Tag Archives: Katia D Ulysse

Haiti Remembrance Day: 8 Years Later

We will never forget January 12, 2010.

We recall precisely where we were, when the news reached our ears.

Port-au-Prince was unrecognizable. The unimaginable had happened.

Not long afterward, we calculated the number of lives lost: 200,000 and more.

I worry about families who have yet to located loved ones. They remain “Unaccounted for.”

There are no words to describe the fear and the fearlessness it took to wake up each day and keep moving forward.

We cannot imagine the number  of children who were “adopted” by foreigners.

The pain is still fresh–for the adults and their children.

How does one forget this catastrophe?

Though it’s been 8 years, it’s as if time had stood still.

All we can now is remember the injured people strewn in driveways and parking lots, begging to be seen by kind-hearted surgeons.

We survived. Barely . But we made it through. There are places where rubble is still on the ground, but we keep moving forward. Thank you .

Mere days before the remembrance of this deadly event, the current president of America smeared o ur country and the memory of our lost ones. He called describe our nation as a $#it-hole.  No, Mr. President. Haiti and Haitians are not a receptacle for your waste.

Come to think of it, hence the cholera epidemic.  They dumped their waste in our  rivers, causing thousands to die. Perhaps they believed Haiti was/is a latrine too.  Perhaps the Haitian government ought to show the world that we are not a shithole.   But I have one question:

Why do all those American citizens flock to Haiti, and never return to the states? Our $#it hole must be irresistible. Take a look like Baltimore. Look at the school system. Look at the miles upon miles of condemned houses. Hopefully the people from Norway and other countries on your ‘invitation’ list will be willing to clean up the mess. There are hundreds of homeless people under Route 83. Please, take care of them. They make the area look like very bad. I would not want to live there at all.

You managed to hijack the remembrance of a solemn time in Haiti, but we’ll make it thro ugh. We always do. That’s why I say, :We are beautiful. And we are here.”

 

 

 

Haiti’s 214th Independence Day

Every January First, we Haitians feel and display unabashed pride in our birth country. It is on this day, 214 years ago, that our fearless forefathers declared Haiti emancipated from barbaric slave-holders. Today, millions of people who have yet to set foot on Haitian soil also celebrate Haiti’s Independence Day. They know the insurmountable obstructions which our ancestors overcame to secure the first and only successful slave revolt in history. Friends of Haiti proudly wear our bicolor; they revel in everything Haitian: They scour the Internet for recipes to make our delicious Independence Day soup for their families. They play our drums. They sing our songs. They speak our language. Some even claim to be more Haitian than those born in the country.  All of us remain in awe of the men and women who gave their blood for our freedom, among them: Dutty Boukman, Francois Makandal, Henry Christophe, Toussaint Louverture, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Catherine Flon, Cecile Fatiman, Capois LaMort, and so many more.

To those who say Haiti has little to show for her glorious past, some would agree that our hardship began twenty-one years after the successful revolt, when King Charles X levied what today would amount to 21 billion dollars against Haiti for the loss of revenue from slave labor. Dan Sperling, in his post for Forbes Magazine, put it this way: “France’s demand for reparations from Haiti seems comically outrageous today – equivalent to a kidnapper suing his escaped hostage for the cost of fixing a window that had been broken during the escape.” We could stop there, but the endless list of narcissistic leaders and perennial natural disasters continue to impede measureable growth.

Ousmane Sow’s Louverture (kdu photos)

One fact remains certain: Haiti will be known forever as the only successful slave colony to break the chains of slavery in an undeniable and spectacular manner. As the generations before ours have been taught, we will teach future generations the significance of the Revolution, what it means to carry Haitian blood in our veins. May our pride in Haiti endure!  As compatriots and friends of Haiti continue to do our part in rebuilding, let us remember those men and women who believed themselves unstoppable. Let us remember the decisive battle of Vertières, led by Francois Capois “LaMort.” History tells us that even after LaMort’s horse was shot from under him and a bullet went through his cap, he did not surrender. Instead, he brandished his saber and charged toward the enemy’s hail of bullets, all the while urging his men to do the same: “En Avant! En Avant!” he shouted. The enemy was so impressed with Capois Lamort’s courage that they paused the war to applaud him.  Onward!

Today, we remember the heroes and heroines of The Haitian Revolution. May we find in ourselves the courage and determination to make our country the gem it must be! Let us speak the words of Capois LaMort to ourselves and to our indestructible Haiti: “Onward!” Let us wish our country Happy 214th Independence Day!

Happy Haitian Mother’s Day 2017!

Bonne Fête des Mères to all Haitian Moms at home and in the Diaspora!

Without you, we would not be. We love and honor you.  You are the backbone of the family; the beacon, the beam and the column, the foundation, the scaffolding—the potomitan, keeping the feeble structure called life from disintegrating around your children. You are our treasure.  We need you.

kdu photo

Christianne D.,  a very special Happy Mother’s Day to you today!

Wearing an emerald dress and turban the color of lilac, Christianne looks positively regal.  Her painted fingernails shine like rubies.  She glows.  A girl only turns 102 once.  Let the fun begin!

Christianne has to be one of the wisest persons on this planet, yet she is unassuming and humble. She gives advice, only if you ask for it.

For many years now I have asked her the secret to longevity. Her answer never varies. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Learn everything you can. Don’t talk too much. Live simply. Avoid negativity. Wise people don’t go around telling everybody how wise they are; fools do.  Don’t waste time.  Stand up for yourself. 

Christianne leads by example. She laughs a lot. Laughter is the only medicine without a long list of terrible side-effects. And it’s free. Try it.

Happy everything, young lady! You are a veritable treasure. Many happy returns!

 

 

Morgan Zwerlein’s Rhythm

Feast or famine. Drought or deluge. Peace or pandemonium. We are still standing.

Within the sliver of space where the swinging pendulum pauses, the persistent drum-song of Manman Ayiti reverberates. In the centuries since our ancestors were brought to the island, the rhythms of our roots have not weakened. Through sweet and sorrowful times, this endowment sustains us.  Musicians worldwide benefit from  our lavish legacy. Some give credit where it is due; others play dumb. Their instruments may be shiny and new, but the rhythms that come out are distinctly Haitian. African. Morgan Zwerlein revels in this fact.

Music was our language, when our mouths could not speak what our eyes were forced to see.  Like secret codes, drum beats conveyed our messages. When uttering a word would have cost us our tongues, we communicated openly through music. Slave owners feared the African people’s drum so much that they outlawed the instrument, lest it triggered a revolt.

The esoteric rhythms keep us connected even now.  Drop a Rabòday or a Kongo beat, and stiffs in business suits start to undulate. The reaction is visceral. The drums call. Bodies and souls respond.

Morgan Zwerlein has learned the language of the drums, and speaks it very well. The instant I connected his face to his powerful sound, I was stunned. How on Earth did a blan learn to play like that? Cultural appropriation is one thing, but it’s different with this guy. I had to ask. What exactly are your intentions with these here rhythms? 

Morgan Zwerlein’s photo

The first answer came in 2014—on Haitian soil. I watched and listened as Morgan beat the drum on and off stage. He jumped in the middle of a Rara band in Puits Blain, and played as fiercely as my compatriots. I’ve seen Morgan perform in Brooklyn several times since. He plays like a happy kid in his favorite toy store, smiling like he’d just swallowed something sweet.  I had more questions. He answered them. Click here for the INNERview.