In Haitian Kreyòl, a literal translation for «san manman» would be «without mother» or «motherless». Beware, however, if you hear it applied to someone, it is unlikely the speaker is showing compassion for one’s dearly missed loved one. «San manman» is a qualifier reserved for a «most wicked criminal», a despised being.
The precise etymology of «san manman» escapes me. However, I would venture a guess that it might be connected to another loaded expression «kolangèt manman ou». Whereas, a theory suggests the latter expression refers to one’s mother’s genital parts, there also exists a theory which purport that the injurious expression comes from the French phrase «le colon guette ta maman», a warning that «Massa has his eyes on your mother». Recently-departed Haitian researcher/ political figure Gérard Gourgue is among those who endorsed this hypothesis.
Indeed, whether in French, British or Spanish plantations, all enslaved Africans lived with a particular anguish that the one person whose biological link with them might be known, and also the strongest, risks being taken away from him/her any time, at the enslaver’s whim. To illustrate how deep and prevalent this fear was among kidnaped Africans, historians cannot identify parents for the most well known leaders of the Haitian Revolution: be it Dessalines, Toussaint, Christophe, Marijann, Sanite Bélair, Boukmann, Makandal…Fathers or mothers – just forget it! Nearly impossible to trace them.
To this day, the most vicious insult to a Haitian, is the proverbial «kolangèt manman ou!». In Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint-Lucia…there exists variants of the same. We also note the prevalent expression «your mama!» in English-Speaking countries. If this theory stands, how did the transfer happen from evoking «viktimhood» – as in “yo, brotha, you risk losing your mama to Massa!” – to evoking shame and «guilt»? This remains unclear to me.
Suffice it to say, in February 2021, when you hear Haitians refer to fraudulently-installed puppet president Jovenel Moise as a «san manman», it is certainly no expression of sorrow or empathy toward this totally-despised individual. Rather, it is a statement of utter rejection by the Haitian nation of this criminal who has caused them much suffering over the past 4 years.
Jovenel Moise who, recently stepped all over Haiti’s constitution to extend his ill-gotten “mandate”, is deemed a «san manman» because he showed no remorse, no caring, no empathy towards hundreds of victims of thuggish violence, kidnappings, mass murders at the hands of his foreign-trained and equipped police and paramilitary gangs (see Lasalin Massacre).
Also, because Jovenel Moise is known as, and so blatantly seen to be, a puppet of Haiti’s foreign occupiers, popular repulsion expressed towards him is all the more intense.
Haitians often call their motherland «Ayiti Manman Cheri». Jovenel Moise has been thrown out of the island, spiritually. He does not belong. He is said to be a motherless creature, begotten of several foreign fathers.
#PatiJovenel ! (Go away Jojo!)
“France ́s recognition of Haiti, like the masters’ acknowledgement of slaves’ manumission, did not make her fully independent or sovereign. To the contrary, Haiti continued as a new imperial location, a ‘commercial colony’, dependent through her external debt and foreign governance until today” – Liliana Obregón in “Empire, Racial Capitalism and International Law: The Case of Manumitted Haiti and the Recognition Debt”, Leiden Journal of International Law (2018), 31, pp. 597–615
Indeed, refusal to accept the Haitian people’s right to sovereignty and self-governance has been a constant behaviour adopted by white-dominated nations, regardless of the passage of time or the mode of governance which they profess to adopt (Empire or Republic, Democrat or Republican, Liberal or Conservative).
Obregón states: “The generalized belief among Europeans was that as slaves or freedmen, Africans did not have the capacity to be sovereign over themselves, let alone over a nation.”
This consensus has not evolved among 21st Century descendants of Napoleon, Elizabeth I, Cromwell. Idiocy and white barbarism seem to be stuck in time.
Over 200 years ago, in October 1814, the French government sent three spies on a secret mission to pit “mulatto” Haitian leader Alexandre Pétion against the African Haitian King Henry Christophe. The spies were instructed by their boss, Malouet, to make the following indecent proposal to the Haitian leaders: “reinstitute slavery and force the masses back to the plantations; impose a stratified caste system that would privilege the mulatto or coloured by giving them ‘nearly perfect equality of rights’ but below the ‘White cast’ if they could obtain white titles ‘by the fairness of their complexion, their fortune, their education, or their public services’. The proposal also stated that if they did not comply, the King of France would cut Saint Domingue off from all commerce so they would soon be ‘reduced to live like savages’, exterminated, or ‘transported to the Isle of Ratau’”. Essentially, white slavers would regain property titles to Haitian lands, buildings and human beings (slaves).
King Henry Christophe responded: “we will never become a party to any treaty, to any condition, that may compromise the honour, the liberty, or the independence of the Haytian people that, true to our oath, we will sooner bury ourselves beneath the ruins of our native country, than suffer an infraction of our political rights“. King Henry I of Hayti proceeded to capture, interrogate and execute Franco de Medina, the French spy, who came with the insulting proposal to his court.
