Famed singer/rapper Wyclef Jean, a founding member of the Fugees, just announced the possibility that he might run in the next election to become president of Haiti. The current president, Rene Preval, has made Jean a goodwill ambassador for Haiti.
Though Jean’s political qualifications are as yet unknown, he has been a tireless advocate for Haiti, bringing attention to the hard-hit island nation long before the earthquake on January 12th. The unfurling of the Haitian national flag at concerts and performances, as in the televised benefit for earthquake survivors, is a trademark of Jean, who never forgets his roots. He takes every chance he can to celebrate Haiti at a time when Haiti is unfairly denigrated in the media.
What would it mean to Haiti if Wyclef Jean became president of Haiti? It is too soon to speculate. But I am fairly certain that he would focus a laser beam of light on the arts of Haiti, from music to visual expression in all forms. Cultural tourism of the truest kind might be the result.
A very special event takes place next month in the state of Maryland. It is the first ever meeting of the Haiti Cultural Economy Forum. The theme is “Remake the Landscape, Retain the Spirit: Strategies for the Rebirth of Haiti through Her Arts and Culture.”
The event is set for August 20 to 22 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. Tentatively scheduled to appear is Ambassador Raymond Joseph from the Embassy of Haiti in Washington, D.C. The cost for early registration, prior to July 21, is $170. For more information, visit the web site
This web site states, “The Forum is a discussion on a shared vision for Haiti and how the needs of the Haitian people can be met using Haitian arts and culture to grow and develop. It is designed to establish alliances, mobilize available assets, and identify needed resources to articulate Haiti’s future and its prosperity.”
Imagine a lifetime in Haiti, through good times in childhood to bad times including the January 12th earthquake. Then imagine boarding your first airplane flight and traveling with two of your children to New York City, to be greeted by your sister and your mother whom you haven’t seen in decades, plus assorted relatives.
This is what happened on Thursday to my friend Mr. Lange Rosner. I spoke to him by telephone a few hours after he arrived in the United States. Amid the joyful sounds of a little dog barking and people laughing and talking the background, Mr Rosner told me, “This is a very, very beautiful city….This is not a dream.”
I am so happy that Mr. Rosner is here, though key members of his family weren’t granted exit visas. He had been trying to come to the United States for twelve years and the possibility that he would be coming was hard to believe in previous months, considering the terrible conditions in Haiti and the desire among untold thousands of people to leave the broken country. The fact that Mr. Rosner is here is a perfect story for this Fourth of July holiday weekend. How many of us, like myself whose grandmother hailed from Norway, are a generation or two away from being born and growing up in another country?
So celebrate, my good friend Mr. Rosner. You deserve all the magnificent times to come.
All Floridians of Haitian heritage who want to help Haiti in the recovery process after the January 12th earthquake, here is your opportunity. On July 17th, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida, there will be a Haitian Hometown Association Workshop to provide training to local Haitian-American organizations on fund-raising, grant-writing and organizational training. It is sponsored by FAVACA, which stands for the Florida Association for Volunteer Action in the Caribbean and the Americas. So much needs to be done on every level, from basic infrastructure needs like housing and roads to cultural heritage re-building and conservation, like saving the priceless Biblical-themed four murals that survived the earthquake at the cathedral in Port-au-Prince.
The workshop will be led by FAVACA volunteer James Mueller with the aim to help improve conditions in Haiti. Also present will be Tania Delinois, who provided post-trauma counseling in Haiti after the earthquake. For more information, the telephone number is 305/470-5070.