Boukman didn't know how to read

Rodney Salnave
Dougan (Scribe)
November 2, 2016

In 2004, the world boycotted the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Haiti's independence, incited by the Western world that was still mad that its former genocide victims dared stand up to it ; and won. Aside from South African President Thabo Mbeki, the proud heir of Nelson Mandela, none of the numerous heads of state in function showed up in support of the Haitian people. In true hypocrite, the entire planet under the pretext of not supporting Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the Haitian president at the time, preferred to delegate mere subordinates to this celebration of universal dignity. They thus threw the baby out with the bath water.
And not surprisingly, that same bicentennial year, the UN (United Nations) orchestrated a coup against Aristide, allowing French troops to trample slimily on Dessalines' glorious land.
But for the Haitian that is steeped in his country's history, the affront was a prophecy rather than a surprise. For king Henry aka Christophe had long warned : 
"When they [the French] would find that our corrupt population has lost its moral force and would be powerless to withstand them, then they would declare war against us; and yet they would give us a treacherous war, using our own resources to be able to fight and destroy us!..." (1)
Behold, the entire Black world now claims paternity of the Haitian revolution, so dearly paid for, yet it boycotted it for fear of Western retribution. This cowardly, greedy and parasite Black world  which, when the blood of Haitian hero flowed, was either selling its own folks in "Africa" to Westerners and Muslim Arabs (2); or remained passive in the colonies, since too Christianized to fight to the last. (3)
So those now demanding their share of glory without shedding their blood, do they know that in the 12-years long Haitian independence war - starting from August 22, 1791 to November 18, 1803, 150,000 of the 450,000 Blacks populating the colony of Saint Domingue (Haiti) perished? And do they understand that these martyrs represented a third of the black population; equivalent to the death of 3.3 million out of the 10 million people currently residing in Haiti?

But what is the sacrifice of tens of thousands of Haitian revolutionaries for historical vultures? They only need to connect one of these revolutionary (Boukman, for example) to the foreign country of their choice, for his merit to suddenly surpass that of all the martyrs and heroes of an entire revolution.It is in this perspective, under the cover of fraternization, that Nigerians argue that the leader Boukman was one of them, a Yoruba (Nago), and that the action of "Africans" in the Haitian revolution was bigger than that of the locally-born Creoles (4). For the Congolese, this revolution was the work of Macandal, of Congo strain (5); despite the fact that Macandal was executed 33 years prior to the onset of the said revolution. According to the Beninese, everything comes down to Toussaint Louverture. And in their historic rapacity, the Beninese are even considering changing the family tree of the Abomey royal family to include Gaou Guinou (Gaou Deguenon), the grandfather of Toussaint Louverture (6). But yet they know that in the ancient Kingdom of Abomey Dahomey, "Gaou" corresponded to the rank of Minister of War (7), and was not the name of a King of the Arada ethnic group, as history books wrongly state it. (8)And as for Islamized West "Africans", they noisily advocate that the Haitian revolution was the work of Muslim captives, among whom were Macandal and Boukman. (9) Finally, even Jamaicans, descendants of captives who have not dared live free or die, as did the Haitians ancestors, are claiming, through Boukman, lamely anglicized into "Book-Man" (10 ), their share of the loot that the Haitian revolution represents. But the Liberator of Haiti, Emperor Jacques I, aka Dessalines, in his clairvoyance, has also warned his children in these unequivocal terms :
"We dared to be free, let's dare be it by ourselves and for ourselves... What people fought for us? What people would reap the fruits of our labors? And what dishonorable absurdity to overcome to be slaves. Slaves!...
Imitate such peoples, looking anxioustly onto the future and dreading to leave to posterity the example of cowardice, preferred to be exterminated rather than been wiped off the list of free peoples.
" (11)
In short, obeying the dictates of Jacques I, our Emperor and Liberator we will refute through this present article, the forgery that made Boukman a Man of the Book or an Anglo-Islamic scholar. We will demonstrate factually that Boukman could not read. Because we are convinced that, being equiped with a bravery scarcely found among Blacks, he would have wanted the whole truth about him to be made known, without bias in one way or another. This is frankly the least we can do for that hero who sacrificed so much to extricate his people from universal barbarism.

1- Where did the idea that Boukman knew how to read originate?

Unlike Toussaint Louverture whose writing skills several colonial documents attest to, no colonial document has even insinuated that Boukman could read. In the absence of historical evidence proving a hypothesis, it is reasonable to refrain from asserting that such hypothesis is true - although it may seem plausible to some. This should be the reasonable position adopted by any person making a historical analysis. Unfortunately, the debate about Boukman's literacy does not appeal to reason; but rather to predation. Predation from :
  • a) the Black world (as we have seen briefly) ; 
  • b) French intellectuals that have revived this seed in the minds of Haitians in 1990-92, to sabotage the 200th anniversary of the Bois Caïman ceremony ;
  • c) and predation initiated by inferiority complexed Haitian intellectuals as Jean Fouchard in 1953 and Gerson Alexis in 1967-1970, who held xenophile discourses for the instilled and unacknowledged purpose of violating their own people.

Gerson Alexis, the disdainful fabulator
In 1967, as we have raised elsewhere, the Haitian intellectual Gerson Alexis went to Balan, in Northern Haiti, to prove at all costs the Islamic identity of a religious group. Two articles came out of this trip. Dishonest, Alexis threw various unsubstantiated claims with no restrain, including that Boukman and Macandal were Muslims and Mandingo :
"There is such legends concerning haitian independance war heroes as Mackandal and Boukman (1792) who were themselves moslem mandigoes" (12)
The first problem Gerson Alexis encountered was the fact that Haitians from Balan perpetuating an  ancestral Mandingo rite, like all Haitian traditionalists, recognize their Creator God as the "Grand Maître" or the "Grand Master". This contradicts Alexis' presumption, because to be Muslim, the first pillar of Islam requires that one recognize Allah as the Supreme God, and no other God. Countered, Alexis rejected the reality of the Haitians of Mandingo strain. Full of disdain, the Haitian intellectual then claimed to be more knowledgeable than these poor peasants of their own religion :
"The Mandingo believes in the existence of one Supreme Being. Some of them confound this supreme being with the "GRAND MAÎTRE" (the first vodood god) (...) In fact, it is a question of an islamic cult at the african way. The mandigoes do not know the name of their pantheon gods because their religious ritual is conducted in an unknown language." (13)
The traditional ritual of this Balan religious society cannot be reduced to a simple semantic confusion or a harmless substitute of the Allah name by "Grand Master". For Gerson Alexis described without any discomfort, the prayer of this religious brotherhood in this term :
"The Mori [not Imam nor Iman] withe a coarse yellow candle in one hand delivers a long speech on the high religious value of the mandigo faith [not in the high value of "Allah"]. Afterward, he begins his Ordinancy by the recitation of the "Pater Noster" [catholic practice] and the "Ave Maria" [catholic practice] in french. The audience responds in chorus to the prayers. The Mori signs himself in the roman catholic manner..." (14)
Moreover, prior to G. Alexis Carl E. Peters, a Catholic priest, had described that same Balan society's rituals. And that priest who participated in the genocidal "anti-superstitious" or "rejeté" (rejected) campaign produced a report containing less omissions and exaggerations than that of Alexis, the Haitian intellectual. Peters' text showed that the prayers of the Balan peasants were notably addressed to :
  • La Vierge de miracle (The Virgin of Miracles ; catholic Saint)
  • La Vierge imprudente  (The Virgin Most Prudent ; catholic Saint)
  • Mari Ginin (Mary of Guinea ; catholic-traditional syncretism)
  • La Rène Baltaza (Queen Baltazar ; catholic-traditional syncretism)
  • Pierre Dambara (Traditional God)
  • Pierra Cala Oussou (Traditional God)
  • Le Roi de Miminuit (The Midnight King ; Traditional God)
  • Le Roi de Carrefou (The King of the Crossroad ; Traditional God)
  • Le Bonzange Gadient  (Good Guardian-Angel ; catholic-traditional syncretism)
  • Adiassou Cala ou  (Traditional God)
  • Adiassou Roche Adiasso (Traditional God)
  • Baltaza Bizango (Traditional God and secret societies) (15)
Obviously, in light of the strong syncretic content of these prayers, a sound minded individual would have immediately rejected the Muslim hypothesis of the Balan inhabitants. However, in a historical, religious and civilizational predation context, reason and decency are quickly set aside by opportunism. We will deal in the future with the Mandingo hypothesis. But what is important here is that in 1970, without evidence, Gerson Alexis' bilingual texts introduced the supposed Islamo-Mandingo origin of Boukman; but not the hypothesis that he could read.

