While Guyana was undergoing a Hamlet-like existential crisis on May 5 over Indian Arrival Day – “to call it that or not call it that”! –- a rather significant commemoration over in France slipped under the radar of some of our woke activists.
In the estimation of your Eyewitness, however, the unnoticed commemoration over in France, was even more insulting to People of African Descent – descendants of enslaved Africans. It was the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the death of Napoleon Bonaparte who’d seized power in France in 1799, and crowned himself emperor in 1802.
So, what does this have to do with African-Guyanese? Plenty. You see, after 1779 when the French overthrew their monarchy and instituted a Republic, the African slaves of Haiti were inspired under the leadership of Toussaint L’Overture to rebel against slavery in 1791. The French Republic had abolished slavery in their colonies in 1794. However, when Napoleon seized power, he re-established slavery and sent an army of 60,000 under the command of his brother-in-law Le Clerc, to crush the Haitian Rebellion. Even though the French Army was eventually defeated by 1804, Le Clerc had shipped off Toussaint to France in chains, where he died. Guadeloupe, Martinique, and French Guiana were reinducted into the enslaved fold.
Napoleon was finally defeated at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, but his reinstituted system of slavery wasn’t abolished until 1848. The point, then, is he’s responsible for relaunching this crime against humanity, against more than 600,000 enslaved Africans in the French colonies.
Over in France, President Macron said it was a time for “enlightened commemoration” though not celebration. He described Napoleon’s decision to restore slavery as a “betrayal”, but praised the man, he said, who helped shape modern-day France. This is very disingenuous and shows us how politicians would do anything to get back into power. Macron entered politics as a golden-haired centrist wunderkind, but with his popularity in the pits, he’s desperately shifting to the right that sees Napoleon as a demigod – and his stance on slavery as condign.
Compare that with the frantic efforts of the PNC support brigade to defend Walton-Desir’s racist slur against Indian-Guyanese as “mentally lazy” – unlike African Guyanese who make rational choices on political decisions!
Yet these folks have accepted for years it’s racist to impute social characteristics to people based on physical attributes.
Ah, politics induces strange contortions!
…with COVID-19 crisis
There’s a big debate going on in the letters pages about the COVID-19 crisis in India. What’s not highlighted is their rise in infections and deaths is fuelled by new, deadlier and more easily-transmissible mutant variants. This is a one-two combination that can sucker punch even the most developed countries with their futuristic medical care – like it did the USA – much less a country that only reduced poverty by a quarter in the last decade.
But your Eyewitness’s concern in this – and any other matter – as always, is our dear old mudland and our challenges. So the question is – have our authorities figured out a way to get our COVID samples tested to discover what variants we have and if so, what are they?? We know for sure that the vaccines we’ve sourced won’t be effective against all variants. For instance, that’s the reason South Africa returned their million doses of AstraZeneca.
So it’s like we’re fighting a monster in the dark!
Your Eyewitness concedes his comments might be (unconsciously) influenced by parochialism. But when it comes to cricket he’s adamant we must always field the BEST WI team.
So really? The WI brain trust couldn’t find a place for Hetmyer?