Books on Haiti and the
Hubert Cole. Christophe: King of Haiti. New
York: The Viking Press, 1967.
The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution
Caribbean Doscourse (2004)
/ Barbara Harlow.
Resistance Literature (1987)
Josaphat B. Kubayanda.
The Poet's Africa: Africanness in the Poetry of Nicolas Guillen and Aime
Myriam J. A.
Framing Silence: Revolutionary Novels by Haitian Women (1997)
Paul Laraque and Jack Hirschman.
Gate An Anthology of Haitian Creole Poetry
David P. Geggus, ed.
The Impact of the
Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World.
University of South Carolina Press, 2001.
* * *
The 200th Anniversary of the Haitian Independence
By Manes Pierre
independence is indeed a grandiose undertaking. It is a
reminder that before Haiti could declare self-rule, it was governed
by a colonizer or an empire, in this case, France. To that
extent, like any other independent state, Haiti and the Haitian
people should be honored for achieving that important milestone,
Many people died
during the quest for independence leading to the January 1, 1804,
the official day of Haiti’s birthday as a republic. The
first black republic in the Western Hemisphere. However, as we
are getting ready to have our grand party in the next six months,
let us look and assess the issues that should be on the program for
those traveling to Haiti for the ball and the other two million
Haitians across the globe who will also join la grande fete
away from home.
For the purpose of this
occasion, I would like to propose an analysis of the causes leading
to that achievement by looking at the social behaviors during the
colonization period and explore a bit further the current social
behaviors in Haiti today. I am going to use a format called
“Social Cubism” that was introduced by Dr. Sean Byrne, Ph.D,
Professor at Nova Southeastern University, in the department of
conflict analysis and resolution.
He used the social cube to
analyze the conflicts in Northern Ireland between the Catholics and
the Protestants through: (1) Economic Factors; (2) Religious
Factors; (3) Political Factors; (4) Psychocultural Factors; (5)
Historical Factors; and (6) Demographic Factors. I will adjust
the social cube to customize the current menu for the Haitian
situation. Let us compare now the social behaviors in Haiti
during the French colonization (1789-1803) and the current social
behaviors today (1804-2003):
Haiti – Social
Behaviors During the Colonization Period
The political economy centers around agriculture via the cheap labor
of the black slaves. The French and the Mulattoes owned almost
every piece of land in Haiti. In other words, the property
owners also owned the property-less workers. I refer to the
slaves as property-less workers because no matter how hard they
worked on the field, they did not earn any money or compensation.
Through their sweat and hard labor, Haiti was called the pearl of
the Antilles. Haiti was the richest colony of France providing
60 percent of the world's sugar and 40 percent of the world's
The African religion, vodoun, played a major role in gathering
support for the overthrow of the slavery system in Haiti.
Liberte ou la mort was the guiding principle behind the
eradication of slavery. On November 18,1803, through the
collective effort of the property-less workers, the Napoleon
Bonaparte army was defeated and Haiti was the victor. Many
historians believe that the Bois-Caiman ceremony had a lot to do
with the victory.
During the colonization period, group consensus played a vital role
in community organizing. Groups were more interested to serve
and protect the interests of the local people than their own
individual interests. Achieving equity and taking control of
their own destiny was a dream worth dying for.
Factors: Blacks and mulattoes united for their independence
from the French. However, the mulattoes usually felt slightly
superior to the black since the blacks used to work out in the
fields while the mulattoes used to work closely with the French
Historical Factors: During
this period, African slaves were brought to work on sugarcane and
coffee plantations. In 1791, the slave population revolted, led
by such Haitian heroes as Toussaint L’Ouverture, Jean Jacques
Dessalines, and Henri Christophe, and gained control of the northern
part of the French colony, waging a war of attrition against the
French. Blacks and mulattoes united for independence from
their French masters.
The birth rate of black slaves steadily increased and was higher
than the French settlers.
Haiti – Current
Social Behaviors (1804-2003)
Blacks and mulattoes now own lands and businesses. But let’s
look at some economic indicators that are currently affecting Haiti:
today, about 75% of the population lives in abject poverty.
Failure to reach agreements with international sponsors has denied
Haiti badly needed budget and development assistance.
Job creation is stagnant due to continued conflicts between the
current administration and the opposition. The unemployment
rate is 60% and is growing. The National Gross Domestic
Product (GDP) is estimated at $8.9 billion and is distributed as
follows: 42% of agriculture, 14% of the small industries, and
44% of the service sector. The per capita a year income or
purchasing power is estimated at $1,300. For the past 10
years, the country has experienced increased budget deficits year in
year out. The revenues are estimated at $323 million while the
expenditures are estimated at $363 million. The national
treasury is nearly bankrupt. Unless the international donors
step in and provide technical assistance to the current
administration, more mass migration toward Florida is
Used as a category label, replacing social class and language.
