May 16, 2021 Legend has it that the Haitian people possess very powerful spirits. And, it was for this reason that God chose them, as a people, to begin the fight for equality – not just for people of color, but for people all over the world.
I’ll start by painting a picture of Haiti through the eyes of a young Haitian American in the early 80s, which was just before the overturning of the Duvalier-led Haitian government in 1986. My family and I were in Haiti for a month’s summer vacation from Brooklyn, New York. I remember how the streets were so clean, maids would be up early making sure that their side of the block looked the best, and everything just seemed alive.
The foot merchants were buzzing all over selling fresh fruit, food and meats. The merchants would be singing creative chants of what their product was in order to sell, and the chants would often sound like love songs: “Oh, beautiful eggs. No one else sells such beautiful eggs like me”. Funny things like that.
Music played from street corner to street corner. Young girls walked the streets in school uniforms with their hair in braids and ribbons all well pressed. Seeing someone who was overweight was almost unheard of. Men often walked holding hands, showing their friendship openly, and it didn’t appear strange. Farmers, carpenters, drivers, mechanics, doctors, nurses, teachers, lawyers and the likes all had their level of prestige. Everyone contributed to a beautiful peace that many living abroad couldn’t wait to get back to as often as life permitted.
The whole country seemed like it woke up early; peaceful and ready to serve its people. And when nightfall came, the flow shifted to a more mellow and light vibe to refuel and start all over.
The weekend started early on Fridays and people would gather at the park. There, young children talked about their dreams. We would be told stories of different spirits that roam the country and how they showed themselves at night. I loved every second of it.
So, the legend says the powerful spirits had to leave to fight off corruption and it was for that reason that Haiti fell into the condition it is in today. Legend also said that those spirits would one day return with a renewed force of light to uplift the people of Haiti and remind them of how beautiful a people they are. Now, one might say this sounds like a fairytale. But to me, it’s clear that that time is now.