A good number of US cities on the East Coast, is fair to say, have their own little Haiti. The Flatbush area in central Brooklyn is bustling as everything little Port-au-Prince could be. The barber shop in so many ways has been supplanted as the repository of Haitian gossip par excellence by other venues as the Diaspora members have grown exponentially. The Saturday morning rendez-vous of friends of all social level including mother taking their son for a hair cut provides a well rounded cross section of the Haitian community ‘s various “couches sociales”.
The exchange of news from every corners of Haiti transported by the word of mouth could be found there. This past Saturday I found myself listening to a conversation in the gym while working out. In The Flatbush section of Brooklyn, every other store is either Haitian owned and operated or sells products that cater largely to the Haitian community.
The Bally’s on Tilden Ave seats at the center of the largest agglomeration of Haitian expatriate in New York. I often tell friends that the overwhelming membership at that location is composed of my fellow Haitian. Someone reminded me once, even while speaking in Creole, you should be mindful of what you say in here, the person next to you just might be from Haiti. The usual Saturday crowd is busy in the well of the weight lifting portion of the facility, these fellows are almost all from Haitian decent or Haitian-American. Some of them are new immigrants, some just returned from Haiti. Some of them never even visited Haiti.
The discussion flourished around the last election (selection) depending on whose opinion. The exchange of hear say went back and forth with no inkling of any supporting evidence of these, grandiosely and forcefully, stated materials. From the far end of the floor someone shouted assertively “that we did not have an election we simply had a selection”. “René Préval already nominated Jules Celestin as president that’s it. He is going to take prime minister post because he does not want to go into exile. He wishes to go back to Marmelade to live on his bamboo plantation. He does not want to be put on trial for the millions allegedly stole by his wife and his protégé /his son in law Jude Celestin”. And the rumble continues. The rumors of ballot stuffing and dead bodies’ votes and pre casted box of dumped ballots are rampant. The news from Radio Métropole a popular station in Port- au-prince says that some folks could not vote because their name did not appear on the list. Some found their votes were pre-selected on the ballot in favor of Jude Celestin the Candidate of the Préval Government. By the time I finish my work out another gentleman yelled across the room that Sweet Micky is the next president. The word is that “if Micky is not elected President Wyclef Jean said the country “Port-Au-Prince sera a feux et a sang”. Mr. Jean who could not run for president since he was disqualified by the CEP for lack of proof of his residency requirement has now endorsed Joseph Michel Martelly the musician turned politician (Sweet Micky the president Compas) The dozen or so candidate who would not past the minimum threshold of 2 or 3% margin claimed that the election was a sham and took onto the street in protest and demand that the CEP (Committee Electoral Provisoire) annulled the election. One would wonder where these proverbial Monday morning Quarterbacks sourced their data. Some of them would reinterpret with utter vivacity the news reports or various media outlet, twist and contort the reported news into something totally fabricated to a large degree it seems for self satisfaction. I stood in awe, baffled by the cavalier attitude of these storytellers toward the truth. None of them had the slightest evidence of their statement in facts. They squarely represented a microcosm of the universal population back home. This exercise was reminiscent of the cook peeling the first outer layer of a plump onion declaring it fit for consumption without being aware of its interior’s utter rot. Oh! Haiti the perpetual Chrysanthemum. The last election in Haiti painfully reminds of the sad truth. The already pugnacious Haitian population reveals an entrenched and austere as well as irrational behavior in all actuality, self destructive. We are prone to conflicts and discord.
That day during the evening news on CNN I watched with great perplexity as vagrant crowds of young sheep euphorically followed various candidates around the streets of Port-Au-Prince aimlessly chanting, dancing to the tune of sporadically composed anthems gyrating wildly as in a carnival mode. The glistening eyed youths soaked in salty sweat, almost possessed, oblivious to the perfidious evil orchestrating the charade. So frantically out of touch yet, so sincere, vulnerable it appears like innocence bordering madness. For every candidates had a sizeable following claiming them the redeemer of this broken land.
The fragmentation of Haiti’s society is inexplicable. There are 15 to 20 political parties competing for the presidency. There is something fundamentally wrong with this. Haitians ought to come to term with owning these crumbling dominoes and take responsibility. For, nothing is so complete yet so divided. We must answer the question “where have we been for the past century?” It is at best, largely our fault.
A good number of my fellow Haitians think that the election should have been postponed.
I think it’s irresponsible to allow the country to fall back into a political vacuum without a clear leader at the helm. Someone we all can hold accountable. The experimentation of the past with the “periode de consertation” which opened the way for the United Nations (UN) occupation of Haiti, and place a care taker and a succession of impotent Governments with fabricated elections is not a reasonable option.
I believe that is the moment to seize the bull by the horns. And I emphasize without naïveté.The so-call leaders must take their responsibly with clear sobriety to foster change in the mentality, conscientiousness, the will of the people through an organic grassroots, reformist movement to make things better. That is leadership. Let him or she stands up and be recognized. Not to merely run for president. We must divorce with the notion of judgment without countenance, defeat without learning, giving up without hope, condescendence toward the weak, the poor and the less fortunate, gratuitous aggression, contempt of the self-collective.
Think about a complete return from the pseudo-French Negro attitude of false aggrandizement. Think of a renewal of the Haitian Identity, our culture, our time in history, our essence, and a staunch commitment to the national public good. Only then I believe that the people, the real owners of this great land will know how to vote their conscience in a rational democratic way in order for Haiti to grow.