It is never a historical fallacy to think of Haiti as an African country. Everything about this country has traceable similarities with Africans and the African lifestyle. From food relishes to cultural rites, Haitians are Africans through and through. There is no doubt that their 2012 petition to be inducted into the African Union membership was bonafide. Despite being geographically footed in the Caribbean, the country resembles the nostalgia of the African roots and the pride of the African identity.
Pan-Africans around the globe anticipated the petition to break through all the political hindrances and the complex legalities that surrounded joining Africa’s regional body. This was a noble call because Haitians have their roots in Africa and being settled in modern Haiti was one of the pitfalls of the slave trade. Today we want to look into what Africa and Haiti stood to benefit had the African Union heed the clarion call to allow Haiti membership.
Haiti is a resemblance of African independence.
To speak of black African freedom and sovereignty from colonial rule without mentioning Haiti is tantamount to being economic with the truth. Haiti holds a classic record as the first black nation to break the shackles of slavery from the French under Napoleon’s command. Jean Jacques Dessalines, its first President led a successful revolution against the French army and ring-fenced Haiti’s sovereignty. In strict sense, the Haitian revolution was the spark that ignited the revolutionary force in the Caribbean and with a spill over effect to the rest of slave owned territories. This move by Dessalines debunk narratives of black inferiority, replacing them with practical narratives of black victory.
The advent of the African Union itself can also be attributed to the long-standing history of Haitian independence that spread to the Caribbean islands. This holds some truth given that the AU was founded off the back of African legends such as Kwame Nkrumah and Leopold Senghor. Their pan-African and négritude principles were directly inspired by leaders from the Caribbean – Jamaican Marcus Garvey, Martinican Aimé Césaire and Trinidadian Henry Sylvester Williams. Consequently, Haiti established itself as a symbol of black independence, and as an advocate for the liberation of Africa from colonial rule after becoming the first black country to join the United Nations in 1945.The notion of Haiti’s induction into the African Union would have served the confirmation of an African nation outside the geographical parameters of the African continent.
What Haiti would have stood to benefit in the AU.
Had she been given the greenlight to become a member of Africa’s political body, Haiti stood to benefit from direct tourist visits from Africa. This was practically possible since the Haitian style of living denotes an African origin. In one of the humanitarian visits to the country during the 2010 earthquake catastrophe, an aid from Africa reckons that, “while many here in Haiti believe their country is essentially African, their understanding of what Africa is, is more complicated. To some, it is where they go after they die. Others think it is a single country”. Sentiments such as these are a deep revelation of admiration that Haitians have for their roots. On the other end, Haiti is home to miles of breath-taking beaches and crystal blue waters that are a marvel of an experience. Hence, a tourism exchange would have ensued owing to its inclusion into the AU.
Politically, Haiti would have benefitted from collective bargaining in the international political and economic fora. In the understanding that Haiti is still recovering from the 2010 disaster and with an arduous public debt, being in the AU would have allowed it to successfully lobby for debt cancellation. Given that the country is relatively poor compared to its neighbouring states, it would have best found recourse in the umbrella of the African Union. Noting also the cultural variance that Haiti has with her peer Caribbean states, it would have been prudent for it to fraternise with Africa under the blanket of the AU.
A common purpose relationship.
Africa is home to an assortment of raw materials, natural resources and youthful potential. The prospects of Haiti joining the AU would have opened up trade, business opportunities and developmental synergies with African states. This is because Haitians and Africans share a common developmental cause. In light of the strides that are being taken by most African countries such as Rwanda, Niger and Benin towards rapid civilisation and technological innovation, Haiti would have reaped the benefits. Synthesis of ideas would have emboldened Haiti’s prospects of an exponential traction towards bettering herself from the 2010 setback. Haiti is also the cradle of black artistic brilliance in music and cultural art. Its rich development in that aspect would have positively impacted in promoting artistic talent in the African region into a multi-million sector.
The realisation of Haiti as a member of the African Union might not be fruitful anytime soon owing to the provisions of the Constitutive Act that formed the body. However, if AU’s mooted idea of forming the “6th region,” comprised of delegates from all over the world representing the African diaspora can suffice, what would be the reason for not making the induction of Haiti a flexible move? After all these legal qualifications are set out by AU members and as such, members can always vary them. Can’t they?
Munashe O'brian Gutu
A pan-African son of the soil with a vision to impart and unravel the rich African history. Penning Afro-centric perspectives to de-mystify long-standing propagandist biases. Africa rise!
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