The slavery history that tarnishes Napoleon's legacy

May 5th marks 200 years since the death of Napoleon Bonaparte: France's Emperor, military genius, generally revered as a national hero.

But Clovis Etchiandas, a tour guide, won't be celebrating those glories.

He will instead be reminded of a darker, lesser known part of Napoleon's history: That he reversed the abolition of slavery in France's colonies.

"I do think about my ancestors. I don't feel completely at peace."

Etchiandas lives on the island of Reunion, the French territory in the Indian ocean. And like most Creole's here, he's a descendant of slaves.

As part of one of his tours, he takes people around the old sugar plantations.

It's a route that has brought him back to an estate that carries links to his own ancestors, some of whom originated from Mozambique.

The discomfort for people like Etchiandas is long-standing. He feels the effects of slavery are still prevalent today.

"Sometimes there are taboos too. I don't want to get into identity politics. But there's also a shared destiny. The slave descendants, or 'cafres' as they're called. We feel like we have less resources, that it's difficult to seek success. We feel like sometimes, we're barred from certain things."

The harsher aspects of Napoleon's rule are being remembered at a time where the Black Lives Matter movement is emboldening those who refuse to honor a leader who placed economic prosperity above universal rights.

Napoleon restored slavery by decree in the French Caribbean and Reunion in 1802, even though the 1794 abolition had never been applied on the island.

Revolts were violently put down, while white landowners and the empire only got richer.

Experts feel the bicentenary provides an opportunity to start reshaping the myth that Napoleon was a national hero.

Black historians say Napoleon's links to slavery remain unaddressed in France, which still grapples with its colonial past and charges of deep-rooted racism by ethnic minorities.