"L'Ouverture died in 1803"
c/o Hans Fässler
Imbodenstr. 17
CH-9016 St. Gallen
Tel. ++71 288 39 52
e-mail: hans.faessler@kst.ch

Charles Amoah
Rechbauerstr. 49
8010 Graz (ST)

St. Gallen, 29th July 2001

Black "Actor" for Toussaint L'Ouverture Wanted

Dear Mr Amoah,

In February and May I wrote you the following letter. As I have not heard from you since I assume that they have got lost somewhere. Should you have got and read them, can I just ask you to consider my request again ? So here it is:

Let me first introduce myself: My name is Hans Fässler, I am a 47-year-old teacher of English and History, a former member of the cantonal Parliament and an activist of the Anti-Apartheid Movement. I live in St. Gallen and have two sons (one of whom, as you will find out in the enclosure, is a great FCSG and still a great Amoah-fan!).

In the year 2003 the canton of St. Gallen will celebrate its 200th anniversary. For that occasion we (bass-player Fabio Pasqualini, accordeon-player Willi Häne and myself) are working on a satirical show about the canton's past and present, which will be performed about a dozen times all over the canton in 2003. We are proud to say that our project is among 40 others which have been selected from some 200 projects intially submitted.

In order to escape from a certain Swiss narrow-mindedness and eurocentrism we intend to compare and contrast our canton's history with the history of Haiti, which won its independence in the very same year of 1803 after a long and bloody struggle for black liberation and against France. Consequently it is not the figure of Napoleon Bonaparte, who dictated the first cantonal constitution in 1803 and is therefore, so to speak, the "founding father" of St. Gallen, which will mainly feature in our satire, but the figure of Toussaint L'Ouverture, the black Haitian liberator, who is greatly revered and admired by many leaders of black emancipation and African movements of independence in the 20th century.

In order to tell you what a fascinating and admirable person Toussaint L'Ouverture was,
I quote from the Columbia Encyclopedia:

"Toussaint L'Ouverture, François Dominique, 1744-1803, Haitian patriot and martyr. A self-educated slave freed shortly before the uprising in 1791, he joined the black rebellion to liberate the slaves and became its organisational genius. Rapidly rising in power, Toussaint joined forces for a brief period in 1793 with the Spanish of Santo Domingo and in a series of fast-moving campaigns became known as L'Ouverture (the opening), a name he adopted. Although he professed allegiance to France, first to the republic and then to Napoleon, he was singleheartedly devoted to the cause of his own people and advocated it in his talks with French commissioners. (...) In 1801, Toussaint conquered Santo Domingo, which had been ceded by Spain to France in 1795, and thus he governed the whole island. By then professing only nominal allegiance to France, he reorganized the government and instituted public improvements. Napoleon sent (1802) a large force under General Leclerc to subdue Toussaint, who had become a major obstacle to French colonial ambitions in the Western hemisphere; the Haitians, however, offered stubborn resistance, and a peace treaty was drawn. Toussaint himself was treacherously seized and sent to France, where he died in a dungeon at Fort-de-Joux, in the French Jura. His valiant life and tragic death made him a symbol of the fight for liberty..."

And now here is the chief reason for my writing a letter to you: In order to make the great figure of Toussaint L'Ouverture (whose father was a West African chief taken to the Caribbean as a slave) a visual symbol, I am planning a re-enactment of a scene filmed in 1991 in St. Gallen. To commemorate the 700th anniversary of Switzerland a scene was shot in the city of St. Gallen, during which a helicopter landed in the cathedral square and an actor dressed as Napoleon Bonaparte got out. In my version of this scene a black person dressed as Toussaint L'Ouverture will get off the helicopter. This scene will either be fotographed or filmed and then be used for a sketch in out satirical programme, which incidentally is called "L'Ouverture died in 1803".

I would therefore like to ask you if you would be interested in playing the role of Toussaint L'Ouverture in that short scene. It will be purely for fotographic and film purposes, so you will not have to do any dialogues. The whole thing will be strictly non-commercial and we are therefore unable to pay you anything apart from travelling and other expenses for the day. But since you might want to come back to St. Gallen one day (which, we are certain, means a lot to you and for which you mean a lot!) and since you might be interested in doing something to promote the idea of black history, black emancipation and anti-racist policies we hope for a favourable reply from you. As to the date we are very flexible and able to organise the shooting at fairly short notice.

Hoping that you have settled in nicely in Graz and hoping to hear from you soon I remain on behalf of the "L'Ouverture died in 1803" project

Yours sincerely,

Hans Fässler

- picture of my two friends and myself in St. Gallen's cathedral square
- picture of Toussaint L'Ouverture (painted in 1832, as he might have looked
during his days as the "Black Napoleon")
- "Letter of recommendation" by my son