Gérard Barthélémy, the extrapolated extrapolator
Arrived, at the approach of the 200th of the Bois Caiman, 1991, the French revisionist writings. First those of François Hoffmann and Gérard Barthélémy, followed by those of Charlie Najman. If Hoffmann stated in 1990 that Bois Caiman was a myth - which was refuted in 1992 by David Geggus - Gérard Barthélémy's text, however, revived Gerson Alexis' islamic Boukman hypothesis  from 20 years earlier. However, Barthélémy, more methodical, went a couple of steps further by proposing Bois Caiman as Islamic ; and Boukman as a scholar :
"Un autre indice en effet, tient au nom lui-même de Boukman, qui vient de Book-Man, nom utilisé encore aujourd'hui en Afrique Anglophone, notamment au Libéria, pour désigner "l'homme du livre" "Le Marabout - Le Sage, celui qui connait les écritures.
Boukman qui s'appelait en réalité Boukman Dutty, selon Céligny Ardouin, venait de la Jamaïque, colonie anglaise, où ce nom accolé à celui de son propriétaire en lui avait sans aucun doute pas été attribué par hasard." (16)
"Another clue, in fact, lies in the very name of Boukman, which comes from Book-Man,  a name still in use today in Anglophone Africa, particularly in Liberia, to designate the "man of the book "" The Marabout - The Wise, who knows the scriptures.

Boukman, named Boukman Dutty actually, according to Céligny Ardouin, was from Jamaica, British colony, where that name coupled with that of his owner who definitely did not it award to him by chance

It goes without saying that Gérard Barthélémy made use of a circular argument, a form of sophism, by pretending that :
  • a) since they named a "Marabout" "Bookman",  in Islamized (English-speaking) Liberia,
  • b) and a Haitian revolutionary (Dominguois) bore the name of Boukman,
  • c) this automatically implies that the Haitian Boukman got his name in the same context as in Liberia.
Moreover, according to this article from Liberian Wonderr Freeman entitled "On Behalf Of The" Book People", in Liberia, the term "Man of the Book" or "Book People" (plural) means "scholar". It stands for "Degree Holders". That is to say, "graduates" or any educated person, regardless of religion :
“How true is the claim that the book people failed Liberia? Firstly, to understand this theory one must try to understand what is actually meant by the phrase "degree holders failed Liberia." Do the advocates of this misguided theory actually mean that those who have chosen the honorable path of going through formal institutions of learning as secondary schools, technical schools, colleges and universities are good for nothing? Do they mean that graduates of these educational institutions are miseducated; hence, the graduates are failures? Do they mean that these graduates fail to put into practice what they’ve been thought at these institutions? If the degree holders are failing in Liberia, what are they doing in other countries? Are the "book people" in other countries failing? Is there any country in the world where socio-economic development was achieved without degree holders? Is there any country in the world where the practice of the professions was turned over to the people who did not go to school; that is, the people who don’t know "book"?”
Was President Tubman a degree holder and was he a failure? President Tubman was not a degree holder: He is widely believed to have completed 8th grade education only. Not surprisingly, he was a miserable failure. He was nothing more than one of those trial-and-error politicians that I spoke of earlier. Such trial-and-error professionals, I maintained, are the people who have failed Liberia. Tubman, an eight grade graduate, cannot be considered a bookman when his immediate predecessor was a university professor and other contemporaries - pro-independence leaders and African nationalists- as Hasting Kamuzu Banda of Malawi, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Kenneth Kaunda of Rhodesia, Nnamdi Azikwe of Nigeria, were fully equipped with PhD’s to run their respective countries or independence movement." (17)
In other words, in Liberia, "Boukman" or "Book Man" means any person with a university degree :  an accountant, a lawyer, a doctor, an engineer, as well as a surveyor. Occupations not directly related to Islam. This Liberian article therefore refutes the exclusively Islamic relationship that Gerard Bartholomew tried to establish with the name Boukman.       

Boukman was literate according to an eyewitness?
To demonstrate Boukman's writing skill, Barthélémy used his compatriot Jacques Thibaud 1989 book. For Jacques Thibaud published the testimony of a settler who lived in the same House where Boukman held the coachman position. This is of course, the Clement Estate, situated in l'Acul du Nord (not in Morne Rouge where Boukman never lived). The night the general insurrection erupted, Boukman would have saved the lives of that particular settler who, in his testimony, made reference to the coachman's intelligence :
"Le commandant de cette horde sanguinaire nommé Boukman, pour qui j'avais toujours eu beaucoup de bontés, arriva dans ces entrefaits et m'apercevant dans ma chambre dont la porte était à moitié brisée, tout ensanglanté et tout déséspéré, eut compassion de moi; il s'adressa à ses gens et leur dit avec empressement "Ne le tuez pas, c'est un bon blanc et plus savant que tous les autres qui sont ici". A l'arpentage que je faisais auparavant à l'habitation, je me faisais seconder par lui comme le plus intelligent de tous (il avait été bien étonné de voir que je trouvais la distance d'un point à un autre)"". (18)
Translation :
"The commander of this bloodthirsty horde named Boukman, for whom I always had a lot of kindness, came in, and saw me in my room, the door was broken in half, all bloodied and desperate, he had compassion for me; he turned to his men and said eagerly, "Do not kill him, he's a good white and more knowledgeable than all the others who are here." During a survey I once did of the estate, I took him to assist me as the most intelligent of all (he was astonished to see that I found the distance from one point to another)"".
And from these lines, Barthélémy concluded that Boukman could read and was a Mandingo :
"Pour être le second d'un arpenteur, il faut non seulement être "intelligent" comme le note l'auteur, mais surtout faut-il, sans doute, savoir inscrire les chiffres, ou tout au moins savoir les lire. Voilà qui renforce singulièrement l'hypothèse mandingue." (19)
Translation :
"To be a land surveyor assistant, one not only must be "intelligent" as noted by the author, but above all, he must doubtlessly know how to register figures, or at least know how to read. That greatly enhances the Mandingo hypothesis."
We are once again facing a circular argument from Barthélémy. Lacking substantial evidence, to justify his point he presents :
  • a) any "land surveyor assistant" as an "intelligent" person ;
  • b) Then he claims that this "land surveyor assistant" should be able to read ;
  • c) Then he insinuates that since Boukman was recognized as "intelligent" and was a "land surveyor assistant", it necessarily implies that he could read.
But nothing proves that Boukman could actually read. Because :
  • 1) intelligence is innate, being intelligent does not automatically imply that we know how to read or write; especially when talking about a captive with extremely limited access to literacy. And conversely, knowing how to read or write does not mean that one is intelligent. The school benches are filled with examples proving that point.
  • 2) While it is useful to be smart to attend the survey of a field, as I myself have done it in Haiti in 2008, however it is not essential to know how to read or write. Just the placement of poles and lines, at landmarks indicated by the surveyor who does the mathematical calculation, and note taking. Moreover, the witness has said he was assisted by Boukman, not because Boukman could read or write, but simply because he was "the most intelligent of all," referring to the Estate's captive workforce at his disposal. So if Boukman could read or was the only one among the lot who could read, the witness would have see fit to mention it. But he did not. He credited Boukman for only what is innate to him, intelligence.
  • 3) Moreover, this witness settler from the Clement Estate was not a "surveyor" by profession, as insinuated by Barthélémy. This witness was only a 16 year-old young man at the time of the 1791 uprising  :
"M. Robert, charpentier, employé sur la même habitation [Flaville, non pas Clément], est saisi par ses nègres, qui le garottent entre deux planches et le scient avec lenteur.
Un jeune homme de seize ans, blessé dans deux endroits échappe à la fureur des cannibales, et c’est de lui que nous tenons ces faits." (20)
Translation :
"M. Robert, carpenter, employed on the same home [Flaville, not Clement], is seized by his negroes, who tied him between two planks and sawed him slowly.A young man, aged sixteen, wounded in two places escaped the fury of the cannibals, and it is from him that we got these facts."
So given his young age, the colonial authorities chose to hide the witness's identity, while publishing his account. So he was, based on his youth, far from being the land surveyor that Barthélémy suggested. And the task that was assigned to him would not have been substantial. Otherwise, it would have required an experienced surveyor. Anyway, from this Gérard Barthélémy extrapolation, the revisionist machine got going. It displayed shortly after its tentacles (notably through the efforts of Charlie Najman: documentary (21), Book (22), etc.) on Haitian intellectuals and religious leaders, resulting in the universally prevalent "Bwa Kay Iman" artifice.

