A monument to resistant slaves burned by rioters

On May 10, 2007, on the occasion of the commemoration of the abolition of slavery and the slave trade, a statue paying homage to the mulatto Solitude, created by Nicolas Alquin, was inaugurated on avenue Henri-Barbusse, in Bagneux. Sixteen years later, Solitude has practically disappeared, burnt down in the riots following the death of a young man killed by the police, on the night of Thursday June 29 to 30.

“First monument dedicated to resistant slaves”, Solitude consisted of three totems. Two of them were made of Iroko wood, felled according to a ritual ceremony in the village of Béoua (Côte d’Ivoire). These totems were then tarred and hollowed out to take on the appearance of a woman’s body. The third totem, in cast iron, recalls the chains of slaves. Inside it is carved the silhouette of the rebel, Solitude, one of the female figures of the slave rebellion in 1802, in Guadeloupe. Only the central element – ​​the third totem – is intact, while the wooden elements are unrecoverable.

“Each year, during commemorative ceremonies for the abolition of slavery, elected officials, city schools, poets and musicians gather around this work to celebrate the outstanding figures of this struggle”explains Nicolas Alquin to Journal of the Arts. “My thoughts are with the children who spoke so well of this at the last celebration on May 10, 2023. It is deplorable that a memorial of such symbolic importance was all but destroyed in this turmoil. »

The monument to resistant slaves, Solitudecharred following the riots of June 29.

Courtesy Nicolas Alquin

Born in 1772 from rape by a white sailor aboard a slave ship that was transporting her mother to the West Indies, Solitude (real name Rosalie) was herself reduced to servitude until the abolition of the slavery in 1794. Eight years later, in 1802, Napoleon Bonaparte sent General Antoine Richepance to Guadeloupe with an army of 3,500 men to put down any rebellion and put the former slaves back in irons.

From then on, a rebellion organized by battalion commander Joseph Ignace and captains Palermo and Massoteau took shape. Their comrade in struggle, Louis Delgrès, commander of the abolitionist Basse-Terre, launched the appeal of May 10, 1802 entitled: “To the whole universe, The last cry of innocence and despair. »

A few months pregnant, Rosalie takes the name of Solitude and joins, with her companion, in the fight against the troops of Richepance. But, after eighteen days of unequal combat, the rebels were defeated. Ignatius, on the verge of being captured, commits suicide, while Delgrès and his troops blow up the Danglemont house in Matouba where they are entrenched. Solitude was captured around May 23, 1802. On May 28, slavery was restored in Guadeloupe, formalized by a consular decree dated July 16, 1802. On November 29 of the same year, Solitude was sentenced to death and tortured the next day. of her childbirth.

Streets and places pay homage to Solitude, both in Guadeloupe and in France. A statue of Solitude, created by the Guadeloupean sculptor Jacky Poulier, has been erected since 1999 on the Boulevard des Héros in Les Abymes, in Guadeloupe. Since May 2022, a statue of the rebel has been standing, in the “garden of the Mulatto Solitude”, inaugurated by the City of Paris and the actor Jacques Martial, in September 2020, place Général Catroux in the 17th arrondissement.

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