From Galeano's Faces and Masks

1758: The Plains of Northern Haiti

Makandal

Before a large assembly of runaway slaves, François Makandal pulls a yellow handkerchief out of a glass of water.

"First it was the Indians."

Then a white handkerchief.
"Now, whites are the masters."

He shakes a black handkerchief before the maroons' eyes. The hour of those who came from Africa has arrived, he announces, He shakes the handkerchief with his only hand, because he has left the other between the iron teeth of the sugar mill.

On the plains of Northern Haiti, one-handed Makandal is the master of fire and poison. At his order cane fields burn, and by his spells the lords of sugar collapse in the middle of supper, drooling spit and blood.

He knows how to turn himself into an iguana, an ant, or a fly, equipped with gills, antennae, or wings; but they catch him anyway, and condemn him; and now they are burning him alive. Through the flames the multitude see his body twist and shake. All of a sudden, a shriek splits the groune, a fierce cry of pain and exultation, and Makandal breaks free of the stake and of death: howling, flaming, he pierces the smoke and is lost in the air.

For the slaves, it is no cause for wonder. They knew he would remain in Haiti, the color of all shadows, the prowler of the night.