What is the truth, then?
Unable to identify the young witness, historians nicknamed him the "Clement Procureur" or the "Clement Attorney", in regards to the manager-accountant profession he practiced at the Clement Plantation ; in reality, he was learning that profession. Through this research, we have stumbled across the identity of this "Clement Procureur", that was cleverly hidden in the notes of a poetry collection. His name was François-Alexandre Beau. He was a young Frenchman who came to work in Saint Domingue's Clement plantation that belonged to a family member. From 1789 until the 1791 uprising, Boukman, who came from Turpin Plantation of nearby Limbé (23), was the coachman of that Clement Estate located in  l'Acul du Nord. Saved at the last minute by Boukman, then evacuated from l'Acul by the colonial militia, young François-Alexandre returned to his native France on September 8, 1792, then, 13 years later, at 29, he wrote this :
"J'avais fait à St-Domingue une brillante fortune ; l'insurrection des Noirs m'en dépouille, et je fuis un pays où j'aurais infailliblement perdu la vie. La ville de France qui m'avait vu naître, aux environs de laquelle est situé le patrimoine de mes pères, fut celle que je choisis pour ma résidence : elle est le siège d'une Préfecture.
Un règne affreux pesait sur la France. Plusieurs partis la divisaient pour n'en embrasser aucun, je me séquestrai de la société. J'avais entrepris à St-Domingue de décrire les malheurs des Colons ; dans ma retraite je cherchai à remplir la tache que je m'étais imposée ; mais ne pouvant, sans danger, publier mes mémoires, dans un temps où la France semblait applaudir au triomphe des noirs, et désirant d'ailleurs me faire un nom dans la poësie j'abjurai l'histoire pour me lancer dans cette carrière pénible." (24)
Translation :
"I had done in St-Domingue a brilliant fortune ; the Blacks' uprising undercut me, and I escaped a country where I should infallibly have died. The city of France which saw me born, around which is located the heritage of my fathers, was the one I selected for my home: it is the seat of a Prefecture.
A frightful reign weighed on France. Several parties divided it, for not embrassing either, I've sequested myself from society. I had undertaken in
St-Domingue to describe the misfortunes of the colonists; in my retirement I tried to carry on the duty that I had imposed on myself; but can not without danger publish my memoirs, at a time when France seemed to applaud the triumph of the blacks, and desiring also tp make a name for myself in poetry, I abjured history to get into this painful career."
As we know, before leaving Saint Domingue, François-Alexandre Beau had carried out a detailed account of the tragic events that took place in l'Acul, the epicenter of the uprising. This account of the "Clement Procureur" made mention of Boukman, that the author rubbed shoulders with in the plantation, without mentioning that he could read. But Jacques Thibaud, the source of Barthélémy and the first to published the young man's account, for some unknown reason, had cut short this quote, which altered the meaning of the testimony :
"Il [Boukman] s'adressa à ses gens et leur dit avec empressement "Ne le tuez pas, c'est un bon blanc et plus savant que tous les autres qui sont ici". A l'arpentage que je faisais auparavant à l'habitation, je me faisais seconder par lui comme le plus intelligent de tous (il avait été bien étonné de voir que je trouvais la distance d'un point à un autre)" (25)
Translation :
"He [Boukman] turned to his men and said eagerly, "Do not kill him, he's a good white and more knowledgeable than all the others who are here." During a survey I once did of the estate, I took him to assist me as the most intelligent of all (he was astonished to see that I found the distance from one point to another)"
This quote followed by Barthélémy's interpretation suggests that Boukman was educated, and he was surprised that the White guy also knew how to make a complex mathematical calculation. But the original text * offer a different story :
"Il [Boukman] s’adressa à ses gens et leur dit avec empressement « Ne le tuez pas, c’est un bon blanc et plus savant que tous les autres qui sont ici ». Ce qui lui donna lieu de s’exprimer ainsi : A l’arpentage que je faisais auparavant à l’habitation, je me faisais seconder par lui comme le plus intelligent de tous (il avait été bien étonné de voir que je trouvais la distance d’un point à un autre sans en approcher, puisque [ce n’était pas l’usage habituel. Et il croyait par] là que j’avais un génie supérieur aux autres blancs). Je ne fus pas peu surpris d’entendre un pareil langage car je ne l’aurais pas cru susceptible, dans cette conjoncture, d’autant d’humanité." (26)
Translation :
"He [Boukman] turned to his men and said eagerly, "Do not kill him, he's a good white and more knowledgeable than all the others who are here." What caused him to talk this way : During a survey I once did of the estate, I took him to assist me as the most intelligent of all (he was astonished to see that I found the distance from one point to another without approaching it, since [it was not the usual use. And he believed in] that I had a genius superior to that of other whites). I'm more than a bit surprised to hear such language because I would not have believed him likely, at this juncture, of such humanity."
As may be observed, in fact, Boukman, although intelligent and mentally awake, being illiterate, was ignorant that it was possible to find "the distance from one point to another without approaching it", that is, without step counting.
Moreover, Boukman's astonishment also betrayed his illiteracy by the exaggerated credit he gave to the young settler for a common mathematical operation :
"He was astonished to see that I found the distance from one point to another without approaching it... [And he believed in] that I had a genius superior to that of other whites." (27)

