Sat | Jan 28, 2023

Haiti and St Thomas stigmatised

Published:Friday | April 30, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Editor, Sir:

The Haitian Revolution is, unquestionably, the product of great intelligence, good organisation, careful planning and fine military techniques - the basic components of a successful revolution. Haiti was France's prize possession in the Americas and its independence would not be a gift or an easy let go; moreso this was the time of Napoleon's military leadership in France.

The Haitians had far less than the American rebels and unlike the Americans they got no external assistance. The fact is that the little they had was well managed. Where then did the propaganda of voodoo and the devil being the source of success for this revolution come from?

The French, colonial power, devised this label to skirt the embarrassment of being defeated by the Haitians and to underrate the intelligence of Haitian revolutionaries. It is gross ignorance to believe that voodoo can win wars, overthrow govern-ments and transform economics and politics. If this were possible, the Americans would have used it on countless occasions, even in Afghanistan and the search for Bin Laden.

Ignoring evidence

The saddest part of this is that clergymen are today preaching this nonsense; ignoring the numerous Biblical evidences of God delivering vulnerable people from oppressive regimes. There is no biblical evidence of the devil delivering oppressed people and Jesus made it clear that evil cannot combat evil.

The voodoo/devil theory was later used by the British in their so-called explanation of the source of the native success in the Morant Bay rebellion. British colonial power was too humiliated to accept this defeat. St Thomas still carries the label - the obeah parish.

Many of the alleged obeahmen killed in the mass revenged killing, for their involvement with the rebellion, were only using herbs and plants in natural healing processes, most of them knew nothing about obeah and some had nothing to do with the rebellion.

Stigmatised and mistreated

The parish of St Thomas and Haiti are stigmatised, poor, and mistreated. The British and French Colonial Governments, respectively engineered that. In the case of St Thomas, successive national governments, since 1944, have done little to change this. Morant Bay is still the only parish capital without a clock, which was revengefully withheld by Britain.

On entering Morant Bay from Kingston you do so by the Bustamante Bridge and leaving to enter Portland it is via the Ken Jones highway - names symbolising that eastern St Thomas will always be dominated by the plantation system and the landed aristocracy, and the mass will always be locked in. Ken Jones and Bustamante were brilliant elsewhere, but in eastern St Thomas they were property owners preserving the oligarchy.

I am, etc.,


West Bromwich, West Midlands