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The Next L’Overture

The Next L’OvertureIt might have been William Godwin who, during his lectures, said, "The West India Islands, since their first discovery by Columbus, could not boast of a single name which deserves comparison with that of Toussaint L'Ouverture.”

Since L’Ouverture, the Caribbean has boasted of many "great men". None, however, has mirrored the exploits of the Haitian chieftain in 1801.

This may be about to change; well at least rapper Wyclef Jean is aiming at a parallel. Surely, if Jean is able to achieve his goal, and become president of Haiti, it would be the start of a courageous journey. The end thereof may be death, like L’Ouverture, but fulfilling the unthinkable along the way.

Jean is quite aware of the potential dangers, and has embraced the fact, in light of criticisms from celebrities and ordinary folk alike. He filed papers to enter Haiti’s presidential race late last week.  Born in Haiti, Jean left the Caribbean nation for the USA when he was nine. He has maintained his Haitian citizenship despite living in the United States most of his life.

If successful, Jean has vowed to give power to the people by increasing farming. Ravaged by crime and natural disasters, the latest a devastating earthquake in January this year, Jean has laid out plans for an improved Haiti.

The rapper-turned-politician is asking for people to move out of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and to start farming communities in the countryside for self sustainability.

Speaking about his plans, Jean said: "Each village would be associated with a different food - mango village, sugar cane village. If you can provide a job opportunity and a home for people you can start to decentralise Port-au-Prince."

The presidential hopeful is of the view that education will also play a crucial role in getting the country out of its present slump.

He said: "There's nowhere to go but up in Haiti right now, because everywhere you look there's disaster. So the first thing you do is engage education and job creation. Until you learn to read and write, it's called modern slavery."


Should we take Wyclef Jean seriously? Can he become the modern day Toussaint L’Ouverture and free the people of Haiti from their "modern day slavery"?

The critics, perhaps most recognisable, actor Sean Penn, have certainly lashed out at Jean’s ambitious plan. The American actor has made a number of charity trips to Haiti since the earthquake.

Penn criticized Jean for being absent from Haiti since the devastating quake. Penn told CNN: "He (Jean) has been virtually silent for those of us in Haiti, he has been a non-presence. His voice has really been most loudly that which allegedly (sic) has taken over $400,000 designated for Haitian relief for himself and claims he didn't do it. That has to be looked into."

Steadfast with his plans, Jean cast Penn’s assertions aside, claiming that he has "sweat (his) blood" for Haiti in the aftermath of the "flight" of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Jean responded on The Gayle King Show last Friday: "What I want Sean Penn to know is, if I was not in Haiti after Jean-Bertrand Aristide left, if I did not create (my charity) Yele Haiti to start stopping the violence, even him coming to Haiti would not have been possible today."

Also accused of being out of touch with local issues, Jean insisted he is an ideal candidate for president because "the psychology of the Haitian people is something that I understand (sic) ever since birth".

He added, "I would like to tell Sean Penn I do not act on emotions when it comes to the Haitian people. Sean Penn must understand that besides what he sees in Haiti, there are four million diasporas living outside of Haiti that is actually the commerce... that's bringing $2 billion per year (for the country). And guess what, I am part of that community also."

One Haitian taxi driver in Florida brushed aside Jean’s announcement as impossible.

"He can never win, it makes no sense, these guys can never make a difference in Haiti,” he said.

Jean certainly has the international recognition to make a difference, even in terms of keeping the awareness of Haiti alive. That he has no chance or that he is out of touch in Haiti may not be the realities facing the star rapper.

With all of its woes over the years, Haiti deserves some peace and quiet, as it enjoyed during the short time of L’Ouverture. Perhaps if the promised financial pledges made by the international community do reach Haiti, then maybe the healing can start. A new beginning may be on the horizon, and who better to take the country into the future than one of its famous sons?

There are many challenges facing Haiti, and Jean certainly will have a huge fight on his hands. He has embraced the idea that he may be sacrificing his life for the country’s future, and what more can anyone ask?

He at times second-guessed his decision to run for president.


"Assassination is always a possibility but I'd rather die trying to achieve something than die doing nothing... I'm telling you right now, brother, I'm going to fight for the rights of the Haitian people so they can get their justice. At times, to be honest, I think, What am I doing? But I can hear the voice of youth drafting me. When I'm on the ground, they say to me, 'Clef, you're our last hope.' They feel close to me because I speak their language."