Witnessing the young settler's calculation, Boukman concluded that he was in the presence of a "genius", someone who was "more knowledgeable than all" in the colony. His admiration was such that he risked big to protect that settler's life. The author offers another version of the same story that allows us to better understand the excessive admiration Boukman held towards him. For Boukman even assaulted his own countrymen to protect the one who made that mathematical calculation :
"Dans la fureur qui m'égare j'ouvre ma porte, perpendiculairement à laquelle et sur deux lignes mes assassins sont rangés, je m'élance parmi eux avec rapidité; mais au moment où j'allais être percé de mille coups, le nègre Boukman cocher de notre habitation et chef de la bande, arrive sur la scène me prend entre ses bras, et dit d'un voix de Stentor : je ne veux pas qu'on le tue; c'est un bon blanc, il en sait plus que tous les autres qui sont dans la Colonie.
Les révoltés les plus féroces ne souscrivirent à sa volonté qu'après avoir reçu quelques coups de crosse de fusil." (28)
Translation :
"In the fury that overtook me, I open my door, and perpendicularly to which and on two lines my assassins are stowed, I jumped among them quickly; but when I was going to be pierced by a thousand blows, the negro Boukman, coachman of our estate and leader of the band, arrives on the scene takes, me in his arms, and said in a stentorian voice: I do not want him to be killed; he is a good white, he knows more than all the others in the Colony.
The fiercest rebels did not subscribe to his will prior to receiving few strokes of rifle
We found a similar astonishment example in Descourtilz, the naturalist's encounter with a captive from Port-de-Paix (Northwestern Saint Domingue (Haiti)) around 1800. This captive, accompanying him as he hunts, was extremely amazed by a bird portrait of great realism that the naturalist drew. His total ignorance of the process involved in what was presented to him, and to which he wasn't thus far exposed, pushed him to qualify the naturalist, not as a genius, but rather as the "devil" in person :
"On peut encore juger de la superstition des nègres par ce trait caractéristique. J'avais chassé toute une matinée dans les mornes du Port-de-Paix, où j'herborisais en même temps pour ajouter à ma collection des oiseaux, des plantes , et tout ce qui concerne un choix de ce genre. Un noir me guidait dans ma course incertaine, et se chargeait de tout ce qui devait être rapporté à la case. Nous étions au mois d'août, et les productions animales ne pouvant se conserver, je les dessinais pour préparer au plus vite la peau des oiseaux. Mon conducteur ne m'avait point encore vu à l'ouvrage; je le fis venir pour lui faire reconnaître les oiseaux que j'avais tué le matin devant lui. Quelle fut sa surprise, de voir dans une attitude vivante, et sur des papiers, des oiseaux qui n'existaient plus ! il recula de frayeur, en s'écriant tout enroué : « Ah ! bon dieu ! ! ! bon dieu ! ! ! queu bagage! blanc france ci làlà li diab' même! Guetté comme' li coucher en haut papier toute' bagage layo ! Ah! bon dieu!!! bon dieu » ! Rien de moins surprenant que de voir un homme de ce genre, étonné, à la vue d'un travail qu'il ne peut définir, mais de le voir en suite refuser de prendre mon verre, et d'y boire du tafia pour lequel un nègre se ferait fouetter ; c'est ce qui surpassa mon attente." (29)
Translation :
"We can still judge the superstition of Negroes by this characteristic. I hunted all morning in the hills of Port-de-Paix, where I was also gathering herbs to add to my collection of birds, plants, and everything related to a choice of this kind. A black guided me in my uncertain travel, and was responsible for all that had to be brought back to the hut. We were in August, and as livestock production cannot be kept, I drew them to prepare the birds skin as quickly as possible. My driver had still not seen me at work; I made him come to recognize birds I killed in the morning in front of him. What was his surprise to see in a living attitude, and on paper, birds that no longer existed! he recoiled in terror, crying all hoarse : « Ah ! bon dieu ! ! ! bon dieu ! ! ! queu bagage! blanc france ci làlà li diab' même! Guetté comme' li coucher en haut papier toute' bagage layo ! Ah! bon dieu!!! bon dieu » ! [Oh! good god! what ordeal! that white frenchman is the devil in the flesh! Look how he put down on paper all of these things! Oh! good god! good god!] Nothing less surprising to see a man like this, astonished at the sight of a job he can not define, but to see him later refuse to take my drink, and to drink tafia (rum) for which a negro would get whipped ; this is what surpassed my expectations."
This "job he can not define" sums up pretty well Boukman's amazed attitude, when facing the François-Alexandre calculation that exceeded his understanding. Thus strengthening our argument that he could not read.

2- Writing among the rebels

If Boukman could read, or that he was the only one able to read, what then do we make of Toussaint Louverture's presence since the early days of the revolution, including the numerous letters written in his own hand?

Toussaint Louverture July 8, 1796 letter to Rochambeau (written by his own hand)

Source: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, The New York Public Library. "Toussaint Louverture to Rochambeau about prisoners" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1796.

1791 Toussaint letter in which Boukman and tafia (alcohol) were mentioned
To add more details, we have here a letter dated October 15, 1791 (2 months after the start of the uprising) in which Toussaint Louverture, the army doctor, informs Biassou of his intention not to visit the Spanish side, as hoped, and to inform "Bouqueman" about it :

"Lettre signée Médecin, général, datée de Grande-Rivière, ce 15 octobre 1791.
Mon très cher ami,
D’après les demandes que je viens de faire à l’Espagnol et que j’attends de jour en jour la chose que je demande, je vous prie d’attendre que nous soyons plus en état avant d’aller à ce que me faites l’amitié de m’écrire. J’ai trop grande envie d’aller, mais je voudrait avoir dans toutes les habitations, des pinces pour pouvoir faire dégringoler les roches qui sont à la montagne du haut du Cap, pour les empêcher de nous approcher, car je crois qu’ils n’ont pas d’autre moyen, à moins que d’exposer nos gens à la boucherie. Je vous prie de vous assurer avec l’espion que vous aurait envoyé, de le faire bien expliquer l’endroit où est la poudrière du haut du Cap, pour que nous puissions réussir à emparer la poudrière; mon bon ami, vous pouvez avoir là dessus que si j’ai pris des précautions à cette affaire, vous pouvez en faire [part] à Bouqueman : quant à Jean-François, il peut toujours aller en voiture avec les demoiselles, et il m’a seulement pas fait l’honneur de m’écrire un mot depuis plusieurs jours. Je suis même fort étonné de cela. Si vous avez besoin de tafia, je vous enverrés quand vous voudrez, mais tâchez de leur ménager; vous sentés qu'il ne faut pas les en donner pour qu’il soit dérangés. Envoyés-moi plusieurs cabrouets, car j’ai besoin de charger du bois pour monter les cases qui sont à la tannerie pour loger mes gens.
Je vous prie d’assurer de mon très humble respect à Madame votre mère et votre sœur. J’ai l’honneur d’être parfaitement, très cher ami, votre très humble, très obéissant serviteur.
Signé : Médecin, général; à l’adresse, à MM. Biassou, brigadier des armées du roi, au Grand Boucam." (30)
Translation :
"Letter signed general Doctor, from Grande-Rivière, this October 15, 1791.
My very dear friend,
According to the requests I just made to the Spaniard and every day I expect the thing I asked, I beg you to wait until we are more in a condition before going, that's what made me write. I have a great envy to go, but I would like to have from every habitat, tongs to be able to tumble the rocks that are at the top of haut du Cap mountain, to prevent them from approaching us, because I think they have no other way except to expose our people to slaughter. Please make sure with the spy that you will send, explain to him the location of the haut du Cap gun power storage, so we can successfully seize the storage; my good friend, you may examine the precautions I have taken in this case, you can inform Bouqueman: as to Jean-François, he can always go by car with the ladies, although he has not gave me the honor of writing me a word for several days. I am even astonished at this. If you need tafia (rum), I will sent it to you when you like, but try to spare them; you can see that we should not give them amount that will disturb them. Sent me several chariots because I need to load timber to mount the huts that are at the tannery to accommodate my people.
Please ensure my humble respect for your mother and your sister. I have the honor of being perfectly, very dear friend, your most humble, obedient servant. 
Signed: general Doctor; at, MM. Biassou, brigadier of the king's armies, at Grand Boucam."

What stood out in this letter is that Toussaint mentioned that he will send the rum or alcohol, for the use of the troupe. In addition, he begs Biassou to have the soldiers drink in moderation, evidence of alcohol abuse in the rebel camps. In addition, the letter suggests that Bouqueman (Boukman) was in the camp of Biassou. This implies that Boukman was among the drinkers, yet something forbidden by Islam and unworthy of an Imam or Iman.
Also, when Toussaint asked Biassou to "inform Bouqueman", it proves that Boukman was not expected to read the letter; thus disproving the notion that he was a scholar surrounded by total illiterates. For if that were the case, Toussaint would have spokent directly to Boukman in that letter, or at least he would have assumed that Boukman, being the sole reader, would have obtained the information while reading the letter. If that were the case, why would he have asked for him to be made informed of anything?
Finally, where is it, then, in that letter, the Muslim formula of rendering all glory to Allah? On the contrary, Toussaint said he was Biassou's "very humble, obedient servant". "V.T.H. and T. Ob. S." was a common salutation of the time, which is still contrary to Islam hogging all the glory to Allah. So the Muslim theory is wrong on all points.

