternity. The French and the British became strange
bedfellows in the attempt to suppress the uprisings in Ste Domingue. Despite the
odds the black slaves and some of their half brothers, the mulattos, had fought and
won the first successful slave revolution. In 1803, in a gesture of defiance and
vision, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, one of the black generals, ripped out the white
from the French flag, symbolically tearing out the white control, and with inde-
pendence in 1804 returned the name given to the land by the Tainos, "Hayti the
land of mountains", to itself. In 1804, while the slave trade and slave labour
persisted in other colonies, the Haitian population had thrown off this shackle, as
David Rudder sang, "back in those days when black men knew their place was in
the back". As voiced by Rudder however, a nagging thought persists. Is Haiti still
paying the price for this audacity?
It is impossible to imagine the Haiti of today outside of Haiti, despite the
anecdotes of visitors, the discussions with Haitians, the documentaries and news
coverage or books one has read. These convey a narrative of endless pillaging of a
string of dictators from the nineteenth century onwards, widespread violence and
political intrigue, a legendary poverty of boat peoples who have risked their lives
to find refuge in the United States, Jamaica and Cuba. Such stories go hand in hand
with another face of Haiti, about the superb French cuisine in the restaurants of
Petionville, an abundance of naive artists and creativity, a society of rich tradition,
steeped in vodou and blended Catholicism. A nation of extremes, extreme gran-
deur of ideas and struggle, extreme wealth and extreme poverty.
Of these poverty of the darkest people of Haiti is the most self-evident.
The light yellow population is barely visible, sheltered behind stone walls and
well guarded fences. There is no dignity in poverty. It cows the human spirit and
defiles space. The majority of peoples are forced to live hand to mouth from day
to day in overcrowded uninhabitable shacks or unfinished concrete structures.
Over two million people live in Port au Prince, in a geographic space barely more
than the city and suburbs of Port of Spain. Many of the roads are gravel tracks, the
atmosphere is thick with yellow dust and despair. I could not add insult to injury
and assume the stance of the modem day missionary, sociologist or anthropologist
focusing a prurient lens on the poverty or quaint customs of Haitian peoples nor
the indignation of a glorified sanitary inspector. Like all societies Haiti is riddled
with contradiction and complications which the short-term visitor could never
comprehend. I could not take photographs of the swarming streets and the fester-
ing rubbish piles. Nonetheless, the scenes not photographed linger, inscribed in the
retina of memory. A young boy, not more than seven or perhaps eight, stooped
over a side walk drain in down town Port au Prince, clearing away the debris as if
clearing topsoil, and with a dirty plastic cup filling an equally dirty plastic bucket.
I asked what he was doing. "To wash ze cars weeth" was the reply. For the cars
themselves constantly dust covered from the unpaved streets, it seemed an appro-
priate enough solution. Another scene in Cap Haitien to the north, where the
fiercest battles were fought in this place once called Cap Francois and considered
the Paris of the Caribbean. We come out of the small airplane onto the tarmac and
before we can make it the few yards to the modest wooden building, about ten ill
clothed men, fighting and clawing at each other like tom cats, quarrel to grab our
baggage tags so that they can be paid a tip to retrieve our luggage. We drive past
the coal market in the center of town. Young and old, indiscernible from the bags
of coal dust and the dusky grey-black which settles over every object and every
moving creature, as if already burying Haiti alive. Dante's inferno comes to mind.
The Lonely Planet series, a sensitive guidebook, had suggested that it
was not kind to photograph the misery and poverty of the Haitian peoples. It is
d'accord to capture the resilience and creativity of the Haitians, but not their
shame. Jean Claude our guide and chauffeur advised that it would be wiser to take
photographs discreetly if we wanted to, but he was clearly not in favour as well. I
agreed. For me, photographs seemed treacherous to the courage and vision of the
events two centuries ago, disloyal to those Haitians who are still fighting bravely
in so many different ways. Perhaps my attitude is self-righteous, the self-right-
eousness of yet another kind. But Haiti does not need the self righteous indignation
of one more peripatetic visitor. It needs schools, and health centers, running water
and roads, and jobs to go around for the millions of people who live cheek by jowl,
from hand to mouth each day. It needs and partially survives on the services of the
well disposed aid officials and entrepreneurs who stay in the healthy mountain
slope hotels (as I did), while they dispense relief of all kinds. One young woman
we met in the hotel had come to Haiti for three months under the Pan American
Health Organisation to monitor the polio vaccine immunization programme
among the young children. Another young American girl age 22, not too long
graduated from Emory University, and had come to work in the orphanages in the
north. She said it was heart rending work, you dealt with forty cases of malnutri-
tioned diseased infants in the clinics, and walk outside and there were forty five
Then there is the other side of Haiti, which has weaved its myth and ca
voodoo spell, a narrative of creativity out of despair, the lotus blooming on tJ
nghill. This too is also one tracked, too gratuitous. The sidewalks of far to
my simplistic and repetitive canvasses, the painted tap taps (private transpo
ses), beautifully designed but always over stuffed with passengers, the derive
e ironwork of exploited vodou themes. Poverty and an indiscriminate mark
ve done little for art other than creating another artifice. Too Naipaulian a visic
rhaps? Yes and no. Yes, there has emerged a wonderful sense of the untutore
e and a primary use of colour among the naTve artist and voodoo art objects, ,
the denuded mountain tops, flora and fauna and peoples stripped of decel
elihoods must declare themselves through an imaginary Joseph's coat. Thel
s admittedly emerged something which is popularly called Haitian art, a recol
,able aesthetic of shape, color and form referred to as Haitian, largely due agai
the "discovery" of "primitive" Haitian painters like Hector Hypolytte an
ilome Obin by American and French intellectuals and artists in the 1940s. In a
world always seeking fresh blood, Haitian art has emerged in the twentiel
ntury as new and original. On the heels of early twentieth century anthropology:
: themes of Haitian art have represented retentions of African culture in the ne'
)rld, evidence of survival despite the trauma of the middle passage. But the woI
covery here disturbs, just like Columbus "discovered" the new world. T1
;ult the indigenous Taino population was changed forever.
Interior Cathedral Saint Trinite *
Yet Haiti is, after all this, a land of extremes. In the crevices of the
:rowded and seemingly anarchic street life of downtown Port au Prince, one finds
nnumerable well preserved treasures which tell the story of a Haiti past and
mdoubtedly a presage of a Haitian future. A wizened little old man named Adams
.eontus guided me through the Cathedrale Sainte Trinite, reverentially paying his
tribute as he must do with each visitor, to the painters whose works decorate the
valls, from floor to ceiling. These are the works of Haiti's grand masters of a so
calledd primitive or naive school Prefete Duffaut, Rigaud Benoit, Castera Bazile,
'hilome Obin and others. I later realized that he was also one of the accomplished
iaitian artists himself. The themes are biblical, yet reproduced in a Caribbean
landscape. As religion itself has been appropriated and reshaped by Haitian Afri-
:an religion, so to are the images of the saints and the Christian gods, and they are
to less inspiring in this place of worship, perhaps more so, the gods have come
lome to roost.
Interior murals of Cathedral Saint Trinite *
Walk to the top of the Rue du Champs de Mars and the scene changes to
well tended gardens, a white gleaming palace and impressive statues of the past
heroes of revolutionary Haiti. These are faultless well executed pieces of work,
impressive to the eye, inspiring to the soul. Perhaps none more so, than the Marron
Inconnu, the unknown maroon who blew the conch which called the slaves
together to action in 1791 in the Bois Caiman. Far more than the European garbed
statues of Toussaint L'Ouverture, Henri Christophe, the mulatto Petion and Des-
salines, the Marron (as he is referred to fondly by Jean Claude) is alive, the sun
beats down on the rough black metal as if on his skin, burnt by years of field work.
He seems perpetually poised in a call to action, perhaps waiting for a sign once
more to sound his shell.
