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Historicising African Contributions to the Emancipation Movement: The Haitian Revolution, 1791-1805

Ogen, Olukoya (2008) Historicising African Contributions to the Emancipation Movement: The Haitian Revolution, 1791-1805. In: International Conference on "Teaching and Propagating African History and Culture to the Diaspora and Teaching Diaspora History and Culture to Africa, " State University of Rio de Janeiro, 11-13 November, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

The Haitian Revolution was the first incidence of mass emancipation in a colonial society and the only slave revolt that resulted in the formation of a modern state. However, existing canonical works on this revolution have largely concentrated on providing a central symbiotic relationship between the slave revolt and the broader changes in the Atlantic World during the 18th century. It has even been widely assumed that the Haitian Revolution was intellectually inspired by Western cultural values. Indeed, the Yoruba slave, Dutty Boukman, who ignited the revolution has been reduced to a mere footnote in the body of the prevailing Western-biased Haitian hegemonic historiography. This paper argues that the revolution, which was historically rooted in a legendary Yoruba tradition that abhors injustice, corruption and oppression, represents the very best of Yoruba’s cultural attainment in the Diaspora. The study further ‘resurrects’ the monumental contributions of Dutty Bookman to the outbreak of the revolution and underscores the fact that the Yoruba god of Ogun was the most portent rallying force that drove the revolution. Thus, the paper situates the cultural roots of the Haitian Revolution in its proper historical perspective and challenges one of the prevailing stereotypes about the “meagre” contributions of enslaved Africans to the emancipation of African slaves. The study, therefore, represents a major revision of the current historiography on the emancipation movement, and further highlights the methodological challenges of reconstructing the history of the slave trade in the Diaspora.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Items (Paper)
Keywords: Yoruba, diaspora, Haitian revolution, emancipation, slave trade, Ogun, Sango, Dutty Boukmon
SOAS Departments & Centres: Regional Centres > Centre of African Studies
Depositing User: Olukoya Ogen
Date Deposited: 21 Oct 2008 15:57
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/5684

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