.... The concept of the spoils going to the victor was turned on its head and the Haitian people were forced to pay reparations to the French after enduring centuries of exploitation and suffering at their hands.
By Lenrod Nzulu Baraka
Every now and then someone sends me a really grotesque video portraying human nature at its nadir. Some of these videos are the stuff of which nightmares are concocted.
Having previously heard the story of about some vigilantes who took the law into their own hands in Haiti did little to prepare me for the horror of the human immolation so graphically recoded and circulated by witnesses of this latest episode in the ongoing tragic saga of the people of Haiti.
According to the news reports addressing the incident, a mob in Port Au Prince, the capital of Haiti, beat and burnt 13 suspected gang members to death. The men were reportedly pulled from police custody at a traffic stop.
After being beaten and stoned, the men were set ablaze using tyres and gasoline. In the macabre video, some victims could be seen fighting desperately to escape the devouring flames. For pure shock value, this video beats hands down anything that Hollywood has ever been able to devise.
This act of vigilante justice further underscores the growing need for a strong military force to restore calm and peace to the badly battered and besieged nation of Haiti. The post-revolutionary history of the people of Haiti has been filled with suffering, misery, betrayal, and death.
The tragedy in Haiti commenced after the Haitian people defeated the almost unstoppable armies of Napoleon Bonaparte. Haiti was immediately transformed into a pariah state.
In 1825, France recognized the independence of Haiti after extorting in excess of 100 million francs from the Haitian people. The French demand for reparations from the Haitian people was as ridiculous as the notion of Germany seeking reparations from the Allies after being defeated in World War I.
The concept of the spoils going to the victor was turned on its head and the Haitian people were forced to pay reparations to the French after enduring centuries of exploitation and suffering at their hands.
The crippling debt imposed by France on Haiti sabotaged any possibility of Haitian economic development. The pariah status of the nation especially in its early history also helped to significantly retard the economic development of the island. Haiti devolved from being the wealthiest and most profitable colony in the world to becoming the sick man of the Western Hemisphere.
People of African ancestry both on the continent and in the Diaspora have been quite content to stand on the sidelines and watch Haiti implode. Totally oblivious to the deep meaning the Haitian revolutions encapsulates for all Black people, we have turned our backs to the plight of our kith and kin on the island of Haiti. Some of us have gone so far as to join those who chant the chorus that Haiti’s misfortunes stem from a pact made by the island with the Devil.
Those of us who are mindful of history would remember that troops from the Caribbean have fought in both noble and ignoble causes in Africa. Cuban troops fought alongside freedom fighters in Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea Bissau. African leaders are currently reminding the world that it was nations like Cuba and the Soviet Union that came to Africa’s assistance in their independence struggles.
The support that some African leaders are currently extending to Russia is a quid pro quo for the role played by the Soviet Union in the African independence struggles. There is a real possibility that Africans could enter the Ukrainian theater of warfare on the side of the Russians. This of course brings me to my main point which centers on the role the African Union can play in the ongoing tragedy in Haiti.
In January of 2008 the executive Council of the African Union suggested that the African Diaspora be treated as Africa’s sixth region. A call for the involvement of the African Union in the affairs of Haiti is therefore nothing out of the ordinary. Haiti is a part of the sixth region of the African Union and as such deserves the attention of the African Union. The deployment of African troops in conjunction with armed units from CARICOM to Haiti may very well prove to be the balm needed to restore calm and security in Haiti.
The US, France and other European powers have historically been a part of the problem in Haiti. Involving these nations in the ongoing Haitian crisis will only result in more of the same in the near future. The Monroe Doctrine and its Corollary need to be tested. The Caribbean is not the playground of the US neither should Caribbean nations allow the US or the former European colonial powers to dictate who should be chosen to act as mediators in crises in the Caribbean.
Mother Africa needs to set her house in order. Kwame Nkrumah’s dream which envisaged a continental army under the control of the United States of Africa may have receded into oblivion but that dream or one of its derivatives still constitutes the best hope for the African continent. The global scramble for resources demands that Mother Africa be prepared to defend her territory from outside aggression. Mother Africa must also evolve to a position of strength that would enable her to meaningfully engage in the affairs of her children in the Diaspora.
Lenrod Nzulu Baraka is the founder of Afro-Caribbean Spiritual Teaching Center and the author of The Rebirth of Black Civilization: Making Africa and the Caribbean Great Again.