Statue of Marron Inconnu, Port au Prince
For the duration of our stay at the hotel Montana, meetings continued
between the opposition and Lavalas ("flashflood") Aristide's party, and the OAS,
to come to some agreement about the election results to ensure that aid would be
forthcoming to Haiti. The deadline for transmission of aid came and went. The
dark suited men came and went each day, in large black cars, flanked on each side
by armed guards, back and forth, while the colourful tap taps shrugged and heaved
with its heavy Haitian load up and down the hills. The dinner conversations over
cordon bleu meals continued in Petionville and Kenscoff, about the nature of the
Haitian marron personality formed by a history of successful resistance blended
with the fatalism of voodoo and catholicism. In front of the palace and in shouting
distance of the statues of Marron Inconnu and Toussaint L'Ouverture, a peaceful
placard march took place. On Monday morning we were warned not to go
downtown, they were burning tires on La Rue Lalue, in front of the immigration
Outdoor wall mural in Cap Haitien *
We left Haiti with not a little relief, but with a disquieting mixture of
sadness, awe and incomprehension of the present historical defeat in the face of
such strength to resist and stamina to survive the centuries of misuse and dictator-
The Citadelle completed by King Henri Christophe at Milot, Cap Haitien*
The Citadelle at Milot, Cap Haitien, three thousand feet above sea level,
stands as a monument to Haiti's will and yet a testament to a perplexing fate and
folly. The Citadelle is one of the world's most extraordinary feats of engineering
at the time it was built, a fortress of colossal proportions built by Henri Christophe
for fifteen years with the labour of over two hundred thousand ex-slaves, twenty
thousand of whom died in the process of building it. Christophe was declared
President of the State of Haiti in its northern province in 1807 and later named
himself King Henri 1 of Haiti, creating a nobility which consisted of four princes,
eight dukes, 22 counts and 37 barons, each of whom were given large estates.
Although he produced a stable currency still called gourde to this day, established
a state printing press in the north, created a judicial system known as Code Henri,
and saw the education system as pivotal to the advancement of his peoples, he also
patterned himself along the lines of the French royalty, building apart from the
Citadelle, magnificent castles at Sans Souci, Jean Rabel, Cap Haitien, St. Marc and
Petite Riviere. As time went by his megalomania and tyranny increased. His reign
has been followed by an almost uninterrupted procession of tyrants and dictators
whose sole concern is self-aggrandizement.
iLap- i in
I -a r= n.1 |il
Posters of President Aristide*
h c :ri4
It seems to me that Haiti has largely become for the region an ei
1 of sound and fury in the past but now signifying nothing to us, other
;age that revolution and challenge brings long years of retribution. ]
Need our mythologizing or our platitudes, no flashfloods followed
iods of drought. It needs the concrete support of the Region like initial
only now taking place, such as the establishment of a Caricom de
Prince. It needs sustained leadership within and without which corr
its liberation from poverty, men and women with the political wi
nise when necessary and negotiate the means by which development
ved, those who will tread carefully and righteously and solicitously i:
ce opened by men like Toussaint.
' .-. ; '.f
." .,":. .
Statue ofToussaint L'Ouverture Port au Prince*
* All photos, including the cover photo by Pat MohammedC
', '. I. ', ,: .,:r'
. .. : : .: ..
; .. : ;" i' ;
The Tree that does not hide the Forest: Raoul Peck's
Aesthetical and Political Approach to Cinema.
In Culture and Customs of Haiti, Trinidadian critic J. Michael Dash
states: "For [Haitian] feature films, there are only two filmmakers worthy of
mention: Rassoul Labuchin (Yves M6dard) and Raoul Peck." (92) He further
specifies: "Raoul Peck is the most critically acclaimed Haitian Filmmaker to date
because of his first feature film Haitian Corner" (93) and concludes: "If there are
more directors like Raoul Peck and Elsie Haas, Haitian cinema may well have a
place among the films that continue to flood Haiti from North America and
Europe." (94) Though accurate and entirely justified, Dash's appreciation is not-
netheless symptomatic of what I call "the-tree-that-hides-the-forest" phenomenon.
I say this in the sense that production of local filmmakers from the South is usually
overlooked/neglected by critics since they do not match international standards.
Because of his outstanding achievements, Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck could be
easily seen as that tree that hides the forest. However, his various commitments in
the film industry indicate that he refuse to stand in isolation. In this article, I
examine Peck's three fiction movies I in search of recurring features with a view
to characterizing his cinematographic style, and also try to assess his action in
support of Haitian and South emerging cinema.
Power and Exile: Some Recurring Themes
Bor in Haiti in 1953, Peck left the country in 1961, at age 8, at the peak
of Francois Duvalier's repression against Mulattoes and Intellectuals. He fol-
lowed his father in exile in the former Belgian colony of Congo just after the
killing of Patrice Lumumba and Mobutu's accession to power. These two experi-
ences have marked his imagination as shown by his creative work. On the one
hand, three of his fiction movies deal with the issue of exile and the memory of the
Francois Duvalier dictatorship (Haitian Corner, 1987, L'homme sur les quais
[The Man by the Shore] 1993, Corps plongis [Diving Bodies], 1998. The third
film deals with the problematic of exile. On the other, he dedicated a documentary
and a feature narrative to Patrice Lumumba (Lumumba-Death of a Prophet, 1991
and Lumumba 2000). In various interview, Peck explained his interest/obsession
with Lumumba as follows:
... I had no inkling this story would dredge up so many
things for me. After a year of research, I rediscovered my
childhood, my life in the Congo that of my family its place, its
role. (Production notes on DVD)
In an interview with Claudine Michel and Christopher McCauley for
Journal of Haitian Studies, he defines the influence of Haiti on his creative work
in the following terms:
Oui,je suis haitien, oui, I'essence de mes films a sa 16gitimit6 du
fait que je viens de ce pays. Mais, en meme temps, ma vision,
elle essaye d'etre universelle. Je cherche les autres a travers
Haiti. J'exprime ma vision du monde a travers Haiti. (134).
(Yes, I am a Haitian. Yes, my films draw essentially their
legitimacy from the fact that I am from that country. Yet, at the
same time, I try to have a Universalist vision. I reach for other
people through Haiti. I express my worldview through Haiti.)2
Based on these premisses, one can see Peck's production through a
different eye and look for the tension between the particular and the universal.
Indeed, L homee sur les quais (The Man by the Shore) and Haitian Corner speak
to anyone who has lived under a dictatorship and at the same time, through
empathy, teaches to those lucky enough to have been spared the experience, how
it would be like to be tortured or terrorized by a dictator's henchmen. Both films
talk about the experience of torture, the inability to live a 'normal' life after this
experience. Joseph Bossuet, the poet and central character in Haitian Corner has
become neurotic while Gracieux The Man by the Shore has turned mad. In his
2003 interview with Claudine Michel, Pecks gives us in retrospect the key to the
response of family and friends to George's neurotic behaviour and mood switches
in Haitan Corner (1987)
[. ..] la soci6t6 [haitienne] ne nous permet pas vraiment une
affirmation individuelle intime. C'est i dire que tout se vit de
maniere collective. Pour donner un example: quelqu'un qui a
fait sept, huit ans de prison et qui a 6t6 torture, a beaucoup de
mal & vivre ce pass en tant qu'expCrience personnelle et intime.
II n'existe que l'espace collectif pour exprimer sa douleur si il
(sic) ne veut pas s'exclure. [ .] II y a tres peu d'espace dans
notre soci6t6 pour ce genre de rapport de I'individu face A son
trauma. [...] Aussi, sur le moment on pretend etre le meme, on
pretend ne pas avoir W6t change par les 6v6nements. (132-133)
( . [Haitian] society does not allow for intimacy in the
assertion of self. This means that everything is experienced at
the collective level. For example: someone who was impris-
oned for seven or eight years and tortured has the greatest
difficulties to assume his or her past as a personal and intimate
experience. There is only the collective space for him to ex-
press his or her pain if he or she does not want to be excluded.
There is little room in our society to allow the individual to
confront intimately his or her trauma. ... So, at the time, one
pretends to be the same, one pretends that he or she has not been
changed by the events.)
This statement was well illustrated in a sequence of Haitian Corner
during which we see the main character provoking a scandal at a Haitian party.
