Legend has it that the Haitian people possess very powerful spirits. And, it was for this reason that God chose them, as a people, to begin the fight for equality – not just for people of color, but for people all over the world.
I’ll start by painting a picture of Haiti through the eyes of a young Haitian American in the early 80s, which was just before the overturning of the Duvalier-led Haitain government in 1986. My family and I were in Haiti for a month’s summer vacation from Brooklyn, New York. I remember how the streets were so clean, maids would be up early making sure that their side of the block looked the best, and everything just seemed alive.
The foot merchants were buzzing all over selling fresh fruit, food and meats. The merchants would be singing creative chants of what their product was in order to sell, and the chants would often sound like love songs: “Oh, beautiful eggs. No one else sells such beautiful eggs like me”. Funny things like that.
Music played from street corner to street corner. Young girls walked the streets in school uniforms with their hair in braids and ribbons all well pressed. Seeing someone who was overweight was almost unheard of. Men often walked holding hands, showing their friendship openly, and it didn’t appear strange. Farmers, carpenters, drivers, mechanics, doctors, nurses, teachers, lawyers and the likes all had their level of prestige. Everyone contributed to a beautiful peace that many living abroad couldn’t wait to get back to as often as life permitted.
The whole country seemed like it woke up early; peaceful and ready to service its people. And when nightfall came, the flow shifted to a more mellow and light vibe to refuel and start all over.
The weekend started early on Fridays and people would gather at the park. There, young children talked about their dreams. We would be told stories of different spirits that roam the country and how they showed themselves at night. I loved every second of it.
So, the legend says the powerful spirits had to leave to fight off corruption and it was for that reason that Haiti fell into the condition it is in today. Legend also said that those spirits would one day return with a renewed force of light to uplift the people of Haiti and remind them of how beautiful a people they are. Now, one might say this sounds like a fairytale. But to me, it’s clear that that time is now.
Here are some examples of those beautiful souls that have come full circle:
Ruth Jean is a mother of three and a wife. She still manages to run a full-time immigration law practice, dedicating her life to fighting the injustices and inequalities against immigrants, such as those that befell her Haitian parents, while setting an example for young black women in her community.
Angie Bell runs a prestigious school in Cap-Haitian, Haiti, while finding inspiration in all her surroundings to write breathtaking poetry about love and heartbreak, and children’s books such as her ‘Adventures of Yaya’. Her book illustrates to the young children of Haiti the true image of themselves; one that is the opposite of the common images of poverty and despair that is often exaggerated for political reasons using teachings of self-hate.
Model, author, actress, radio host and mother, just to name a few of her titles, Tico has been an advocate for all Haitians, especially young women, for the better part of her life. She is deeply connected to her Haitian lineage and is now using her art of storytelling to retell her life story in the ‘Adventures of Yaya’, which she co-authored with Angie Bell.
Sandy is a full-time mother of two and the Managing Director of the Little Haiti Cultural Center. Many would also say she is ‘the fixer’ of Haitian cultural events. There aren’t many events involving the Haitian community that Sandy isn’t in one way, shape or form involved with. Born in New York, Sandy finds herself more Haitian than her Haiti-born parents.
A little about Chely Paul, author of this article
Nothing is wrong with giving yourself some credit from time to time. I’m a mother of three and a wife. I’m also a nurse and heath marketer to the largest hospice health organization in America, VITAS Healthcare, and every free moment I have is spent passionately advocating for Haiti by lending support in any way I can to beautiful Haitian souls who use their platforms and precious breath of life to bring about change to the image of one of the most enchanted places in the world. Because, indeed, powerful spirits roam amongst the Haitian people and these ladies are examples of that power and light as the enchanting beauty of Haiti, the Haitian people, our culture and traditions are surfacing all over the world as the legendary powerful spirits of Haiti reunite.