President Alexandre Pétion, more hesitant and willing to entertain the French spy sent his way, eventually replied with dignity in November 1816: “our duties are pointed out; nature gave them birth; she has created us equal with other men; we will sustain them against all who dare conceive the criminal desire of subjecting us. They will find only on these shores ashes mixt in blood, the sword, and an avenging climate“.
As described by Liliana Obregón, once the French reconquest and proposals to re-enslave the majority of Haitians and give ‘white’ status “lettres de blanc” to the elites had failed, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Louis XVIII came up with a new strategy: the idea of ‘un nouveau genre de colonisation . . . la colonie commercial’ without having the inconvenience and expense of the former slave colony. The proposal aimed to substitute the classic form of colonial domination with a new form of ‘commercial and industrial dependence’ that would convert Haiti into ‘a commercial colony with the stipulations of friendship, alliance, reciprocity and commerce’”.
That second strategy, coupled with sustained coordinated white supremacist aka “gunboat diplomacy” attacks against Haiti, has managed to yield the desired outcome.
As I outline in my November 2002 article “Time to stop resisting Haiti’s Resistance“, “Haiti’s is a history which can be accurately described as a tale of two-way resistance. On the one hand, the (majority of) people of Haiti are resisting white supremacy. On the other hand, white supremacy, supported by peoples of all color and class, both consciously and unconsciously, is resisting the people of Haiti’s stubborn determination to self-govern by black majority rule“.
I wrote that article in the form of an urgent alert, aiming to help avert the disaster we saw pointing at the horizon. The Ottawa Initiative on Haiti took place nonetheless, a few weeks later, and the bloody coup d’état and racist foreign invasion happened on February 29, 2004.
Esmangart, the French proponent of the neo-colonial form introduced in the early 1800s to control Haiti’s destiny insisted that France would not lose with Haitian “independence”, because colonialism could be perpetuated without the responsibilities and costs of a colony. This is precisely what the white men and women who met at Meech Lake (Ottawa-Gatineau), on January 31- February 1, 2003, had in mind when they decided to overthrow Haiti’s legitimate President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and to replace him by black-face puppets of their liking. They would rule the land, placed under tutelage, profit from its resources and accept no responsibility for any undesirable outcomes. In other words, make sure the Haitian people remain subdued under the iron fist of the most despicable “san manman”.
The influence of white supremacist ideology in world affairs is seldom mentioned in mainstream publications about Haiti. Yet, it is a key pillar of the infamous Ottawa Initiative on Haiti and the R2P doctrine on which it was predicated. Indeed, the racial features of the conflict currently brewing in Haiti are quite visible at both, international and national levels. So far, we’ve discussed Haiti’s struggle against global white supremacy. Now, let’s take a brief look at the struggle to stop Haitian Apartheid in 2021.
Following the 1915 US occupation of Haiti, the Yankees imposed a string of U.S.-subservient, “mulatto” dictators : Sudre Dartiguenave, Louis Borno, Elie Lescot, Louis Eugene Roy and Stenio Vincent.
To this day, the black majority stands in opposition to a foreign-backed minority represented by the likes of white American sweatshop owner André Apaid, his brother-in-law and unsuccessful presidential candidate Charles Baker, American Rudolph Boulos, his brother Reginald Boulos, and a set of foreign-rooted families who, in cahoot with the Western embassies, control much of Haiti’s import-export – as was predicated by Esmangart since the 1800s.
As in 1915-1934, members of Haiti’s black majority resisting the humiliating occupation of their land today are deemed to be a horde of “bandits” who endanger “private property.” Back in the 20th century the private property being protected by Yankee troops was mostly American. Today, foreign troops illegally-deployed in Haiti are said to have a ‘responsibility to protect’. This responsibility extends to important Canadian investments such as Gildan Activewear’s sweatshops and Ste-Geneviève Resources’ gold exploration concessions.
In the latest string of illegal decrees published by unconstitutionally-imposed foreign puppet Jovenel Moise, he gave a large swat of territory (8600 hectares of fertile land and over $18M in business loan) to his sponsor André Apaid. Meanwhile, those whose fathers were in Africa on January 1, 1804, as Dessalines said, still have nothing.
The web of connections between the Port-au-Prince-based ambassadors, NGO directors, food importers and sweatshop owners, all of whom live in the same neighborhoods, send their kids to the same schools and have developed an acute sense of (Apartheid-like) community is an important element that remains to be thoroughly researched, documented and analyzed. Meanwhile, mainstream media continues to propagate the stereotypes which sustain this mentality of a “besieged class” that must be protected from “savage others.”
The Haitian people are down but not defeated. On Sunday February 7, 2021, thirty five (35) years after getting rid of CIA-backed Baby Doc (Jean-Claude Duvalier) and his infamous Tonton Macoutes, the Haitian people were looking for yet another spectacular liberation from a “san manman”.
«Toulejou pa dimanch» says a proverb that warns us every day does not bring joy and sunshine. February 7, 2021 happened to fall on a Sunday. But, it came and it passed, the Haitian people did not have the last laugh. The latest «san manman» and his foreign fathers still have their knees on Haitian necks.
And so, the struggle continues! Amandla! Uhuru! Alaso!