By Ed Gehy
In Haiti, these days, the political situation is such that the absurd has become the new normal. And to the dismay of many, no one seems to understand the seriousness of the problem, which has been going from bad to worst everyday. So much so that few epithets are left to justly describe this political debacle. Shameful? Embarrassing? Humiliating?
It is inconceivable more than two hundred years after its independence, the country is still incapable of organizing an election without recurring to violence. .. one group against another, one faction against another, one social class against another, refusing categorically to reach any possible political consensus if the electoral results don’t go in their favor. In the midst of all this political debacle, one can’t help asking themselves the following: Can this dysfunctional system be any worst than what it has been lately? Has the country reached the point of no-return? Can the country be saved? Is it too late?
But an equally relevant question is how can that all be if Haiti was supposed to be that beacon of freedom and hope not only for all the Caribbean nations, but certainly for other nations that were under the bondage of slavery? How can that be if Haiti had the reputation of being the richest French colony? Haiti used to be called the pearl of the Antilles only to become known as the country of NGO’s. What has gone wrong?
Some historians and intellectuals tend to let us believe the Haitian founding fathers are at the core of today’s social ills the country has been experiencing. Their line of thinking lays with the logic Haiti was not ready to be independent. Some of these critics even portrayed Jean-Jacques Dessalines as a barbaric, atrocious, living a life of debauch.
When one takes the time to analyze the actual conjuncture the country is at, we can’t afford not to look at things from a different angle, to say the least. If one were to think critically and take a deeper look at the country from a different lens from a historical perspective, perhaps, one would have had a greater appreciation for its founding fathers, particularly its founder, Jean-Jacques Dessalines. Instead of shunning upon them, we would be quick to extend the respect and appreciation any grateful nation fondly reserves to its founding fathers. Below is Dessalines declaration of independence speech given on January 1, 1804. I invite you to read it in its integrity; you will understand the sense of urgency of the time these freedom seekers must have had to deal with. You will understand all the aspirations they had for that new, promising and flourishing young republic. You will understand these heroes wanted nothing more and nothing less but to leave behind to generations to come a democratic nation living in peace and prosperity.
It is not enough to have expelled the barbarians who have bloodied our land for two centuries; it is not enough to have restrained those ever-evolving factions that one after another mocked the specter of liberty that France dangled before you. We must, with one last act of national authority, forever assure the empire of liberty in the country of our birth; we must take any hope of re-enslaving us away from the inhuman government that for so long kept us in the most humiliating torpor. In the end we must live independent or die.
I can only hope you have read this in its entirety. And if so, I can only hope you have felt as much emotion as I have, and that you have concurred Dessalines was a revolutionary ahead of his time. If not, I would go as far as to repeat the words of Louis Mercier, eloquently said so long ago, “One is not Haitian if one is not Dessalinien.”
Jean-Jacques Dessalines, this uncommon hero whose bravery had forever placed Haiti on the international scene, among family of nations, what would he say if he was alive today to see what it has become? Jean-Jacques Dessalines, this staunch nationalist and fearless warrior, whose invigorating strength had bestowed upon Haiti the indelible title of first black republic in the world, what would he say if he was alive today to see all this widespread institutionalized mediocrity and incompetence? Jean–Jacques Dessalines, this liberator who had defined the world by taking Haiti from under the yoke of France colonial domination, what would he say if he was alive today to see how the Haitian parliament is being occupied by all these unpatriotic, grossly unprepared so-called congressmen devoting their time in endless bickering and always ready to defend their personal interests through tooth and nail while the country is going adrift?
Let us not be misled by the false notion that these heroes are the main cause for Haiti’s problems as though Haiti’s problems began with its inception. We should take with a grain of salt any misguided ideologies that categorized these heroes as incompetent for bringing about the country’s untimely independence. Quite the contrary! The hard labor in the trenches had been done for us; the foundational work had been laid; the seeds of freedom and prosperity had already been sown. Posterity had failed to build on what was passed on to them. We still believe the country of Dessalines can get back to its glory days. To get there we need a second revolution. Unlike the one that shook the world in 1804, but a revolution of ideas, one which could cause a social awakening, a change of mentality and in consciousnesses to occur. Then and only then, can the Haitian dreams be redeemed. Then and only then can Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the great, in his grave, rejoice over all the aspirations he and his comrades worked so hard for more than two hundred years ago have finally come to pass.