Haiti, the real land of Freedom. Why you should go deeper than Donald Trump’s statement

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Usually, I am not the type to speak my mind. But I thought that this time, I had to talk on a subject that touches more than the country where I come from, but a whole culture.

Yesterday was January 12th. While this day was to mark a moment of retirement and compassion in memory of the victims of the earthquake of January 12, 2010. What made the front page was the statement of the President of the United States, in which he had treated some countries, among others Haiti “shithole country”.

I don’t agree with this and neither should you. Matter fact I shouldn’t even have to explain to you why I don’t agree. But now that I got your attention, let me talk to you about Haiti.

And I’m not here to tell you that Haiti was the first black Republic to gain it’s independence. Nor that we won the biggest army at the time. No. It goes deeper than that.

People like Donald Trump take it as a game to use Haiti as an example to remind their people that we are poor, that we came with HIV, that we are bad immigrants and now the latest that our country is a shithole. He’s not the first one to use Haiti as an example to remind the world why black people should stay mentally, economically and physically enslaved. France has been doing it for years while trying to sit its hegemony on Martinique and Guadeloupe.

But there’s something that people all around the world should understand, whether you’re black, white, wherever you come from and most importantly if you’re Haitian.

We, Haitian, as a nation, we are never to be defeated.

Because, Haiti, the beautiful piece of island, in the south of Florida is the real land of Freedom. When Haiti was discovered in 1492, there was people living there and believing in freedom and equity for all. We have been trying not to drown ever since western civilisations had laid eyes on us and ever since they have been fighting to control us.

We are never to be defeated. Before we had Henry Christophe, we already had Caonabo. He stood up against the spaniards before they even enslaved the inhabitants of Quisqueya. Before we had Dessalines, we had Henri the cacique who escaped to the mountains with a few Indians and fought until their last breath, and welcomed whoever were brave and lucky enough to escape and fight next to them. This was way before the Africans came. That was way before we got to learn from them. Way before they would bring their knowledge of thousands of year to us.

Haiti is the land of Freedom. The first country to ever recognize black people as equal to white. You need to understand that Toussaint Louverture was already talking about all humans being entitled to freedom and the right to live a decent life, while Victor Hugo ( the defensor of the poor and freedom) years after was still a racist.

Don’t disrespect the country of my ancestors. We May be poor, but we deserve respect, honor and dignity. The same pride they’ve been trying to take away from us for the past 214 years. We never accepted oppression from anybody: Not from the Spanish, not from the French, not from the Americans,  nor the germans , not even from our own brothers.

When Haiti was a free independent Republic, put in quarantine in a world where only you could trade between white supremacist countries, the United-States were still enslaving black people. It’s funny that 200 years later, they are still the among the two countries in the world that haven’t signed the Convention of children right. And since 1990, more than half of the children executions in the world were made by The United-States of America.

Now I’m not here to judge. But, don’t disrespect the country of my ancestors. The value of a country doesn’t depend on how heavy your pocket is but rather to your contribution to make this world a better place and to what you’re bringing to this world’s heritage. And Haiti deserves her seat at the table.

We showed to the world that another way was possible when dozen of countries had lost hope. We made Haiti a welcoming land of freedom for whomever’s liberty was threaten.

Now you are not the one to tell us where to go and what to do. The freedom to choose who can move around this planet don’t belong to anyone. If Americans “expats” are allowed to move wherever they want, so does everybody else.

In Haiti we say< no job is worthless> We value working hard for a living. We value waking early in the morning and sleeping late at night. We value doing something, whatever, whether than nothing. We value grit. Trying over and over again. Most of Haitians go to the United-States because they have a vision. Some of us, travel because we feel like, we are citizens of the world and we can conquer it. Some are looking for better opportunities. In all cases, we bring knowledge, hope and culture to wherever we go.
Hegemony and power go by cycle. Don’t forget, that 200 years ago, France was the most powerful country of its era. We Haitian, as a nation, can never be defeated. Because Haiti is the real land of Freedom.

