Like many Haitians, I am very proud of our founding fathers. Lately, I don’t think a day has passed that I did not think of at least one of them. After all, they gave us reasons to hope that a better Haiti is possible no matter how grim the situation might look today.
I read many newspapers, and listen to as many reports as possible on the internet and local radio, but one theme that is very common when we, Haitians, are referring to what makes us really proud of being who we are is that we often refer exclusively to our heroes of independence. Seldom, a few of us might refer to Charlmagne Peralte for his resistance against the first United States occupation of Haiti.
We must always look back in history for inspiration, but it is unwise to continue to live in the past. The achievements of our predecessors must be cherished for eternity; however we need to do our part emulating their sacrifice. In order for a country to make progress, it needs to garner great role models for its youth to follow. After all, today’s youths are tomorrow’s leaders, and if they have not taught right, it is almost certain that they will not be able to lead in the right direction. Hence, the running in the circle of misery is likely to continue.
I am certain that there are many Haitians out there, who are capable of serving as great role models for our youth. The challenge is not so much whether they exist, but rather how to get them involved in what seems to be a lost cause.
Haiti, probably suffers the greatest brain drain of any country in the Caribbean. We have Haitians in key positions in many Fortune 500 companies, and yet very little is known about them, if anything at all. Recently, it was reported that Roland Martin, a key contributor for CNN, is of Haitian decent. In our community, not too many of us knew that, and yet the whole world sat in front of their televisions listening to Martin’s comments all throughout CNN elections’ coverage. Even though, Martin was not born in Haiti, just the mere fact that he has Haitian blood in his vein should be enough to make him care of Haiti’s status in the world.
It is not necessary for successful Haitians to be walking around with a Haitian tag on their back wherever they go, but given Haiti’s standing as one of the poorest nations on this planet, any successful Haitian has an obligation to bring attention to Haiti’s cause. Too often, Haiti’s problem has been left for foreigners to deal with, not that I don’t appreciate the devotion of those foreigners, but as Haitian professionals don’t we feel that if a foreigner can go to Haiti and build clinics, factory, sports complex, schools, and so on, why can’t we do it too?
Being a role model does not mean giving up a comfortable life, but one must show some compassion for their needy neighbors, brothers, and friends.
We are a proud nation. Anyone born in Haiti will not shy away from telling others that we are the first black republic of modern era ; that our ancestors laid the foundation of freedom and equality for many, and yet those same people continue to neglect their role in today’s battle for social and economic freedom that all Haitians deserve.
We, too often, get so defensive, when others tell us that we have been living in the dream of our forefathers. We get very angry, when people tell us that our pride is only limited to what the heroes of independence was able to accomplish, albeit it was no small feat. As I contemplate those sarcasm remarks often made by others towards us, I find myself in a bind trying to find one great accomplishment done by a fellow Haitian in the past half-century. It is not that we have not had great Haitians making significant contributions on the world stage for the past few decades, but the fact that as a collectivity we are so disjoined and unaware of one another’s individual talent, and most importantly so reluctant to promote our own that we are simply giving more ammunitions to those who have no respect for our sovereignty, and so stereotypical towards our people.
In this moment, where the world is trying to figure out a new way of moving forward, we need to insert ourselves in the debate. The time to be on the sideline has passed, we must engage in every facet of life in order to not be missed out. People do not seek to become role models, but should never run away from becoming one. If you have what it takes to help change a misconception, do not ever be afraid of flaunting it, then and only then can others find the courage to step up, and be like you.
Contact Ilio Durandis at [email protected]