In the Service of our Ancestors and African Love,
Listen Seeker, I come in peace,
“Men need images. Lacking them they invent idols. Better then to found the images on realities that lead the true seeker to the source.” — African Proverb
Oftentimes, in Africa, a person’s name is chosen in respect to her Ancestors. The practice was continued here in America. Even names like “Johnathan” were chosen to remind a grandson of who his noble grandfather was. While names may be given to individuals, mostly within the family, the authors of our Race celebrate our noble struggle by literary praises of our great and virtuous Ancestors. Yet when we are unaware of this tradition, we neglect to read these dedications and without awareness we do not become familiarized with the praiseworthy of our Race. However, every other people are promoting the praises’ of their Ancestors. So whereas we may not hear of the Dessalines’, the Nanny’s, the Hatshepsut’s, we hear of the Columbus’, the Buddha’s, and the Alexanders’. And as every people must sing, we sing the songs for the wrong Races.
Here is an Excerpt from William Edgar Easton’s “Dessalines, a Dramatic Tale: A Single Chapter from Haiti’s History.” In 1893, Henrietta Vinton Davis, the leading African actress in America, directed, produced, and acted in this play (read more here). It was a piece to encourage the noble struggle of our people. And it used one of our great Ancestors in the Haitian Revolution, who, where Toussaint didn’t finish, completed the job and became Haiti’s first Emperor following the Revolution. The excerpt reminds us how our Ancestors had praised our Ancestors and left a record of greatness for us to uncover. Please share the Literature and know that until we build institutions for our preservation, even writing from 2013 can be forgotten. Please Join or Donate. We alone can Protect ourselves.
Excerpt from “Dessalines”
by William Edgar Easton
AY, I am here — Monsieur Dessalines, the freedman; made so by his own hand and proclamation. If it suit thy quaking spirit better I am thy master’s escaped slave. Take me if thou darest! Hiding place my castle is on the mountains, where dwells no will save mine, and no slave dare breathe the air and refuse to be a man.
Good Dessalines, you say? Good slave! I remember when first I was sent to the master to receive from his lips my first instruction in the art of making self, in all things, subservient to the master’s will. On entrance to his presence, in meek and humble tones I showed my aptitude for the first lesson in slavish servitude. This must have pleased the good man, for next he tried to instill in me that God expected of the slave obedience to the master’s will. From sundry books he had at hand he read to me; and all he read impressed me with the thought that the gods from the beginning had ordained one race to serve, the other to rule. My people were of the race to serve; his people of the race to rule. Desiring to see how far this mockery went I asked to be taught a prayer whereby I could free my soul from guilt of insolence and hatred to the whites. He directed me to say a prayer, which after him I repeated, and called on all the saints and angels of his faith to witness I was an obdurate, worthless sinner. Again did he seek to impress me with the thought I must learn to love my masters. Then threw I the mask aside. I told him I hated the masters and their gods! I told him the African’s gods taught revenge for wrongs, hatred for hatred, and death for death. On this he threatened me with chastisement, torment and the church’s most fruitful curses. He dared to call me a pagan dog! Dost know what then I did? I plucked him by his unholy beard, threw him to the ground and spurned him as I would some snarling, fangless cur.
God have mercy on me? Thou, too, art a doler out of superstitious cant — an humble worshipper of thy master’s household gods. I have none, I know none, and owe allegiance only to my kind. A race enslaved ’tis true, but not all of us are only fit to be in spirit as thy master hath made thee. Teach the slave if he disobey he receives the lash. Tis in reason, for thy corporal frame is captive; but to command the mind to worship at an altar where the sacrifice of liberty and manhood occur each day is as tyrannical as useless. Minds are not made captive with slavery chains, nor are men’s souls made for barter and trade.
What has made me master here? What will make ye masters here? Look upon us! I am as black as the shadows of night, with muscles of iron and a will that was never enslaved! What has he that I have not save the arrogance of the accursed Caucasian blood? What have these Franks that we are their household chattels — that we are their beasts? They suffer from the heat more than we, their sight is less keen, the evening dews hasten them to their graves and the noonday’s sun finds them under cover. The very fibres of their frames are weak and puny, and, as the gods allotted labor for the part of man, they must depend on us to carry out the law. What fetich have they that sustains their power to rule and ours to serve? We are ten to one their number now in Haiti — perhaps an hundred it may be. Then is it the strong who rules, or is it the natural sequence of our own inward weakness? Have ye mothers, sisters or laughing babes that ye can call your own?
Were ye always slaves and your sires, too? And must it follow that ye must always be?
Listen! When but a stripling in my native land I was wont to hunt the great king of the jungles whose roar is like the distant thunder, and whose bite is death. One day, with five companions, armed with spears and shields, I penetrated a dense undergrowth and suddenly confronted a lioness and her mate. On seeing us they gave forth terrific roars in defiance of our arms and numbers. All unprepared for the meeting, my companions were affrighted and would have fled had I not called on them to halt — as flight meant a fearful death — and to charge upon the foe. We charged upon them, and though they were wounded, they were not disabled, and only made more fierce and desperate. Then there ensued such a battle! The spears were torn from our hand. Three of my companions with their entrails protruding from their tortured abdomens were still in death upon the ground. The brutes’ terrific roar and fearful carnage drove terror to our hearts, and routed, we ran ingloriously from the scene. What would I teach thee from this tale? The same lesson I have learned : That wavering is cowardly and desperation makes men brave; that the arms of the oppressors, however great in number, cannot prevail with the desperation of the lion at bay. The masters are wavering like the tall palmetto in the storm’s angry blast. Let us but be brave and the shackles now upon your limbs will be turned to anklets of gold and precious stones taken from the bodies of these Frankish dogs. If you will be brutes be lions!