B) Other rebel letters concerning alcohol consumption, writen as  Boukman was alive

"Lettre d'un nègre, signée Fayette ; du Dondon, le 22 octobre 1791.
Mon général,
J'ai l'honneur de vous souhaiter le bonjour et mon général français qui vous fait de même. J'ai l'honneur de vous zaprendre que nous avons tresté avec Lespagne ; nous salon oujourd'hui écrire à Monsieur le président, pour optenir ce que nous zavont de besoin ; est ses tun traité qui me fait un sansible plaisir, auquel je suis réjuis comme estamp persuadé que sett nouvelle vous fera autamp de plaisir que moi, qui fais que je vous le fais savoir. Le général vous prie, sitôt la présente reçu, de faire prendre tout le tafia qui et fait, et tous le sucre et le tafia surtout lui sont consigné pour le camp de Dondon. Tous lestat major vous salus, leur très heumbles civilité, et vous soite bien de la santé ainsi que moi.
J'ai l'honneur d'être avec un fraternel atachement et respecteux respect,
Mon très cher général, V.T.H. et T.Ob. S.
Signé : FAYETTE." (31)
Translation :
"Letter of a Negro, signed Fayette ; in Dondon, October 22, 1791.
My general,
I have the honor to wish you good morning and my French general wishes you the same. I have the honor to tell you that we traited with Spain; today, we've written to Mr. Chairman, to obtain what we needed; and it's a treaty that gives me a sensible pleasure, which I am convinced that will rejoice you as well, and that's why I'm sharing it with you. The general begs you, as soon as you receive this, to take all the tafia (rum) that is done, and all the sugar and mostly the rum that are consigned to him, to the Dondon camp. All the major staff salutes  you, their very humble civility, and wish you good health, me as well.
I am honored to be with a fraternal
attachment and respectful respect,
My very dear general, V.T.H. et T.Ob. S.
Signed : FAYETTE. "

These letters are a fraction of the written evidence showing: that writing was ubiquitous in the rebels' military organization, the absence of evidence showing Boukman as literate, and the non-Islamic character of the daily rebels' operations. Among the most eloquent examples, we can cite a letter signed by King Jean-François that was found in the pocket of Georges, a rebel leader killed on Sept. 19, 1791, at Quartier Morin. The letter stated that Jean-Francois had placed a death warrant on Boukman and Paul (Blain, blin or Bélin). And if we follow the revisionists logic, we will ask if, as the only literate, Boukman would have written his own death warrant?** :
"Dans cette affaire, on trouva dans la poche de Georges, l’un des chefs des révoltés qu’on avait tué, un billet conçu en ces termes : « Je donne pouvoir et j’ordonne à Georges, major général de ma cavalerie, de tuer les nommés Bouqman et Paul partout où ils se trouveront, signé J.-François Roi. » Quels pouvaient être les motifs qui avaient excité le chef suprême de l’armée noire à exhiber un ordre pareil? Je présume que c’est parce que Bouqman et Paul ne s’étaient point emparés du camp des Mornets en même temps que Jeannot avait enlevé celui du Dondon, et de plus parce que les chefs commandaient despotiquement dans leur arrondissement et ne voulaient point reconnaître Jean-François pour leur supérieur." (32)
Translation :
"In this case, it was found in George's pocket, one of the rebel leaders we had killed, a note in these words : "I appoint and I ordered Georges, Major General of my cavalry, to kill Bouqman and Paul wherever they are, signed J.-François King." What could be the motives that had excited the supreme head of the black army to exhibit such an order? I presume it is because Bouqman and Paul  did not seized the Mornets camp while Jeannot had taken the one in Dondon, and more because the leaders commanded despotically in their district and did not want to recognize Jean -François as their superior."
What about the many free rebels (blacks and mulattos) spotted in the camps, many of whom could read? And what about the mix-race (quarteron or mulatto) who read out a false gazette during the Morne-Rouge conspiracy (33)? How was that possible, if Boukman was the only literate? And wouldn't he have been the one that would have written this false Gazette - unless white royalist accomplices were charged with this task?
Besides, Lattre annotated this remark on a rebel letter. He talks about white priests and several educated mixed-race helping with the writing
"Les nègres avaient parmi eux des blancs, pour conseillers intimes, notamment plusieurs curés. Philemon, etc. , quelques sang-mélés instruits." (34)
Translation :
"The Negroes had whites among them, as intimate advisers, including several priests. Philemon, etc. Some educated mixed blood."
We will gladly discuss, in a future article, the close collaboration between the supposedly "jihadists" rebels and the Catholic clergy. For now, we'll focus on more tangible evidence that Boukman could not read.

3- Boukman didn't know how to read

Here we have tangible evidence that Boukman could not read. It cancels the bogus theory of his Islamic identity, based solely on an arbitrary deformation of his name. This evidence once again comes from François-Alexandre Beau's testimony. Beau recounts the first direct action that sparked the general uprising. In this action, Boukman, along with about 14 rebels from Noé (des Manquets), Flaville and Clément plantations went on the Trémes estate to seize the carpenter's gun :
"Le 22 aout à onze heures du soir, le nègre Bougman cocher de l’habitation Clément dont j’étais procureur, à la tête de quelques nègres venus du Limbé et d’autres du quartier de l’Acul va sur l’habitation Trémes sise audit quartier, s’empare des armes du citoyen Tutheil, charpentier et gérant de cette habitation et après s’être contenté du lui faire signer une Déclaration à sa guise, il l’emmène avec lui." (35)
Translation :
"August 22 at eleven o'clock, the negro Bougman, coachman on the Clément estate, where I was a prosecutor, at the head of some negroes from Limbé and others from the l'Acul neighborhood goes to the Trémes estate located at said neighborhood, seizes the weapons of citizen Tutheil, a carpenter and manager of that property, and after making him sign a declaration as he wished, takes him along."
This short clip, seemingly innocuous, is yet deep with meaning. It shows us that Boukman needed the carpenter's literate skill to issue him an order. This is not from Boukman, the quest for an emancipation act that, obviously, is a deed more difficult to falsify on the go. Therefore, it was bonds, letters or travel tickets, for him and his band, he tried to obtain from the carpenter.  

Travel bond
A passenger ticket (billet de passage) is required for a captive to circulate freely in the colony. Otherwise, he or she will be stopped by the maréchaussée (the police of the time) and imprisoned. His capture will then be announced in the newspapers so that his owner can retrieve him, for a fee. Here, in 1767, 34 years before the uprising, is the example of the contents of a ticket held by a captive who was still arrested and imprisoned :

"AU FORT-DAUPHIN, un Nègre créole de Saint-Louis, nommé Jean, âgé d'environ 30 ans, taille d'environ 5 pieds 1 pouce, parlant bon français, se disant appartenir à M. Mesples l'aîné, Marchant au Port-au-Prince. (Ce Nègre a été arrêté par la Maréchaussée du Fort-Dauphin, avec une mule ayant les deux oreilles coupées, chargée de deux petites malles couvertes de cuir de Roussy, fermant à clef ; ledit Nègre muni d'un billet conçu en ces termes : Bon pour un Nègre nommé Jean, qui va en pacotille dans le Quartier de St. Marc, le Cap & le Fort-Dauphin ; bon pour un mois, au Port-au-Prince le 12 janvier 1767. Je dis douzième janvier 1767, & que ledit Nègre mène une mule sans oreilles. Signé, Mesples l'aîné). [La susdite, déclaration du Concierge des Prisons, est datée du 6 février]." (36)
Translation :
"AT FORT-DAUPHIN, a Creole Negro from St. Louis, named Jean, aged about 30 years, height about 5 feet 1 inch, speaking good French, is claiming to be belonging to Mr. Mesples l'aîné, salesman in Port-au-Prince. (This Negro was arrested by the Fort Dauphin Maréchaussée, with a mule that had both ears cut off, charged with two small trunks covered in Roussy leather, locked; said Negro carried a note couched in these terms: Bond for a Negro named Jean, who goes in rags to St. Marc quarter, le Cap & Fort-Dauphin; good for a month, at Port-au-Prince January 12, 1767. I say January 12, 1767, and the said Negro leads a mule without ears. Signed, Mesples the elder). [The above, statement of the Prisons Concierge, dated February 6]"

Fake tickets (faux billets)
It was common practice that captives would seek "fake tickets" in order to escape with ease. Here is a list of ads, from 1766 to 1789, in which owners warned that their maroon captives were carrying "fake tickets" (faux billets) :

Source: Les Affiches Américaines.

