Black and White, Love and Haiti

By Jheri St. James


The Republic of Haiti was the only nation whose independence was gained as part of a successful slave rebellion, the first post-colonial Black-led nation in the world, and the first independent nation in Latin America. Despite having cultural links with its Hispano-Caribbean neighbors, Haiti is the only predominantly French-speaking nations in the Americas, Haitian Creole being the other. It occupies the mountainous western side of the island of Haspaniola in the Great Antillean archipelago.

A woman bathes inside a muddy pool of water considered to be sacred during a Voodoo ceremony in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (Photo: Ariana Cubillos/AP)

Christopher Columbus landed at Mole Saint-Nicolas on December 5, 1492 and claimed the island for Spain. Nineteen days later, his ship, the Santa Maria ran aground near the present site of Sap-Haitien. Columbus was forced to leave 39 men, founding the settlement of La Navidad. Following the destruction of La Navidad by the Amerindians, Columbus moved to the eastern side of the island and established La Isabela.

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One of the earliest leaders to fight off Spanish conquest was Queen Anacaona, a Taino princess fro Zaragua who married Chief Caonabo. The two resisted European rule but she was captured by the Spanisha nd executed in front of her people. To this day, Anacaona is revered as the Golden Flower in Haiti, with many claiming her to be a significant icon in early Haitian history and consequently a primordial founder of their country. No less a poet laureate than Alfred Lord Tennyson celebrated Queen Anacaona in the following poem.

A dark Indian [Taino] maiden,
Warbling in the bloom'd liana,
Stepping lightly flower-laden,
By the crimson-eyed anana,
Wantoning in orange groves
Naked, and dark-limb'd, and gay,

Bathing in the slumbrous coves,
In the cocoa-shadow'd coves,
Of sunbright Xaraguay,
Who was so happy as Anacaona,
The beauty of Espagnola,
The golden flower of Hayti ?

In the purple island,
Crown'd with garlands of cinchona,
Lady over wood and highland,
The Indian queen, Anacaona.
Dancing on Uic blossomy plain
To a woodland melody :
Playing with the scarlet crane,
The dragon-fly and scarlet crane,
Beneath the papao tree !
Happy, happy was Anacaona,
The beauty of Espagnola,
The golden flower of Hayti!


Naked, without fear, moving
To her Areyto's mellow ditty,
Waving a palm branch, wondering, loving,
Carolling "Happy, happy Hayti!"
She gave the white men welcome all,
With her damsels by the bay;
For they were fair-faced and tall,
They were more fair-faced and tall,
Than the men of Xaraguay,
And they smiled on Anacaona,
The beauty of Espagnola,
The golden flower of Hayti!

Following her wild carol
She led them down the pleasant places,
For they were kingly in apparel,
Loftily stepping with fair faces.
But never more upon the shore
Dancing at the break of day,
In the deep wood no more,
By the deep sea no more,
No more in Xaraguay
Wander'd happy Anacaona,
The beauty of Espagnola,
The golden flower of Hayti !

Google.com images:


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President Bill Clinton’s Global Initiative sponsored his trip to the island in March 2009 with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and a delegation of business and philanthropic leaders to help focus attention on the country’s continuing efforts to “build back better” from storm damage in 2008 and create a more stable and prosperous future for the people of Haiti. “So often the people and places ravaged by natural disasters are forgotten only months after they are hit by storms that destroy entire communities and livelihoods,” President Clinton said. “I am hopeful that my trip to Haiti with Secretary General Ban K-moon will help remind the world that there is a lot that we each can do, working with the people of Haiti to help expand education, health, and job opportunities in Haiti, even during these hard economic times.”

This trip was the result of President Clinton’s Call to Action on Haiti at the Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in September 2008 where global leaders, business executives and philanthropists made more than 20 commitments that directly concentrate on strengthening long-term recovery efforts and are valued at more than $130 million.

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Tracy Kidder wrote a book called Mountain Beyond Mountains. A journalist, Tracy was doing a story on American soldiers sent to Haiti to reinstate the country’s democratically elected government. The title of his book comes from a Haitian proverb which is loosely translated “Beyond mountains there are mountains.” Haitians use this phrase in many different ways. Sometimes it’s used to express the idea that opportunities are inexhaustible and sometimes as a way of saying that when you surmount one great obstacle you merely gain a clear view of the next one. It is also a pretty accurate description of the topography and life experience of a lot of Haiti and her people.