While we know that his behaviour is caused by the fact that he is after his former
torturer, Peck shows the lack of understanding of the guests and more particularly
his cousin who did love him since they were children. All through the film, we
observe the denial and rejection of the protagonist's torment by his closest rela-
tives and friends and how he alienates himself from them. The owner of the
bookshop where many of the political exile meet tries in vain to make him
understand that it is pointless to try to obtain revenge. Finally, two friends give
him the means to carry on his plan: one brings him to the work place of his former
torturer, while the other provides the gun. Finally, Bossuet is able to confront his
torturer who himself is in exile in New York and works in a deli as a cook. The
final confrontation shows the reversal of power: Bossuet threatens to kill his old
foe. Instead, he shots him in the arm and has him at his feet begging him to spare
his life. There is a particularly breathtaking scene when Bossuet points his gun to
his opponent's head ready to take his life. The camera moves from his tormented
face to the crouching body and back to his face, stopping there for a while in order
to convey the character's torn consciousness. When finally, Bossuet overcomes
the temptation to kill, his gesture is not accompanied by a moral statement about
his 'noblesse d'dme' as it is usual in the mainstream American movie (one should
think here of Blue Soldier). However, the change of colour (dawn in New York)
as he leaves is a metaphor for a new beginning for him. We see him boarding a
[Greyhound] bus and we know from the relieved expression on his face that he has
finally broken free from his past.
In the above-mentionned interview, Peck indicated his desire to go
against mainstream cinema (137). He pointed out the difficulty to reach contem-
porary audience because we live in a society saturated with images. As a result, he
sets out as his mission, to penetrate the spectator's protective shell and to provoke
both emotion and critical thinking ("crier de l 'emotion et de la pensde, Empha-
sis mine, 137). He also indicates that he always sought to mix political commit-
ment with poetical and emotional expression: "C'est le politique qui m'amene au
cinema, pas simplement le d6sir de raconter des histoires." / Politics was what lead
me into making movies: it was not simply the desire to tell stories. (138)
As spectators, we can identify documentary technique as one the tech-
niques used by Peck for this purpose. It works particularly well to create a
distance which forces us o THINK before yielding to emotion. This is particularly
effective in the three movies and it is used in various ways. For instance, in
Haitian Corner, the movie starts with snapshots of former prisoners giving testi-
mony about torture in Duvalier's prisons. Because the actors are not reknown, it
gives the impression that we are receiving the testimony of the actual victims. In
L hommee sur les quais it is done through the use of authentic radio broadcast
(Duvalier's speech of amnesty, the propaganda songs of 'Radio Commerce') that
shakes the spectator up and and reminds him that political persecution truly
happened. Yet, it is in Lumumba that Peck reaches the summit of his art. First, he
uses newsreels of the time (the rehabilitation /recuperation of Lumumba by
Mobutu). The black and white newsreel contrasts sharply with the fictional narra-
tive (in colour). This contrast takes an ironic tone when in the opening credits we
see colonial authentic still images alternating with close-up shots of Champagne
and food being distributed at an official function. It is not until the end of the
sequence that the spectator becomes aware that the official function is presided
over by Mobutu. The panoramic image of the function alternates with a photo-
graph of a colonial function as to point out to us the similarities between the
colonial power and the dictatorship. In Lumumba, the textual insert between the
credits opening and the film itself sets the tone for the viewing: "Cette histoire est
vraie" (This is a true story).
In all his movies, Peck uses authentic radio broadcasts. In Lumumba and
L hommee sur les quais, they are part ofthe soundtrack as background effects. In
Haitian Corner however, the authentic broadcast is re-enacted. The sequence
takes place in the tiny Haitian radio station in New York. The piece of news read
allows us to identify the period during which the story took place: during the
Carter administration and the period of unrest preceding the overthrown of Jean-
Claude Duvalier (1982-84). In addition, it gives an insight on the radio broadcast-
ing practices of the Haitian community in the USA. In Lumumba, the use of
authentic radio broadcasting is particularly striking in the sequence in which the
colonial army raids Lumumba's headquarters while King Bawdoin's discourse is
being broadcasted and just as the king's warns against violence in the colony. The
contradiction between the king's discourse and the actual violence performed by
the colonial law enforcers becomes then emblematic of the contradictions of
colonization and also of the misgivings surrounding Congolese independence. On
that point, one must note that Peck did not use the newsreels for the ceremonies of
Independence Day. The scene is re-enacted while the official speeches remain the
same. This allows for the insertion of a fictional scene in which he imagines
Lumumba leaving the platform during Kasa Vubu's speech and summoning his
courage in order to take the audience by surprise and deliver his own speech and
rebuttal of both the king's and president's addresses.
When the eye of the camera coerces the spectator into thinking ...
Peck's use of the camera is particularly striking from the very start of his
filming career. Shots of New York in blue tones at the beginning of Haitian
Corner are arresting as well as in Lumumba, with the panoramic view of the
Congo River at the beginning of the narrative or at the airport of Stanleyville when
Kasa Vubu notes the peacefulness of the silent surroundings. The camera lingers
on the weeds surrounding the airport strip for a moment. On the contrary, in
L hommee sur les quais, the camera travelling in the dark attic where Sarah and her
sisters are kept in hiding conveys the oppressive nature of life under Duvalier's
Camera movements are never without a purpose in Peck's movies.
Adopting the slow filming style of European cinema, he creates sometimes a
gloomy atmosphere that gives additional psychological in-depth to his story. As
early as Haitian Corner, he seems to have settled for the dramatic use of silence
and dark shades to express gloom and oppression. For instance, the small appart-
ment the poet shares with his parents, and two cousins, is filmed from angles that
stresses the narrowness of the rooms and shows the lack of privacy. This is
particularly true of the sequence in the bathroom and it is obtained through the
close-up (and the impression of the scene being shot with a shoulder camera).
In Lumumba, in the sequence of the Independence ceremonies, the cam-
era abandons Kasa Vubu to follows Lumumba. It stops briefly on the President of
the Senate (who was opposed to Lumumba's intervention) to capture his anxiety
and then shows the confrontation between Lumumba and Thomas Kanza (who is
wary of the consequences of such a speech). The fictionalization of the episode
allows for the camera to skip out of the Parliament where the official ceremony is
held and wandering in the street of Leopoldville (the future Kinshasa) to capture
the ordinary people's reactions to Lumumba's address. A brief movement of
camera shows the king and the president wispering one to the other and signals
their shock and annoyance (particularly in the case Kasa Vubu). Another example
of Peck's meaningful use of the camera is the confrontation of Lumumba with
Mobutu after the Kasai massacre. The two men are in an almost empty room they
are in 'plan am6ricain'. After the scolding sequence in which Lumumba an-
nounces to Mobutu that he will no longer cover his blunders, the camera focuses
on Mobutu. The latter occupies the center of the image but behind Lumumba who
is facing right towards the window (and the light), his back to Mobutu. Then,
when he tries to justify himself for having allowed the massacre, the camera settles
on him, he is at the center of the image and when he says: "J'ob6is aux ordres
quand il y en a et quand il n'y en a pas ..." he pauses. Then, when he continues,
saying "je decide tout seul," the camera is in front of him and he speaks facing it,
in a plan rapprochi as if he was addressing us, the audience. This simple staging
gives a particular impact to the statement and indicates retrospectively the dictator
in the making.
Similarly, the angle of shooting is significant in the sequence concerning
the Kasai and the Katanga secession, which marks the downfall of Lumumba. The
scene is filmed from a high angle, as Lumumba is leaving the president's office
and meets with the American ambassador who is entering the office. The high-an-
gle shot allows the director to express the impending doom that will lead to the
demise of the character. In so doing, Peck applies to his subject what the Martini-
can philosopher, Edouard Glissant, has defined as a 'prophetic vision of the past.'
Indeed, Peck's comments about his project filming Lumumba are very similar to
Glissant's analysis in 1961 when he published Monsieur Toussaint:
Pour ceux qui ne connaissent de leur histoire que la part de nuit
ou de d6mission A quoi on a voulu les reduire, I'61ucidation du
pass proche ou lointain est une n6cessit6. Renouer avec son
histoire obscurcie ou oblit6r6e, I'6prouver dans son 6paisseur,
c'est se vouer mieux encore aux saveurs du present. [...] C'est
li une ambition po6tique. (7-8)
(For those who know only the dark side of their history or the
part about abdication of responsibility, which has been their
assigned lot, clarification of the distant or close past becomes a
necessity. Reviving one's history however obscure or erased as
it may be, and testing its depth are ways of devoting oneself
better to tasting the present. ... Here lies a poetic ambition.)4
Taking into consideration, Peck's statements about the link between film
making and politics, one cannot overlook the fact that even though he has achieved
international recognition and obtained access to funding, he has not yield to the
temptation of 'commercial' movies. His subsequent film project after Lumumba
was a documentary Le Profit et rien d'autre! (Profit, Nothing but!), shot in 2001.
