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5906: Ayisyen Se Lespwa Ayiti (fwd)
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