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Haiti - 263rd Dessalines : Homage to the Father of the Nation, (speech by PM)
Speech by Prime Minister a.i. Ariel Henry :
"Ladies and gentlemen members of the government,
Ladies and Gentlemen, members of the constituted bodies,
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Haitian people today celebrate for the first time the anniversary of the birth of the founding father of the country, the immortal Jean-Jacques Dessalines. President Jovenel Moïse took the initiative to retain the date of September 20 (https://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-31851-haiti-news-zapping.html) for this celebration, because this man deserves the the whole nation and the whole world remember and bless the day that saw the birth of this exceptional man. This slave, who later became a leader of men, a fine strategist, a conqueror, led to victory a popular army which succeeded in defeating and defeating the seasoned soldiers of the Napoleonic expedition. It has forever marked not only our history, but that of all humanity.
263 years later, we remember this genius who transformed a colony populated by slaves into the world's first independent black republic. This child, born in the bonds of slavery, became our national hero and the main architect of our independence. This witty man, on whose forehead shone the hope of freedom, ended his career with the eminent title of first Head of State of the new Nation. This fighter, whose intelligence and military talent are recognized, knew how to carry high his ideal of greatness, his thirst for emancipation from his brothers and sisters, and his fierce desire to see them live in freedom or die. He had an incalculable influence over his soldiers and knew how to electrify them to lead them to victory.
Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the Founding Father, was imbued with the ideals of freedom, equality and fraternity. He demonstrated to humanity that all men, whatever their race, are indeed born free and equal in rights. In doing so, he simultaneously shook the order of the world.
Today, it is this vision, this boldness, this fearlessness, this ingenuity, this bravery that we are celebrating by marking the birthday of this exceptional man. Forever the fatherland will be grateful to him.
This 263rd anniversary of the Emperor's birth is, for all of us, Haitians, an opportunity to remember the feats and exploits of all those who sacrificed themselves to bequeath us this homeland. The dream of freedom and greatness, which has crystallized in lasting actions, must continue to germinate in our soul, like a beacon that illuminates the dark paths of obscurantism.
But, what did we do with this grandiose dream ?
When we contemplate what has become of this land that Jean-Jacques Dessalines and his valiant companions in the struggle bequeathed to us, we must have the courage and the honesty to admit that we have passed by. Because, he did not fight so heroically, with this motto in mind, unity is strength, so that today we are a Nation so divided, so torn. He did not rout the colonial powers, so that today, our children leave this land by the thousands, to look elsewhere for the hope of a better life and end up being bluntly turned away. He did not conquer our freedom so hard, so that today a few individuals, grouped together in gangs, deprive us of the right to move freely in certain areas of our territory.
In this September 20, 2021, it is for us a duty of memory towards the Emperor to evoke the glorious memory of his birth. But it is also an opportunity to invite young and old alike to further study the history of our country to discover the sublimity of the facts and the eternal lessons they emerge. It is the occasion, for us, to observe a halt in order to meditate on the heroic acts of the Emperor, characteristic of his political vision and of his ideal of freedom which he considered a consecration : 'What do I care about the judgment of posterity, as long as I save my country' he exclaimed.
If the Father-founder of our homeland was able to do it and thus win the war of independence, it is our duty today to silence our differences, to abandon our small quarrels without grandeur, to unite us to win the battle against our old demons and overcome the misery that has plagued our society for too long, alas.
In closing, I want to launch a solemn appeal to my fellow citizens for peace, union and reconciliation. Let us put aside our differences to bring back, finally, in the face of the world, the beauty, the value and the prestige of what we have most precious: Haiti. It is the greatest tribute that we could pay, it is the most beautiful gift that we could offer to the one whose birthday brings us together in this place. May we all work together to honor Jean Jacques Dessalines and transform this land into a place where life is good.
May God bless Haiti!
Thank you. "
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