The tree that will not hide the forest: Helping other filmmakers to grow.
This particular commitment explains some contributions made by him in
order to help the development of the film industry in Haiti. As the Minister of
Culture in the Smarth Government (1996-97 under Ren6 Pr6val's Administration),
he tried to set up policies and a strategic plan that would support artistic production
in Haiti. After his resignation from the ministry, he supported the rehabilitation of
the movie theatre, Eldorado, and the creation of the Eldorado Forum as a space for
emerging Haitian filmmakers. He played an important part in setting a support
system with the French cooperation and the FOKAL, a foundation working in the
field of culture and literacy. Between 2000 and 2001, eighteen projects (docu-
mentaries, television movies, feature films) received technical and financial sup-
port from the funding agencies. 6
As a founding member and the President of the Caribbean Film and
Video Confederation, he links the success and recognition of the Caribbean film
industry to the development of a local market. For him, the survival of Caribbean
Cinema rests on the ability to produce locally and to create an audience of its own,
which is for him the absolute necessity. (70-71)7
More importantly, he is the president of "Fonds Sud Cinema." This
structure, created by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of
Culture, supports the production of feature films from countries of the South.8
Through this position, Peck is able to help the South film industry to grow. His
use of the first person plural pronoun "we" when he tries to define the Region's
challenges and prospects in the film industry translates his particular interest for
the Caribbean film industry. Answering to his fellow filmmaker, Arnold Antonin,
about the prospects for a Caribbean cinema, he notes the possibities offered by the
existence of numerous small video filmmakers coexisting with important produc-
tion companies. He states: "I1 nous faut d6passer les productions purement com-
merciales et aller vers des productions plus artistiques pouvant trouver son march
et son public au sein meme de la Caraibe." 9 (We must go beyond the purely
commercial productions and aim at ones that are more artistic and can find their
own market and audience within the Caribbean itself).
In conclusion, a close examination of Peck's cinematographic style indi-
cates that his aesthetics is based on the 'refus de lafacilitd'. Each film project is a
challenge in the sense that each one goes against the mainstream of commercial
cinema. In his movies, we perceive the desire to provoke a catharsis in the
audience and Peck's own comments about spectators' reaction to his film are very
revealing on this point.l1 Even though he completed three fiction movies, the
documentary remains his preferred mode of expression. Politically committed, he
also works toward the development and the promotion of 'Third World'/ 'South'
Cinema, using his privileged position to obtain financial assistance for his fellow
filmmakers from the South. In his field and after (and despite) the fiasco of his
Haitian ministerial experience, Raoul Peck still tries to achieve the dream he had
Mon reve c'est de donner a chacun les moyens, les raisons, les infrastruc-
tures pour prendre en charge sa culture. Mon reve c'est d'etre surprise par ce qui
pourra en sortir. (127)11
Notes and References
1. Haitian Corner (1987), L'homme sur les quais (1993), Lumumba (2000).
2. Translation mine.
3. Foreword to the first edition of Monsieur Toussaint, p. 7. Translation mine.
4. Translation mine.
5. See review by Jana Evans Braziel: "Profit and Nothing But!" (Le profit et rien d'autre!): Rac
Peck's Impolite Thoughts on the (Haitian Diasporic) Class Struggle." Journal of Haitian
Studies 9:3. pp. 141-176. .
6. Projects are listed in Haiti ... Mythes ou r6alit6s pour la Caraibe, the catalogue of the first fo
on cinema and audiovisual production in Haiti, Fondations Forum Eldorado, 2001.Cham,
Mbye. (Ed.) (1992). Exiles: Essays on Caribbean Cinema. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.
7. Dialogue with Arnold Antonin, pp. 66-71 in Haiti ... Mythes ou r6alit6s de la Caraibe.
8. Information on Raoul Peck on the French Culture website: http://www.frenchculture.org/cin-
9. Dialogue with Arnold Antonin, p. 71 in Haiti ... Mythes ou r6alit6s de la Caralbe.
10 In Monsieur le ministry, jusqu'au bout de la patience ... (p. 69)
11. My dream is to give to each person the means, reasons and infrastructures to be responsible for
his/her culture. My dream is to be astounded by what may come out of it.
Dash, J.Michael, (2001). "Mass Media and Cinema." Culture and Customs of Haiti. Chap. 5. West-
port, CT: Greenwood Press. pp. 81-94
Fondation Forum Eldorado. Catalogue du ler Forum du cinema et de I'audiovisuel en Haiti. 19-28
octobre 2001: Haiti... Mythes ou r6alit6s pour la Caralbe. Port-au-Prince: Fondation Forum El-
dorado/ Imprimerie Deschamps.
Glissant, Edouard. (1961). Preface de la premiere edition. Monsieur Toussaint. Version sc6nique,
nouvelle edition. Paris: Seuil, 1981. pp. 7-8.
Lafontant-M6dard, Michaelle. (1992). "Cinema in Haiti: 1899-1982." In Mbye Chan (ed.) Ex-lles:
Essays on Caribbean Cinema. Chap. 3. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press. Pp. 59-97 (Trans-
lated from French by LatifNdye and first published in 1983 in Conjonction).
. (1992). "A Thematic Analysis of Rassoul Labuchin's Anita." In Mbye Chan (ed.) Ex-les:
Essays on Caribbean Cinema. Chap. 7. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press. Pp. 134-154. (Trans-
lated from French by Faustine Boateng-Gyima and first published in 1983 in Conjonction).
McAuley, Christopher & Claudine Michel. (2003). "Filmer sans compromise: An Interview with
Raoul Peck." Journal of Haitian Studies 9:3. pp. 128-140. Santa Barbara: Haitian Studies As-
sociation/ The Center for Black Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara.
Peck, Raoul. (1987). Haitian Corner. 98 minutes. Volkenbom/ZDF,1988.
Peck, Raoul.(1993). L hommee sur les quais. 105 minutes. France/Canada.
Peck, Raoul. (2000). Lumumba. Special Edition, DVD, 115 minutes. Zeitgeist Video, 2002.
Peck, Raoul."Story and Production Notes." Special features on DVD Special Edition of Lumumba.
Zeitgeist Video. 2002
Peck, Raoul.and Arnold Antonin. (2001) "Dialogue de deux cineastes. Le cinema caribeen: une per-
spective." (Two Filmmakers in Dialogue. Perspective on Caribbean Cinema." In Fondation Fo-
rum Eldorado. Catalogue du ler Forum du cinema et de l'audiovisuel en Haiti. 19-28 octobre
2001: Haiti... Mythes ou r6alit6s pour la Caraibe. Port-au-Prince: Fondation Forum Eldorado/
Braziel, Jana Evans. "Profit and Nothing But!" (Le profit et rien d'autre!): Raoul Peck's Impolite
Thoughts on the (Haitian Diasporic) Class Struggle." Journal of Haitian Studies 9:3. pp. 141-
176. Santa Barbara: Haitian Studies Association/ The Center for Black Studies, University of
California, Santa Barbara.
Raoul Peck's Filmography (from "The New West Indian": http://www.awigp.com/default.asp?num-
cat=Peck) and also in Jana Evans Braziel's article)
De Cuba traigo un cantar. Video Documentary, 45 mins., 1982. Leugt. 16mm, Narrative, 13 mins.,
Exzerpt. Video Experimental, 27 min., 1983
Burial. Super, 23 mins., 1983
The Minsiter of the Interior is on our Side. Video, 23 mins., 1984.
Merry Christmas Deutschland. 16mm, experimental, 18 mins., 1984.
Haitian Corner Fiction, 16mm (then 35mm), 98 mins., Volkenfom/ZDF, 1987-1988.
Lumumba Death ofa Prophet. Documentary, 16mm, 67 mins., Velvelt Film/Suisse, France, Bel-
L 'Homme sur les quais /The Man by the Shore. Feature, Narrative, 35mm, 105mins, France/Can-
Desounen Dialogue with Death. Documentary, 52 mins., BBC, London, 1994.
Hafti: le Silence des chiens /Haiti, the Silence of the Dogs. Documentary, 52 mins., 16mm, ARTE,
Chere Catherine. Video essay, 19mins., DOKUMENTA, Kassel, 1998.
Corps plonges. (Diving Bodies). Narrative, 35mm. 91 mins., ARTE, 1998.
Lumumba. Narrative, 35mm, 110 mins., France, Belgium, Germany, 2000.