Haiti stands in the heart of Caribbean liberation, yet liberty for Haitians has been nothing but a dream. Jean’s plan is ambitious and dangerous, but maybe by some miracle he can fulfill his dream and bring some stability to Haiti. Less than two years ago, Barack Obama did the unthinkable and became the president of the United States, against all odds.

Perhaps Jean can use his international appeal, his obvious talents, and become president of Haiti. Well, God helps those who help themselves, and just maybe the people of Haiti can recognise the need to pull together, stop the violence and move to a new day. Jean’s plans may be farfetched, but wouldn’t we be all be better off if he could accomplish his dream?

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19 Comments In This Article   

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@Mr.Tenman

#19 lionman » 2010-08-20 04:55

I read many of your comments and value your intelligence and some of your responses but lets be for real. When you state the word a few what is the number figure of that one or four?. If you go to Canada, England or America where there are an abundance of Antiguans there are many who have been successful lawyers, physicians, professors, teachers, economists, and etc and haven't made it back to Antigua to even pitch in and help out. They come for carnival an vacation but they are so wrapped up in their lavish life styles that they refuse to come back and assist with the intelligence and experiences they have attained. So I truly would support Mr. Jean because he might be the perfect candidate but I believe he has a heart and love for his country.
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lionman

@lionman,

#18 tenman » 2010-08-20 02:14

lionman, you are wrong We have had a few persons who were successful in the US and chose to come back to Antigua to make a difference. A few of them ran in our elections. One example is Egbert Perry. Don't know if you recall he lost to C. Benjamin.
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tenman

its funny continuence

#17 lionman » 2010-08-20 01:09

Another question How many affluent or well established Antiguans and Barbudans in abroad have made up their minds to say hey let me go back to my country of birth and contribute to the best interest of my country LOL the answer is NONE at least this man is. So stop being so negative and be open minded to what changes he could bring to Haiti because Antigua surely needs someone like this who is fighting for the people rights and not just self interest.
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lionman

its funny

#16 lionman » 2010-08-20 01:08

Yea it is appearant that Wyclef has some questions to answer based on financial actions and decisions he has encountered but I have to give it to the man that he is willing to leave Babylon to go back to Haiti to be a important factor in rebuilding and also trying to create a better future for Haiti. My thing is that many of you are bashing him because he is not a politrickster by trait but look at the political officials (whether it will be UPP or ALP) you elect how many of them are actually working for the people instead of self if you look around I would say quite a few. While these political figures you so dearly stay loyal to are living affluent life styles while you suffer to make ends meet to put food on the table why would you bash this man who might actually do what a politician is suppose to do which is advocate for the people. If you are in a democratic state you should be working for the people instead of selfcentered purposes.
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lionman

#15 Antiguan » 2010-08-13 05:39

How is it possible for someone to leave his/her country of origin at age 9,and forget how to communicate in his own language, i say that is not possible,imagine someone leaving Antigua at age 9 going to Germany,and forget how it is to speak English. No one should believe such nonsense, nine yrs is not 9months,no one forgets a language he has been born and lived into for nine yrs. i know of Spanish children here from earlier yrs than his, and speaks both Spanish& English fluenetly. Another ANTIGUAN rumor.
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Antiguan

#14 Dessalines » 2010-08-12 01:11

One thing I agree with you fellow bloggers is that his inability to speak French would be an obstacle. But he can learn. As to his charity foundation the unfounded allegations have already been dissed and dismissed. I do believe he has the people of Haiti at heart which is a crucial recipe for that country's well being. In perspective he can't do any worse than Preval so why not.
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Dessalines

#13 Morris » 2010-08-09 13:28

Dig It if he shouldn't be president in Haiti perhaps he can run for office in Antigua; fits right in with our politicians, don't you think? LOL!!!
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Morris

accusations

#12 tenman » 2010-08-09 13:25

For those who think the allegations against Wyclef have no weight, take a read of" Questions about his charity may dog Wyclef Jean’s presidential bid" By John Cook (http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_upshot/20100805/us_yblog_upshot/questions-about-his-chairty-may-dog-wyclef-jeans-presidential-bid). The article among other things states "investigators have found that the organization has been shoddily run at best — and, at worst, it's been used as a way to line Jean's pockets He has used Yele Haiti to pay his mistress a steady six-figure salary, charged it hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal performance fees for fundraisers, and seen his own employees quit in disgust over what they describe as Jean's "sense of entitlement" and "lack of financial commitment" to the charity."
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tenman

