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Saturday, March 30, 2019

Perspectives From The African Diaspora: Know Thyself by Katleho Mpopo

While standing outside my friend's home waiting for her come out, I looked down and after a few seconds I saw a new world- a world of ants and other small insects. If I hadn't been concentrating, I would have taken it as a non-consequential world; it required focus to see it. There, among the bustling ants was one so small, probably a worker, dragging a sand grain twice its size. What caught my attention was the number of grains reduced by one every time one of these tiny workers snatched one up. Someone may argue that one less grain of sand is hardly a change, but that depends on one’s perspective. The bottom line was there was a change, no matter how small; there still was a change. 

It came down on me; we meet people; we hear things, speak and act on things, it does not matter how small they may be; they bring about change, we may not even realize it but the change is there.

When I walk every day, I see people and know each person is a soul striving for fulfillment. Some of us look for it in the wrong places; we seek it in what people say about us, we search for it in what people declare as "perfect". But this validation is really someone else's idea of perfection, and because most of us don't even know ourselves, we rush in every direction they tell us, to satisfy our souls' ultimate need. 
I live in a society that affects our subconscience. We are made to believe we aren't enough and that we need to talk, dress, and act, look a certain way; and then, we will be perfect. As a result, we do not realize that we each were born with something unique about us. But society is sabotaging us. We look for ourselves in material things; we look for our worth in the number of followers we have, as cliché as it may be. These things that surround us are dragging off the sand grains in our lives hence changing our own views and beliefs, self-love, self-respect, and self-worth. As long as we don't know who we are, where we come from, what our purpose is and where our purpose drives us, we cannot find contentment in this world.
My grandmother raised me. That woman radiated respect, gracefulness, and wisdom without having to raise a hand. I asked her this one time, how she could command such respect and her answer was simple. She told me she knew herself in and out, and no one would ever intimidate her nor would she ever seek validation from anyone. I did not understand it back then but I do now.
Being raised by such a woman propelled me to seek solitude. yet growing up and crossing paths with so many people, I've learned  that although we are all different, we seek the same thing which is soul satisfaction. My grandmother found that in herself. We need to find ourselves and understand who we truly are. 

Yes, life is hard and things happen that force us to ask ourselves questions that can shake the foundation of who we believe to be; the responsibility we have is to learn and improve, always. Outside forces like the media, in all its glory,  tell us what we should be; but we need to know who we are and build strong unshakable foundations of ourselves. So our souls won't gradually reduce, speck by speck, like grains of sand carried off by ants.

Katleho Mpopo is a 22-year-old student at the National University of Lesotho, in Roma, Lesotho, where she studies Economics. 

Katleho grew up in rural Khukune, which is in the Butha-Buthe District. Her grandmother raised her, "along with my 13 other cousins, aunts and uncles while our parents went about finding work." 

When this young Sister realized that in her community, the only affordable food offered by the food industry is junk food, Katleho began plans to offer health and wellness food. "Basically, we consume a lot of junk food just because it is cheap, cheaper than healthy food. That's also why I am studying Economics at NUL; so I get to understand how the company can be competitive, how it can survive and thrive even in times of recession."

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

SmashWords' Read An eBook Free Week Offers Cries of Redemption Through March 9th

Cries of Redemption is free on Smashwords through March 9th as a part of their Read an Ebook Week. You can now make my book,part of your digital collection. Cries of Redemption illustrates the struggles of maafa in America and the Caribbean; it celebrates the African Diaspora, the Black Experience, and pan-Africanism. 

"A new #Caribbean voice from the diaspora who, 'Now wants to flutter throughout the world, dipping and dashing and lifting up with rhythm of the winds, the winds of change.
This is a masterpiece of literary writing that draws on [his] experiences... The writer is 'writing to keep warm' but he keeps us all warm with his intelligence and keen observation of the broad sweep of life."
Jan Augustin
Lecturer (Language and Communication).
Antigua State College. Eastern Caribbean

"Cries of Redemption" is a travel guide to consciousness. It is a beautiful rendition of the author's journey through life, his observations, and his reflections, all captured in prose and poetry that reflect the influences on his life. K. Omodele takes us on that journey...revealing relationships between the freedom of the mind and the imprisonment of the body, the rebellious child and the wizened adult, the unconscious instinct and the focused mind.
This is a book for minds seeking the intervention of truth and beauty in the midst of social and political chaos, confusion, racism and ugliness."
Kojo Nnamdi,
The Kojo Nnamdi Show,

