January 1, 1804 should be a date that lives in the mind of every Black person around the world. This date is important because Haiti declared its independence from the French after defeating Napoleon’s forces.
This is notable for so many reasons. The most notable reason is that an enslaved people rose up and defeated their oppressors to become the first free Black nation in the western hemisphere.
As the world is reflecting the year and planning for the next, Haitians around the world are celebrating freedom with loved ones and a bowl of soup.
Soup Joumou is a squash soup that was consumed by the French oppressors during Haiti’s time of slavery. This dish was kept away from the enslaved Haitians. The oppressors turned their noses up at these enslaved people with each spoonful of their forbidden soup.
After defeating both the French and Spanish forces Haitians embraced this once forbidden soup as their own. It now represents a symbol of freedom, strength and love.
“The same thing that you (French oppressors) thought was so uppity we took and made it better. We enhanced it and now we share and break bread with our families during this independence season to show people that not only are we resilient and fighters but we are crafty and we are able to show love and humility” said Brooklyn born Haitian-American Chef Claudy Pierre.
My mother cooks the soup in the kitchen. The sweet scent of squash and fresh vegetables float through the house and signals a new year and a reminder of where my ancestors are from.
As the ball drops in Time Square, or as you are enjoying your black eyed peas take a moment to acknowledge the strength of Black people. Haiti’s freedom is a representation of what can be accomplished and soup Joumou brings us all together in remembrance of our freedom.
L’Union Fait La Force translates to The Union makes us Strong. We are stronger together.
As fireworks and gunshots fill the air to bring in a New Year I need for the world specifically Black people to understand the significance of this day with regards to our freedom.
On January 1st 1804 Haiti became the first and only Independent Black Republic in the Western Hemisphere. The Spanish and French armies were defeated handily as slaves armed themselves ready to die in order to realize freedom. Great Haitian leaders like Toussaint Loveture and Jean Jacques Dessalines are celebrated but not as they should be.
Since reclaiming their freedom Haiti has descended into third world status. They have been paying a debt to France because of it. In the 1824 Franco-Haitian Agreement, France agreed to recognize Haitian independence if Haiti paid a large indemnity. This kept Haiti in a constant state of debt and placed France in a position of power over Haiti’s trade and finances. Almost every nation has set up some type of post there. Since America’s occupation of Haiti from 1915 to 1934 the country has remained destabilized. America has always had an interest in Haiti even before the occupation. The earthquake in 2010 and the essential robbery by the Clinton’s and Red Cross has added even more despair. All of this has happened under the nose of the diaspora. Let’s be clear, there is no diaspora without a free Haiti.
Haiti, often described as the poorest country on this side of the earth is also one of the most beautiful countries in the world. The resilience of the Haitian people serves as an example that even when the world continues to turn a blind eye to your suffering our dignity will not be erased.
Black people all over the planet should take notice, and honor the contribution Haiti has made to their lives and then do something about changing the circumstance of the country that opened up the door to the idea and reality of being free.
White supremacy can and will be defeated. Haiti has already proven this by defeating two world powers in order to reclaim their freedom. Check the records.
2017 is here and you can feel the shift in the air. People are preparing and planning, resolving and recalibrating. It’s especially poignant this year because in less than 20 day the United States will have a new president. It’s sobering news for some and inconsequential to others. One thing for sure is that this is the moment to get free. The time has come where the oppressed must galivanize and affect change directly.
On this day in 1804 Haiti claimed it’s independence. After ousting the French and the Spanish from the island the first independent Black Country was established in the Western Hemisphere. This is important to recognize all the time because it shows what can be done when a people have a resolve and one goal. The courage, bravery and orginazation it took for a group of slaves to overthrow their rulers should not be overlooked. There is power in the collective. A focused determination can and will shift the tide.
In the spirit of Dessalines, in the spirit of Toussaint in this moment we claim our freedom and expect the best for our existence. Happy New Year and Happy Haitian Independence Day!!
Along with a New Year…We also celebrate Haitian Independence.
The Haitian Revolution was the only slave revolt that led to the the slaves creating there own republic. The Haitians defeated both the French and Spanish military.
Soup Joumou is winter squash soup, it is symbolic because the Slaves were not allowed to eat it. So it is served every year in Haitian households as a reminder of this revolution and our ancestors.