Tuesday, 21 March 2017

France CFA: A French crime against Humanity?



No Black man can pretend to be a freedom fighter today, while failing to focus on what keeps Africa from advancing. And what, other than neo-colonialism, keeps Black Africa struggling and lagging behind?  The majority of French ex-colonies have kept the chains that shackled them under French control and influence, both economically as well as militarily.

Weakness of French activism
In February, as African Americans celebrated Black History Month, many Black activists, in France, asked themselves why such movement has failed  to emerge, in the Hexagon, ignoring that French Black history is in fact a genuine African History that should first and foremost promote the African continent and denounce neo-colonialism-rather than focus only on the USA, and its civil rights movement of the 1950-1960s.

Its no secret, that French Black organisations fighting against the different forms of injustice the diaspora suffers have, in their clear majority, never had the least intention to sincerely and concretely include in their struggle the current unfair exploitation, and spoliation of the African continent. This explains their absence in the protests and demonstrations organised by the newly arrived undocumented Africans. Their silence is also blatant when it comes to pinpoint neo-colonialism in the African continent; as if by ignorance, or maybe as in a similar desire as some other French Black people who, on the other side of the Atlantic, had, in the 1920s, decided to call themselves creole and not Black once in the USA.

Neo-colonialism and Franc CFA

If the military ties between France and its former Black African colonies are well known, and quite often debated in the mass media, things are totally different when it comes to economy. Very few know that the Franc CFA, which is the currency used in some fourteen African countries is an impediment to investment and freedom of economic choices for African countries using it.
No politician campaigning in the Elysee race in 2017 is unaware of these facts, in France. Yet, the big discourses pledging devotion to work for a world with more justice are void of any denunciation of that neo or new-colonial system put into place and elaborated by General de Gaulle in 1958.

History and economic system of the Franc CFA

The Franc CFA was created in 1945. It first stood for le Franc des Colonies Francaises d’Afrique. In other words, if the French currency at the time was the Franc Français, in the French colonies of Africa, it was the Franc CFA that people used to trade and exchange. Today, fourteen African countries still use currencies with the same initials or Abbreviations. Franc CFA, however, now refers today to two distinct African currencies: - the Cooperation Financière en Afrique; which is the currency mostly used in the former West African French colonies. – And, the Communauté Financière d’Afrique; used in the former French central African colonies.
Before France adopted the European currency in the 2001, the Franc CFA currencies used in these African countries were all directly and exclusively convertible into the French Franc; which, of course, was an impediment to free and easy trade with the rest of the world. Since the adoption of the Euro by France, and the disappearance of the Franc Francais, on the 1st of January 2002, the different Franc CFAs have also become directly and exclusively convertible in Euro.

A legacy from the Nazi regimes
Many are the economists and experts who have studied what inspired the French government after the Second World War to issue that African currency in its then colonies. According to them, it appears that it was the Nazi Germany of Adolph Hitler that had previously imposed such currency system on defeated and occupied France, between 1943 and 1945. The aim was to better control the French economy and society. After the Second World War, and the so-called liberation of France, the French government will develop the same system in its African colonies.
When most African colonies access to independence in the late fifties and sixties, the economic system of the Franc CFA, as well as the presence of the French army in these territories are preserved and maintained.
The reason for this is simple: when in 1958, the General Charles de Gaulle gives the ex-African Colonies the possibility to choose between complete independence or a partial independence -with some strong economic and military ties with France-, only Guinea Conakry opts for the first proposition. A difference clearly appears, then, between countries that have chosen complete independence and those who have decided to maintain military, economic, and even political ties with France.
The few African leaders who later tried to leave the Franc CFA zones were all, without exception, targeted and toppled off through military coups, planned and organised by France. That was precisely the case for President Modibo Keita from Mali in 1964, or again President Sylvanius Olympio, in Togo, in 1963.
A Crime that only few dare to denounce
This episode of the history of the French colonial Empire also tells us that many African countries have never accessed real independence. It also means that countries using the Franc CFA today are still partially French colonies. In such circumstances, it becomes difficult, indeed, for France to bluntly recognise colonisation as negative, or as a crime against humanity. If such thing were to happen, it is doubtless that the recognition of colonisation as a crime against humanity would, soon or later, lead to the denunciation and condemnation of the current relationship between France and its former colonies.
Today, the use of the Franc CFA by African countries implies that 50% of the benefits made every year, by each of these countries, has, since the 1960s, been stored in the French central Bank, to guarantee the stability and convertibility of the currency against the French Franc, and since 2001, against the Euro. As aforesaid, there are today three different Franc CFAs; and they are not interchangeable. In other words, Franc CFAs from Mali are not accepted in Cameroon or Congo. If someone from Mali travels to central Africa, he must change his Franc CFAs from Mali into euros that he will then have to change into the French CFA used in Cameroon or Congo.
I am not good enough at mathematics and economics; yet, I understand that with all these transactions and money conversions, there, probably, is some loss.  Besides, the fact that all African Franc CFA banknotes are also printed in France, in the village of Chamalieres, is quite suspicious. Moreover, in each of the committees of the different Franc CFAs, some French nationals, appointed by the French government, have permanent seats with a veto right. It is, therefore, easy to understand that no decision can be taken without the consent and approval of Paris.
It is in that sense that this very monetary system, inspired by the Nazi German regime of 1933-1945, is seen by many African organisations as a means for France to control the economy of its former colonies and also enrich itself at the stake of these same countries.
It is also the duty of all Africans around the world to defend and support the new initiative started by the Pan Africanists in Africa, and which consists in denouncing the crime that the Franc CFA represents.

