Few days ago, May 20, was the birthday of Général Toussaint Louverture.
Born 20 May 1743, Louverture was a former slave who would lead the Haitian Revolution that would defeat the French and Spanish colonizers and established the first free, Black republic shortly after his death in 1804. Louverture led the anti-slavery uprising in his country into a war for independence, using his political and military genius against colonial forces led by Napoleon, one of the greatest military commanders of all time.
The revolution represented the largest slave uprising since Spartacus’ unsuccessful revolt against the Roman Republic nearly 1,900 years earlier and became a world-historic event by itself, challenging long-held European beliefs about alleged white superiority and about ordinary and enslaved peoples’ inability to govern themselves.
Though Louverture died in prison, tricked by Napoleon with the promise of reconciliation and peace, the struggle was not abandoned but carried on until victory, becoming an inspiration for the oppressed for centuries to come.
It is Toussaint’s supreme merit that while he saw European civilization as a valuable and necessary thing, and strove to lay its foundations among his people, he never had the illusion that it conferred any moral superiority.
He knew French, British, and Spanish imperialists for the insatiable gangsters that they were, that there is no oath too sacred for them to break, no crime, deception, treachery, cruelty, destruction of human life and property which they would not commit against those who could not defend themselves.C.L.R. James in The Black Jacobins: Toussaint I:Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution
It’s late but happy birthday general. Your path continues.