Jean Jacques Dessalines: a Haitian independence heroIn some Western circles and books written by Western writers, for the most part, you would find Dessalines not being given the proper respect he deserves. When/if they do talk about him, he would be portrayed or presented as a demon. Today, I am writing this piece to join the ranks of many who have been fighting to refurbish the tarnished image of this great son of Africa.

Dessalines, one of the people of Haiti’s many heroes, was not a demon. How could he be called a demon and George Washington and Napoleon Bonaparte are excluded from the league? See, I want you all to pay close attention as to who those people are -the ones who have been calling him these types of condescending and demeaning names. It’s the people whose interests he was against. Today, sadly and ironically, we even have countless brainwashed Haitians in that league. These Haitians are nothing but emissaries of a status quo that stands for nothing that we Haitians stand for. We will always have them around. That’s understandable. They were around in 1804, they are still alive today. They are not going anywhere. We just have got to deal with them.

For the information of all, Dessalines was not a demon. He was what he was for his people, a freedom-fighter. He was a great, brilliant and valiant leader. He did something which surpasses human comprehension –commanding the indigenous army of Haiti, an army of slaves and former slaves, to victory against the Napoleon Army, the then greatest army in the world. If that is not heroic, I don’t know what is.

To the military experts out there still trying to figure out how could such insolence happen, I have to say that warfare is not won solely with the sharpness of your weapons, but also with the sharpness of your strategy. Dessalines was an astute war strategist. It is that simple.

If he was alive today fighting our independence war against the French colonial system, I would have not been surprised hearing him being called a terrorist. He would have been a terrorist because he was not shy at all to respond to terror with terror. If he, who was using terror to suppress the terrorist acts of the French, could have been called a terrorist, would it have not been fair to demand that the French brutal system and those who were working to keep it alive too be called so? The French, who were terrorizing the Black Africans, would have not been any less of a bunch of terrorists than Dessalines would have been.

Dessalines took three words as vague as liberty, equality and fraternity –which were nothing but slogans for the slaves in the colony of Saint Domingue –and showed the metropolitan French society how to materialize them. Like my good friend MrProdg would say, the man “stood for something and fought/died for it.”

What I am trying to convey to you reading this piece is to not let yourself caught in the game of words being played today. As long as there are freedom-fighters, there will always be demons, monsters, and terrorists, for, as I have said to you earlier, one man’s terrorist, demon and monster is another man’s freedom-fighter.

Dessalines, of course, was a demon and a monster for the people whose interests he was not defending and protecting. But we Haitians know that he was our freedom-fighter, and that is what should matter. We must not and will not allow anybody to come tell us otherwise. We already know what the deal is. The fact of the matter is, had he not done what he did to earn and secure our independence, the outcome would have been beneficial to the French, not to us Haitians. We would have still been today in physical and psychological bondage. If today some Haitians are still in psychological bondage, it is because of a choice they had made, not because they were forced to be.

So Dessalines was neither a demon nor a monster. He was a great, honorable and well-respected freedom-fighter. Anyone (non-Haitians and brainwashed Haitians) trying to demonize him by calling him all types of names can just go to hell. If I could deify him, I would. He was a “gason vanyan, neg ki pa konn rete ak moun.” May his soul rest in peace!