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Haitian folktales and proverbs are tales that are often passed down orally from generation to generation.  These are often short stories with a significant meaning embedded into them. Folktales and proverbs are significant aspect of the Haitian culture and Haitian identity.  We felt that it was important to include the ones pertaining to slavery, colonization, and Haiti’s contribution to the greater world.  We are looking forward to your input to make this section even stronger.

 

Ayiti by April ‘AP’ Smith 

You... 

You be Caribbean; 

You be French, Indian, and West African: Creole; 

You be rich; 

You be gold; 

You be indigo, coffee bean, and sugar cane; you be sweet, Beautiful, 

Exploited: nigger, slave, coon, chattel; 

(But) you be King and Queen, the dream 

You be rebellious, revolution, Napoleon defeating, 

Gifted; you be Toussaint, 

Courageous, Jean-Jacque; 

You be 1804: Freedom, Saint Domingue reversed: 

You be Ayiti, rooted like Arawak; 

You be rock; 

You be mountain; 

You be strong; 

You be back-bone against 32 counts of civil unrest, Resilient in danger zones; 

You be blessed; 

You be death by the hand of US Marines, 

30,000 in the “knapsacks” of the Tonton Macoute regimes; You be protest; uproar and 

war; 

You be Yele, YELL-ING so loud 

You be exiled: you be Jean-Bertrand Aristide; 

You be priest against French inequalities, 

Operation Uphold Democracy, 

Unwanted, 

Sanctioned, cut-off, and sucked dry; 

You be bankrupt with no allies, 

Butt-naked, bare: in the nude for charcoal and fuel; 

You be mudslides, tropical storms, rubble & debris; 

You be natural, 

Disaster times fifteen;

“Ayiti, Quisqueya, Bohio” by Shenishe L. Kelly 

Forge forward Haiti 

You have more fortitude 

than the fragile foundation 

on which your feet fall. 

Do not fret 

Have faith filled with fire 

your flattened-land has a future that’s full, fertile and fruitful Forsake not your forefathers 

who fought fearlessly 

against the French 

fulfilling your freedom 

Forget not the fight 

of fourteen-ninety-two 

Forge forward Haiti 

filled with fervor, fire, and faith.

Slavery in Haiti

Haiti, the home of voodoo practices 

Seventeenth Century Spain cedes to France 

Catholic Spaniards trembled when they saw 

“Dead” men revived to wander in trances 

A vile poison can make men appear dead 

Revival requires an antidote 

But perhaps there is more to zombie lore 

An explanation to why these souls woke 

Brutally treated slaves worked sugar fields 

Captives from Africa known as “M aroons” 

As French aristocrats sat and grew fat 

Blacks sweated for “sweets” in the tropic sun 

Buried guilt deep at night still festers 

For conscience is God’s gift to each man 

Some may suppress it for just a short time 

‘Til magical night envelopes the land 

Spirits of those who were taken in chains 

Are given by God a chance to rebel 

Stalking the living in deathly pallor 

Haunting their captors with visions of hell 

“Zombifications,” M aroons erected 

Spreading the horrors of slavery with anger 

Showing the French what their evil produced 

And putting their sanity in danger 

So please put the voodoo dolls back on shelves 

The needle-sharp pricks of remorse can sting 

Enslaved M aroons prevail in heaven’s court

Haiti, My Heart Bleeds: By Carmel S. Victor
 

Two hundred years of your Independence, 
 

Yet I still wonder if this is your sentence. 
 

M any believe that your strength is immense, 
 

But I’ve yet to see them come to your defense. 

You’ve been facing struggles since you began. 

So, giving up on should never be a plan. 
 

Instead, the world should lend a helping hand. 
 

M aybe then you would become a prosperous land. 

From many miles away I can feel the distress,
 

Of a country where freedom is being suppressed. 
 

Since of your demise, I am not yet convinced. 
 

When I pray at night I pray that you be blessed. 

Though you are said to be one of the poorest. 

Those who have seen you have seen a treasure chest. 
 

I know that right now you are put to the test, 
 

But the day will come when you will finally rest. 

 

Cracked, fractured, splintered, buried, battered & bruised, But you..., 

You never break; 

You be remarkable,  2 

Amazing, gritty, and brave; 

You be diamond in the rough, 

tough, unrelenting, 

Courage made of blood, sweat, and tears; You be soul and blues, smooth and cool, made 

of pearl: La Perle des Antilles, Precious gem, 

Ancient and young: 

206 years and still number 1; 

You be independent 

black nation, 

Wise & steadfast; 

You be Ayiti , 

rooted like Arawak; 

You be rock; 

You be mountain; 

You be strong; 

You be strong; 

You be strong; 

You be strong; 

You be strong, 

back-bone against 32 counts of civil unrest, Resilient in danger zones; 

You be blessed; 

You 

Be Survival!

To Toussaint L'Ouverture by William Wordsworth 

 (1770–1850) 

Toussaint, the most unhappy man of men  4 

 Whether the whistling Rustic tend his plough 

 Within thy hearing, or thy head be now 

Pillowed in some deep dungeon’s earless den; 

O M iserable Chieftain! Where and when 

 Wilt thou find Patience? Yet die not; do thou 

 Wear rather in thy bonds a cheerful brow: 

Though fallen thyself, never to rise again, 

Live, and take comfort. Thou hast left behind 

 Powers that will work for thee; air, earth, and skies; 

There’s not a breathing of the common wind 

 That will forget thee; thou hast great allies; 

Thy friends are exultations, agonies, 

 And love, and man’s unconquerable mind.

Tomorrow’s Toussaints by Kalamu ya Salaam

this is Haiti, a state 

slaves snatched from surprised masters, its high lands, home of this 

world’s sole successful 

slave revolt, Haiti, where 

freedom has flowered and flown fascinating like long necked 

flamingoes gracefully feeding 

on snails in small pinkish 

sunset colored sequestered ponds 

despite the meanness 

and meagerness of life 

eked out of eroding soil 

and from exploited urban toil, there 

is still so much beauty here in this 

land where the sea sings roaring a shore and fecund fertile hills lull and roll quasi human 

in form 

there is beauty here 

in the unyielding way 

our people, 

colored charcoal, and banana beige, and shifting subtle shades 

of ripe mango, or strongly brown-black, sweet 

as the suck from  3 

sun scorched staffs 

of sugar cane, 

have decided 

we shall survive 

we will live on 

a peasant pauses 

clear black eyes 

searching far out over the horizon the hoe motionless, suspended 

in the midst 

of all this shit and suffering forced to bend low 

still we stop and stand 

and dream and believe 

we shall be released we shall be released for what slaves have done 

slaves can do 

and that begets the beauty 

slaves can do.

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