Lionel Benjamin,
Lionel Benjamin singing at the Haitian government's end of the year holidays celebration on Dec. 23, 2021. Photo via The Prime Minister's Office Twitter account

MIRAMAR — Lionel Benjamin recalls the holiday season of years past well. In Port-au-Prince at night, the streets glowed with strings of colorful Christmas lights, specialty lanterns called fanals and candles that sparkled through the capital’s smog. His hit song, Abdenwèl, Creole for Christmas tree, set the holiday mood too for many a reveler.

Benjamin vividly remembers the shrieks of elation from the audience during Christmas shows at the Rex Theater, as he crooned the ditty.

Touched by the ambiance, as he calls it, Benjamin vowed to never spend a Christmas outside of Haiti. But this year, the singer dubbed as the “Le Père Noël Haïtien,” French for The Haitian Santa Claus, will spend Christmas away for the second time ever. This time, due to the ongoing violence in Haiti, he said.

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Onz Chery is a Haiti correspondent for The Haitian Times. Chery started his journalism career as a City College of New York student with The Campus. He later wrote for First Touch, local soccer leagues in New York and Elite Sports New York before joining The Haitian Times in 2019.