Le Profit et rien d'autre!/Profit, nothing but! Documentary, 57 mins. ARTE/RTBF, 2001-2003.
BOOK REVIEW S
Eugenio Matibag, Haitian-Dominican Counterpoint: Nation, State, and Race on
Hispaniola,Macmillan: Palgrave 2003.
The central argument of this study is that the histories of the two
republics that occupy the island of Hispaniola, Haiti and the Dominican Republic,
are intertwined, full of conflict but also noted for their commonalities. The history
of neither can be told without the history of the other. As Matibag says: "The
systemic approach, here proposed, would see beyond the familiar story of
hostilities, looking for particular connections to reveal a lesser-known, holistic
narrative of interdependencies and reciprocal influences that have shaped each
country's identity." (p. 3). The history of the republics is "a multiple yet one: a
polyrhythmic counterpoint." In the body of the history that tells us as much about
Haitian as about Dominican history, Matibag methodically seeks to "make sense
of the Haitian-Dominican antithesis while recognizing its unitarian currents" (p.
The narrative begins with the colonial period, during which the border
between the French colony of St. Domingue and the Spanish colony of Santo
Domingo was not just a boundary between two colonies but a "space of
interaction." (p. 14) Using a significant amount of published work on Hispaniola,
Matibag successfully demonstrates the interaction between Haiti and the
Dominican Republic at all levels- political, economic, and cultural. The
interaction between the sometimes warring communities includes the period of the
Haitian Revolution; the independencia efimera of 1821; the Haitian occupation of
the Dominican Republic between 1822 and 1844; the struggle of the Dominican
people to end Spanish recolonization in the 1860's; the particular relationship
between the black President of the Dominican Republic- Ulises Heureaux and his
Haitian counterparts; the relationship between Haiti and the Dominican Republic
during the 31 year dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo, when Trujillo asserted his
dominance over Haiti, and indeed over the whole island, in the macabre massacre
of Haitians at the border of the two republics.
These episodes, and several others, demonstrate not only antagonism but
significant levels of cooperation. The Haitians, for example, never hesitated to
assist the Dominicans militarily to expel Spain in 1865. The occupation of Boyer
in 1822 emerges in Matibag's work as a joint effort of Haitians and Dominicans.
This interpretation may well create a stir among some Dominican historians who
are prone to see the "Haitian domination" as a unilateral imposition by the
Haitians. Matibag notes correctly, however, that the 22 year Occupation was
significant for reshaping Dominican- Haitian relations, as it led to a definition of
Dominican nationality in terms of "anti-haitianism", of a Catholic and mulatto and
Hispanic civilization, contrasted with the voodoo, African based, and "backward
civilization" in Haiti. Contrasting Dominican nationalism with Haitian
nationalism (which espouses negritude, peasant power, and afro-centrism) the
author presents the history of Hispaniola along ethno-historical lines. In addition
to all of this is the reality that Dominican sugar production relies, and has relied,
heavily on cheap Haitian labour an arrangement that suits both Haitians and
Dominicans, but which highlights the grinding poverty of Haiti.
The author takes us right up to the brief tenure of President Jean -
Bertrand Aristide (Haiti), Joaquin Balaguer, Hipolito Mejia and Jose Leonel
Fernandez (the Dominican Republic). The author includes the racist treatment of
the black leader of the PRD, Jose Francisco Pena Gomez the party founded by
Juan Bosch. It is significant that the old political enemies Juan Bosch and Joaquin
Balaguer found themselves in agreement that Pena Gomez's probable Haitian
ancestry should preclude him from the presidential chair of the Dominican
Matibag concludes that the duality will continue because of the "image of
two distinct peoples of opposed interests" (p. 215)
This is a fine work that offers a careful, thorough and analytical survey of
the history of Hispaniola. It should be of interest to scholars who have an interest
in the impact of race on foreign relations and national identity. It goes without
saying that this book should be read by all students of Caribbean history and
Charles Pierre -Jacques, D'Haiti a I'Afrique, Itineraire de Maurice Dartigue un
Educateur visionnaire (Editions Images, Montreal, 2002., pp.172.
This is short book about the work of Maurice Dartigue, Haitian eduction-
alist who rose from teaching, and a top civil service job to be Minister of
Education. Agriculture and Public Works )(1941-46) in Haiti, and subsequently
worked with the United Nations (in New York) and with UNESCO in Paris from
the late 1950s through to the 1970s. The author, a great admirer of Dartigue, and
himself an educationalist in a similar field to Dartigues', is anxious to point out
that this work is not a biography of Dartigue, but a statement of his educational
ideas, principles and policies in Haiti and Africa. Maurice Dartigue's wife had
previously published a biography of her husband (see Esther Dartigue: An Out-
standing Haitian, Maurice Dartigue, 1994). Pierre-Jacques' work suffers from his
near total indifference to the personal life of Dartigue which could have illumi-
nated his educational principles and especially the opposition he encountered in
Haiti. For instance Dartigue's persistent friendships with white Americans educa-
tors in Haiti and the USA, and his white wife, herself pro-American in her cultural
orientation, meant that he could not be a noirist exactly at a period when this
movement became very prominent in Haiti's political and intellectual culture. Yet
Maurice Dartigue's work took him close sympathetically to the ordinary country
people, perhaps closer than some of the urban noirist scholars.
The book falls naturally into two parts because Dartigue's public career
falls clearly into two segments: first the years in Haiti as student, civil servant and
Minister of Education, Agriculture and Public Works ( mid 1920s to 1946); and
afterwards as employee at the recently founded United Nations and still later as
an education expert with UNESCO, with particular responsibility for education
programmes in some parts of West Africa and the Congo. (This book review for
this special Issue of Caribbean Quarterly on Haiti will concentrate on the Haitian
side of his career). It is interesting to note that Dartigue's elevation to professional
status in these two international bodies did not come without a period of anxious
apprenticeship and job insecurity In other words he was not drafted trium-
phantly straight from exile in New York (1946) into significant positions in these
international bodies. He had to prove his worth in junior positions.
If Dartigue, described as a coloured middle class Haitian had disap-
peared into insignificance in New York as yet another Haitian exile, he would still
have been remembered as one of the outstanding Haitian educators of the 20th
century. The author suggests that he ranks with two previous Ministers of
Education, Eli Dubois of the 1860s and Dantes Bellgarde during World War one.
But would Pierre-Jacques have written such a book if Dartigue had not become
an international civil servant? Perhaps not. Dartigue's career went beyond Haiti:
the opportunity to assist in shaping the United Nations' concepts of development
in Africa and still later of carrying UNESCO's gospel of educational planning to
Africa was a big achievement for an Haitian Dartigue's shift to the international
arena had all the romance and the glamour of a West Indian, a descendant of
slaves from Africa, returning to roots as the carrier of an expertise which was not
in sufficient supply in West Africa. Of course educated West Indians had done
this from the 19th century, and not only as religious missionaries. But Dartigue
went to Africa as a secular, modernizer, as a planner of "development", a magical
word in the post- World War 11 era. Dartigue was the right man in the right spot
when UNESCO turned its attention to the internationalizing of education planning
as the key to the development of newly independent states all over the world. It as
an era in which important people believed in the possibility of development for
underdeveloped nations. It was an age of optimism no longer so current.
The author presents Dartigue as a teacher, education thinker and planner.
He was in favour of democracy and modernity in education and the use of
education to rehabilitate rural Haitians and in fact to develop the entire country.
He was always professional and scientific in his methodology. The core of his
education ideas was to have useful education adopted to the economic and social
environment of the country with a view to development. It was the same principles
for Africa as for Haiti. In the circumstances of both Haiti and Africa he had to be
There can be little doubt that changed and improved some aspects of
Haitian education He always started with teacher training whether in Haiti or in
Africa; and he had not only the teachers trained but also the administrators with a
view to having a core of specialists. The impression given is that he effected fewer
material changes as Minister in respect to the lycees than as divisional chief in
charge of Haitian rural schools. For the lycees were the strongholds of the Haitian
upper classes who could offer strenuous opposition to his pro-American pro
technical/vocational proclivities in education. The readers are only given a slight
exposure to the opposition which he faced and the book would have benefitted
from a full analysis of the educational arguments (or other arguments) made by
Dartigue's opponents and the responses made by him The author would have
done better to bring the arguments against Dartigue's policies into the forefront of
the book, instead of keeping them in the background as a sort of nuisance negated
by Dartigue's work.
