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26615: Makendal: (history) The Maroons Salute The Battle of Vertieres...on this day, 202 years ago! (fwd)
From: Makendal <email@example.com>
Today, the poets known as The Maroons celebrate the Battle of Vertieres. On
this day, 202 years ago, African slaves on the island of Haiti (then known as
St. Domingue) defeated the one and only Napoleon Bonaparte. This day, 202 years
ago, OUR forefathers, wrote a constitution and titled it freedom. They wrote an
anthem and they titled it liberty. Upon it stood the original statue of liberty
and her name was Haiti. This constitution, this anthem was figurative. It was
the entire slave rebellion, the war for independence and its culmination at
Vertieres which was a decisive victory leading to slave independence.
On this day, 202 years ago, Maroons of the past, African soldiers (former
slaves) ripped off the shackles of slavery and spit them into Napoleon's face.
Under the command of men like Toussaint Louverture (hailed as the Black
Spartacus), Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Alexandre Petion, Boukman, Biassou,
Hyacinthe and Makendal the chains of slavery cried out in pain as West African
slaves and the newly rising mulattoes/Afranchi gave birth to an independent
nation, the first black republic...Haiti.
202 years ago today, soldiers fought fiercely. Many died in this battle but
they died with steel girders as the content of their spine. They died so that
today I could have the opportunity to enjoy my day not working on a plantation
as a slave, but doing whatsoever my mind can conceive?.as a free man. Bullets
flying, hand to hand combat, military strategies unknown to the French,
tenacity, will, resolve, strength, courage, cunning, unity...these were the
ingredients used by OUR forefathers.
Many Haitians and Haitian-Americans do not even know where Vertieres is. Is
in the North of Haiti? South? East? West? It is said that Vertieres is in the
beautiful city of Au Cap, but I believe that Vertieres is in the heart and soul
of every proud Haitian who truly loves their country and their brothers and
sisters of diverse shades and backgrounds in Haiti presently.
202 years ago, Rochembeau bowed down to Dessalines power. He fled with his
tail between his legs and returned to Napoleon a defeated general, defeated at
the hands of a former slave. On this day, 202 years ago, African cultural
continuity played a pivotal role in the outcome of the slave uprising. With
their age-old beliefs, history and culture intact, the enslaved Africans were
able to forcefully and relentlessly resist the oppression they encountered in
St. Domingue. Though largely misunderstood and maligned by Westerners, the
Vodun religion our ancestors carried across the Atlantic Ocean infused them
with a fiery determination to free themselves from human bondage.
Louis Mercier said:
The battle of Vertières goes on for us. We are still in the grasp of the
forces of evil and destruction. All the stupid and deadly prejudices are still
alive in our hearts and we still have a colonial mentality. We still haven?t
erased all traces of slavery. The vast majority (of our people) still live in
ignorance, abject poverty, humiliation and this doesn?t revolt us. The rules of
hygiene are not observed. Our cities still don?t look like modern cities and
our countryside is too neglected. We are not yet great builders and we walk on
too much devastation. Even today, we still don?t want to be idealistic, to
become real Haitian citizens, to purge ourselves of fanaticism, hatred, to
adopt and implement the noble laws of social justice and human solidarity, rid
ourselves completely of all the viruses that poison our hearts and our brains:
Cast prejudices, place of origin prejudices, relicts of a cursed past that we
have to shed completely. Our ancestors have made immense efforts
for liberty and fraternity. Don?t let their sacrifices be in vain. Don?t let
those foreigners that our history fascinates and who admire us be disappointed
by the sad spectacle that we offer.
Life is beautiful only under the invigorating shadow of a great dream and in
the framework of an admirable country where all the noble activities can be
fostered, and where intellect, willpower and reason are applied to maintain
Justice, Goodness, Fraternity, godmothers of all progress.
Let?s open our hearts to love. Let?s develop every social program that will
improve the lot of the wretched. Let?s take the firm resolution to work to the
point of sacrifice for the good of our country. That the only way we will grow.
The fight goes on and we must remain in control of the field. Let us repeat,
let us repeat unceasingly that truth that will liberate us: ?LA BATAILLE DE
VERTIÈRES CONTINUE. THE BATTLE OF VERTIÈRES GOES ON.?