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Abeng Op-Ed: African Governments Should Honor Black History Month by Jah Rootsman

copyright 2019 Jah Rootsman

What an anomaly that governments in Africa have little or no appetite in honoring nor celebrating Black History Month, which is celebrated in February to honor the black men and women who inspired us, liberated us mentally, spiritually and physically from the yoke of colonial oppression. South Africa has a lot to be thankful for, to stalwarts like Steve Biko, Nelson Mandela, Robert Sobukwe, Albertina Sisulu, Mahatma Gandhi, Desmond Tutu, Fatima Meer, Oliver Tambo, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and countless others who sacrificed themselves for our freedom and independence in a thankless world.  They left legacies that need to be remembered and fulfilled and unfortunately it is up to conscious cultural groups like us, Rastafari, Kwanzaa and similar entities that are prepared to accept the responsibility and run with it. Regrettably, this reflects the puny minds of African political ‘so-called’ leaders, whose only interests are in self- aggrandizement, political propaganda and selfish agrarians. Their predominant agenda comprises a prevailing addiction to greed and self-enrichment. 

In Africa, #BlackHistoryMonth is supposed to generate a host and hive of cultural activities throughout the continent for the month to inspire communities and kids by edutaining them through music and other cultural and historical perspectives. Inculcating pride, confidence, honor and dignity in themselves as peoples of this great and majestic continent, ravaged and converted by colonials whose legacies have become the norm by which we Africans have shaped, defend and live out our lives today; lives which we call normal. The Bible is the most damaging contribution left by these nefarious colonialists and has usurped our own cultures.

"Africans are in bondage today because they approach spirituality through religion provided by foreign invaders and conquerors." ~ Emperor Haile Selassie I.

Sadly, in Africa, our children still do not have the slightest clue about the importance of #BlackHistoryMonth.  As Africans, it is embarrassing and disconcerting to watch the Diaspora keep the flame burning while we in Africa nonchalantly “carry on” with our lives, whereas our proud African legacies are being disregarded by the same people who see and call themselves ‘freedom fighters’ and struggle heroes’. Jamaica has even elevated this month (February), to “Reggae Month”. As Rastafari in particular, we thank you, our counterparts, for this extended auspicious honor.


Rastaman. South Africa

Saturday, February 23, 2019

On The Abeng Playlist: Dave - Black

Currently in My Playlist: Black by Dave

The lyrics and the flow to this song caught me hard, the words got me hooked. 
" ... Black is people naming your countries on what they trade most,
Coast of Ivory, Gold Coast and the Grain Coast,
but most importantly, to show how deep all this pain goes,
West Africa, Benin, they call it Slave Coast...
loud in our laughter, silent in our suffering,
Black is being strong inside the face of defeat,
poverty made me a beast, a bout with the law in the streets,
well you struggle but your struggle ain't a struggle like me,
how could it be, when your people gave us the odds that we beat?...
Unconditional love is strange to them, it's amazing them.."

Just a small sample of Dave's art, by a pure artist.
Listen, nuh!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Spoken Word Griots: African Oral Tradition in Caribbean Music (Third Part) - Calypso

Spoken Word Griots: African Oral Tradition in Caribbean Music (Third Part) - #Calypso
by K. Omodele

African traditions and customs are in the heartbeat of Caribbean culture; so, its not surprising that the African tradition of storytelling drums so deep within many forms Caribbean music, none more so than calypso. Matter of fact, whenever I think of calypso, I think first about lyrics - the buildup, the punch line and the reflection. Niceness. As a wordsmith, I marvel at the wordplay of the great calypso storytellers. Whether the lyrics be somber-social, political or commentary; or, whether they're witty and precocious slackness, or just straight, belly-bussing comedy, this Caribbean music with its roots planted in the African oral tradition is art, pure art, plain and simple.

A Short History of Calypso Music

Like many forms of Caribbean or West Indian music, Calypso's roots were dug up from Africa, then transported to the Caribbean on slave ships during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. The slaves in Trinidad and Tobago weren't allowed to speak to one another while they slaved in the fields, so they sang to communicate. They kept the freestyle (improvisational), functional elements of West African kaiso as a form of covert communication (separate from the overt language of the slave massa). This early predecessor to calypso was rebellious chanting about their conditions and the status quo, i.e. plantation life. They were songs with clever lyrics about social conditions and often mocked slave masters or political leaders.

