“I am not a political man,” said – everyone.
The word, “political” in Haiti’s vocabulary is a lot more than an adjective pertaining to governmental affiliation. It is general negative term – standing for seemingly everything undignified, corrupt and unfair in the world.
When I heard the whispers of a Wyclef Jean presidential bid, I simply dismissed them. It seemed like an impossible concept, water-cooler talk — something fun to debate: Could he, would he run, this 37-year-old Haitian musician, and of late, politician, who moved to the U.S. with his family when he was 9 years old.
After the announcement was official, Deva Krishna, the unemployed musician in the video below, spoke to me of his concerns, worries of corruption in Wyclef’s organization, before and after the earthquake.
And, isn’t he — American?
“I don’t know if he know Haiti,” Deva Krishna says, with a clear hint of hope that, maybe, Wyclef does.
To listen to Wyclef’s music, he very well might. If he were president…
“Instead of spending billions on the war, I can use that money, so I can feed the poor.
‘Cause I know some so poor, when it rains that’s when they shower…”
Wyclef’s campaign could easily produce an “Obama effect,” bringing slews of disengaged youth, like Krishna, to the polls.
Maybe this is the right time for Haiti to again try a president who is quite obviously not a “political” man. After all, the world is watching. Haiti will rebuild on donations and largely foreign private investment — an international “check and balance” on a perpetually problematic government.
On the reverse, those international strings might be Haiti’s exact problem.
And how much more damage could five years of another disastrous presidency do to this battered country: its capital crumbled, its breadbasket broken?
Wyclef’s self-proclaimed “rebel music” street-lyrics often seem in opposition to his current lifestyle — his wife’s jewels and their massive entourage.
And life is different in Haiti. Haiti is not the matrix — Baudrillard’s hyper-reality. We are far from Western paradise, here in the broken houses of the capital and famished villages of the countryside.
In Haiti, life is blood, sweat, dirt and tears. In Haiti, every second, and every penny, counts.
In the end, this election will come down to one simple question, Krishna says. Huddling with our families under the tents of Port-au-Prince, walking along the countryside’s broken roads, watching Sean Penn on CNN from suburbia or living as refugees on Miami’s shores – we are all asking Wyclef Jean the same question:
Are you Haitian?
And if so – prove it. Now.
“We don’t need no water, we don’t need no food – and if the house on fire, we dancin’ on the roof.
And if the streets are burning, we takin’ off our shoes,
The way this world is going, we got nothing to lose.”
The stage is set maestro; let the carnival begin.
“Tremblement du Terre.”
Right to Left: Big Jay, Jagat Bandhu and Deva Krishna.
A music video featuring Deva Krishna, Jagat Bandhu and Big Jay, filmed in the tent camps “Jamaica” and “Colombia” in the Delmas region of Port-au-Prince. Cut-ins span a variety of displaced communities in and around Port-au-Prince.
Video and photo by Unsung Media Productions.