By Moustafa Traore

Monday, 9 January 2017

BBC's 'Real Housewives of Isis': Sanction, Invasion, Satirisation


Sanction, Invasion, Satirisation

Suicide bombings, beheadings, rape and terrorism are jokes when it’s in Muslim countries apparently 


[This is an exclusive piece written for the Malcolm X Movement, by brother Ali Muratović]




‘The Real Wives of ISIS’ makes ‘Muslims Like Us’ seem like a pro-Islam propaganda piece. It’s that bad. When I logged onto Facebook on Wednesday a friend had posted a link to, and a succinct analysis of, a sketch from the BBC’s appropriately named ‘Revolting’ to be broadcast this coming Tuesday, 10th January at10pm:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgP5wEXqq3g

My friend’s post read: ‘From the same company who knew they were employing kiddy fiddlers and did nothing about it. All fun and games until you’re reporting about the horrors of it and how they are brain washing British people. Wouldn't see this about the holocaust would you?! Leave it bbc.’

And that’s the point. An institution prepared to cover for paedophilia and the rape of children is not going to have any problem demonising Muslims. The video has already been seen by 15 million internet users.

It should be no surprise that the British regime propaganda network, after more than 20 years of intensive anti-Islam propaganda needed to back up the Global War on/of Terror, produces a sketch deliberately mocking, demonising and minimising the suffering of Muslims in Iraq and Syria and more specifically the British Muslim families who have had their young daughters migrate there often without their knowledge.

A now global conflict which has torn regions, countries, tribes, communities, families and even individuals apart, is certainly NOT a joke. If the British find it funny to laugh at their own largely poor/working class WWII dead in Dad’s Army and similar comedy that’s one thing. It’s not any of their business to be laughing at other people. I’m sure if we found it funny we have more than enough Iraqi, Syrian and Muslim channels to do it ourselves. Perhaps, unlike the British, we Muslims take our civilization seriously.

The’ scary’ scarf

Central to the sketch is of course the presence of the headscarf, mentioned in the Qu’ran (24:30-31 and 33:58-59) and regarded wajib (compulsory) by almost every Muslim faqih (jurist). It’s worth mentioning here that women are not required to wear it in the home though to be fair that’s not easy to communicate in sketch format.

How often are visibly Muslim women given their own space on television in the UK? Aside from the impressive Nadiya Hussain, rarely if it isn’t a report or discussion about war, terrorism or ‘extremism’ (to be fair despite the deliberate instigation of intra-Muslim conflict this is something that Muslims Like Us did pretty well on).

On one occasion when a Hijabi was promoted to a position of serious prominence, Fatima Manji, a reporter and newsreader at Channel 4, received a vicious Islamophobic attack from The Sun’s Kelvin MacKenzie who questioned whether the sister should be reporting on news stories relating to terrorism. Why exactly would the sister have been singled out by MacKenzie? It was crystal clear in the headline ‘Why did Channel 4 have a presenter in a hijab fronting coverage of Muslim terror in Nice?’