The French Influence: Carnival and Canboule 

Spain had first colonized Trinidad, but up to the 1770s the population was small, less than 3000, two-thirds of them Arawak. In 1770, a Frenchman made a proposal that would bring the French, their slaves and some free blacks from the French colonies/islands of Dominica, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent, to heavily populate Trinidad, which would help develop the plantation economy. These French (and blacks from French islands) turned the slow, undeveloped, Spanish colony, into a culturally French dominated one. And they brought the carnival and canboulay festivities and traditions.

Kaisos were now performed by griots and/or chantwells (from the French word chantuelles) at canboulays (harvest festivals, from the French cannes brulées), which was the black alternative to carnival (which neither slaves nor free blacks could attend). As a result, Kaisos and canboulay music became the voice of the people and  were the music blacks performed and listened, under tents at canboulays. 

In the old West African ways, the chantwells  often told stories that challenged each other in competition, boasting and ridiculing, while also challenging the audience to "keep up" with witty wordplay and double meanings. Sometimes songs were quick to make fun of adversaries within the griot fraternity - like free styles battles and clashes today. In other cases, the stories would be didactic, or cleverly packed with sexual undertones, or just analytic or critical of the authority and power structure. These early calypsonians were skilled wordsmiths, slamming, slicing and nudging each other with sharp verbal skills.


Spoken Word and Storytelling 

When you check the various components that make up calypso, storytelling and commentary are functional. The calypsonian (the calypso singer) is most definitely a spoken word griot, a djele. He or she is a storyteller in the true sense, relaying his or her take on social and political issues of the society. That calypso derived from African oral tradition is obvious and undeniable when you consider this music's functionality.

"A Calypsonian is a poor man newspaper."
 "I consider the Kaisonian  as the old African storyteller..."

Monday, February 4, 2019

Africa Was Born in Me: Black History 24/7, 365

Black History 24/7, 365 @TheAbeng #theabeng

Black history is world history. African history is part of the Black story; after all, Black history didn’t begin with slavery, neither did it end in Africa. Black history reaches from the Rift Valley floor to the various ages of mass-incarceration cages, to repatriation and reclamation of African citizenship. Black people stories rather leap off ships, jump off cliffs, tear their own skin with sparks from munitions than live bowed on knees. Black history (ourstory) is love while gritting teeth, while kissing teeth, while sucking teeth, while grinding teeth down to chalk so as not to have families torn apart. Black history is Black people story.

We now reclaim Black history as Black people’s story–we will tell our own stories, express our own experiences; we will no longer sit down by another fire side and hear someone else tell us who we are, what we should be, who we should dress like, how we should talk. I want talk how-so-ever I feel fah talk to me Nua. And if it pidgin, or creole, or patois–soundin, is because one time we couldn’t talk unless we talked like how the colonialists talked–speaky, spokey. So, Black history is Kreyol, Black story is CreoleseBlack story is Patwa, Black story is Ebonics or Pidgin or Papiamento or Krio. AND, Black history is also Twi, and Yoruba, and Mandinke, and Xhosa, and Ibo, and Hausa, and so many others because African tongues is the root of we ‘tory, our story.

African history is black history because Africa is born within us, and walks with us; right, Nana- Buluku and Olorun? Right, Shango? See me, Nyame? Listen me, Nyambi, nuh man? Africa born in all we Samba, all we Rhumba, all a we Nyabinghi, we Kumfa, we Kumina; in all we Merengueing and we Limboing and we Wining, and we Kumbaying, mi Lord. You overstand? Africa born in all we cassava and yam and ochro gumbo and metemgee/oil down/run down and even when we pop a top a pour a lil libation pon de ground for we bredren wah gone; Africa in deh, it in deh, ayahhh- ohhhh, it in deh.  

“I am not African because I was born in Africa but because Africa was born in me.” ~ Kwame Nkrumah

Washington, D.C.


Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Abeng Essay: The Beginnings and Development of Racism in The U.S.: Some Implications for Black Americans (Part 2) by Dr. Cicely A. Rodway

The Beginnings and Development of Racism in The U.S.: Some Implications for Black Americans (Part 2) by Dr. Cicely A. Rodway copyright 1987 C. A. Rodway

"To fully appreciate the long history of white racist views which have had such negative effects on all aspects of Black Americans' existence, it is necessary to begin at the very beginning when the first [Africans] were brought to America from the Motherland, Africa." ~ Dr. C. A. Rodway; from part 1 of this essay 

The first Africans were brought to America in 1619 by a Dutch captain and left in Jamestown, Virginia. At this point in history, Blacks were viewed as simply another aspect of the many-sided economic problems which the white colonists were called on to face. (Jordan, 1968) The colonists gave very little attention to the status of the slaves who were treated similarly to white indentured servants and enjoyed the same status. Therefore, up to 1651, at the end of their service, black indentured servants were "assigned lands in much the same way as was being done for white servants." (Jordan, 1968)

This situation soon changed as the colonists, faced with an unlimited supply of land, needed labor to utilize it. The colonists grew tired of replacing indentured servants whose period of service had expired. They were also faced with the failure of their attempts to use Indian slave labor. The colonists quickly saw a way by which they could solve all their problems at "one fell swoop."

The problem could be solved by placing the negro in "perpetual servitude," which would solve the problem of finding replacements, as there would be an "inexhaustible supply" of Negroes. (Jordan, 1968) This purely economic decision marked the advent of the slave trade in America. It began gradually, but begin it did for by 1640, when Negroes were brought into the country they were no longer given "indentures or contracts and could not look forward to freedom after a specified period of service." (Jordan, 1968) But, it was not until 1661 that there was a statutory recognition of slavery. However, despite the new slave laws, no attempt was made by the colonists to enslave or change the status of the indentured servants who had completed their period of service and were free to live as the chose in Virginia.

This chain of events in Virginia was more or less mirrored in the occurrences in the other Southern colonies, in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. By the end of the 1660's, negro slavery was a "fait accompli" in the settled parts of America. There were degrees of harshness in the treatment of slaves and in the attitudes of the colonists toward slavery, as was evidenced by the actions of William Penn in Pennsylvania and the Quakers in New Jersey. Despite this, the final and incontestable fact was that negro slavery had been institutionalized and legalized and was an accepted status for negroes. This was to continue as an accepted part of the fabric of American life until 1865.

How Did Christians Rationalize and Justify Slavery?

It may seem ironic that this new "Christian" country whose stated
basis for establishment was individual freedom and whose enunciated doctrine was built on the "essential equality of all men," (Franklin, 1847) could be involved in the slave trade. The Bible had spoken unequivocally against the evils of slavery and had condemned slave owners. In Exodus 21:16 it was stated, "And he that stealeth a man and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, shall surely be put to death." So, the colonists in an attempt to appease their consciences set about finding rationalizations for enslaving negroes.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Murals

artist Oscar Thomas, Sr.
Martin Luther King Mural in Liberty City, Miami, Florida

King Mural in Portugal

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Five Things About Kenya That Terrorism Will Not Shadow

Let's Talk Nairobi, Kenya
by Kaya Omodele @TheAbeng 

With these latest terrorist attacks in Nairobi, Kenya this past Tuesday (January 15, 2019), there have been many negative images (however realistic and necessary they may be) released for the world to see. In this information age where "shock and awe" is more mantra than mere phrase, sensationalism is the holy grail. 

For me though, there are far too many negative narratives of Africa and the African Diaspora. I understand that there is war and crime and violence all over the world and I reason about these realities here on The Abeng and My Conscious Pen regularly. But if all we discuss are negatives, then the narrative of the Black World, our diaspora, will be taken in as all grim and gloom. 

But Africa and the African Diaspora are on the move, forward and upward, ever. And in this spirit, I am listing some of the most positive happenings in Nairobi, Kenya.

Five Things To Love About Kenya

1. Growing Economy. Kenya boasts the second largest economy in East Africa. (In 2015, Ethiopia, with a much larger population, overtook Kenya as the largest economy in the region). With a GDP growth rate for the past 5 years at around 5%, Kenya's economic growth is solid and above the United States'. And the projection for 2019: 5.8%.

2.  Large, Vibrant Cities. Nairobi is a thriving, dynamic, metropolitan city, where over four million citizens hustle and bustle, repping more than 40 ethnicities. Hundred of  multinational companies and NGOs have their East African/Central African regional headquarters located in Nairobi; on top of all that, it's also a tech and creative hotspot.

3. Creative Kenya. One of the most intriguing qualities about Kenya for me as a writer is the fertile environment for creative storytelling. Young storytellers, whether authors or filmmakers, are encouraged to tell compelling stories, though sometimes faced with a government fight against unsavory content.