Some whites made tickets for the captives
As was the case in l'Acul when Boukman and his associates demanded written notes from the carpenter, it also happens, for various reasons, that whites produced tickets for the maroons. Here is one such example :

"Un Nègre Congo, nommé Almonzor, paraissant plus vieux qu'il ne l'est, n'ayant cependant que 22 à 24 ans, taille d'environ 5 pieds, bien jambé, la peau noire, picoté de petite vérole, les dents de devant sciées, parlant d'une voix enrouée avec tant de vivacité qu'a peine il se fait comprendre, étampé FOURNIER & au dessus FILS, est parti maron depuis cinq à six mois. Ceux qui le reconnaîtront, sont priés de le faire arrêter & d'en donner avis à M. Jean-Baptiste Fournier, demeurant rue du Conseil, à qui il appartient. Il y aura récompense pour celui qui le ramènera. Ce nègre se tient ordinairement à l'embarcadère de la Petite-Anse, le plus souvent chez un Sieur Marc, Tanneur audit embarcadère, & quelques fois, il se retire dans les cases à nègre de M Bertin, demeurant à l'entrée du bourg, venant de la plaine au Cap, & comme il est gai & qu'il est grand danseur, suivant l'usage de son pays, il est retiré par les Nègres de sa nation. Quelques fois, il va à la pêche, & dans d'autres temps il parcourt la plaine à la faveur des billets que certains Blancs ont la bassesse de lui donner." (37)
Translation :
"A Congo Negro, named Almonzor, appearing older than he is, however aged only 22 to 24, about 5 feet in size, good legged, black skin, pockmarked by smallpox, front teeth sawn, speaking hoarsely so vividly he can hardly make himself understood, stamped FOURNIER & FILS above, went maroon since five to six months. Those who recognize him, are requested to arrest him & give notice to Mr. Jean-Baptiste Fournier, residing rue du Conseil, to whom he belongs. There will be rewards for those who bring him. This negro is usually held at the pier of Petite-Anse, most often in a Sieur Marc Tanner said pier, and sometimes he retires in M Bertin negro huts, residing at the entrance of the village, from the plain to the Cape, and as he is gay and that he is a great dancer, according to the custom of his country, he is removed by the Negroes of his nation. Sometimes he goes fishing, and other times he crosses the plain thanks to the tickets that some whites have the baseness to give him."

Writing one's own ticket
When accessing the marronnage ads, we find several ads warning that certain maroons where in possession of travel tickets, while others could read and write (sachant lire & écrire), spoke good French (parlant bon français) and therefore can produce their own ticket (billet) or bonds (bons) :


Source: Les Affiches Américaines. URL:

But why Boukman, at the beginning of the uprising, would lose valuable time to convince the carpenter to write anything, if he could read and could manufacture as many tickets as necessary for him and his band? The fact that he took the Carpenter along shows that he and his band needed him to write for them. So it is reasonable to say that Boukman could not read as alleged.

Illiterate Muslim
History is made of facts, not suppositions, extrapolations or fantasy. One of these fantasies is the idea that a Muslim should automatically be literate. This is not the reality today. And it was even less so, in the  18th century Christian Saint Domingue slave colony.
As example, we'll use this maroon ad for a
Senegalese, therefore, one that comes from the group displaying, apparently, the most pronounced degree of Islamization of Western "Africa". We feel this Senegalese, most likely Islamized, could not read, because, according to the maroon ad, he had resorted to the help of others to get a counterfeit ticket (faux billet) :

"Philippe, sénégalais, un peu grand & maigre, la peau très-noire, étampé sur le sein BALTAR, est parti marron depuis trois mois. Ce Nègre est briquetier, pêcheur & marchand, allant & venant de la plaine à la ville avec des provisions pour vendre; il porte des souliers & se fait passer pour libre, autant qu'on peut le croire, en voyageant avec un billet qui lui est donné par quelqu'un ; on le soupçonne dans les quartiers de la Rivière-Salée, du Morne-Rouge, de l'Acul, ou dans les environs : en donner des nouvelles à Mrs Grelaud frères, négociants au Cap-Français." (38)
Translation :
"Philippe, Senegalese, a little big & thin, very black skinned, stamped on the breast BALTAR, maroon for three months. This Negro is bricklayer, fisherman & merchant, up & coming from the plain to the city with supplies for sale; he wears shoes & pretends to be free, as one might think, traveling with a ticket given to him by someone; is suspected in the neighborhoods of Rivière-Salée, Morne-Rouge, l'Acul, or in the vicinity: give news to Mrs Grelaud brothers, merchants in Cap-Français."

Unreadable, therefore useless, african (senegalo-mandingo) writing
The entire Islamic revision is based on the assumption that Boukman was a scholar and he could read. Implying that he was Mandingo and Muslim, two elements that gave him control over the other captives (39). Such an argument worked well among weak minds. But, anyone with two brain cells knows that it does not hold water.
As hard as it may seem, when analyzing a captive born in "Africa", may he be a Mandingo or of any other ethnicity, literate or not, Islamized or not, we must understand that such captive was NOTHING. In the colony, the "African" was at the bottom of the social scale, far behind the Creole that, due to being born in the Americas, was endowed with privilege rarely accessible to "Africans" (40). For example, the coachman position which Boukman occupied was a privilege rarely granted to "Africans"; thus making it very unlikely that Boukman was an "African". But some have this leader as a Jamaican Creole of Mandingo roots. In this case, it's fine.
The other issue is that no one, in our opinion, has ever asked the question of what Arabic or Islamic writing was worth in the French colony of Saint Domingue? The answer is again, absolutely NOTHING. The following example shows, in Saint-Marc, in 1766, a Senegalese-Mandingo captive having in his possession a form of writing that was deemed useless in the colony due to being "exotic" :

"Un Nègre Sénégalais, nommé Antoine Mandingue, étampé sur le sein gauche A, âgé de 35 à 36 ans sortant de l'Espagnol, pris avec un porte-feuille où il y a des papiers écris hors d'état d'être lus." (41)
Translation :
"A Senegalese Negro, named Antoine Mandingo, stamped on the left breast A, aged 35 to 36 years, coming out of the Spanish part, taken with a wallet where there are papers of writings unfit to be read."
This example demonstrates that the Arab-Muslim writing was worthless in the colony. It was illegible or "unfit to be read" by the Westerners who ran the place. And therefore the greatest scholar in Arabic or any other non-Western language was illiterate in Saint Domingue. And that is a reality that the revisionists have lost sight of. For the Arabic script did not offer any advantage to a captive or maroon. Being illegible for the constabulary (agents) controlling the roads, this form of writing wouldn't allow one to move freely as would fake tickets written in French. In other words, what need would a group of maroons have of an Arabic scholar that can not read an official stop displayed on a public place, to the point of making him a leader? What is the use of this Arabic captive, if he could not forge a passage bond in French, so that his pregnant maroon wife could get to an experience midwife located at the other end of town? Or how valuable would be this Muslim scholar, if he was unable to write a fake bond to enable a maroon colleague to go to the public market to steal food to feed the band?
Now, let's contrast the inability of the scholar whose Arabic writing, in the logic of the time, was nothing but a sign of "Africanism" - therefore, a proof of inferiority - with the potential of a Creole captive, who wears no ethnic scars on the face, and who knows how to write and speak in French or Creole with no accent. Is it even desirable, for a maroon group, to induct an African Muslim scholar, nostalgic of his land, most likely misogynist and bounded by the Islamic doctrine, and that can't contribute to the welfare of the group, because of his literary incompatible skill?
Let's observe this example of a Creole captive who can write and speak French, and how these skills would make him a better leadership choice than a Muslim scholar :