 

Ayibobo

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5 things you can only do in Haiti

Version française 

2018 is starting and I’m here listing all the things that I want to do during the year. I’m not a resolution type of person. I never stick to them so I never make any. But this year, I’m trying to do better. So I write them down. And on top of the list, I have: Travel. Because yes, every year I try to visit at least one country, sometimes more and new cities. But it’s always hard to write about them because of my lifestyle and also because I’m quite lazy (yes, another thing that is on my list and that I’m trying to change).
I was lucky enough to start the new year, in Haiti, with my family and friends. A short but well deserved escapade that allowed me to re-visit my country and discover it at new angles. But while doing so, I realized how unique Haiti was. When I talk about Haiti to my friends, or when I invite you to visit it, I tend to generalize everything. To talk about the main reasons why you should come to Haiti: the history, the culture, the touristic places. But really, what makes us unique, it’s the little things that us, locals we do. The little unusual habits that we have, that may at first look weird, impossible but that make Haiti a must-place to visits. Because it’s always fun to hear people speaking in “crenglish”, walking in front of colorful cars, and playing soccer by the beach. So forget about everything that you’ve learned about Haiti so far, if you’re planning on visiting, here are 5 things that you can only do in Haiti.

5. Buying a “Papita” in the streets

Before leaving Haiti, I didn’t even think that you could find plantain Chips outside of the country. And I still remember the first time that I was able to grab me some in France. A life changing moment. But really nothing can compare to getting out of your car and run after a “machann papita” in the streets. It’s a weird feeling of seeing people turn around while you’re running and slowly start to help you call the seller that was walking away, his little basket over his head. Papita is the Haitian name for dry plantain. They are usually homemade and sold by hawker. Little snack that you can grab while waiting traffic, the papita is usually sold for 15 gourdes (GDES), approximatively 0.24 cents. Papita is eaten very salty in Haiti, so make sure you grab yourself something to drink as well.

Haiti-dry-plantain-papita

4. Taking a moto taxi

Riding a moto is not unique to Haiti, but in Haiti, it is used as part of the transportation system. One of the fastest way to get to any place. Probably not the cheapest ( it varies from city to city) nor the safest ( they don’t use helmet). But it is for sure an incredible experience. You get to visit the cities, and listen to the driver telling you about his life story. If you’re not afraid of taking a little risk, Taking a Moto taxi is definitely made for you.

Hello-Crepuscule-taxi-moto

3. Drinking a beer with “chemizèt”

Now that Is something. Actually I dont even know how to translate “chemizèt” in English. Among everything, this is probably the most Haitian thing that I will have to explain to you in the entire article. The national Haitian beer is called “Prestige” . Without bragging, I can guarantee that it is one of the best beers that you will ever taste. 2 times winner of the gold medal of the world beer cup¹. But to really experience the Prestige as you’re suppose to, you need to let it in the fridge until it’s frozen. When the entire bottle gets covered with a light layer of ice, that is when you can drink it. And that is actually what they call chemizèt. (if one of you know the proper way to say it in English, please help a sister because, I’m lost over here). Anyway, the prestige beer is one of a kind. It’s a lager beer, very light and refreshing. You can find it anywhere in Haiti as the brand, the only national one so far, covers almost 98% of the market. However the price may extremely vary depending on where you’re buying it. In local businesses, you can find it for 60 GDES approximatively 0.96 cents. In bars, it can go up to 3$USD.

Don’t forget to drink wisely and never drink and drive.

travel-with-wendelle-prestige-Haiti

Hello-Crepuscule-biere-prestige-haiti

 

2. Taking a Kamyonèt

I can flex, when I’m in my kamyonèt. The kamonyèt is one of the oldest system of transportation in Haiti. It is a common transportation, so there is not a lot of room for privacy. Matter fact, there is no privacy at all. In your 10 minutes ride in the kamyonèt, that is when you will know all the latest politics news, or what happened at this big concert last night. Squeezed between 2 persons that you probably will never see again in your life, you get to listen to this girl talking on the phone to her boyfriend, to this student talking about her homework, to the mum going grocery shopping, while one guy hooked in the back of the car is yelling at every stop so that you don’t miss yours. Forget about the American barber shop, welcome to the Haitian Kamyonèt. But despite all, the kamyonèt can be a nice way to discover Haiti, going through different places of the capital or in the provinces. The cars are usually very colorful with random slogan like “Dieu est Bon: God is Good”. It’s cheap, starting at 15 Gdes: 0.24 cents. When full, the cars can be hot, as they are open air, but the ride is never too long anyway

