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#3035: On the true meaning of Ayitian flags (fwd)

From: Jean Poincy <caineve@idt.net>

In reference to post # 2965

Let's be clear on the flag issue. In earlier posts I said that the "Blue
and Red Flag" was circumstantial and the "Black and Red Flag" was
constitutional. While the former marked a distinction of the
revolutionary army from the French army, the latter symbolizes the
constitutional birth of the new nation. 

To make sense of all this, allow me to recap and please forgive me for
repeating things that most of us already know. At the dawn of the
independence war, there was no Ayiti. Instead we could talk of the
island of Saint-Domingue owned by France. There was one army, the French
army, composed of blacks, mulattoes and whites. There was one French
flag the "Blue, White and Red" under the command of Toussaint and

Toussaint' s captivity and the break away of former Toussaint's black
generals from the French army set the stage for the war of independence.
Two entities came into being: the remaining of the French army and the
new formed association between the black and mulatto generals to oppose
the Former. Evidently, one had to distinguish itself from the other to
avoid confusion and unwanted self-extermination. The French flag was the
object to work on to create a distinct symbol for the new association.
>From the French flag, the white portion was eliminated and the blue and
red remain; hence the so-called the union flag.

I went there to show that the circumstances dictated both blacks and
mulattoes' positions. Putting aside their differences, the circumstances
made it necessary for both parties to join hands and declare the whites
the common enemy. In the absence of a constitutionally formed country,
the "Blue and Red" could not be called the symbol of the new nation.

Knowing that the purpose of a constitution is to lay the foundation on
which a group of human beings must operate. It draws the lines guiding
the society and gives the basic law by which the association must be
governed. It tells what is and what is not, what it is suppose to be and
what is not suppose to be.

Indeed the 1805 constitution, the first body of laws of the land legally
called Ayiti, stated clearly that the national colors are Black and Red
and among other things that all born Ayitian regardless their skin
pigmentation are to be identified as black. To rid ourselves of
perception on the meaning of the flag and rely on rationality rather,
here is a bit of the flag history along with the cultural and political
interpretations of colors and their disposition.  Good looks can be
empty and meaningless at times.

Once the white portion was removed from the French flag, the Blue and
Red stay vertical. During the same month of the symbolic act, called the
union between blacks and mulattoes, Dessalines was exhibiting Blue and
White and around November 1803 his preference was swaying between a
White flag and the Blue and White. This is an indication that no
legitimacy was established yet on the colors. 

Moreover, on celebration day of independence in 1804, the French flag
was forbidden on the soil. Since the Blue and Red were still considered
as a French flag, a very dark blue close to black substituted the blue.
That was to totally distance Ayiti from France. Indeed, at the birth of
the constitution in 1805, the flag reflected the national colors, black
and red, were disposed vertically with Black at the mast to signify that
blacks held the power.  

Dessalines attributed some profound meaning to the colors. Black stood
for the color of their skin and Red for their blood. It makes good sense
since they acquired Ayiti's independence with their blood. Envision
blood flowing on the skin of a black skin on the battlefield. That was
very powerful and it was no question of a union especially when the
constitution declared all Ayitians black.

After the assassination of Dessalines, Petion reinstated Blue and Red
disposed horizontally to lure Christophe into accepting his bogus form
of democratic Republic. The horizontal disposition means a power sharing
as both colors were at the mast. These were the political meaning of the
flags and how they look had nothing to do with anything.  Christophe for
his part conserved the constitutional flag.

The flag issue was living but subdued. In 1915 it regained full
strength. Then, according to Dr. Arthur Holly the colors Black and Red
are more representative of a union between mulattoes and blacks
considering their skin pigmentation. He gave a cultural interpretation
of the colors' disposition. A vertical disposition of the flag is
beneficial as opposed to a horizontal disposition which brings curse.
Thus with the horizontal disposition given to the "Blue and Red", Petion
has cursed the country. By our observation so far, Ayiti is a cursed

Associating the main reason why to reject the "Black and Red Flag" to
bad memories under Duvalier is sheer disinformation and an injustice to
the true forefathers of Ayiti.  The provision of complete coordinates of
where the true constitutional flag can be obtained will be welcome.  

On a side note: I find it disturbing to see posters of Dessalines and
Christophe with the "Blue and Red Flag" behind them. 

Ayiti has lived, lives and will live