@Morris

#11 Dig It » 2010-08-09 12:00

Morris, I understand your sentiments about Wyclef. I believe could add some value to all Haitians, but not as President. Morris, obviously, you don't know him very well! This is the same Wyclef that used his "celebrity status" in using his foundation as a personal piggy bank to help his music career! Up to now, Wyclef can't account for all the monies he has raised to support various projects in Haiti. Morris, if you don't believe me, just google his name and scandal surrounding his foundation. In that, Wycleg can never and will never be L’Ouverture! He is a fxxxx, and is just using the recent earthquake as an opportunity to run for President. By the way, good article, Magic!
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Dig It

@wadadlineko

#10 j » 2010-08-09 10:29

Most of what u are saying is HEAR-SAY. In addition to that i know for sure Wyclef speaks excellent Haitian creole. He performed in Dominica @ the creole festival and he communicated in Creole. I am a witness to that
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j

Give him a chance.

#9 Morris » 2010-08-09 09:18

Wadadlineko and tenman I respect your positions, but no one knows how he will perform unless he is given a chance. Wadadlineko the allegations against Wyclef regarding mismanagement of Yele's fund were found to be propaganda and later dismissed.
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Morris

@ tenman

#8 Wadadlineko » 2010-08-09 07:16

I agree with you a 100%.
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Wadadlineko

@Wadadlineko

#7 tenman » 2010-08-09 02:15

Wadadlineko what many miss is that Aristide was the last democratically elected president of Haiti. I strongly believe that any solution for Haiti must involve Aristide. I do not think Wyclef is suited as president but I believe he should be handed an important role. He just may have the ability to get the investment moneys that Haiti needs right now. The use of him could be to show a new image of Haiti.
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tenman

Possibility??

#6 LM » 2010-08-09 02:12

For all those who say it is not possible, what is your solution (assuming you are Hatian)? For all those who say it is possible, put your money where your mouth is. Stand behind him and give what evey help you can. Nothing will be accompolished if someone does not try.
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LM

Part 3

#5 Wadadlineko » 2010-08-09 01:23

Also I read that the vast majority of Haitians still want back Aristide. I read that he was able to raise the mininum wage for Haitians and wanted to make the country democratic but the elite Haitians did not want that and so thats why they exiled him. They also said that it is the elite Haitians that want Wyclef and not so much the poor average ones. But nearly half the population of Haiti is under the age of 35 and that is what they are hoping that this young population will vote for Wyclef. So Puhlease spare me on this notion that he will bring about change. He is just another opportunist.
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Wadadlineko

Part 2

#4 Wadadlineko » 2010-08-09 01:17

Also from what i've been reading its a lot of big American Business are the ones who are pushing him to run for president. But what I also read was that he mismanaged the charity he was running for haiti called YELE. He used to pay himself out of the fund when he would perform to raise money for the fund. So if he couldn't properly manage a charity how you expect him to run the country. All he has going for him is his name. He has no program for development and experience. No matter how much star power and money he has and he does not have any proper plans for development nor the support of the poor people he will never succeed.
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Wadadlineko

This has to be a big joke.

#3 Wadadlineko » 2010-08-09 01:09

Are you guys serious. Wyclef will not make Haiti any better off. A lot of Haitians don't think he can offer anything much to Haiti from what I have been reading on various Blogs. They say he can't speak french which is one of the official languages of Haiti and his creole is rusty. Now if he can't communicate with the people in a proper manner how can he run the country. Imagine someone giving him a document to sign and he can't even read it for him self. He will have to totally rely on people to translate everything for him.
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Wadadlineko

#2 Morris » 2010-08-09 00:42

Wyclef is well beloved by Haitians. His biggest challenge will be surrounding himself with the right people who have the best interest of Haiti at heart, rather than those who seek to profit from his celebrity status.
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Morris

#1 Skyewill » 2010-08-09 00:16

Wycliff will make a great president. The Change will be good for Haiti and other Islands will be more willing to change the mind set that only those who currently serve their government and the oppisitions, even though they do a horrible job can be replaced. I will be supporting him
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Skyewill

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Ian 'Magic' Hughes

Ian 'Magic' Hughes is an Antiguan Journalist.






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