Hello-Crepuscule-Kamyonet

travel-with-Wendelle-Haiti

Travel-with-wendelle-Hello-crepuscule

  1. Buying “Fritay” in the streets

You have probably heard of this before. The Fritay, which is actually one of the Haitian most famous street food is known as our fast food. Everything is fried, hence the name “fritay”: fried plantain, chicken wings, fish, Taso (fried beef), the famous Griyo ( fried pork), with some pikliz (our famous spicy salad). As soon as it starts to get dark, the little lamps light up in the street, and people start aligning in front of the sellers. They are the best cookers, sellers you will find in the entire country. Reason of their unconditional success: even when made at home, the fritay is never as good as the ones you buy in the streets. While in front of the seller, you can try yourself at “machande”, this Haitian habit in which you try to make a deal with the seller by asking for more with less money. So go on and ask for a “degi”. They might say no, but again you might end up with a bigger plate and a fuller pocket.

hello-crepuscule-fritay-Haiti

Hello-Crepuscule-fritay

P.S: a special thank you to my friend, Marie-loune who agreed to wander in the streets with me every time that I wanted to, who accepted to be my model and most importantly for the incredible images that she took of me.

  1. http://www.miaminewtimes.com/restaurants/haitian-beer-prestige-takes-gold-medal-at-world-beer-cup-competition-6566879

When Wendelle vent, 1: The dictatorship of The visa

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This is my fourth attempt at writing this paper. While everything is clear in my head, I can’t seem to find the best way to express myself. I get caught up in this fear where confessing feels like stripping down. And talking about Haiti tends to snatch away all my objectivity. Why? Because Haiti is the country of my heart and my soul. It is this land where I see myself growing old. It is this country that I will teach my children to love and respect. It was this land that taught me to forgive, to resign myself, to be courageous, to never stop trying and to love.

I loved Haiti when I had to talk about it after January 12th. I loved Haiti when people were still living under the tents. I loved Haiti after the many failed elections. I loved Haiti in every situations, with the bad decisions, with the fears, the protests, the 2 carnivals a year. I loved Haiti with the blackouts, with the roads … no, no road. I loved Haiti with the 1 dollar-40 gourdes exchange rate and I love it with the 1 dollar-100 gourdes exchange rate. I loved Haiti, when the Prestige beer was sold at 25 gourdes and I love it with the concerts at $ 100 USD. I loved Haiti with Chikungunia, with the UN and its cholera. I loved Haiti without knowing why. I loved it when I had to leave it, and I loved it every time that I had to come back. Because when I have to talk about Haiti, every time I have to explain without knowing why, I remember that I know how to forgive, that I know how to resign myself. I remember that I am brave, I never stop trying and I’m able to love.

But I sometimes rebel against nonsense. Against little things. Against a blocked road, against the flag being misused, against the “Miss Universe” being cyber bullied over some grammar mistakes. Or, against those artists who think they are superior because they have the opportunity to travel. Let’s talk about travel. Sensitive subject in Haiti. As it is an important part of my blog, I thought it would be interesting if I were to address some of the issues linked to it. Because in Haiti, when we talk about travel, we must think about mass emigration, we must think about the boat people, those who cross the entire American continent to get to the United States and find themselves stranded on the Mexican border, we must talk about the Dominican Republic, about Chile, about those who today face the TPS dilemma. But as simple as it looks, talking about those issues means to talk about a failed state with bad economy, lame politics, and where people are left hopeless and without opportunities. This is not what I signed up for when I started Hello-Crepuscule. It goes against our principle. Hello Crepuscule reveals the dream, it is the possibility to say that as long as the sun will rise, there will always be the possibility to create. So if I can not address the True causes that push my compatriots to wander from country to country. Let me vent and scream my disagreements with those artists who perpetuate the dictatorship of the American visa, selling the dream that defines success by your ability to perform in a little bar in Brooklyn and thus far minimize the work of those who are able to fill a room at carrefour and make an entire youth dance.

In a country where we have the mentality of “leaving at all costs”, where the people are ready to give up family and friends to take a chance with the unknown, with all these problems related to the fact that we are badly treated at the international level, but we are still persuaded that it is better to be denigrated by strangers than by our compatriots, I find it insulting that an artist finds it convenient to use his visa every time as a weapon to attack other artists. It is an offense to all these artists who do not have the possibility to travel, but worse, to all those Haitians who are denied visas or who know that day after day, they will never have the opportunity or the possibility to leave this little piece of land to which they find themselves attached.

