Free and French in the Caribbean: Toussaint Louverture, Aimé Césaire, and Narratives of Loyal Opposition

By John Patrick Walsh | Go to book overview

Conclusion
Artisans of Free and French

THIS BOOK HAS brought together Toussaint Louverture and Aimé Césaire to examine their historical expressions of “free and French.” over the years, metropolitan representatives of the French Republic tried to translate and contain their voices. If the relationships between various French governments and the two overseas leaders were ofiten tumultuous during their life spans, in death, both men would be brought back into the fold. In a more circumspect way, one might say that the French officially recognized their redacted contributions to the Republic. On 27 April 1998, the French government brought Toussaint into the Pantheon, the national monument to “Great Men from a Grateful Country” (as reads the inscription above its main entrance). The date was auspicious, as it also marked the 150th anniversary of the 1848 decree of the French abolition of slavery. Toussaint, who was inducted along with Louis Delgrès, the Guadeloupean martyr, was remembered with a plaque that reads, “Combattant de la liberté, artisan de l’abolition de l’esclavage, héros Haïtien mort déporté au Fort de Joux en 1803 [Combatant of liberty, artisan of the abolition of slavery, Haitian hero deported to the Fort de Joux, dead in 1803].” The inscription is on the hallway that leads to the tombs of Victor Schœlcher and Félix eboué, the colonial administrator from Guyana. Ten minister of justice, Elisabeth Guigou, praised Toussaint and Delgrès as “heroes of the Republic” and “precursors of decolonization.”1 Thirteen years later, on 6 April 2011, President Sarkozy presided over the commemoration of Césaire, whose plaque was placed in the crypt between Caves XXV and XXVI, just down the hall from Toussaint. The plaque memorialized Césaire as an “inlassable artisan de la décolonisation [tireless

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