A lady wearing a headscarf should stay in her lane according Britain’s best-selling newspaper, which is not all that different to the ideology propagated by ISIS.

In this context of rising Islamophobia, particularly directed towards sisters who publicly carry the flag of Islam on their heads and have borne the brunt of attacks for example herehere and here, within the past year, we should be looking to promote a true and naturally positive image of Muslim sisters.

What ‘The Real Wives of ISIS’ does instead is to reinforce the sort of propaganda that leads to these attacks in the first place and places the scarf in the strict and exclusive context of death squad terrorism.

Not only this, but the depth of the propaganda here extends to lies including that; Muslim women are happy with a lack of autonomy, would joke about literally being chained to a kitchen sink, hashtagging Jihadi Jane (I guess using her real name of Colleen LaRose would be inconvenient), mocking grooming (I doubt the white English grooming victims of Rotherham, Jimmy Saville, and elsewhere in the British establishment will be taunted as complicit very soon) and that the worst thing women in ISIS held areas have to deal with are ‘matching suicide vests’.

The serious issues of disappearance of women from public life, forced marriage, elimination of bodily autonomy in general and slavery are minimised when the Arab, the South Asian and the Muslim is the victim.

Iraq and Syria as Untermensch non-countries

Another case of outright racism, Islamophobia and double-standards is inherent in the context of Iraq and Syria as the setting. You won’t see the British mocking the 7/7 transport bombings or the beheading of Lee Rigby in their green and pleasant land. Where Iraq and Syria is involved, well of course, after decades of sanctions, demonisation, bombings and invasions, it’s fair game.

There are things that COULD be satirised about ISIS, if that’s your thing. I don’t think most people would have an issue with Abu Bakr al Baghdadi and his death squad operatives being mocked for the tyrants they are. Nor the criminal actions of Bush, Blair, Cameron, Clinton and Kerry that enabled the rise of ISIS in the first place ie. British/American/NATO sanctions, invasions and regime change operations in Iraq and Syria. Not to mention the deliberate pouring of billions of pounds worth of weapons and arms into both countries to stimulate war, division, sectarianism and general destruction and ruin. That SHOULD be mocked and called-out at every opportunity.

The Real Sisters of the Ummah

Let alone might we see the BBC provide empowering examples of pro-women pro-liberation Islam of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya which they dutifully helped destroy (shown in this excellent and moving documentary film), or the leadership of women in Iran personified by Vice-President Masoumeh Ebtekar, or the innumerable women of leadership and knowledge in Indonesia and Malaysia. Still yet the history of Zainab al Ghazali (1917-2005), member of the Egyptian Feminist’s Union and founder of Jama'at al-Sayyidat al-Muslimat (Muslim Women's Association) who lectured to thousands during the months of Ramadhan. Some of her writing is documented in Ayyām min ḥayātī (‘Days from my life) about her time in prison.

Instead we can be sure in the coming months and years that ‘The Real Wives of ISIS’ is just one more piece in the puzzle that depicts the hijab for the MacKenzie’s of this world as ISIS-like. That it makes us worried for our mothers, wives and sisters who will be viewed as terrorists like the actresses in the sketch.

Do the BBC expect the dark jokes about a deadly group ruining and taking the lives of human beings of every colour and creed in their thousands, with weapons from the West, to be found amusing by the families who have lost their dear loved ones?

And finally, a prediction: The British dedication to their ‘rich history of satire’ is unlikely to be in operation when the chickens come home for a long overdue roosting.

Ali Muratović

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Black Panther Research Project launched!


Facebook event page

The Malcolm X Movement, in partnership with Brixton Library and the Black Panther Alumni (http://www.itsabouttimebpp.com/ ) and supported by Black HistoryStudies proudly present:
BLACK PANTHER RESEARCH PROJECT

A free and exclusive opportunity to learn from veteran leading Black Panthers themselves (speaking via live video link) in a 5-part series of events! Participating in this full course will give you an in-depth understanding as to the many different aspects of the Black Panthers, a process of learning led by the actual local and national leaders of the Black Panther Party.

