Cappuccino Soul

Cappuccino Soul

Friday, January 15, 2010

Danny Glover Directs Toussaint L’ouverture’s Story

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Editors Note: Cappuccino Soul published this article initially on February 14, 2007. I'm still waiting to hear when this film, about one of Haiti's finest sons, will be released.

Danny Glover makes his directorial debut with Toussaint, a film about the life of Haitian revolutionary leader Toussaint L’ouverture. Filming for the epic story is scheduled to start in late April or early May with a sizzling cast including Don Cheadle as Toussaint, Mos Def, Angela Bassett, Chiwetel Ejiofor and others. This film is scheduled to be released sometime in 2009.

Written by Vijay Balakrishnan and Glover’s producing partner, Joslyn Barnes, Toussaint will be shot in Mozambique and South Africa. The movie tells the story of the Haitian Revolution (1791–1804) and the life of L’ouverture, who established Haiti as the first independent black Republic by leading a successful slave uprising against the French, Spanish and British imperial armies. Although L’ouverture was eventually captured and imprisoned by the French, his name is still uttered with pride by many Haitians and other Africans in the diaspora.

In her play, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf, Ntozake Shange puts these words in the mouth of Lady in Brown, a young girl who raves about her newfound hero, Toussaint L’ouverture.

(excerpt from For Colored Girls…)

Lady in Brown

i knew I wasn’t sposedta
but I ran inta the ADULT READING ROOM
& came across
TOUSSAINT ...

TOUSSAINT waz a blk man a Negro like mama say
who refused to be a slave
& he spoke French
& didn’t low no white man to tell him nothing
not napolean
not maximillien
not robespierre

TOUSSAINT L’OUVERTURE
waz the beginning uv reality for me
in the summer contest for
who colored child can read
15 books in three weeks
i won & raved abt TOUSSAINT L’OUVERTURE
at the afternoon ceremony

waz disqualified
cuz Toussaint
belonged in the ADULT READING ROOM
& I cried
& carried dead Toussaint home in the book
he was dead & livin to me
cuz TOUSSAINT & them
they held the citadel gainst the French
wid the spirits of ol dead Africans from outta the ground

10 comments:

PatricktheRogue said...

My dear Alicia,
I saw Danny Glover and Felix Justice perform part of "An evening with Martin and Langston" at a High School in Tel Aviv, of all places. They followed it with a question and answer period, which was as riveting as the presentation, mostly due to the intensity of the students. In the midst of the Al Aqsa intifada, as suicide bombers were attacking several times a day across their small country, killing friends and family, the young people questioned Mr. Glover and Mr. Justice whether non-violence was really possible in such a world, where barbarism was a reality on their doorstep. I don't remember all of their response, but Danny noted that both Dr. King and Gandhi were persecuted and ultimately killed for their stance, so this was a serious business.

Of course, while I admire King greatly, I can't agree with him that nonviolence is an absolute. I believe it has its place, but I also am forced to agree with Toussaint L'Ouverture, who reacted with extreme violence in the face of brutality. Sadly, I have to agree that sometimes it is the only way.
As an Irish American whose grandfather was forced out of Ireland by the British under pain of death, I feel an affinity with the Haitian revolution. When I was there several years ago, learning their long and difficult history, I wrote a short dedication to Toussaint L'Ouverture:

Ayiti Rising

Now the shackle grips and cuts a vein

Rising

Now the owner calls us to his bidding

Rising

Tired muscles battle with the cane

Rising

Enduring reminiscence unremitting

Rising

I wince as arms and whips enforce their will

Rising

A thousand cuts of insect, blade, and chain

Rising

Deep, an anger deep, and growing still

Rising

L’Ouverture sounds the call of our refrain

Ayiti Arise

Alicia Michele Benjamin said...

Shaun,
I'm sure the people of Haiti (Ayiti) would greatly appreciate your dedication. I hope many will get to read your words.
I appreciate your passion and willingness to share. Merci beaucoup.
Alicia

Anonymous said...

gracias a Dios por intiresny

Alicia Michele Benjamin said...

De nada

Anonymous said...

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Alicia Michele Benjamin said...

You're welcome!

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Timothy said...

This is great!

Alicia Benjamin said...

I'm glad you like it!