In April 2018, The Kenya Film Commission (KFC) promoted "My Kenya, My Story", a mobile competition in which they called on young, independent filmmakers to submit their smartphone, film projects. And the annual Slum Film Festival calls on filmmakers from slums and ghettos in Nairobi to submit their films showcasing stories. 

Some of Nairobi's stories and storytellers:

4. People of African Descent are Repatriating to Kenya Blacks in the African diaspora are moving to Kenya, Nairobi and Mombasa in particular, where we are finding business opportunities in an economic environment that's fertile for entrepreneurs with innovative and sometimes even simple hustles and ideas. For those of us thinking of African repatriation and business, keep in mind that value in any market can be found when a need in that market is identified, qualified and quantified. 
When thinking of making Kenya (or any African country) home, or a business location, due diligence is paramount of course.

From Compton, California, Preshley Knight moved from the United States to Kenya after she became extremely ill. She began hustling cakes on the streets in Nyeri, parlayed that into working for a bakery and now has since started up her own company, Wakanda Express Tours and Africa Immigration Consultants.

5. Kenya's Music Scene

While the attack on Nairobi was indeed horrific, that level of violence is not the norm for this thriving, young city. It's a shame that much of the media mainly report news in a way that commands clicks. While some of Africa is indeed at war within itself, most of Africa is on the rise or booming. As black writers, let's be responsible, balanced, logical, compassionate; let's place news about the Motherland in perspective.  



Tuesday, January 1, 2019

kontan jou endepandans: Happy Independence Day, Haiti!

 Happy Independence Day, Haiti!

Today, January 1, is Haitian Independence Day. On this day in 1804, Haiti declared independence from its colonial master, France, when General Jean Jacques Dessalines sounded the declaration of independence, after the thirteen years of The Haitian Revolution. Haiti became the first independent nation (and republic) in Latin America, and was the second nation to gain independence in the Americas (28 years after the United States of America). It is the only country in the Americas where former slaves fought and freed an entire nation from slavery and its colonial masters. Haitian leaders also abolished slavery in neighboring Santo Domingo (the present-day Dominican Republic).

Haiti not only inspired revolutionaries other colonies and slaves to revolt, one of its revolutionary leaders, Alexander Pétion, was a friend to Simon "the Great Liberator" Bolivar, giving him refuge in Haiti and aid in the form of arms, munitions and infantry. 

The following is a translation of the document by Laurent Dubois and John Garrigus as published in "Slave Revolution in the Caribbean 1789 - 1804: A Brief History with Documents."

The Haitian Declaration of Independence

The Commander in Chief to the People of Haiti


It is not enough to have expelled the barbarians who have bloodied our land for two centuries; it is not enough to have restrained those ever-evolving factions that one after another mocked the specter of liberty that France dangled before you. We must, with one last act of national authority, forever assure the empire of liberty in the country of our birth; we must take any hope of re-enslaving us away from the inhuman government that for so long kept us in the most humiliating torpor. In the end we must live independent or die.

Independence or death... let these sacred words unite us and be the signal of battle and of our reunion.

Citizens, my countrymen, on this solemn day I have brought together those courageous soldiers who, as liberty lay dying, spilled their blood to save it; these generals who have guided your efforts against tyranny have not yet done enough for your happiness; the French name still haunts our land.

Everything revives the memories of the cruelties of this barbarous people: our laws, our habits, our towns, everything still carries the stamp of the French. Indeed! There are still French in our island, and you believe yourself free and independent of that Republic which, it is true, has fought all the nations, but which has never defeated those who wanted to be free.

What! Victims of our [own] credulity and indulgence for 14 years; defeated not by French armies, but by the pathetic eloquence of their agents' proclamations; when will we tire of breathing the air that they breathe? What do we have in common with this nation of executioners? The difference between its cruelty and our patient moderation, its color and ours the great seas that separate us, our avenging climate, all tell us plainly that they are not our brothers, that they never will be, and that if they find refuge among us, they will plot again to trouble and divide us.

Native citizens, men, women, girls, and children, let your gaze extend on all parts of this island: look there for your spouses, your husbands, your brothers, your sisters. Indeed! Look there for your children, your suckling infants, what have they become?... I shudder to say it ... the prey of these vultures.