Please contact 2015mxm@gmail.com (places are limited, first come first serve)

1. Fri Jan 13, 615pm - Roots of the Black Panthers - Billy Jennings

2. Fri Jan 27, 615pm - Black Panthers & Serve the People programs - Billy X Jennings

3. Fri Feb 10, 615pm - Black Panthers & Culture - Emory Douglas

4. Fri Feb 24, 615pm - Black Panthers & Global Solidarity - Aaron Dixon

5. Fri March 10, 615pm - Women' Liberation & Black Panthers - Charlotte O'Neal

Venue: Brixton Library, Windrush Square, Brixton Hill, Brixton, London SW2 1JQ

Free warm food and drink will be provided
£5 entry fee per research session

Twitter: @mxmovement | Facebook: /malcolmxmovement | http://mxmovement.blogspot.co.uk/ | Instagram: malcolm_x_movement


Thursday, 3 November 2016

Leading Black radical advocate Prof Gus John gives a MXM talk on Brexit




Leading Black radical advocate Prof Gus John gives a MXM talk on Brexit 

The Malcolm X Movement are delighted to announce that we will be having a public event whereby this country's leading Black radical advocate against racism in general and in the police and education system - Prof Gus John - will be delivering an important talk on Brexit. Brexit is the concentration of all our growing colonial oppressions in this historical moment and needs serious analysis and grassroots organising to oppose it. Prof Gus John gives a wealth of wisdom, knowledge, analysis and experience that can well equip us for these challenges.

Facebook event page

6pm Thurs 17th November
Housmans Bookshop
5 Caledonian Road
Kings Cross, N1 9DY
Suggested entry - £5

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Launching new historic DVD and book on Libyan Popular Anti-Imperialist Resistance



Launching new historic DVD and book on Libyan Popular Anti-Imperialist Resistance

The Malcolm X Movement proudly hosts the premier of a hard-hitting, informative and inspiring look at African and Libyan popular anti-imperialist resistance entitled Nato War on Libya (53mins). We are also hosting at the same event a book launch of a collection of writings about the martyrdom of Muammar Gaddafi entitled On the Martyrdom of Muammar Gaddafi: 21st Century Fascism and Resistance. One of our MXM coordinators - Sukant Chandan is the editor of the book and the filmmaker of the doc.

The event takes place this Sat 29th Oct at 6pm at Marx Memorial Library,  EC1R 0DU (£5 suggested entry). The Libyan community are kindly and generously providing free Libyan snacks and refreshments at this event.

Please find the Facebook event page HERE.

In solidarity
MXM Coordinators Team

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

200 Black Power Youth in Ldn Celebrate Tupac 20 Years On

London’s Black Youth Unite With Tupac Shakur’s Black Panther Family!


Nearly 200 overwhelmingly African and Asian working class youth, including two parties of people flying in especially for the event from mainland Europe, packed into the room in East London at RichMix for the Tupac 20 Years On event organised by the Malcolm X Movement, I am Hip-Hop and Intifada Street. The idea was initiated by Malcolm X Movement with I am Hip-Hop and Intifada Street becoming enthusiastic partners.

The event was historic. 20 years on from the martyrdom of Tupac Amaru Shakur the only commemoration event in the world saw political and cultural activists and artists gather together at an event that showcased people's love and creativity inspired by Tupac’s work and legacy.

The atmosphere was very positive, politically and powerfully Black Power radical and socialist and a strong sense of unity around our martyrs of the Black Panthers including Tupac. Tupac was the chairman of the New Afrikan Black Panthers in his late teens and spent the first moments of his existence in his mother’s womb while she - Afeni Shakur - was falsely imprisoned on charges related to her leadership of the New York Black Panthers, charges that collapsed. One of the other defendants (there were 21 in total, hence their name ‘New York 21’) was New York’s youngest Panther - Jamal Joseph - who later in life became one of Tupac’s two Godfathers and a close comrade and brother to Afeni Shakur.

We were honored to have have Jamal Joseph participate at our event via live internet video link. The event would not could not have been complete without a keynote address and QnA with Jamal Joseph himself. To have a veteran Black Panther and Black Liberation Army combatant, former political prisoner, now university professor and Oscar nominated elder comrade reasoning with us and teaching us was just very special. Jamal Joseph was joined on the panel by Ayishat Akanbi and Apex Zero.