"ESCLAVE EN MARRONNAGE : Il est parti marron du Port-au-Prince, le 17 de ce mois un Nègre nommé Hector, étampé sur le sein droit MOZARD, âgé de 30 à 35 ans, taille de 5 pieds 4 à 5 pouces, très gros & très-fort, ayant une blessure fraîche à la main gauche ; ce Nègre sait lire & écrire, ayant été en France : comme il serait possible qu'il se fit des permissions de s'absenter ; on prie instamment ceux qui en auront connaissance de ne point y avoir égard, & de le faire arrêter. En donner avis à M. Mozard, imprimeur, à qui il appartient." (42)
Translation :
"RUNAWAY SLAVE : Went marooned from Port-au-Prince, the 17th of this month, a Negro named Hector, stamped on the right breast MOZARD, aged 30 to 35 years, height 5 feet 4 to 5 inches, very large & very strong, with a fresh wound on his left hand; the Negro can read & write, having been in France as it is possible that he produced the absence permissions ; we urge those who have knowledge to disregard those permissions, and to have him arrested. Give notice to Mr. Mozard, printer, to which he belongs."
Congo knowing how to read and forging passage bonds
Now, we'll contrast the Muslim maroon illiterate, or one who carries writings incomprehensible to the whites, with this "African" congo - mostly traditional spiritually - maroon who can read and write to the point of forging passage "bonds" :
"Jean-Pierre de nation Congo, se disant libre, faisant la pacotille, âgé d'environ 25 ans, de la taille de 5 pieds 5 pouces, étampé illisiblement sur le côté droit du sein THIBEAUD, ayant les yeux gros, les dents limées, & des crabes aux pieds, appartenant ci-devant à M. l'abbé Enos, est marron depuis le mois de juin dernier : ceux qui en auraient connaissance sont priés de le faire arrêter, & d'en donner avis à M. Thibeaud, habitant au quartier de Valière, à qui il appartient, ou à MM. Sauzea Dubois frères, négociants au Cap. Il y aura récompense. Ledit Nègre sait lire & écrire, & se fait des bons." (43)
Translation :
"Jean-Pierre of Congo nation, calling himself free, in rags, aged about 25 years, height 5 feet 5 inches, illegibly stamped on the right side of the breast THIBEAUD, with big eyes, filed teeth, & crabs feet, formerly belonging to Fr. Enos, went marooned from the month of June: those who have knowledge are requested to arrest him, and to give notice to Mr. Thibeaud, inhabitant of Valière district, to whom he belongs, or MM. Sauzea Dubois brothers, merchants in Cape Town. There will be rewards. Said Negro can read & write, and makes bonds for himself."
Literate Creole foreigner
This ad below displays a Creole captive hailing from a Portuguese colony, he was literate, which gave him a considerable advantage. Because, unlike the scholar of Arabic, Portuguese being a Western language, even if the captive did not speak Creole or French, he can still detect a large number of French words (or at worst he can copy an authentic bond, in the correct graphic style). And that is something an Arabic writing captive would be incapable of :

"Apollon, Portugais, étampé sur le sein droit BRVNET, et au-dessous GVIBIER, âgé d'environ 22 ans, taille de 5 pieds 2 pouces, se disant appartenir à Madame Brunet. Ledit Nègre sait lire & écrire." (44)
Translation :
"Apollon, Portuguese, stamped on the right breast BRVNET, and below GVIBIER, aged about 22 years, height 5 feet 2 inches, claiming to belong to Ms. Brunet. Said Negro can read & write."
In closing, as we have seen, several Saint Domingue rebel letters were seized. And if there were Muslim scholars among those rebels, during the hostilities, Koranic writings would have been confiscated. But that did not happen, in spite of the fact that Islam warriors aren't known for being subtle. For example, during the 1835 revolt attempt by Brazilian Malês Muslims, Islamic writings left no doubt on the muslim factor :
"Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Muslims played a central role in the 1835 rebellion. The rebels went into the streets wearing clothes peculiar to practicers on Islam. And the police found Muslim amulets and papers with prayers and passages from the Koran on the bodies of fallen rebels. These and other characteristics of the revolt led Chief of Police Gonçalves Martins to conclude the obvious: "What is certain," he wrote, "is that Religion played a part in the uprising." He continued: "The ringleaders persuaded the unfortunate wretches that pieces of paper would protect them from dying."Another Martins, the provincial president, said: "It seems to me that there was religious fanaticism mixed up in the conspiracy."" (45)
Here we have, a Malê Muslim amulet  confiscated by Brazilian police in 1835 :

Source : João José Reis. Slave Rebellion in Brazil : The Muslim Uprising of 1835 in Bahia. Baltimore, 1993. (Cover)

Now, for comparison, here's a Saint Domingue rebel passport that was confiscated by the French troops on October 1, 1791, while Boukman was still alive. The content of this passport not only contains no Arab-Muslim element, it even goes against Islam because it does not praised Allah or any Muslim entity. Instead, it praised the King,  the 2 main leaders and the union of the two main captives' ethnic groups :

Source : Assemblée nationale. Archives parlementaires de 1787 à 1860 ; vol. 37. Paris, 1891. p.291.

"A cette lettre est jointe un modèle de billet trouvé sur des nègres prisonniers ; c'est un carré partagé en quatre, à la première case se trouve des lettres moulées M.D.M [inconnu jusqu'ici] ; dans la seconde "Le préjugé vaincu, la verge de fer brisée, vive le roi !" ; et au bas dans la case de gauche, les lettres majuscules J. B. [Jean-François et Biassou - Pas Boukman qui n'était pas le chef] ; dans celle de droite, les majuscules M. N. [Mulâtres & Noirs] entrelacées et surmontées d'un coeur." (46)
Translation :
"In this letter is attached a model of the note found on negro prisoners; it is a square divided in four, in the first box is printed M.D.M [unknown to date]; in the second, "The prejudice is defeated, the iron rod is broken, long live the king!" ; and down in the left box, uppercase J. B. [Jean-François and Biassou - Not Boukman who was not the leader]; in the right, uppercase M. N. [Mulattos & Black)] intertwined and topped with a heart."
So if Brazilian Muslims sought protection in papers decorated with Koranic verses, their revolt was crushed without much difficulty by Bahian police, thus prolonging their captivity for 53 additional years, making Brazil one of, if not the colony where slavery lasted the longest. It was the opposite in Saint Domingue (Haiti), one of, if not the colony where captivity was the shortest, as 44 years before Muslim Brazilians, Dominguois Traditionalists have used the blood of the sacred pig as an amulet; and vanquished. This proves that Muslim scholars were unable to reproduce anything comparable to the 1791 uprising, let alone the 1804 miracle.

* The original and non-manipulated François-Alexandre Beau (Clement Attorney) testimony, was generously provided by the professor and historian Jeremy D. Popkin that we thank very much for his unrivaled courtesy.
** Paul Blin was indeed and terribly executed by Jeannot shortly after. Which adds credibility to the license to kill found in Georges' pocket.