Kidder’s book is a study of Paul Farmer, a medical anthropologist and physician who has provided medical care to some of the poorest populations in the world. The second of six childen who spent most of his childhood in Florida living on a bus and a houseboat moored in a bayou on the Gulf Coast, he is now chairman of Harvard Medical School’s Department of Global Health and Social Medicine. He is expected to become the Obama administration’s nominee to head the United States Agency for International Development. The agency has been without a director since President Obama took office. In 1987, Dr. Farmer co-founded an organization called Partners in Health, a non-profit agency based in Boston. The organization provides medical services to the poor of Haiti, Rwanda, Peru and Russia, as well as Boston. Dr. Farmer has pioneered treament programs for infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis in poor communities around the world.

As a student he went to Haiti in 1983 to work with the people of the Central Plateau, an area that had no access to adequate health care. He founded Zanmi Lastane (Creole for Partners in Health), which grew from a small clinic to a multiservice health complex that includes a school, infirmary, hospital, women’s clinic, surgery wing and pediatric care facility. In his 2003 best seller, Kidder described him as a “man who would cure the world.”


A number of celebrities are rallying behind Haiti to help the embattled country win a global competition hosted by BBC World News and Newsweek. Wyclef, actress/model Garcelle Beauvais, Russell Simmons, Free (Power 105 FM), Sha Money, Tony Yayo, DJ Whoo Kid, Mona Scott-Young (Monami Entertainment), actor Jamie Hector and singer Black Dada have signed on as ambassadors for LOVE ‘N HAITI, a recycling project in Port-au-Prince that turns everyday trash into energy. LOVE ‘N HAITI – an initiative also championed by President Bill Clinton — is one of twelve finalists in the BBC’s “World Challenge ’09,” which will award a grant to the finalist with the most online votes. The cash grant will help LOVE ‘N HAITI continue its recycling efforts, which aid in decreasing deforestation, creating jobs, and reducing the incidence of floods.

“I’m proud to be a part of this campaign, not only because it’s for my people, but because I care about our environment,” says Wyclef. “All it takes is one vote to make a difference. We need everyone to support LOVE N’ HAITI!”

To log your vote for LOVE ‘N Haiti, visit http://www.theworldchallenge.co.uk/index.php. Voting ends November 13, 2009.

Want to help? Copy and paste one of the following messages on your Twitter page today! Get the word out! Vote here: http://bit.ly/3bdpWa NOW 2 vote 4 HAITI to win a grant that will support the recycling project #LoveNHaiti

Haiti Collection

The first Haiti soil collection was sent by Beatrice Vilain who works at the US Embassy in Port au Prince, capital and largest city in Haiti.

“Before the arrival of Christopher Columbus, the region that would eventually become Port-au-Prince was not the site of any permanent human settlement. At the end of the 15th century, the region was under the control of Bohechio, Taíno cacique of Xaragua.[2] He, like his predecessors, feared settling too close to the coast—such settlements would have proven to be tempting targets for the Caribes, who lived on neighbouring islands. Instead, the region served as a hunting ground.

“With the arrival of the Spaniards, the Amerindians were forced to become a protectorate, and Bohechio, childless at death, was succeeded by his sister, Anacaona, wife of the cacique Caonabo. Anacaona tried to maintain cordial relations with the Spaniards, but this proved to be difficult, as the latter came to insist upon larger and larger tributes. Eventually, the Spanish colonial administration decided to rule directly, and in 1503, Nicolas Ovando, then governor, set about to put an end to the régime headed by Anacaona. He invited her and other tribal leaders to a feast, and when the Amerindians had drunk a good deal of wine -- the Spaniards did not drink on that occasion—he ordered most of the guests killed. Anacaona was spared, though only to be hanged publicly some time later. Through violence and disease, the Spanish settlers decimated the native population.” (Wikipedia)

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Thanks to Beatrice Vilain for her participation in our project. Man certainly has had some impact on the environment but the Earth has its own timetable and power.






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