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Thank you Father Dessalines*

by Morisseau-Leroy

Thank you Dessalines,
Father Dessalines, thank you
When I realize who I am today
I say Thank you, Dessalines
Every time I hear a colonized Negro,
A Negro that is still captive of censorship
I say : Thank you, Father Dessalines
Only I, know what you mean to me
Thank you, Father Dessalines
If I am a whole human being today
I have to say : Thank you Father Dessalines
If I can open my eyes and look at my
It is thanks to you, Dessalines
If I walk with my head up high
It is thanks to you, Dessalines
Every time I look at another Negro
I say : Thank you Dessalines
When I look at what’s happening in the
I say : Thank you, Dessalines
When I hear the White men’s voices
I say : Father Dessalines, thank you
When I hear my brothers and sisters
I say : Thank you, Father Dessalines
Only I, know, what you mean to me
Mighty Dessalines,
Dessalines, my blood,
Dessalines, apple of my eye
Dessalines, my womb
Only I know why
All Negroes must say
Thank you Dessalines,
You showed us the way
Thank you Dessalines
You are our guiding light
You gave us the earth we walk on
The skies over our heads,
The trees, the rivers
The sea, the ponds, it is all you,
Dessalines, it is you who gave us the Sun
The Moon,
You gave us our brothers, our sisters
Our mothers, our fathers, our children
It is you who shaped us this way
Who thought us to be unique
We are not like other Negroes
When I look people straight in the eye
It is you who is looking at them, Dessalines
It is you who gives us water and who
quenches our thirst
It is you who gives us food and satisfies our
Thank you, Father Dessalines
And, it is you who gives us shelter
The earth we harvest
It is you who taught us to sing
It is you who taught us to say : NO
They say some Negroes say : yes, yes!
Other says: Yes, master !
You taught us to say : NO!
Dessalines taught all Negroes on earth how
to say : NO
Thank you, Father Dessalines
Some Negroes try to explain
That today does not resemble yesterday
And that now,
Human fraternity,
Humanity, civilization,
All that is gibberish!
All I know is Dessalines!
I say : Thank you, dear father
You gave me life
My mother is your daughter
Young boys and young girls are your
Thank you, Dessalines
My grandchildren are your children
King Dessalines, thank you
No need to mention our flag!
No need to evoke Archaie
And Gonaïves
We already mentioned it!
Who needs to hear it again?
October 17th requiem mass?
Who visits the cathedral?
The Minister’s speech?
Who will listen to it?
As far as I am concerned
I will say one word : thank you
Thank you Father Dessalines
Some do not know,
I must tell them
That without you we would not exist
Thank you, Father Dessalines

Let us finish with our Pater noster
Your Eminence, Dessalines is not dead
Stop speaking French, Minister
Dessalines will never die
Dessalines is amongst us
This man cannot die!
Dessalines is in my heart
Ready to fight
He’s watching
The day will come when Dessalines will rise
That day, everyone will know
We will know if Dessalines made
And Vertières
So our writers could write poetry
So our ministers could say speeches
So our priests could sing Te Deum
So Your Eminence could give absolution
Dessalines does not need absolution
All that Dessalines accomplished is respectable
One day Dessalines will rise
And shouts will come from the Caribbean
Asking : Where is he?
Dessalines took his weapons
Arrest him!
At that moment, we will hear his voice like
At the signal: Decapitate them, burn their
They will ask that he be arrested
Dessalines’ voice will already be on the air
Decapitate them, burn their houses!
In Harlem, Dessalines is putting the house
in order
We will hear : Arrest him!
All the way to Dakar
All the way to Johannesburg
We will hear : where has Dessalines gone?
Decapitate them, burn their houses?
Dessalines does not need absolution
Dessalines does not need God’s forgiveness
On the contrary : Dessalines is God’s hand
Dessalines is God’s justice
He does not need Your Eminence’s Pater
Some men are requesting the White men’s
Dessalines does not need these actions
For all Dessalines accomplished: Father
Dessalines, thank you
For all he will do
I say: Thank you , Father Dessalines.
The famous Felix Morrisseau-Leroy poem
«Mèsi Papa Desalin» translated in English,
honoring Haiti’s great revolutionary hero,
Jean Jacques Dessalines.

* Translated by Marie-Hélène Destiné

Source: Windowsonhaiti

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