Ayishat is a brilliant young fashion designer and also has a very grounded but firm sense of justice and Black Liberation to impart. Apex Zero’s rhymes and political insight is powerful and confident. The panellists and the QnA made for a very informative and inspiring learning process as we heard first hand the stories of the Panthers and Tupac from Jamal Joseph and the reflections and discussions from Ayishat and Apex and many brothers and sisters attending.

With an art exhibition by Intifada Street adorning the side of the stage, DJ Doni Brasco pumping the Tupac beats from the DJ table, the performances were enjoyable, fun and often showing great social and political insight and with, with Malcolm X Movement coordinator Margaret Atugonza making her debut not only as a young emerging political leader but also as a brilliant soul and jazz singer with her moving rendition of Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car. The open mic / Cypher session saw many young African and Asian young people share their skills and beautiful confidence with everyone in the room, and the room showed their appreciation!

The event was hosted brilliantly by I am Hip-Hop’s magazine editor Maya Rattrey, and all the Malcolm X Movement coordinators - Ahmed Kaballo who hosted the panel discussion with great panache, Dr Moustafa Traore, Margaret Atugonza, Sukant Chandan and Richard Sudan - and excellent performances from Big Cakes, Amy True, Ibrahim Sincere and JusWrite.

Many new contacts and alliances were made from the event, and it was a modest but inspiring and successful contribution to building an African and Asian and Black Power oriented socialist movement.

--------------------------

Raw live stream footage here, here and here.




Sunday, 4 September 2016

Rest in Power Toussaint L’Ouverture: Saluting Haiti’s triumph against colonialism



C.L.R. James: “Toussaint did not make the revolution, the revolution made Toussaint.”





By Malcolm X Movement coordinator Richard Sudan. This article first appeared on RT.com

April 7th marks the passing of one of the greatest, most revered and most important figures of African and world history, Toussaint L’Ouverture one of the liberators of Haiti.

By 1801 Haiti, an island made up of half a million slaves, two-thirds of whom had been born in Africa, declared independence from European colonialists.

By April 7th 1803, Toussaint L’Ouverture died in a prison cell in the French Alps of cold and hunger, but not before his work had ensured the Haitian revolution would continue after he was gone, and that slavery would never again return to the Island.

From late 1803, after many years of fighting colonial powers the Africans in Haiti led by Jean-Jacque Dessalines freed the island from the clutches of the Europeans.

To this day, Haiti remains the only successful African revolt against slavery in the occupied European controlled colonies, and in doing so also became the first Black republic with its own constitution, adopting ideals espoused by the French revolution with a greater sincerity and vigor than even the French bourgeoisie themselves.

Today, the island remains one of the poorest countries in the world, as is the price often paid when daring to resist colonialism and occupation. Just look at Cuba today, for example.

The Haitian revolution, which is not over, represents a tradition which is both important in historical terms and also in the modern context.  The so-called free world, or the same system which was built by free labor and human capital extracted from slavery, still operates today on the same terms, exploiting countries to seize resources, ultimately to control capital.

When there is not a direct war for resources, today, more and more, we see ‘proxy wars’ played out in other people’s countries, with super powers jostling for position albeit with different agendas.

At one point in the 1790s Haiti was also a place which was being fought over by different colonial powers in the Caribbean, themselves at war with each other in Europe. A large chunk of the World’s sugar cane came from Haiti, and so even in a time of war, when hundreds of thousands of Haitians were fighting tens of thousands of European occupiers, Haiti was still among the most lucrative islands in the Caribbean to control.

And therein lies one of the keys to Toussaint’s genius; born a slave, but later able to free himself in his 40s, Toussaint was able to enjoy some of the benefits of the emerging privileged class in Haiti. Toussaint was educated, was an astute political analyst, and also a second to none military commander.  It would be fair to say, that under Toussaint’s leadership, Africans in Haiti were able to organize and keep at bay several colonial powers at once for more than a decade.  At different points Toussaint both sided with the French to fight other European powers in Haiti-and towards the end fought the French, as Napoleon attempted to force the island back into slavery following partial reforms achieved towards emancipation and freedom.

While there is a long tradition of resistance in the Caribbean of fighting colonialists tooth and nail, both from the slave ships and in the islands themselves, Haiti remains the only successful rebellion, able to rid its shores of those who had enslaved its population. The rebellion did not start in Haiti, but began the moment the first Africans were enslaved by the European merchants and capitalists in West Africa.