But it increases religious conflicts. Roman Catholicism is the
most popular religion in Haiti. However, there is a growing
number of other religious faiths that are practiced in Haiti.
Recently, through presidential decree, Vodoun has been officially
recognized as an official religion with equal status with all other
religions in the land. Long regarded as a secret religion,
Vodoun is now openly practiced. This African religion has been
mystified for years and time will tell how the Haitian people will
integrate it in the religious circles.
Allegiance to political parties are very strong. Groups are
more loyal to political parties than the national needs.
Factors: As I said earlier, I wanted to customize the
social cube a little bit in order to better fit the social
conditions in Haiti with regard to French and Haitian Creole.
Bipolar conflicts emphasize an inclination toward mutual
destruction. French speaking Haitians tend to look down on
non-French speakers, thus polarizing the less educated ones or the
monolingual Creole speakers.
By January 1804, local forces defeated an army sent by
Napoleon Bonaparte, established independence from France. The
impending defeat of the French in Haiti is widely credited with
contributing to Napoleon’s decision to sell the Louisiana Territory
to the United States in 1803. In 1822, Haiti occupied the
Dominicans. But in 1844, the eastern two-thirds of the island
became the Dominican Republic by declaring its independence from
Haiti. After numerous periods of intense political and
economic disorder, prompting the United States military intervention
of 1915. Following a 19-year occupation, U.S. military forces
were withdrawn in 1934, and Haiti regained sovereign rule. On
February 7, 1986, when the 29-year dictatorship of the Duvalier
family ended, Haiti was ruled by a series of provisional
governments. On February 7, 2001, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was
inaugurated as President. History is mixed between conflicts and
compromise. Figures of cooperation are non-substantive.
Population of black Haitians continue to increase at a very rapid
rate. Thus, it is causing mass migration among both the masses
and the middle class to the United States, mainly to Florida.
Although Haiti deserves
credit for being the first black republic in the world, there is
much to be done in terms of building a blue print or a national
consensus leading to more positive achievements for all. The
vision of independence is grand. However, managing one’s
independence requires much more than celebration. Haiti needs
leaders and managers who understand the value of roving leaderships
as well as collective efforts.
Too often, the masses are
misled with one and only one perception: securing a personal
goal is more important than building or investing in the future of
Haiti and her children. The 200th birthday of Haiti should be
a time of reflection and action planning not just a mere Apre
Dans, Tambou Lou, “After the party, the drum is heavy.”
Social Cubism looks at the cube and tackles every aspect of a given
conflict in order to arrive at a resolution. Haiti has not yet
developed a plan to repair the wounds of its constant conflicts as
she is getting ready to celebrate her 200th birthday.
© copyrighted July 2003
|Manes Pierre is
a native of Port-Au-Prince, Haiti.
He is currently a Broward County Educator.
He has been teaching in a wide variety of spectrum, from
elementary to high school.
He has also been an adjunct professor at Miami Dade
Community College teaching ESL (English to Speakers of Other
Manes is currently a 3rd year Ph.D. student in
Conflict Analysis and Resolution at Nova Southeastern University
in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Manes is the author of The
Man & His Thoughts, his first book.
He has written many articles ranging from teaching
practices to social theories.
Manes is currently working on his consulting projects on
Conflict Analysis and Resolution (www.manespierre.com).
He can be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* * * * *
Slave Revolution in the Caribbean, 1789-1804
A Brief History with Documents
Dubois and John D. Garrigus
* * *
* * * *
Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays
Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a
collection of fourteen essays by scholars and
creative writers from Africa and the Americas.
Called one of two significant critical works on
Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late
1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of
Carter G. Woodson and
Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as
well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations
were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early
essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish
medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an
historical context for understanding 20th-century
creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone
writers, such as Cuban
Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist,
Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the
significance of Negritude in Latin America. This
collaborative text set the tone for later
conferences in which writers and scholars worked
together to promote, disseminate, and critique the
literature of Spanish-speaking people of African
descent. . . .
Cited by a
literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the
field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which
most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."
* * *
Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in
By Melissa V.
According to the
author, this society has historically exerted
considerable pressure on black females to fit into one
of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the
Matriarch or the Jezebel. The selfless
Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to
white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of
those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the
relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable
temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as
an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the
characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television
shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.
points out how the propagation of these harmful myths
have served the mainstream culture well. For instance,
the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for
black females to feel a maternal instinct towards
As for the source
of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their
own bodies during slavery given that they were being
auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless,
it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate
the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate
* * * * *
posted 13 July 2003 / update 6 May