Category Archives: Africa

A Tribute to Haitian Soldiers for Heroism in the American Revolution

Posted by: Audiegrl

Dedicated to the people of Haiti both in the US and abroad, please except our profound thanks, and know that our thoughts and prayers are with you…

Haitian Monument Statue in Franklin Square, Savannah, GA

Haitian Monument Statue in Franklin Square, Savannah, GA

After 228 years as largely unsung contributors to American independence, Haitian soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War’s bloody siege of Savannah had a monument dedicated in their honor. On October 9, 1779, a force of more than 500 Haitian gens de couleur libre (free men of color) joined American colonists and French troops in an unsuccessful push to drive the British from Savannah in coastal Georgia.

Chairman Daniel Fils-Aime

“We were here in 1779 to help America win independence. “ said Daniel Fils-Aime, chairman of the Miami-based Haitian American Historical Society. “That recognition is overdue.” “To see a monument in downtown Savannah and the commemoration of the involvement of the Haitian Americans, it’s a dream come true.” said Savannah Mayor Floyd Adams Jr. “This will help educate Americans but also Haitian youth about the significant contribution their ancestors made.” “The role of Haitian soldiers in the battle had long been ignored“, said North Miami Mayor Josaphat Celestin. “It means recognition for our efforts, that we were here all along, that Haiti was a part of the effort to liberate America and that they came here as free men, not as slaves,” Celestin said. “We hope this country will recognize this.”

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“It’s a huge deal,” said Philippe Armand, vice president of the Association of American Chambers of Commerce in Latin America, who flew to Savannah from the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. “All the Haitians who have gone to school know about it from the history books.”

Though not well known in the U.S., Haiti’s role in the American Revolution is a point of national pride for Haitians.

After returning home from the war, Haitian veterans soon led their own rebellion that won Haiti’s independence from France in 1804.


The Siege of Savannah

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The Siege of Savannah on October 9th, 1779 presents the Revolutionary War as a world conflict more than does any other engagement of the Revolution. The memory of this battle also reminds us of the fact that significant foreign resources of men, money, and material contributed to the eventual success of the cause of American independence. French, Polish, Native Americans, African slaves, free men of African descent, Germans, Hessians, Austrians, Scots, Welsh, Irish, English, Swedish, and American and West Indian colonials also participated as individuals or whole units in this most culturally diverse battle of the war. For six weeks this diverse force was assembled in three armies to contend for the possession of Savannah. This battle resulted in the largest number of casualties the allies suffered in a single engagement.

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The presence of the Chasseurs-Volontaires de Saint-Domingue as the largest unit of soldiers of African descent to fight in this war is worthy of commemoration. The fact that their number was made up of free men who volunteered for this expedition is startling to most people and surprising to many historians. Their presence reminds us that men of African heritage were to be found on most battlefields of the Revolution in large numbers. As a new and relatively inexperienced unit, the Chasseurs participated in the siege warfare including the battle of September 24th and the siege of October 9th.

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The Chasseurs Volontaires de Saint-Domingue served as a reserve unit to American and French forces fighting a British contingent. As battered American and French soldiers fell back, the Haitian troops moved in to provide a retreat.

Twenty-five of their number has their names recorded as wounded or killed during the campaign. Over 60 were captured in the fall of Charleston eight months later. The British Navy captured three transports carrying Chasseurs; these soldiers were made prizes of war and sold into slavery. Other members of this unit were kept on duty away from their homes for many months as part of French garrison forces. A subsequent unit of Haitians was a part of the French and Spanish campaign against Pensacola where they faced some of the same regiments of British troops that their comrades faced in Savannah.

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The efforts of Haiti to secure its independence from colonial rule beginning in 1791 are remarkable for the fact that what began as a slave revolt was to ultimately succeed in prevailing over the resources of the French Empire and to form a government of Western Hemisphere Africans. Haiti, much smaller in population than the United States, was attacked by armies as large as those sent against America by Britain. The Haitian victory over the legions of Napoleon was achieved with much less foreign assistance than the United States enjoyed.

Henri Christophe

Henri Christophe, Click to enlarge

Many key figures in the Haitian War of Independence gained military experience and political insights through their participation in Savannah — most notably Henri Christophe, a youth at the time but in his adult years a general of Haitian armies and king of his nation for fourteen years. Many of the Haitian soldiers later fought to win their country’s own war of independence, crediting their military experience in Savannah. Influenced by both the events of the American Revolution and the rhetoric of the French Revolution, the people of Haiti began a struggle for self-government and liberty. The first nation in the Western Hemisphere to form a government led by people of African descent, it was also the first nation to renounce slavery.

Sources: Haitian American Historical Society, We Haitians United We Stand For Democracy, Wikipedia, and the Associated Press.


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Racial Re-thinking as President Obama Visits China

Increasing diversity, born out of boom, forces Chinese to confront old prejudices

Lou JingWashington Post/Keith B. Richburg—As a mixed-race girl growing up in this most cosmopolitan of mainland Chinese cities, 20-year-old Lou Jing said she never experienced much discrimination — curiosity and questions, but never hostility.