Instead of these dear victims, your alarmed gaze will see only their assassins, these tigers still dripping with their blood, whose terrible presence indicts your lack of feeling and your guilty slowness in avenging them. What are you waiting for before appeasing their spirits? Remember that you had wanted your remains to rest next to those of your fathers, after you defeated tyranny; will you descend into their tombs without having avenged them? No! Their bones would reject yours.

And you, precious men, intrepid generals, who, without concern for your own pain, have revived liberty by shedding all your blood, know that you have done nothing if you do not give the nations a terrible, but just example of the vengeance that must be wrought by a people proud to have recovered its liberty and jealous to maintain it let us frighten all those who would dare try to take it from us again; let us begin with the French. Let them tremble when they approach our coast, if not from the memory of those cruelties they perpetrated here, then from the terrible resolution that we will have made to put to death anyone born French whose profane foot soils the land of liberty.

We have dared to be free, let us be thus by ourselves and for ourselves. Let us imitate the grown child: his own weight breaks the boundary that has become an obstacle to him. What people fought for us? What people wanted to gather the fruits of our labor? And what dishonorable absurdity to conquer in order to be enslaved. Enslaved?... Let us leave this description for the French; they have conquered but are no longer free.

Let us walk down another path; let us imitate those people who, extending their concern into the future, and dreading to leave an example of cowardice for posterity, preferred to be exterminated rather than lose their place as one of the world's free peoples.

Let us ensure, however, that a missionary spirit does not destroy our work; let us allow our neighbors to breathe in peace; may they live quietly under the laws that they have made for themselves, and let us not, as revolutionary firebrands, declare ourselves the lawgivers of the Caribbean, nor let our glory consist in troubling the peace of the neighboring islands. Unlike that which we inhabit, theirs has not been drenched in the innocent blood of its inhabitants; they have no vengeance to claim from the authority that protects them.

Fortunate to have never known the ideals that have destroyed us, they can only have good wishes for our prosperity.

Peace to our neighbors; but let this be our cry: "Anathama to the French name! Eternal hatred of France!"

Natives of Haiti! My happy fate was to be one day the sentinel who would watch over the idol to which you sacrifice; I have watched, sometimes fighting alone, and if I have been so fortunate as to return to your hands the sacred trust you confided to me, know that it is now your task to preserve it. In fighting for your liberty, I was working for my own happiness. Before consolidating it with laws that will guarantee your free individuality, your leaders, who I have assembled here, and I, owe you the final proof of our devotion.

Generals and you, leaders, collected here close to me for the good of our land, the day has come, the day which must make our glory, our independence, eternal.

If there could exist among us a lukewarm heart, let him distance himself and tremble to take the oath which must unite us. Let us vow to ourselves, to posterity, to the entire universe, to forever renounce France, and to die rather than live under its domination; to fight until our last breath for the independence of our country.

And you, a people so long without good fortune, witness to the oath we take, remember that I counted on your constancy and courage when I threw myself into the career of liberty to fight the despotism and tyranny you had struggled against for 14 years. Remember that I sacrificed everything to rally to your defense; family, children, fortune, and now I am rich only with your liberty; my name has become a horror to all those who want slavery. Despots and tyrants curse the day that I was born. If ever you refused or grumbled while receiving those laws that the spirit guarding your fate dictates to me for your own good, you would deserve the fate of an ungrateful people. But I reject that awful idea; you will sustain the liberty that you cherish and support the leader who commands you. Therefore vow before me to live free and independent, and to prefer death to anything that will try to place you back in chains. Swear, finally, to pursue forever the traitors and enemies of your independence.

Done at the headquarters of Gonaives, the first day of January 1804, the first year of independence.

The Deed of independence

Native Army

Today, January 1st 1804, the general in chief of the native army, accompanied by the generals of the army, assembled in order to take measures that will insure the good of the country;

After having told the assembled generals his true intentions, to assure forever a stable government for the natives of Haiti, the object of his greatest concern, which he has accomplished in a speech which declares to foreign powers the decision to make the country independent, and to enjoy a liberty consecrated by the blood of the people of this island; and after having gathered their responses has asked that each of the assembled generals take a vow to forever renounce France, to die rather than live under its domination, and to fight for independence until their last breath.

The generals, deeply moved by these sacred principles, after voting their unanimous attachment to the declared project of independence, have all sworn to posterity, to the universe, to forever renounce France, and to die rather than to live under its domination.


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