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Slavery - France remembers

by Alexandra in WMass Fri May 12th, 2006 at 12:53:33 PM EST

"A people without memory is a people without future" Aimé Césaire

Today May 10, 2006 is the fifth anniversary of the adoption by the French senate of a law recognizing the slave trade and slavery as a crime against humanity and is an official day of remembrance. The ministry of education issued an official call, with accompanying texts and poems on slavery, for schools to engage students in discussions.

From the front page - whataboutbob

Click on the image of the Bordeaux façade for source and article (in French) on the city's slave trade.

In Bordeaux, one of the centers of the slave trade in France along with Nantes, La Rochelle and Le Havre, the local organization diverscites (translated as  both diversity and diverse cities) has been organizing conferences, rallies, and cultural events for several years and has organized events from Mai 10 to 13th this year (pdf flyer).

Karfa Diallot, founder and president of Diverscite looking at the statue of Toussaint Louverture in Bordeaux (photo by J.-P. Guilloteau of L'Express - click on photo for related 2005 article in French in L'Express)

A longer diary on Bordeaux to follow in the next few days...

Thank you very much for this diary.

Point n'est besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre, ni de réussir pour persévérer. - Charles le Téméraire
by marco on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 01:24:22 AM EST
Another moving diary, with beautiful pictures. You have the gift of handling news material in an artistic way, Alexandra.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 04:32:21 AM EST
Thank you. I hope to have a longer diary on Bordeaux and the slave trade up in the next few days but wanted to get something posted to highlight today's remembrance.
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 10:37:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Seconded. Looking forward for the Bordeaux diary.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 06:12:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I didn't know about this day of remembrance.
Thanks a lot , this is inspiring for us, Belgians, to rectify some things in Congo.

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 02:21:28 PM EST
Thanks for this reminder, Alexandra. I heard someone speaking on the radio (France Inter) this morning about how this subject was covered in school. She said it was pretty hopeless -- that there was some work done on the triangular trade, for example, but nothing really on slavery itself. But this might be more appropriate in your next diary...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 04:09:50 PM EST
Better late than never. Here is a partial listing of event and activities all over France that were scheduled for today's commemorations.
by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 04:35:51 PM EST
Sorry to rain on the jubelee parade.

The current PC remembrance initiative is largely criticised because of it's bigotted slant. Which is: That France, at a certain point, let go - out of generosity, historical, philosophical magnamity? - the slaves towards liberty and equal rights.

That, of course, is a white man's lie. It is bull crap.

The truth is that Napoleon's armies, the most modern war machine of its time, were utterly defeated by a Haitian black general who led an insurgent army of slaves and - interestingly - helped by a few dozens of freedom loving Polish and Prussian Landsknechte.

The truth is further that France, who had become a citizens republic, never accepted the loss -  perceived as a humiliation by black people - and tried to re-instate the slave system on Hispaniola. And when they saw that that wasn't going to fly, they ransacked, looted and stole, together with the US, the entire treasury of the free Haitian nation.

They bankrupted it's the government and boycotted their goods.

Is it a coincidence that France still marches in lockstep with the US imperialists when it comes to plunder Haiti and oppress the people of Haiti? Today?

I want a French history book which contains an article and a photo of the French president on his knees in front of the war for liberty memorial in Port au Prince begging the people for forgiveness.

Like Willy did in Warsaw in 1970, or Heidi did in Namibia in 2003:

"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

by Ritter on Fri May 12th, 2006 at 04:50:48 PM EST
Help me understand more about American exploitation of Haiti. I was under the misimpression that the principal problems of Haiti circled around corruption.
by asdf on Sun May 14th, 2006 at 04:49:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I just picked up you message. It's been raining (the literal version) all weekend here in Massachusetts so no need to be sorry to add rain here. The is no question that French colonial history as is it is taught in French schools today leaves a lot to be desired with the history of San Domingue/Haiti being a key example. Thanks for the addition. My first novice diary at ET, although not about Haiti, was about this issue of colonial history. More to come in my Bordeaux diary (which is taking longer to finish).

As for the "PC remembrance initiative largely criticised because of it's bigoted slant" there were indeed controversies over the commemorations and how to commemorate. For local activist in Bordeaux who have been working for several years to shine a light on the slave trade past of that port and have had remembrances for the past 9 years I think the national push was a welcome one to shine more light on the subject. However, it, in of itself, is not an end but a means to an end.

by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 11:27:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It was somewhen in the 50's (1950's) that a small classified ad on a french newspaper offered to trade a portuguese for a horse-cart... I wish i could find it online.
by Torres on Wed May 17th, 2006 at 12:30:40 PM EST

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