http://www.newera. com.na/article. php?articleid= 2398
Haiti and Namibia: A Common Heritage
by Henny H. Seibeb
13 Febuary 2009
As we majestically strut into the celebration of the Black History month, recollecting the achievements of the black people throughout the world over the centuries, so do we honour the men and women who made that revolution of the Haitian people in that very dark moment in history of subjugated people.
As a historical fact, Haiti was the second black nation after Palmares now part of Brazil, to achieve independence on 1 January 1804. Although Haiti had sent volunteers in 1779 to fight on the side of American colonialists rebelling against British imperialism, it took America 60 years, until 1862, to recognize Haiti’s independence because the US did not want the Haitian revolution, organized by free slaves to be known.
The symbol of a successful overthrow by an enslaved African population of their colonial masters was too shameful to be encouraged by Washington. The fear was that this might serve as an example to the large number of African slaves in Southern America and indeed the mainstream continental African countries.
In writing and sharing about the Haitian and Namibian revolution, one is struck by the magnitude and depth of some of these black republics’ heroes – Toussaint L’Overture and Kaptein Hendrik Witbooi.
These leaders of the early resistance of blacks to imperialism symbolize the hallmarks of an organic indigenous knowledge and an inspirational leadership. Both the struggles of Toussaint L’Overture and Kaptein Hendrik Witbooi were not only for the people of the Caribbean Islands and Namibia, but for black people in general.
The emancipation task that was personified by Toussaint L’Overture reverberated throughout the black communities in the world to light the flame of resistance. Indeed, his words ring true, when he said to Bonaparte “with my overthrow, one has merely cut down the tree of black freedom. But it will grow from its roots that are numerous and deep.”
In as much as Namibia suffered from the cruel and successive racist regimes under the colonial occupation by Germany and South Africa, so did the Haitian people from France and the US administrations. As a matter of fact, US intervened militarily in Haiti at least 27 times before 1915. George Washington opened the floodgates of military intervention in 1791 by sending troops and a large sum of money to assist the French colonizers to suppress a slave revolt in Haiti led by Duttie Boukman.
Many Namibians, if not Africans, came to learn of Haiti or Ayiti, since Aristide’s ouster by the CIA and subsequent asylum in South Africa. That act as shown then by former President Thabo Mbeki, signified the real meaning of the African and Diaspora unity and solidarity. It is indeed ironic that he did not suffer the fate that befell the triumvirate of Haiti’s revolutionary heroes: Toussaint L’Overture, Jean-Jacques Dessalines and Henri Christophe. Aristide was lucky to escape unharmed from unruly mobs and the CIA, as he had already been overthrown twice in a nation that has recorded 33 coups in two centuries.
Kaptein Hendrik Witbooi fought German imperialism relentlessly until he succumbed in a war against his arch nemesis, in 1907. This was at the apex of the national resistance war. After having signed protection treaties and enduring continued subjugation from the Germans, Kaptein Witbooi decided enough is enough and embarked on a protracted campaign. True to his word and guided by the philosophy to emancipate his people from the colonial bondage he remained fighting. The resistance was against the brutality meted out by Germans and continued confiscation of land, reduction of grazing land, and in some instances prohibition of freedom of movement.
Albeit in a different character but for same objectives, early in the Haitian struggle for freedom, even though Toussaint L’Overture had led them for years in wars against France, Spain, and Britain, the Haitian people failed to protect him from being betrayed, kidnapped and imprisoned in France where he tragically starved to death in a dungeon, one year before Haiti’s independence..
The road to independence was protracted and the occupier, France was not ready to submit to free slaves’ demands to be a free nation.. The French colonial master, Napoleon Bonaparte, was forced to sell France’s huge New Orleans territory in North America to the US on 20 December 1803.
It is widely recorded that Thomas Jefferson paid France 15 million US Dollars for the territory and renamed it Louisiana in homage to the French King, Louis XVIII. After the notorious example set by US First President George Washington in 1791, the US under the guise of introducing democracy, invaded Haiti in 1915, and stayed until 1934, for 19 long years. This was the longest period of a colonial occupier’s grip on Haiti, a black nation. In this period, Americans maintained control of Haiti’s treasury and took over its fiscal responsibilities. They depleted Haiti’s healthy treasury and misappropriated its fiscal planning by paying off so-called Haiti’s European creditors for over a century that eroded its national economy.
