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1262: About Creole: Laleau replies to Barnes


In a message dated 12/3/1999 5:57:24 AM Pacific Standard Time, Barnes writes:

<<  Every time we see a  Haitian doing something we consider wrong or 
ignorant we take it as an  example of what it means to be Haitian and we say 
"Ayisyen, woo!"  And we  want to detach from this compatriot as a brother or 
sister.  We rarely go to
 analyze why this person is doing this wrong or ignorant thing.  One of the  
most amazing features of Haitians however is how smart they are at figuring  
out systems.  Often, what is perceived as this wrong and ignorant act is a  
very caculated attempt to beat the system or profit from it.  If people  
remember this they will stop being frustrated with many things that happen  
in Haiti that seem to disturb the proper course.   >>

I was part of a delightful example of this in action:

While working with MICIVIH I often came to the capital from Les Cayes on 
weekends.  If we timed the trip badly, we ended up in the semi-perpetual 
traffic jam at Carrefour.  One Friday afternoon, as we approached Carrefour, 
we saw MINUHA soldiers directing traffic at intersections along the way.  Our 
driver very admiringly commented "Ah!  Look how well the blans organize 

About ten minutes further along the road,  despite all efforts to direct 
traffic, the jam was unavoidable.  We sat in the stalled traffic for about 3 
minutes, and then our driver jumped the curb, cut across an empty lot, leaned 
out the window and paid two guys 10 gourds each to remove the concertina wire 
surrounding the gas station on the corner at the end of the lot, drove 
through a shallow sewage canal, and up through the gas station, and around to 
the side of the road where the traffic was flowing more freely.  He said with 
satisfaction, "Haitians know how to get things done."

I won't tell you his name in case he still works for MICIVIH.

Nancy Laleau