I do not criticize those lucky enough to be able to explore other horizons. And even better if their art allows them to visit the world. Nor do I criticize those who are proud of their success and feel the need to express it. I do not even criticize this new beefing trends that are spreading more and more, and whose only intention is to socially destroy the competitors, or to feed the youth with obscenities, without any intellectual input. To be honest, I’m not criticizing yet. Art should be without limits nor restrictions in its forms of expression. I just wonder when our creative capacity, our source of inspiration has dried up so much that our only way to make buzz is to make fun of a compatriot who does not have a visa.

IMG_9596

When will our hit-makers realize that even our senators are so afraid of losing their visas, that they can not pass laws that benefit the country without Uncle Sam’s approval? What if we made a clash about that? When will our rappers decide to talk about Chile? Not by mocking our brothers who go there, but by talking about the fact that since 2016, in terms of money transfer to Haiti, Chile is in second position after the United States? A contribution to our economy of more than 36 million dollars¹ in 2016. Since we’re talking about traveling, what about the fact that a France-Haiti round trip plane ticket costs nearly 2000 euros, while the France-Dominican Republic only costs 1000? Meanwhile The Dominican Republic is on the other side of the island. When did rap become so lazy that our young artists refuse to tackle the real problems? Or, has the leveling down finally gnawed at one of our last pillars of expression: music?

I will continue to sell dreams. No, I will continue to sell the opportunity to create, informing about the beauty and possibilities of traveling. But if you have the chance to visit other countries as an artist, continue to sell the good side of Haiti, continue to educate the world or at least the fifty Haitians that would fill the small bar where you are performing in downtown miami because like everyone else they are afraid or do not feel ready to pay a ticket of 2000 euros to come show support to these artists who do not have the visa yet. So please, remove this condescending tone, this mockery. For you, it may seem trivial, or just light to joke about these artists who like the mass of our 12 million compatriots do not have the possibility to travel. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. And that would be tantamount to say that even you, as an artist, you minimize the extent of your influence or underestimate your talent.

  1. Source: http://lenouvelliste.com/article/172849/les-haitiens-au-chili-ont-transfere-36-millions-de-dollars-en-2016You can also read:1. 10 things you did not know about Haiti 
  2.  The chronicles of a Haitian girl in Argentina 
  3. 7 reasons to visit Taiwan 

5 life lesson that I learned while having a drink with Phyllisia Ross

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In my craziest dreams, I’ve always thought that I was bestie with Phyllisia Ross. You know, I saw us, hanging out, listening to classical music, her playing piano and me drinking tea. I know, your girl has some of the weirdest thoughts, but one of the things that I’ve learned during those past few years of shamelessly working for Hello Crepuscule, is that you have to “Fake it until you make it”. That has really been my motto and I truly believe that if you fake it hard enough one day, one day, you will have the chance to make it. And when that day comes, man, you better seize it. That’s kind of what happened.

I met Phyllisia Ross, last year at an event organized by the Embassy of Haiti in France where she was performing and I approached her. Did I say that even in my dreams, she has always looked unapproachable? Well That was exactly how I felt while approaching her. I thought that she would act like a Diva and not even talk to me, and frankly I wouldn’t even blame her. But she had to surprise me. So, here I am, one year later, in this bar. She’s sitting in front me, sipping some wine, talking about Miles Davis, Cote des arcadins and how she’s planning on discovering more places in Haiti. I’m excited but I’m trying to act professional, and while I’m listening to her, talking about her career, her last music “can’t resist” that you can watch here, I realize that through her, I’m learning. I was thinking about how I could share her fashion style with you, her simple makeup and cute short locs, or maybe how she’s changing the music game by remaining true to herself, by who inspired her, but at this exact moment, nothing was clearer than the fact that I realized , I, as a young Haitian woman could also have a positive impact on the world. So I thought I’d share with you 5 life lesson, that I learned while having a drink with Phyllisia Ross.

Phyllisia Ross Wendelle Theodore Hello Crepusucle

1. Be Down to earth
That was probably the first thing That I learned from her: Phyllisia is realistic. I was already shocked when she had replied to my DM on Instagram, but listening to her talk, I realized that she’s very humble and down to earth. Phyllisia describes herself as somebody that has a focus outlook on the world. This reminds me that being realistic is one of the best quality ever. Not letting your accomplishments blind you from what is real and what is not, can be a reminder, a motivation for you to do more.