The reality is both the same for Haiti and Namibia, where the justification for the practice of slavery and servitude rested on the philosophy that considered the black person as the ultimate expression of humankind’s savage nature. It is amidst this atmosphere that L’Overture joined the revolution as a man who stood for the ideals of liberty and equality. Reminiscent of all revolutionaries, who bear the hallmarks of humility and exceptional leadership skills, he organized the masses of Haitians that resulted in his swift advancement through army ranks. Upon victory, he courted the policy of national reconciliation amongst whites and blacks and embarked upon agrarian reforms and sought to educate the people about the rights and responsibilities associated with being a citizen, and a constitution was established. He therefore during his sixth year of reign instilled hope and pride amongst the people.
In total fear and jealousy of a successful black leadership, a murderous dictator Bonaparte overthrew L’Overture in 1799. His death in France’s dungeon merely served as an inspiration for the rise of new revolutionaries such as Jean Dessalines, and Henri Christophe. On 1 January 1804, St Dominique was renamed Haiti, a proud moment for the people of African descent.
This is the proud history that Jean-Bertrand Aristide has been carrying on, the history of speaking out against inhumanity and prosperity for all. This is why Aristide was removed from power, for his refusal to back down from demanding restitution for an indemnity Haiti was forced to pay after militarily defeating the French and declaring independence in 1804. The French government in 1825 demanded 90 million gold francs from Haiti as compensation for white planters who lost property in Haiti’s struggle for independence. The indemnity ensured that Haiti would remain in debt to France for most of the 1800s. Aristide, being a revolutionary, estimated that the 90 million gold francs, was worth over US$21 billion in today’s money and demanded that France pay back the stolen money. France tried to buy time and when Aristide threatened to take the case to the International Court of Justice, began to engineer his downfall.
There are lessons to be learned from both L’Overture’s and Aristide’s fate for Africa. But then again Africa has its own fair share of leaders being removed clandestinely by the West. A few classic cases will suffice: Ahmed Sekou Toure, Guinea-Conakry in 1958; Patrice Lumumba, DR Congo in 1961; Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana in 1966; Amilcar Cabral, Guinea-Bissau in 1973; Agostino Neto, Angola in 1975; Laurent Kabila, DR Congo in 2001; and now Comrade President Robert G. Mugabe, in Zimbabwe represents an ongoing case.
In actual fact, mercenary political leaders and political parties that are being hatched to advance the project of African retrogressiveness infest sub-Saharan Africa. Again classic examples are: Morgan Tsvangirai, MDC-T of Zimbabwe; Mosiua Terror Lekota, COPE of South Africa; Mangosuthu Gatza Buthelezi, Inkatha Freedom Party of South Africa; Hidipo Hamutenya, RDP of Namibia; Phil ya Nangoloh, NSHR of Namibia; Alfredo Hengari, a Namibian coconut caricature student-cum- columnist based in Paris and Raila Odinga, Prime Minister of Kenya.
Two African states, namely Uganda and Botswana have been known for years as the darlings of the west for their continued betrayal of the African cause, especially as outplaying itself in Zimbabwe. Botswana’s case is more puzzling in the sense that it is calling for its border with Zimbabwe to be closed permanently, whereas they allowed murderous Verwoerd and Malan’s racist army to enter their territory randomly and kill many freedom fighters, both from Swapo and ANC. They never closed their borders and it should be remembered that many of the ANC and Swapo freedom fighters were either killed or imprisoned in Botswana because of vital information that was passed on by Botswana authorities to murderous South African Defence Force and spy networks in Pretoria.
Therefore, its stance on Zimbabwe can be likened to a state-sponsored xenophobia against the patriotic African people of Zimbabwe. One wonders why Botswana, if they so dislike to be part of a greater African family, does not cut and paste itself next to England, to be closer to its surrogate “master race”.
http://www.newera. com.na/article. php?articleid= 2398