229 years ago on the evening of August 14th began a 12 year fight to independence for the country of Ayiti. On a storm filled night in 1791, the Bwa Cayman (kreyol for alligator forest) woods in a swampy area away from the capital city of Port Au Prince, the houn'gan (Priest) Dutty Boukman and man'bo (a Priestess) Iman (some historians have credited another man'bo Cécile Fatima for presiding over the ceremony) led the ceremony which included the likes of warrior initiations, blood sacrifices, sorcerers and magicians, snakes, multicolored cats, snakes and bones of the dead present during the festivities.
Boukman was a Senegalese Moor, captured and sent to Jamaica. Well known to keep a copy of the Qur'an, his name took on the variance of "Book man". His influence on the Jamaican maroons got him sent the approximate three hundred miles over to Ayiti, one plantation to another.
It is said that our Priestess led the attack, "as history tells it she made the conspirators drink the blood of the animal she had slaughtered, while persuading them that therein lay the proof of their future invincibility in battle."
The week following the ceremony as the first battles began, over a thousand plantation owners and their plantations were killed and destroyed on the island. The most notable aspect of the battle was how the Haitians prevailed with the lack of artillery, instead utilizing the environment immediately in front of them versus Napoleon's army.
A rendition of the August 13th ceremony, by Ulrick-Jean Pierre.
The houn'gan and mam'bo serve as but are not limited to: doctor, magi, advisor, prophet(ess) to the individuals seeking their council. Otherwise, they consult with the loss (Gods) to fill in any voids.
General Toussaint L'Overture then inherited the leadership position from Boukman early on as Boukman would not see the process past November of 1791. Legend has it that in the face of his physical demise, Boukman proclaimed that he would return as a mosquito and still carry out the same mission against the French oppressors. Jean Jacques Dessalines was at the helm toward the end of 1803, and the start of 1804 when victory was confirmed versus arguably one of the greatest military forces at the time.
As a result of the independence, France's Napoleon sold off the French colony of Louisiana to the United States after a four year control in July 1803 for $15 million. Many other rebellions across South America (such as Ayiti's roles in the indolence of Colombia and Venezuela, later dominoed into Bolivia), and throughout Africa took inspiration by this battle and outcome. We also must not forget how France followed up on the loss they took? A debt to Ayiti they knew could not be paid at once, thus retarding a progress that otherwise would have changed Ayiti as self sufficient and taking advantage of their natural resources and crops.
L'union fait la force ("unity makes strength") is the motto incorporated into the flag, which was adopted under the presidency of Alexander Pètion in 1806. These set of pinecones are in dedication to the Ayiti and it's participants who sacrificed themselves for liberation, be it physical, mental or spiritual. The print incorporates the bicolor design of the Haitian flag, printed on texturing paper. Shop the print here.