(1) Baron Thomas de Vastey. Réflexions politiques. Sans-Souci, 1817. p.201.
(2) Dominique Harcourt Lamiral. L'Afrique et le peuple afriquain. pp.247-248. URL:ègre%20que%20vendre%20un%20captif&f=false
(3) According to "The Emancipation Wars", during the August 1823 slave revolt in Demerara (Guyana), christian captives evaded taking their oppressors' lives for fear of losing their religion : "Initially, Demerara revolt involved no great violence. Some historians have noted that only a couple of whites were killed. Most slaves were Christians and for the most part non-violent. (...) Christian slaves who didn’t want to lose their religious character refused to take part and stood loyal to their masters." Instead, these christian captives sequestred 37 setllers. But the white christian were not so freeful of losing their faith, as they opened fire on those black christians : "The continued defiance from the slaves made Leahy order his troops to shoot. Some fled, some surrendered, but as many as 150-200 slaves were shot dead." ; URL:,69,720
(4) Olukoya Ogen. Text of a paper slated for presentation during the the conference on "Historicizing African Contributions to the Emancipation Movement: The Haitian Revolution, 1791-1805." Extract from a speech made during the conference : "Teaching and Propagating African History and Culture to the Diaspora and Teaching Diaspora History and Culture to Africa " au State University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from November 11-13, 2008. URL: ; Retrieved on January 1,  2016.
(5) Ndompey Nvita Nkanga Amun. "Makandal ou Makunda : Ne Makandal, Grand Unificateur et combattant de la  liberté aux méthodes proprement africaines". 10 Sept. 2012. URL:
(6) ‪"Toussaint Louverture célébré par le roi d’Allada, au Bénin‬" Reportage télévisuel. URL:
(7) Auguste Le Hérissé. L'ancien royaume du Dahomey, moeurs, religion, histoire. Paris, 1911. pp. 297.
(8) Antoine Métral. Histoire de l’expédition des Français à Saint Domingue. Suivie des Mémoires et notes d'Isaac Louverture. Paris 1825, p.325.
(9) Sylvaine Diouf. Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas. New York, 1998. pp. 60, 150-153, 217-218.
(10) Peter Espeut. "Two hundred years later", Jamaica Gleaner du mercredi 31 décembre 2003. URL:
(11) Discours de J.-J. Dessalines fait au quartier-général des Goaaïves, le 1er janvier 1804. in: Mémoires pour servir a l'histoire d'Haïti by Boisrond-Tonnerre, Louis. Saint-Rémy, Joseph. Paris, 1851. p.5.
(12) Gerson Alexis. "Notes on the Haitian Mandigoes". In: Lecture en anthropologie haïtienne. Port-au-Prince, 1970. pp.189-199.
(13) Gerson Alexis. ibid.
(14) Gerson Alexis. ibid.
(15) Carl Édouard Peters. "Société Mandingue" in: Revue de la Faculté d'ethnologie. No. 10. pp.47-50.
(16) Gérard Barthélémy. "Propos sur le Caïman: Incertitudes et hypothèses nouvelles" in: Chemins Critiques, Vol. 2. No3, Mai, 1992. pp.33-58.
(17) Wonderr Freeman. “
On Behalf Of The "Book People", in: The du 25 octobre 2004. URL : Retiré le 21 décembre 2015.
(18) Jacques Thibaud. Le Temps de Saint-Domingue. Paris, 1989. p.215.
(19) Gérard Barthélémy. Op. Cit.
(20) Commissaires de l'Assemblée Générale de la partie Française de Saint- Domingue. Discours fait a l'Assemblée nationale, le 3 novembre 1791, Paris, 1791. p.5.
(21) Charlie Najman. Le Serment du Bois Caïman. Documentaire, 1991.
(22) Charlie Najman. Haïti: Dieu Seul me Voît. Paris, 1995.
(23) Notes de M. Leclerc, procureur-syndic du Limbé, commissaire du gouvernement près du tribunal criminel du Cap français, sur la brochure de M. Gros », AN, Col. CC9a 5. in : « Les insurgés de 1791, leurs dirigeants et l'idée d'indépendance », in Yves Benot, Les Lumières, l'esclavage, la colonisation, La Découverte « TAP/HIST Contemporaine », 2005, p. 230-240.
(24) François-Alexandre Beau. Les ennuis d'un métromane : poëme ; suivie de poésies diverses. (préface). Paris, 1804.
(25) Jacques Thibaud. Op. Cit.
(26) François-Alexandre Beau. La Révolution de Saint-Domingue, contenant tout ce qui s’est passé dans la colonie française depuis le commencement de la Révolution jusqu’au départ de l’auteur pour la France, le 8 septembre 1792.", Inédit. F 3 141, Archives nationales d’outre mer (ANOM)
(27) Ibid.
(28) François-Alexandre Beau. Les ennuis d'un métromane : poëme. Suivi de poesies diverses. - (Notes). Paris, 1804. pp.40-41. 
(29) Michel Pierre Descourtilz. Voyages d'un naturaliste, et ses observations faites sur les trois ... Volume 3.  Paris. 1809. p.212.
(30) Assemblée nationale. Archives parlementaires de 1787 à 1860: recueil complet. Tome 37. Paris, 1891, pp.311-312.
(31) Assemblée nationale. Archives parlementaires de 1787 à 1860: recueil complet. Tome 37. Paris, 1891, p.312.
(32) François-Alexandre Beau. La Révolution de Saint-Domingue...Op. Cit.
(33) According to the Garran-Coulon report : [Translation] "There is in the colonial archives a copy that presents the statement made to the Limbé municipality by François, slave of Chapotin, one of those who had set fire to part of the Chabaud estate, and that was arrested on the night of August 20th. Following this statement, that other less detailed seem to confirm, "it was held on Sunday, August 14, on the Lenormand, Morne Rouge plantation, a very large assembly of negroes, consisting of two members from all workshops : Port-Margot, the Limbé, l'Acul, Petite-Anse, Limonade, la Plaine-du-Nord, Quartier-Morin, Morne-Rouge, etc., etc. (...) François added that the papers were read to the negroes assembled by a mulatto or quarteron, unknown to him, who told them that the King and the National Assembly had granted them three days a week; the white settlers were opposed to it, and they had to wait the arrival of troops that would enforce this decree; that it was the opinion shared by many, but the negroes of some estates of  l'Acul [probably Boukman, Auguste and Jean-Jacques (des Manquets)] and Limbé wanted at all costs to begin the war against the whites before the troops arrived."  Source : Jean Philippe Garran de Coulon. Rapport sur les troubles de Saint-Domingue, fait au nom de la Commission des colonies, des Comités de salut public, de législation et de marine, réunis. Tome 2. pp.211-212.
(34) Philippe-Albert Lattre. Campagne des Français à Saint-Domingue. Paris, 1805. p.50.
(35) François-Alexandre Beau. La Révolution de Saint-Domingue...Op. Cit.
(36) Les Affiches Américaines du Mercredi 16 février 1767, parution No7. p.50. ; URL:
(37) Les Affiches Américaines du Mercredi 6 novembre 1782, parution No.24. pp.424-425. ; URL:
(38) Les Affiches Américaines du Samedi 26 janvier 1788, parution No4. p.712. ; URL:
(39) Sylviane Anna Diouf and Sylviane Kamara. Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas. New York, 1998. p. 153
(40) Moreau de Saint-Méry. Description topographique, physique, civile, politique..., Tome 1, 2nd ed. Paris, 1875. pp.46-47.
(41) Source: Les Affiches Américaines du Mercredi 18 juin 1766, parution No.25. p.219. ; URL :
(42) Gazette de Saint-Domingue du Mercredi 18 mai 1791. Parution No.40. p.520.
(43) Les Affiches Américaines du Samedi 4 août 1787, parution No.31. p.872. ; URL :
(44) Les Affiches Américaines du Mardi 16 juin 1778, parution No.24. p.186. ; URL :
(45) João José Reis. Slave Rebellion in Brazil : The Muslim Uprising of 1835 in Bahia. Baltimore, 1993. p.93
(46) Assemblée nationale. Archives parlementaires de 1787 à 1860 ; 35 (20 novembre 1791). Paris, 1860. p.260.

How to cite this article:
Rodney Salnave. "Boukman didn't know how to read". November 2, 2016. [online] URL: ; Retrieved on [enter date]

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