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Anacaona, Lest we forget.

Today is Haitian Ancestors Day and I’d like to share a story of one of my favourite Haitian Ancestors - Anacaona !!!

Anacaona (golden flower in Taino language) was born around 1474 in the chiefdom of Jaragua (also written as Xaragua) in Hispaniola and was raised and groomed to rule.

With Jaragua chief brother and chief of Maguana husband she was one of the most powerful and beautiful Taíno caciques.

Although in 1496 voyage of Columbus to Hispaniola, he was well received by both Anacaona and her brother, Spaniards pillaged the island through massacres and slavery.

Taíno fought back. After her brother’s death and her husbands capture and ultimate death, Anacaona became the chief of both tribes.

Taíno outnumbered Spaniards but were not as well armed so Anacaona decided on a strategic move designed to build a relationship with the Spaniards. Intermarriages between Taíno royalty and high-ranking soldiers were arranged and it worked for a little while.

In 1502, Spain named a new governor of Hispaniola, Nicolás de Ovando, and he had a different plan on what to do with the island.

He deceived Anacaona by setting her up. He offered a peace treaty discussion to her and the most influential 80 Taíno leaders and organised for the Spanish army to capture them.

Some leaders were killed, others were tortured and forced to go against the 29 year old Anacaona whom herself was sentenced to be hanged.

One “official” version says that just before her execution Anacaona was offered a pardon in exchange for becoming a concubine for one of the high ranking officials. She refused and faced death.

However, another “non-official” version tells a story of the a high ranking officials being so in love with the Taíno leader that he saved her from the execution and they ran away on one of the ships and lived happily ever after.

Today, there are stories of Anacaona spirit floating in Leogane.

To me, Anacaona is a strong symbol of diplomatic leadership, rebellion and pride.

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