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  • Writer's picturerutendo matinyarare


Contrary to popular belief, white men were not the ones who decided to end slavery but they were forced into abolishing slavery because of never-ending revolts by slaves in the Caribbean:

1. 1730-1739, slaves from Africa began escaping European ships in the Caribbeans to hide out in the mountains of Jamaica. The British then launched military expeditions into the mountains to bring back the slaves where they were confronted and defeated by the escaped slaves who were using very effective guerrilla tactics.

After losing a vast number of battles and soldiers to these escapees who became known as maroons, in 1739 the British government asked them to sign a peace pact, allowing them to be free men, free from slavery and taxation.

2. The son of a Dahomey woman [who was one of the Maroons] known by the name of Bookman Dutti, would go onto ignited the Haitian Revolution or the Haitian War of Independence in 1793.

The 1793 Haitian War of independence began when slaves in Haiti rose against their masters, led by a black army General by the name of Toussaint Louverture.

Louvreture started off fighting against the Spanish who initially controlled Saint Dominque which was later called Haiti. The Spanish then gave the Island to the French, and the French turned Haiti into the most profitable slave colony in the world.

General Louverture, who had been a French soldier, then turned to leading a revolution against French oppression, dealing a heavy blow to France until Napoleon invited him to France for peace negotiations in 1802.

On arrival, the great General was captured and placed in Fort de Joux, where he died in 1803.

Instead of ending the war, the capture of Louverture inspired Jean Jacques Dessalines to take the General's place, which led to the most violent chapter of the war that resulted in the defeat of France.

On the 1st of January 1804, France, Spain, and England, who had united to fight the rebelling slaves, were defeated, and this secured Haiti's independence after an eleven-year war that cost 50,000 French lives and the three countries a huge amount of financial resources.

The loss of Haiti cost France two-thirds of its foreign earnings, and many say this resulted in the defeat of Napoleon in the Napoleonic wars.

What is interesting about this is, Spain and Britain were at war on mainland Europe against Napoleon, but despite their feud in Europe, the enemies united in common interest to suppress the slave rebellions that risked losing Europe its biggest resource and profit earner.

The major defeat of these European powers in 1804, led to the outlawing of the importation of slaves to North America in 1808, after the formation of the slave abolition movement in Britain in 1807.

It's insightful how the slavery abolition movement only comes into being after Maroons successfully defeated the English in Jamaica, the Haitians defeated the Spanish and then the French in Saint Dominque, to gain independence for Haiti.

The victory of Haiti signaled to Europeans that black people could defeat Europeans with less sophisticated weapons when they decide to unite and fight their oppressors.

3. In 1816, an Igbo man by the name of Bussa began the Barbados slave revolution, which was eventually crushed by the British militia. This rebellion in the British Caribbean soon inspired the 1821 Demerara slave revolts, followed by the 1832 Jamaican slave revolution, which eventually ended slavery in British Caribbean colonies in 1834 as the cost of production in the colonies rose astronomically.

4. In 1848, in Martinique, another slave colony won its independence from its French plantation masters, and this saw an end to European slave colonies in the Caribbean.

5. On the mainland of the United States, soon after the Haitian revolution, between 1815-1860, the first of the Seminole Slave Rebellion Wars or Florida Wars, broke out. These were the most expensive wars in proportion to American GDP to be fought in American history.

There were three Seminole wars from 1815 until 1860 when they ended. The end of these wars led to the slave-owning South starting a civil war with the North which was pushing for an end to slavery that was making their industry uncompetitive.

The South was defeated, and eventually, slavery was abolished in the United States in the same year of 1865.

By the 1860s, slavery had become too costly for western nations and slave masters, as production was now being hampered by ongoing plantation revolts. This required western governments to deploy militaries to other continents, at a huge cost, to fight battles with slaves, while leaving themselves open to attacks from foreign enemies.

History shows us that Napoleon was ultimately defeated in the Napoleonic wars due to his overallocation of resources and his main army to Haiti, where he suffered heavy losses of men and equipment, only to eventually lose the war for supremacy in Europe.

So contrary to belief, slavery was not abolished by the abolition movements or the morality and maturity of the white man, but slaves forced it to end by revolting and fighting back on plantations in the Caribbean and Americas.

By Rutendo Bereza Matinyarare the Chairman of ZASM and the founder of Frontline Strat Marketing.

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