Incidentally it could be argued that since the supreme object of the author
is to illustrate Dartigue's educational principles, then not enough has been done to
locate his thoughts or principles within Caribbean educational theory and practice
or surprisingly even within the theory and practice of the United States. It is clear
enough what Tuskegee stood for, but what did Dartigue's Almer Mater, namely
the University of Columbia's Teachers College stand for? Was American educa-
tional theory and practice so uniform as not to require some exposition? If the
author know of the ideas of an Englishman Stanley Hammond who was at his
peak as a British education adviser in the British Caribbean exactly at the same
time as in Haiti, it would have become clear that both experts were saying very
similar things about rural education in particular. For Hammond, the rural schools
of the British West Indies were to enable the rural people to live better lives on the
land children and adults: exactly what stood for. Hammond also came under
suspicion from persons who liked to see "book" work in schools.
It is not at all clear what kind of academic work Dartigue promoted in the
Haitian rural schools or in the farm schools. It is as if reading and writing were
less important than the use of their hands to make articles for sale or to improve
their material well being or to come to grips with the physical environment. When
this academic vagueness for children is taken in conjunction with a preference for
manual work for parents in stead of a literacy campaign we can guess the grounds
for discontent with Dartigue's rural education policies. The author says that he
wanted to unify Haiti via the schools, but it is not clear that any elite children
would be going to his rural schools or that many rural children would graduate to
the urban elite schools.
An intriguing idea suggested by the author is that Dartigue might have
been more internationalist than American in his education orientation But this
suggestion rests only on an apparently eclectic choice of professors to lecture in
his teacher training schools. Dartigue was too American in his orientation to
disguise it. But he was also pro- Haitian in his desire to bring Haitian rural culture
and school together (except of course voodo); and it seems it was this search for
an Haitian cultural school identity which distinguished his pro-technical- voca-
tional orientation from that of the Americans. Dartigue clearly went beyond the
Americans to find a base for an authentic Haitian school.
But that indeed was part of his problem, because there were other
persons who were discovering an authentic Haitian culture in Africa and in the
African ways of the Haitian folks. It is not clear how far Dartigue supported these
sentiments although to his credit he apparently had enlightened ideas about the
use of Creole in rural schools. The author might have done well to have explored
the African dimensions of the Haitian cultural base that Dartigue wished for his
schools. Such an investigation might have illuminated the whole half- submerged
business of the reason why Dartigue's education work got him in trouble with
significant interests and lobbies. He was unpopular and presumably not only
because of his part in the SHADA imbroglio. His wife's biography of him gives a
stronger impression of his failure in Haiti than this book.
The author tries to prove that Dartigue's educational ideas and principles
were correct and relevant by providing the readers with examples of persons of
importance saying the same things or wanting to do the same thing in subsequent
eras, one or two generations later. This is supposed to prove that Dartigue was
right in seeing education as the engine of development. We are no told however
how successful he was in promoting development ( I do not mean more frequent
rural school attendance by under 35,000 children) either in Haiti or Africa. Of
course education works in many inscrutable ways beyond statistical assessments,
and its results ( good or bad) are no always easily discernible. In +-Haiti we know
that there was a deep, long standing tendency for things to remain the same or to
revert to the same the more things are "changed". Dartigue stayed in rural educa-
tion long enough to put a stamp on it in any ordinary Caribbean island, but Haiti
has always been an extraordinary territory. And what could be done to turn
around secondary education (or university education) in four years as Minister?
One would presumably have to study the state of education in the post-Dartigue
years (say 1946-1956) to get a grip on how long term any of his reforms were.
From other books it would appear that Dartigue was forced from the scene when
Haiti was supposed to be on the verge of a significant democratization of educa-
tion, but was this more schools with fewer students? The history of education in
the Caribbean has benefited from the publication of this book. We need more
studies of prominent Caribbean educators. The author probably felt he was
writing more about the history of education than about Haitian history, but
sometimes he had commendably to resort specifically to history to explain the
environment in which Darigue worked. As for Dartigue he was truly an outstand-
ing educationalist, a technician who was not a politician. The claim that he was a
visionary is more problematic.
CARL C. CAMPBELL
Jenny M. Smith, When the Hands are Many: Community Organization and Social
Change in Rural Haiti, Comell University Press, Ithaca and London, 2001. 229
pages. $45.00 cloth, 17.95 Paper.
As many Caribbeanists are aware, in much of Haiti hunger and persistent
poverty is the norm. For its 8 million inhabitants, access to primary health care
and basic education is extremely limited. Only 13 per cent of the population has
access to potable water and there is only one physician for every 10,000 people.
Illiteracy ranges from 60 to almost 90 per cent. Moreover, less than 15% of the
population is unable to obtain even 75 percent of their daily caloric needs. Haiti
is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, ranking 150th out of 174 on the
United Nations Human Development Index in 2000. Most observers have viewed
Haitians, particularly Haitian peasants, as victims of failed post World War II
development and democratization programs.
In her book, When the hands are Many: Community Organisation and
Social Change in Rural Haiti, (hereafter, Jenny M. Smith strongly rejects the
portrayal by contemporary researchers of Haitian peasants as ". . either counter
progressive or irrelevant remnants of a backward traditional culture, remnants
whose survival, while hitherto remarkable, is inevitably doomed by the pressures
of contemporary economic, environmental, and social pressures." She objects to
the popular characterization of Haitian peasants as an undifferentiated disempow-
cred socioeconomic class and offers another perspective. Smith traces the histori-
cal roots of contemporary peasant life and in doing so critically documents the
peasantry's experiences with foreign development and democratization agendas.
She "represents" the Haitian peasantry as teachers and guides with authoritative
knowledge and practices that can contribute to sustainable, equitable and demo-
cratic development solutions.
Jenny M. Smith explicitly avoids framing her study by traditional devel-
opment theory or methodologies, preferring instead to ground her work in ethno-
graphic discursive and organizational practices found in rural communities. When
the Hands are Many is informed by her experiences as an NGO Co-ordinator in the
North-eastern mountains of Haiti in the late 1980s and early 1990s and concen-
trated Ph.D. field research in 1995 and 1996. The book departs from common
approaches in traditional social science research and to certain extent, develop-
ment studies. Instead of a dialogue about grand social theory, in her work, "it is
the Haitian peasants who are debating the meanings of social progress, develop-
ment, democracy, and modernity. They are "doing theory".
The Power of Song, Community Organisation and Collective Action
Jenny Smith studied the "Chante Pwen" or "pointing song," which is
used to communicate specific social, political and ideological messages, as well as
civic organizations that provided agricultural labour exchange, mutual economic
assistance, community development and political advocacy. As a result of this
approach she found strategies and deep spiritual and cultural resources that have
anchored the Haitian peasants' associational since plantation slavery. Perhaps
unsurprisingly, she also discovered that Haitian peasants have a comprehensive
array of shared convictions that call into question the dominant Western ideologies
of social progress. Giving voice to these convictions, Smith advocates putting the
poor and marginalized at the centre of development efforts and looking to the
practices of the local citizenry instead of national and foreign politicians, experts
and NGO elites to find answers to social, economic and political questions.
With the context of Haiti's history of foreign intervention and resistance,
the book concentrates on the discursive and organizational life of the Haitian
peasantry. Five chapters, which comprise approximately 70% of the text, detail
the group dynamics of cooperative labour and community organization and the
wide range of occasions for use of Chante Pwen-s. Smith examines the everyday
use of these songs by agricultural work parties, neighbour associations and the
Haitian refugees that were interned at Guantinomo Bay, Cuba in the early 1990s.
Many Chante Pwen-s' have long histories. One politically charged song
that dates back to the 1980s warns of the loss of control and authority. Panama M
Tombe (My hat Fell Off) tell of President hyppolite's ill-fated effort to crush an
anti-government movement and of his terrible embarrassment of dropping his hat
along the way.
Panama m tombe My hat fell off,
Panama m tombe, My hat fell off,
Panama m tombe, sa ke dby6, My hat fell down, whoever is behind,
Ranmanse I pou mwen! Pick it up for me!
