An Autopsy of the Black Revolution: Looking at Henri Christophe through the Césairean lens
English Language and Literature
Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies
In his play The Tragedy of King Christophe, Aimé Césaire shows how Henri Christophe is incapable of establishing an anti-colonial black state because he adopts the colonial structure where his subjects are forced into free labor therefore perpetuating slavery. Instead of considering the immediate needs of the country, Christophe attempts to bring Haiti up as an equal competitor in the industrialized West despite its embargo and looming threat of reoccupation. Christophe becomes a slave master (the ultimate capitalist), thriving on the exploitation of his subjects to build the Citadel. This article looks at how Césaire's play brings nuance to "post-colonial" discourse, showing how the initial victims of colonialism can perpetuate this framework if they profit from it.It also highlights the significance this piece of Haitian Revolutionary literature has on global black liberation literary movement. While the play goes beyond the accuracy of true historical events, Césaire contextualizes what dismantling colonialism potentially means.