In remembering all those who died on 12 January 2010 we should also honour those who have survived the awfulness of these past 12 months. Quite rightly, blogs and some media are full of stories of the terrible things which Haitians, especially in Port-au-Prince, have had to endure: betrayals, negligence, cholera (there is serious evidence that the disease was brought into the country from outside) and disrespect for their lives.
Those responsible need to be called to account over and over, until they begin to change their way of doing things. We should also be wary of those who appear to be acting in the interests of ordinary Haitians but in reality have been co-opted by the interests of the Haitian élite, international corporations and governments. A friend of mind put it this way:
The only way clear of this mess is to leave the 20th century’s greedy, self-serving corporate rules and enter a world of a generous self-powered equality. Things grow so quickly here it continues to astonish me. My hope and work revolves around trying to have human beings grow as quickly as the nature around them.
But there are also other stories that need to be told. The stories, for example, of the thousands of women who have used their survival of the earthquake to envision a different Haiti and have with total commitment and determination chosen to make positive transformational changes to their own lives and those of their communities.
Che Guevara once said: ‘At the risk of sounding ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by feelings of love.’
When I first read this I thought it was poetic, and never ridiculous. Now that I have experienced this kind of love, I know it to be true. It’s one which keeps everything ticking and touches everyone physically and emotionally and is based on sharing and collective action. And unlike others, who do not believe this possible, it does not attach material value to everything.
Sunset for the new dawn. Gris Gris, Haiti. Photo by Lee Cohen on Creative Commons license.
HAITI CAN HOLD ME
my eyelids press mercilessly, too tightly upon my eyes.
i fall, stumble and falter; quake and stop to look:
observing the end. wishing i could finger my tarnished rosary beads.
it is as though somebody else closed my eyes for me
for the darkness in its finality is solid enough to touch.
solitary silences. jolting tremors.
behind hidden eyes i watch wisps of clouds
scatter, and the clear blue sky stand firmly behind the sun;
and i marvel when dusk fans the smoldering coals in
the dusty horizon and - JOLT!- again darkness plants itself in the path of the sun:
observing the end. observing the end.
ashen cement has choked the tears in my eyes. behind choked eyes i see
tropicbirds in angelic white fly with wild abandon, and palm trees sway
carelessly with a new air of sureness.
saints right then tell me about this land. that it is big and strong from being fed the
water of rebellious slaves. and for that it held firmly our bare and blithe feet as the
republic. for that, Haiti can hold me, too.
i stop pushing; i. stop. the land can hold me.
i will not spend my last moments crying behind a painted face, a face whitened by
crumbled cement. i know i am pressed against the same gritty earth that held Toussaint upright.
and so behind useless eyes i see Port-au-Prince as it was. i see Hotel Montana in its
grandiosity; i see myself two hours ago serving rum and coke to rich white people
through their noses. i watch the smiling sun part the clouds and break the
commanding my Haiti to rouse, to do, to pray.
Donald Molosi © 2011