According to Smith, this refrain is still used in rural Haiti to jeer merci-
lessly at fallen politicians, to make fun of sitting ones, and to warn them of
Community Organizsation and Collective Action
Given the harsh social economic conditions under which Caribbean
peasantries emerged, and contemporary socio-economic pressures, it is surprising
that peasantries still exist. An essential element contributing to their survival has
been collective organization. Smith recognizes this and perceptively focuses on
mapping the array of agricultural work gangs, neighbour groups, community
formations and social change organizations. The organizational and functional
dimensions of Eskwad-s, Konbit-s, Kove-s, Atribisyon-s, and Sosyete-s and
Gwoupman Peyizan-s are presented in considerable detail, emphasizing the daunt-
ing agricultural conditions, the use of pointing songs for inspiration and political
communication, and the long history of community and neighbourhood organiza-
It is Smith's view that Haitian peasant groups constitute rich case studies
in how collective practices aimed in part at economic ends may evolve engage-
ment in other realms including political, social, artistic, performative historical,
and spiritual ones. As such, they offer challenges to the ways rural community
development initiatives tend to be planned and carried out and, more generally,
provide insights into how academics and practitioners alike might revise the ways
[they] understand and work with those identified as poor and disempowered.
Overall, I think Smith offers a pragmatic and balanced view of how
collective effort for "personal gain and common survival" can build and maintain
social capital. Her book adds to the growing body of social sciences that departs
from traditional development methodologies that evaluate Caribbean development
on the basis of Western concepts of success and progress. By not grounding her
study in traditional development theory or methodology, the jargon that is the
hallmark of social sciences is absent, making the book very accessible to first-year
students and non-academics. Additionally, Linguists will find the text rich with
Creole terms and phrases accompanied by details of their usage within social,
economic and cultural contexts.
What is lost in Smith's approach, however, is the comparative insight
that comes with an established theoretical framework. She has done an excellent
job in explaining some key elements of social capital in rural Haiti, but because a
comparative thread is not woven through the text, the reader is left to guess the
extent to which these practices and forms of social organization forms part of a
wider Caribbean experience and how these elements contribute to social theory,
particularly, a Caribbean social theory.
From my perspective, the theoretical value of the book is that it adds fuel
to a Caribbean alternative development approach. Like alternative development
approaches promoted elsewhere in the South and in marginalized communities in
the North, the central goal has been to make development policies responsive to
the social, economic and political needs of ordinary people. Several years ago,
long time Jamaican activist, Horace Levy, offered six principles that have served
as a framework for the alternative development approach promoted in the English
- Speaking Caribbean.
* self-determination: shaping Caribbean strategies inside rather than outside
* participation: involving all Caribbean people in the definition and imple-
mentation of strategies;
* self-reliance: building local structures and capacities;
* regionalism: fostering co-operation and strengthening regional organiza-
* equity: equitably distributing assets and benefits of development; and
* sustainability: grounding alternative strategies in a secure environment and
in local human capacity.
In short, the alternative approach focuses on community assets rather
than on its deficiencies. When the Hands are Many is consistent with this ap-
proach. The community assets that underpin the alternatives development ap-
proach appear to be the elements Jenny Smith has found in her work with the
people of rural Haiti.
Jennie M. Smith, When the Hands are Many: Community Organization and Social Change in Rural
Haiti (Comell University Press, Ithaca and London, 2001),26; Economist Intelligence Unit,
Country Profile 1999-2000; Economist Intelligence Unit, Country Report, April 2000; Euro-
monitor, International Marketing Data and Statistics 2000; United Nations Development Pro-
gramme, Human Development Report 2000 (United Nations, New York, NY); United Nations
Population Fund, The State of the World Population 1999, (United Nations, New York, NY).
Horace Levy, Towards a Caribbean Alternative: A Working Paper", Mimeo, (September
1992), Horace Levy, Towards a Caribbean Alternative: A Working Paper", Mimeo, (Sep-
tember 1992), 2
Street of Lost Footsteps (Rue des pas-perdus) by Lyonel Trouillot. Translated
from French and with an Introduction by Linda Coverdale. Lincoln & London:
University of Nebraska Press, 2003. Notes. 115 pages. Translator's Introduction
Street ofLost Footsteps, the English translation of Lyonel Trouillot's Rue
des pas perdus was first published 1996, ten years after the overthrow of Jean-
Claude Duvalier and two years after the reinstatement of President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide by the Americans. The novel seems to recount the night of the 30th
September 1991 through three main narrators, a petty postal civil servant, an old
Madame in her deserted brothel, and an aging taxi driver. However, some ac-
counts (particularly the old Madame) seem to mix events that took place on the 7th
February 1986. In addition to these, a brief voice is heard, that of a street urchin
named Letoild (Star-crossed), who takes the responsibility of the story on page 97.
However, L6toil6's story is embedded in the taxi driver's narration of the terrible
night of September 30, 1991. One could consider that L6toil6 encroaches on the
taxi driver's speaking time.
A novella, Rue des pas perdus is divided in small sections, each with a
different narrator. The alternating voices create a counterpoint in the text. A
grouping of sequences according to the narrators brings forth the following obser-
vations: of thirty-six alternating sequences, fourteen are told by the Old Madam,
twelve by the petty postal Civil Servant, nine by the taxi driver, Ducarmel D1sir6,
and one by L6toil6. It is possible to identify a rhythmic pattern of these alternating
voices, following the principles used for establishing rhyming pattern in a poem.
This technique allows for a schematic representation of the novel's structure,
which makes it possible to visualize the disruption in the narration toward the end
of the novel. The structure of the novella reflects the tensions in the story,
particularly the panic that overcomes the final part of the novel with the taxi driver
trying to escape the bullets of soldiers who are running amok in the streets of the
city, and to survive his fall in a gully full of refuse despite his wounded leg.
The distribution of sequences among the narrators and some additional
narrative strategies signal the author's deliberate eviction of the heroic intellectual
from his story. For instance, the petty postal civil servant is the only character who
interacts with intellectuals (Andre, his childhood friend, and G6rard, his old
teacher cum mentor). He is only responsible for twelve sequences out of the
thirty-six. The most powerful voice is that of the Old Madam (fourteen sequences
out of thirty six), she begins the story, (the prologue in the English translation),
setting the tone and mood. The third voice, which appears only in sequence eight,
is that of the taxi driver, the only narrator with a full name, Ducarmel D6sir6 (19).
Apparently less important than the two others, he is however the one who is able
to give a 'first hand' account of the events (the night of September 30, 1991), and
who 'justifies' the title of the book (21). He is also the one whose voice concludes
the story (after October 1994, the return of Aristide). As a taxi driver, he is
crisscrosses the city and connects his story to the postal civil servant's (31). It is
possible to recognize in him the figure of Legba as he limps (he lost his leg) and in
a way, becomes the master of crossroads through his job of taxi driver. He is
asked by clients to drive them to non-existing roads: for instance, "Rue Morte"
(21) or Rue des pas-perdus, (31). How not to see the symbol of Charon when he
says in sequence 11: "You've finally found that Rue des Pas-Perdus, basic rate,
standard fare, all roads lead to death." (31)
Particularly striking are the anti-intellectual discourse and the political
bitterness that exudes from the novella. The intellectual and political activist is
present in the background with the character of Andr6, an old-school friend of the
postal employee. G6rard, the narrator's old mathematic teacher and mentor, repre-
sents the other figure of the intellectual in the novel. A representative of an older
generation, G6rard underwent a mutation after his imprisonment and his exile.
His existence has organised itself around the word, the'logos.' A powerless
intellectual, he has transformed himself into a gossip columnist reporting the
events taking place in the society. Inactive, he can only spread the news with a
morbid complacency. Trouillot suggest the image of a ghost (26-27). Through
Gerard, Trouillot dismisses an entire generation of intellectuals: those whose
formation predated the Duvalier era.
Contrasting with this earlier generation is a new breed of intellectual
(Marxist?) activists represented by Andre, the other friend of the civil servant.
Though Andr6 is known only through the narrator's comments, he is a strong
presence in the sequences featuring the narrator. Caught between the ghost'
(Gerard) and the activist (Andre), the anonymous narrator (the postal service
employee) refuses any political commitment.
Trouillot clearly blames the Duvalier regime for the intellectual and
moral deliquescence of the Haitian as an individual. His protagonist therefore
claims the right not to choose any political side (54). His ambiguity is expressed
pages 76-77, when he thinks about the 'purging' plans of the opposition. In the
face of the continuing violence that has marred Haitian history, the postal civil
servant rejects political activism. To the violence surrounding him, he responds
by celebrating the private sphere, the possibility of having an intimate relationship.