When I think of Crete-a-Pierrot which was a fortress atop a hill near the
village of Petite Riviere which had been built by freed slaves in the early
stages of the struggle, more heroes and heroines come to mind. In March 1802
the fortress itself had been further strengthened into a virtual citadel under
the command of Dessalines, seconded by Magny, Martiniere, Monpoint and Larose,
with a garrison of 1.200, mostly former slaves. I tell you this so that you may
tell your children and they may know of the bravery of their forefathers and
foremothers. In his continuing efforts to subdue the rebels, General Leclerc
ordered an attack on the fortress by 12,000 French seasoned troops. He ordered
a siege and continuing cannonade of the fortress.
Some 20 days after the initial French attack, the defenders were desperate.
They had no food, little water and hundreds of dead and wounded. The French,
believing the defenders reduced to helplessness, advanced to overrun the
redoubt. In the midst of this inferno what did they see but a young female
mulatto wearing a red bonnet, sabre at her side, her waist knotted with a scarf
and rifle in her hand, circling fearlessly in range on the walls of the redoubt
shouting encouragement to the besieged. I cannot tell you what she was yelling,
but the chills up and down my spine and the goose bumps on my arm may very well
translate and echo her voice:
TO ARMS! WE WILL NOT BE DEFEATED! MY BROTHERS, I WILL FIGHT WITH YOU! I
DIE WITH YOU BUT WE WILL BE FREE! PA DEKOURAJE!
Her name? Marie Jeanne, the wife of Brigade Commander Lamartiniere. As
books record, She fought like a black Joan Of Arc. After dark, on March 24,
1802 , the besieged rebels opened by bayonet a corridor through more than
10,000 French troops fighting fiercely and valiantly. Most escaped to fight
another day. Our heroes.
And that other day would be November 18, 1803. "At 4 a.m. on Nov. 18, 1803,
part of the forces began an attack on Breda, one of the outlying forts.
Rochambeau surprised, left Cap and took a position with his honor guard on the
entrenchments at the fort of Vertieres, between Breda and Cap. To take the
objective specifically assigned to him, François Capois and his troops had to
cross a bridge that was dominated by the fort at Vertieres.
Capois, on horseback, and his men met a hail of fire as they advanced.
a bullet passing through his cap, Capois urged his men forward. Even a bullet
that leveled his horse and another which again passed through his cap did not
stop Capois from flourishing his saber and leading his men onward with his
continuing cry of Forward! Observing this, Rochambeau's guards applauded.
Rochambeau caused the firing to be stopped and sent a hussar forward with
compliments for Capois! Then the battle recommenced.
Despite repeated and furious charges by Capois, who dealt death to many of
enemy, the battle was indecisive and Capois survived, earning the sobriquet
Capois-la-Mort (Capois the Death). The attacks on the fortresses continued and
ultimately Rochambeau had to withdraw and evacuate the fort at Vertieres. The
success of Dessaline's forces in taking the heights of Charrier, which
dominated all of Cap's outer defenses, forced Rochambeau to withdraw all his
forces into Cap, and on November 19 he signed a convention that delivered Cap
Ten hours later on November 20, Rochambeau was already a prisoner of the
Dessalines, at the head of the triumphant indigenous army, entered Cap on
30, 1803. On December 4, the French also surrendered the northwestern peninsula
and Mole St. Nicolas to the victors and the French occupation and control of
Haiti ended forever." (Heroes of Haiti, W.F. Burton Sellers)
27 days later, the first free black nation was born, the first black
the originator of freedom, the catalyst to men like John Brown, Denmark Vesey,
Gabriel Prosser. The nation that would be spoken of and publicly defended by
Paul Robeson, W.E.B. DuBois and Frederick Douglas, written about by Langston
Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, choreographed by Katherine Dunham.
And on this day, 202 years ago, in the land where my fathers died, the real
bell of liberty rung. On this day, today, I stand tall, proud...my eyes are
fierce and burning, seething...my firsts are clenched and I feel as if I am
surrounded, surrounded by the spirits of my forefathers who on this day, gave
me this place in the middle of the sea and deep in my heart...and her name is
Makendal/MPS, Jr.. 11/18/2005
I am Haitian not only because I was born in Haiti but because Haiti was born
KEEP THE HISTORY, TEACH THE HISTORY, SAVE THE CHILDREN!!!!!
Maroon for life.
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