Toussaint Louverture, one of the greatest strategists in Haitian history (1743-1803)

“When I am overthrown, in Saint-Domingue only the trunk of the tree of Black Liberty will be cut down. It will grow back because its roots are deep and numerous” / « En me renversant, on n’a abattu à Saint-Domingue que le tronc de l’arbre de la Liberté des Noirs, il repoussera par les racines parce qu’elles sont profondes et nombreuses »: said Toussaint Louverture on June 12, 1802, as he boarded the French ship that would take him to Fort de Joux where he died on April 7, 1803, isolated in a cell far from his country. Besides his extraordinary bravery, Toussaint was also an excellent strategist and his message was enigmatic. The trunk of the tree of liberty will not die with him, on the contrary, it will grow back from its roots. In fact, this tree trunk referred to the colony of Saint-Domingue and these roots were his enslaved companions led by the indigenous army fighting for independence. This was the flame that burned inside one of the iconic figures of Haitian history, born a slave on May 20, 1743, on the Bréda plantation in Haut-du-Cap in the colony of Saint-Domingue.

Today, we commemorate the 220th anniversary of Toussaint’s death. What about the trunk of the tree of liberty and its roots that he advocated? Unfortunately, the situation is bleak, to say the least, it’s total chaos: poverty, insecurity, injustice… Haiti is slowly dying before the eyes of its children. It’s clear that we are almost all waiting for foreign intervention to get us out of this situation when we should be the first to act. Three hundred years ago, refusing to live in inhumane conditions, slaves fought to obtain their freedom. Their salvation did not come from heaven, they paid for it with their blood and weapons. And even though they were poorly equipped militarily, their thirst for freedom had defeated their oppressors. Today, this is what we really need: to realize our situation and define together what we will do to get out of it. Because in reality, we may have all the foreign interventions in the world, but Haiti is first and foremost the Haitians. The change of the country is with and through its children all united and motivated by a common goal.

May this April 7, 2023, not only be a moment to remember Toussaint’s death, but may it also inspire us with his ideal to build together our dream Haiti, a nation with deep and numerous roots that will never die.

– Jacky Janvier

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