2. Don’t limit yourself
Phyllisia’s speech makes more sense to me because she’s a living proof of what she’s says. For her, you shouldn’t limit yourself. In whatever you do Make sure what you do is quality. Think about it, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should limit yourself to only this “thing”. Or just because you belong to one community, doesn’t mean you should only talk about it. I relate so much to this, specially with hello Crepuscule. When people don’t understand why I don’t write about the same things I used to write about when I started. You have the choice to explore all the opportunities that you have in front of you, why should you only take one just because you’re good at it? And because Phyllisia’s variety of music is just what you need to remind you that you have a field of adventures in front of you, go ahead and be a butterfly.
P.S: My puns go from bad to worse. I just can’t help it.

3. You should live a life of adventures
Talking about adventures, when asked where she gets all of her inspiration, Phyllisia says “: I’m living my life, I’m experiencing stuff, and that’s what my music is about”. Traveling from america to Europe, she brings the best of everywhere she goes, while keeping such an originality in her music. And for me this goes right after “don’t limit yourself”. Because once you’re ready in your mind, when you think that you should and you can live a life full of potential, you just have to go ahead and do it.

4. Be Fearless
I hope that what I’m writing looks as clear to you as they are in my head. Because while having Phyllisia sitting in front of me, in this little bar on “Les Champs-Elysées”, I realized that, none of this would have been possible if I had worried about the fear of talking to her. It only took me one step to go and talk to her and forget about the stress that I had. Therefor, when Phyllisia talked about fear, her speech just touched me. For her you shouldn’t be afraid to go against what people do. Be fearless and do what you gotta do.

5. Always be grateful for the community where you come from
During my time talking to her, I asked Phyllisia why doesn’t she have more music in creole?Does she actually speak creole” Why did she waited for so long before having her first concert in Haiti? Who does she look up as Haitian artist. Where does she like to visit when she’s in Haiti? The inner Haitian in me was so eager to claim her and keep her for me. But she made me realize one thing: “You can represent an entire culture by being the best version of yourself and by enjoying what you do.” The ones who love you or appreciate what you do, will always come back to you. All you Have to do is to be grateful for the community where you come from because through your life you will see what it has brought to you.

P.S: I know you’re dying to know the answers to all my questions. YES Phyllisia speaks Creole. Her list of Haitian artist is long and includes artists like Arly larriviere, Riva Precil, Ti Djo Zenny.. anyone who’s doing a positive job in the community. She doesn’t want to define her music by her simply singing haitian songs, she has sung with artists like the game, young jeezy, Ne-yo, she has sung reggae . She just does what she feels like doing, depend on the vibe. And when asked how she describes her music, she replied: I want to make music simple enough for people to digest but complex enough to be real music. I don’t want to make fast-food music, but some diri and legum ¹  that I made all day long”.

  1. diri and legum: rice and stew. one of haiti’s national dish 

Wendelle Théodore 

1o Fun facts about Haiti

A few days ago I read an article about Haiti! It was pretty interesting since it actually gave to whoever was reading it 10 fun facts about Haiti that this person probably didn’t know. So I decided to make an English version of it so I can make all these informations available for everybody! I’m pretty sure there is so much more that I can publish about Haiti that you didn’t know but you’ll eventually have to wait until my next post. But now you can enjoy 10 facts about Haiti. Let me know which one you already knew and don’t be shy to give me more ideas that you think I could share.

1.Haiti is the most mountainous island in the Caribbean,

2. The turtle island was inhabited only by pirates during the 17th century .

3. L’île-à-vache “the cow island” was named after an invasion Of Wild cow after the colons left the island.

4.The Haitian area is larger than the state of Vermont.

5. Haiti has 14 airports.

6. From the 15th to the 19th century, France, Spain and England were fighting over the control of the island of Hispaniola.

7. Haiti is the only black nation in the world whose independence is the direct result of a slave revolt

8.The independence of Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela would not have been possible without the military and financial support of Haiti.

9.The flag of Venezuela was created in the port of Jacmel, which is a little city in the south east of Haiti.

10. During 105 years, Haiti was responsible for producing 40% of sugar consumed on the planet.