Toussaint and the other leading figures of African resistance in Haiti, or San Domingue as it was then known, did not spring up out of obscurity.  The conditions which produced both the necessity for revolution, and the individuals and visionaries capable of leading it, were built up over several hundreds of years.

The brutal conditions suffered by slaves, which are unimaginable, built up over time a deep resentment.  Writers like C.L.R. James, for example, describe in their works in detail, the sophisticated violence, humiliation, and dehumanization that Africans endured at the hands of Europeans in Haiti. The sick pseudo-science which dominated the day, a bit like the perverse modern form of ‘humanitarian intervention’, suggested that Africans were not human, and that therefore to control them as animals required a level of brutality which would both subdue them both physically and psychologically.

It stands to reason then, scientifically and rationally if nothing else, that it would ultimately take a force at least of equal measure from Africans in Haiti to free themselves from the clutches of slavery forever.  And the first stages of emancipation in Haiti were indeed bloody, with Europeans being massacred indiscriminately as payback for years of suffering.

The resistance in a sense traced its roots back to Africa, and even by around 1750, there were literally thousands of Africans who had run away from the sugar plantations and were hiding in the hills and harder to access parts of the island. The Voodoo culture, songs of freedom, and determination to once again be free, had existed among the people for as long as they had been enslaved there.

By the time the French, who controlled Haiti, were preparing to do the unimaginable and behead their own King, and indeed anyone deemed disloyal to the class revolution in France, the conditions in Haiti had reached a point whereby the masses were fully ready to grasp the ideals of liberty and equality-more so than any European who had articulated them.

The call of the masses, including the emerging mixed race population of Haiti, to be given the rights of citizenship had achieved some success.  Ironically, France caving in to some reforms, if for no other reason than to ensure Haiti did not fall into the hands of other colonial powers, meant that leading up to the complete expulsion of the remaining Europeans in 1804, Africans in Haiti had in a sense become the true French Republicans on the island fighting for France. When Napoleon set his sights on reversing this, the fear among Africans was that Haiti would revert back to slavery which became a catalyst for fighting the remaining French too.

The final defeat of the French in 1804, after Napoleon had sent thousands to reclaim the island, secured Haiti’s place in history as the first and last fully successful slave revolt.  Haiti’s constitution and independence and even leadership, like any other, were not without its problems and contradictions.

But Toussaint, and the victory for Haiti, is an example of what is possible for the human spirit to achieve even in the face of insurmountable odds.  It shows what Africans were truly capable of in the face of all of the racist pseudo-science of the day.

The revolution in Haiti has been largely ignored or forgotten by mainstream history - perhaps because as an example of resistance, it reflects what is possible in the face of the powers which rule the world today - this is dangerous for any ruling orthodoxy.  When slavery is taught in schools, Haiti is rarely mentioned.

Neither for example is the island of St Thomas, which, according to many historians was liberated under the leadership of three women in 1793, and held for a year, before the Dutch eventually with the help of the other colonial powers restored the island to slavery.

Indeed colonization, occupation, oppression and political subjugation still continues today, and still continues largely for profit.

Toussaint stands as a towering figure of resistance to this, but so too do the women and men who raised him, who taught him his history, so that, even in later life when the African uprising in Haiti began, he would not seek to protect his own privilege and status, but rather, would leave it all in a second to go and fight, lead, and ultimately die for his people.

The revolution in Haiti, stands as a beacon of human triumph but also played a huge role in the eventual abolition of slavery.  The revolution was influenced by events in Paris, but Paris and the world were also shaped by events on the tiny island.

There are countless examples of resistance to colonialism throughout the world, but today on April 7th we must remember Toussaint, and also all those who fought and died in the fight for freedom and justice.

Toussaint and the revolution emerged as the inevitable consequence of slavery and repression, but also of the unique circumstances which developed in Haiti.  Such circumstances were developed over time by Africans in Haiti, who like the oppressed people all over the world, refused to resign and give themselves up to their fate.

As the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass once noted “There is no progress without struggle” and perhaps this is true of Haiti.

But revolution and progress is bigger than one person, and as C.L.R. James once wrote “Toussaint did not make the revolution, the revolution made Toussaint.”