So nothing prepared Lou, whose father is a African American, for the furor that erupted in late August when she beat out thousands of other young women on “Go! Oriental Angel,” a televised talent show. Angry Internet posters called her a “black chimpanzee” and worse. One called for all blacks in China to be deported.

As the country gets ready to welcome the first African American U.S. president, whose first official visit here starts Sunday, the Chinese are confronting their attitudes toward race, including some deeply held prejudices about black people. Many appeared stunned that Americans had elected a black man, and President Obama’s visit has underscored Chinese ambivalence about the growing numbers of blacks living here.

As China has expanded its economic ties with Africa — trade between them reached $107 billion last year — the number of Africans living here has exploded. Tens of thousands have flocked to the south, where they are putting down roots, establishing communities, marrying Chinese women and having children.

In the process, they are making tiny pockets of urban China more racially diverse — and forcing the Chinese to deal with issues of racial discrimination. In the southern city of Guangzhou, where residents refer to one downtown neighborhood as Chocolate City, local newspapers have been filled in recent months with stories detailing discrimination and alleging police harassment against the African community.

Lou sees similarities between her life and Obama’s: She also grew up without her father, whom she never knew. obamachinaUN-Climate-change-meeting-002-300x180 She read Obama’s autobiography and watched his campaign speeches on television. She learned how to chant “Yes, we can!” in English and calls Obama “my idol.

Reading the withering online criticisms of her talent-show appearance, she recalled, she came across one post that asked: “Now that Obama is president, does that mean a new day for black people has arrived?

“I think the answer is yes,” she said. “Some Chinese people’s perceptions of black people here have been transformed.”

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Oriental Angel‘ Triggers China Race Row

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theage.com.au—An instructor at Shanghai Drama Academy, where Lou studies broadcasting, put forward the mixed-race beauty and a handful of classmates to appear on the television talent show, without asking first.

She was selected for the top 30 nationwide, but was not among the 12 contestants chosen by judges for the next round.

Lou said she was not surprised by the judges’ decision, but was shocked by the thousands of web postings that followed, most of them negative and many of them expressing racist views.

I couldn’t help crying. I felt hurt. I never meant to offend anyone,” she said.

Although Lou is still working towards her dream of being a television presenter, she said the episode had left her less optimistic about whether she can find a place on China’s airwaves.

They want a TV host who is considered traditionally beautiful,” she said.

Ever since I appeared on TV, I realized that maybe I don’t fit the image of a TV host. Many believe a TV host should have white skin, high nose and big eyes.”

Lou said she would follow Obama’s visit to China, listing the US president — himself of mixed-race descent — as one of her heroes alongside her mother and Oprah Winfrey, whose show she watches over the Internet.

She said Obama’s autobiography had inspired her, but added that she was unconvinced she could change people’s minds about race.

He convinced people that he has the capacity to change what people thought of African-Americans. Compared to him, I don’t have that capacity for change because the Chinese media is too powerful,” she said.

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A Real Life Lion King Story–Christian the Lion Reunion

Posted by Audiegrl

The lion king of London

Backseat driver: Christian the lion tours London in the backseat of a soft-top car

Backseat driver: Christian the lion tours London in the backseat of a soft-top car

London Evening Standard/Nick Curtis—By chance, actors Virginia McKenna and her husband Ben Travers visited Sophisticat one day. They had played conservationists Joy and George Adamson in Born Free, the film about a lion, Elsa, who was returned to the wild. With the two Australians’ enthusiastic approval, McKenna asked George Adamson if he could do the same for Christian.

In August 1970, Rendall and Bourke flew with Christian to Adamson’s Kora nature reserve in Kenya, where he was gradually introduced to the wild. Despite his swanky Chelsea upbringing, he adapted well, eventually severing all ties with Adamson and Kora, mating with wild lions and disappearing to establish his own territory. In the YouTube footage from 1971 he is caught in a halfway stage, already comfortable with other lions but delighted that his old human friends have come to visit. “People assume we were scared but we could see the love and affection in Christian’s face,” says Bourke of their ecstatic reunion.

lioncalled christian bookcoverThe massive online popularity of the clip has taken the men agreeably by surprise and led them to revise and reissue their excellent 1971 book, A Lion Called Christian. Owning Christian left both of them with an interest in conservation, Rendall professionally and Bourke as a sideline to his career as an art curator. Rendall hopes those viewing the clip will be prompted to take a greater interest in the world’s ecological balance. “The number of lions today is a third of what it was when we bought Christian,” he says. “That alone tells you something’s wrong.

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Warning: Have your box of tissues ready. Once you watch this …it’s Niagara Falls…

George Adamson

George Adamson

George Adamson – Born in India, Adamson moved to Kenya when he was eighteen. At the age of 32, he became a warden at Kenya´s Game Department. Four years later, he married Joy Adamson, who also had a passion for the lions of Kenya. One day they acquired three lion cubs, but two went to a zoo. The third cub they named Elsa, a lioness who became very trusting towards the Adamsons.

georgeadamsonwildlifelogoIf you would like more information about the George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust, please click here.

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