He clearly defines the sexual act as the mean of challenging history and undermin-
ing the political power, while he is clearly aware of the desultory nature of this
form of rebellion. However, the power of sex against the political history is
undermined in the story since the episode is recounted three times only to be
denied, then doubted the second and third time.
Since the book under review is a translation, it seems appropriate to
acknowledge the work of the translator. Linda Covedale whose translation
Trouillot's novella exudes a melancholic pessimism about political in-
volvement and possibility for political change in Haitian society. Through his
characters, he claims the right to personal choices and non-involvement into
politics. This goes against a long tradition in Haitian literature, which links
politics, and literature (a 'natural' relationship according to Fleischmann, 1981,
125). In a country in which literature has sometimes been the climbing ladder
towards political position, Trouillot's work could be considered as a promising
new trend in spite of its dark tone. Reading Street of the Lost Footsteps against the
background of the 2004 political events in Haiti, adds to the impact of the book as
some statements made in 1996 sounds retrospectively premonitory.
N'Zengou-Tayo, Marie-Jose. "The End of the Committed Intellectual in Contemporary Haitian
Novels: the Case of Lyonel Trouillot (Les fous de Saint-Antoine and Rue des Pas Perdus)." In
Kathleen Balutansky and Marie-Agnes Sourieau. Ecrire en pays assiegd Haiti Writing Un-
der Siege. Part II. Chap 6. Amsterdam / New York, NY Rodopi. (Francopolyphonies 1),
2004. 545 pp.
Trouillot Lyonel. (1996). Rue des Pas Perdus. Port-au-Prince: Editions Memoires.
BOOKS FOR REVIEW
Caribbean Quarterly invites reviews for the following books recently received.
Contact the Managing Editor
Street ofLost Footsteps by Lyonel Trouillot. University of Nebraska Press 2003.
Runaway Slave Settlements in Cuba Resistance and Repression by Gabino La
Rosa Corzo. University of North Carolina Press, 2003. 292 pages.
Creole Transformation from Slavery to Freedom. Historical Archaeology of the
East End Community, St. John, Virgin Islands by Douglas V. Armstrong.
University Press of Florida 2003. 384 pages.
Cuba's Political and Sexual Outlaw Reinaldo Arenas by Rafael Ocasio,
University Press of Florida 2003. 212 pages.
I Know Who I am A Caribbean Woman's Identity in Canada by Yvonne Bobb-
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West Indies Press 2003. 364 pages.
Exploring the Palace of the Peacock. Essays on Wilson Harris by Joyce Sparer
Adler. University of the West Indies Press 2003. 106 pages.
Myths of the Plantation Society. Slavery in the American South and the West
Indies by Nathalie Dessens. University Press of Florida 2003. 213 pages.
The Development of Literary Blackness in the Dominican Republic by Dawn F.
Stinchcomb. University Press of Florida 2004. 125 pages.
Exile According to Julia. Translated by Betty Wilson. University of Virginia
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Sorcery by Johnal Wedel. University Press of Florida 2004. 209 pages.
Derek Walcott Another Life Fully Annotated. Lynne Rienner Publishers 2004.
A Colony of Citizens Revolution and Slave Emancipation in the French
Caribbean, 1787-1804 by Laurent Dubios. The University of North Carolina
2004. 451 pages.
Introduction to the Pan-Caribbean. Edited by Tracey Skelton. Edward Arnold
Publishers 2004. 184 pages.
Creole Transformation from Slavery to Freedom by Douglas V. Armstrong -
Historical Archaeology of the East End Community, St. John, Virgin Islands.
University Press of Florida 2003. 383 pages.
Minor Omissions Children in Latin American History and Society. Edited by
Tobias Hecht. The University of Wisconsin Press 2002. 277 pages.
The Francophone Caribbean Today Literature Language Culture. Edited by
Gertrud Aub-Buscher and Beverley Ormerod Noakes. 191 pages.
The Cycle of Racial Oppression in Guyana by Kean Gibson. University Press of
America 2003. 97 pages.
Juan Ignacio Molina The World's Window on Chile by Charles E. Ronan, S.J.
Peter Lang Publishing 2002. 318 pages.
Salted Tongues Modern Literature in St. Martin by Fabian Adekunle Badejo.
House of Nehesi Publishers 2003. 70 pages.
Caribbean Economics in the Twenty-first Century. Edited by Irma T. Alonso.
University Press of Florida 2002. 232 pages.
Race and Nation in Modern Latin America. Edited by Nancy P. Appelbaum.
University of North Carolina Press 2003. 329 pages.
Voice-Overs Translation and Latin American Literature. Edited by Daniel
Balderston and Marcy E. Schwartz. State University of New York Press 2002.
Encumbered Cuba. Capital Markets and Revolt, 1878-1895 by Susan J.
Fernandez. University Press of Florida 2002. 203 pages.
Martha Brae's Two Histories. European Expansion and Caribbean Culture-
Building in Jamaica by Jean Besson. The University of North Carolina Press
2002. 393 pages.
Slave Traffic in the Age of Abolition Puerto Rico, West Africa and the Non-
Hispanic Caribbean, 1815-1859 by Joseph C. Dorsey. University Press of Florida
2003. 311 pages.
Myths of the Plantation Society. Slavery in the American South and the West
Indies by Nathalie Dessens. University Press of Florida 2003. 213 pages.
Igniting The Caribbean's Past Fire in British West Indian History by Bonham
C. Richardson. The University of North Carolina Press 2004. 233 pages.
Enterprising Slaves & Master Pirates. Understanding Economic Life in The
Bahamas by Virgil Henry Storr. Peter Lang Publishing 2004. 147 pages.
The Virgin, The King, and the Royal Slaves of El Cobre by Maria Elena Diaz.
Stanford University Press 2000. 440 pages.
The Farmer and the Thief, Vantage Press 2004. 95 pages.
The Salt Reaper Poems from the Flats by Lasana M. Sekou. House of Nehesi
Publishers 2004. 114 pages.
Liberty and Equality in Caribbean Colombia 1770-1835 by Aline Helg. The
University of North Carolina Press 2004. 363 pages.
Tropical Babylons. Sugar and the Making of the Atlantic World, 1450-1680.
Edited by Stuart B. Schwartz. The University of North Carolina Press 2004. 347
Lydia Cabrera and the Construction of an Afro-Cuban Cultural Identity by Edna
M. Rodriguez-Mangual. The University of North Carolina Press 2004. 199 pages.
The Language of Caribbean Poetry Boundaries of Expression by Lee M.
Jenkins. University Press of Florida 2004. 232 pages.
Rise and Fall of the Cosmic Race. The Cult of Mestizaje in Latin America by
Marilyn Grace Miller. University of Texas Press 2004. 196 pages.
The Second Generation of Freemen in Jamaica, 1907 1944 by Erna Brodber.
University Press of Florida 2004. 225 pages.
Che's Chevrolet Fidel's Oldsmobile on the road in Cuba by Richard Schweid. The
University of North Carolina Press 2004. 237 pages.
Marcus Garvey's Jamaica 1929-1932 by Professor Rupert Lewis.
Vilcomm/Infocam Centre UWI, Mona 2003.
Note on Editor
Carl Campbell was formerly Professor of History at the University of the West
Indies, Mona. His main area of interest has been the Caribbean free coloureds nnd
the social history education in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. He is currently
working on a history of education in the Greater Antilles. His main publications
are Cedulants and Capitulants: The Politics of the Coloured Opposition in the
Slave Society of Trinidad 1783-1838 (1992), The Young Colonials: A Social
History of Education in Trinidad and Tobago 1834-1939 (1996) and Endless
Education. Main Currents in the Education System of Modern Trinidad and
Tobago 1939-1986 (1997).
Notes on Contributors
Dave St. A. Gosse
was formerly Professor of History, UWI, Mona.
is temporary Lecturer in the Department of History and
Archaeology, UWI, Mona.
R. Anthony Lewis is a Lecturer at UTECH, Kingston, Jamaica.
Matthew J, Smith
is Senior Lecturer in the Gender Studies Unit, UWI,
is Vice Chancellor Emeritus, UWI, and Editor, CQ
is Senior Lecturer in French in the Department of Moder
Languages and Literatures, UWI, Mona.
is Lecturer in the Department of History and
Archaeology, UWI, Mona.