Just yesterday somebody asked me which Caribbean nation was the most beautiful. Without really hesitating I replied ‘Haiti. No one ever mentions how gorgeous it is.’ My response is mine and thus totally subjective. And there’s plenty of places in the Caribbean I’ve yet to stumble onto. But out of Martinique, St Lucia, Barbados, Dominica (which comes in a distant but good second), Trinidad and Tobago, St Kitts and Nevis, Guadeloupe, Cuba, the Domincan Republic, Guyana, Suriname and French Guyana, none touch Haiti’s simply overwhelming beauty imho.
You may recall that a couple of months ago I was bursting with excitement about going to Haiti. If you were following closely, you may have noticed that I wrote very little about that trip. If not, well, now you know. The truth is, as holidays go, it was an extremely intense, thought-provoking experience. I couldn’t write in part because I didn’t know what to say. There was so much to say! But I also had A LOT of questions. Last night I saw a film, The Agronomist, which provided a lot of answers.
A Film For You
The film highlighted the quest of Haitians to secure participative democracy in the twentieth century. The documentary examines the life’s work of Jean Dominique, a journalist, broadcaster and Haitian activist over four decades and exiled twice. Fearless, hope-filled, passionate and patriotic, under him Radio Haiti was the first station to broadcast in Kréyol, the first language of 90% of Haitians.
I won’t lie, it was a Hotel Rwanda moment for me. Perhaps because I had such beautiful recent memories, the flagrantly deliberate man-made suffering of one people just broke my heart. I had never quite got my head round this Aristide chap who seemed to pop in and out of power in Haiti. Never felt the full fear inspired by the Tonton Macoutes, never understood why the UN are still in Haiti. Now it all makes horrifying, chilling sense.
I’m not talking heartbreak based on pity. It’s the weeping that comes after the rage. Made by American film-maker Jonathan Demme (Silence of The Lambs, The Crying Game, Philadelphia), I watched it as part of an event called Voir Haiti Autrement (See Haiti Differently) organised by a community organisation here called Jamais Deux Sans Trois. You should DEFINITELY see The Agronomist. Whether you’re slightly sceptical about the sincerity of American foreign policy and its commitment to democracy, are into inspiring social justice-themed documentaries, or just enjoy a good story, it’s for you. If you’re in Martinique, you should definitely check out the association. C’était une soirée géniale. Continue reading