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5906: Ayisyen Se Lespwa Ayiti (fwd)

From: VYeghoyan@aol.com

Sunday, November 12, 2000

Several weeks ago, I was invited to a celebration of the 9th anniversary of 
the Progressive Women of Leogane. I knew there would be some women I would 
recognize, and many I would not. But I did not realize there would be almost 
as many men present as women, and that there would be children. Wow. To see 
woman of advanced years with white hair, and 6 -yr. old little girls clapping 
their hands, singing the words, swaying back and forth. Powerful. And to see 
men sharing the megaphone, congratulating the women for their persistence in 
the struggle for a better life in Haiti, offering their continuing support in 
the future. Overwhelming. 

There were short speeches, by women of the group, by friends of the group, by 
people from the mayor's office, by popular political groups. There were well 
rehearsed songs sung by certain groups. There was the spontaneous eruption of 
songs on the spur of the moment.

I've been to meetings of the Progressive Women of Leogane, and I've been to 
informal parties. But nothing on this scale. So a real treat for me was when 
the drama group--local talent, but operative word being talent--presented 
their contribution to the afternoon/evening. My Kreyol is good until I'm 
surrounded by all native speakers, speaking rapidly and utilizing a lot of 
idiomatic expressions, no doubt some obscene phrases and a lot of body 
language that was lost on me. But I understood plenty. As is always the case 
with Haitian proverbs and much of the language, there were layers of meaning 
to the play. The simple message of women being manipulated, betrayed and 
misled by men had a deeper message: Beware of the same things happen between 
the powerful and the powerless.

Was it simply coincidence that the song that erupted after the play had lines 
that said, "we don't approve of the assassinations...we do have the guns...we 
are not the ones doing certain things." I picked up one reference to Espace 
Concertation, and I lost a lot of the subtleties.

But the message of the whole even was not lost on me: everyone, including the 
men who were subjects of some criticism, was celebrating the victories gained 
so far in the struggle against injustice, and everyone was committing 
themselves to the continuing battle.

I wasn't surprised that as I left the party someone handed me a flyer with a 
picture of Aristide. But what I couldn't see until I reached the light of my 
home was that there was another picture below Aristide's picture--a picture 
of masses of Haitian people with the caption below: Ayisyen Se Lespwa Ayiti 
(Haitians are the hope of Haiti). Another reminder that the Lavalas 
movement--while Aristide may be the poster boy--is not just about him. It is 
about the Haitain people. They are their own hope.

an American in Leogane