Thursday, April 25, 2019

 A slave in Haiti called Francois Makendal

By Professor Gilbert Morris:


In my Smithsonian Lectures in 1998 - together with Professor Katya Vladimirov and Pulitzer Prize winner Professor Jeffrey Stewart, I emphasised a slave in Haiti called Francois Makendal. At 13, he was a chemist and physician before being captured and sent to St. Domingue.

He was Muslim, with a mastery for instructional communication and his skill in chemistry would have made him equal to any expert anywhere in Europe or Asia at the the time of his capture in the early 1750s.

It should be noted that he wrote well, could read music and knew biblical scripture with expertise.  

Makendal (Macandal) was a master of poisons. And in the 12 years leading to the great Haitian Revolution in 1791, he taught slaves how to poison their master’s food, clothes and animals to ensure death at different rates; days, months etc. Why is this important?  

Because even slave representations by Blacks, like Alex Haley’s “ROOTS”, depict slaves as ignorant. But the West African coasts from which slaves were sold, were the sites of mighty empires that had traded with Europe and Asia - before Christopher Columbus! 

For example, Cotton Mather tells the story inoculation for small pox, which he learned from a quite young African slave named Onesimus in 1706; who described to him in detail how he had been inoculated in Africa before being sold as a slave, in a procedure of inoculation (then known as variolation) and how it worked!  What I mean to show is that Blacks and Whites alike, depict the slave as sweet but ignorant and deserving of the mercy one shows to pets; when in fact, many slaves were intellectual superiors to those who held them captive; as was the case for instance with Demosthenes in Greece, who was so talented he was made Prime Minister as a slave. 

In Mackendal’s case, he is rumoured to have poisoned nearly 25,000 French before the Revolution!

The narrative of Omar Ibn Said below is testament to what I have rendered above!     


How the autobiography of a Muslim slave is challenging an American narrative