Haiti Can Hold Me

In remembering and honouring all those who died on January 12th 2010  I would also like to honour those who have  survived the awfulness of this 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, the betrayals, the negligence, cholera [There is serious evidence that this was brought into the country] and disrespect for their lives. Those responsible need to be called to account over and over till they begin to see 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 elite and international corporations and governments. A friend of mind put it this way

The only way clear of this mess is to leave the twentieth 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 which need to be told. The stories, for example of the thousands of women  and men 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 that of their communities. Those bypassed by NGOs and government officials.    The teachers who work for next to nothing to rebuild their schools and to create new educational and economic opportunities based on mutual support and shared reward.  Women who have taken charge of their situations, supported each other and called their abusers to account for their actions.

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 poetic but never ridiculous. Now 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, does not attach material value to everything.

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 blood and
water of rebellious slaves. and for that it held firmly our bare and blithe feet as the first black-led
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 dusky
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 white
grandiosity; i see myself two hours ago serving rum and coke to rich white people who speak
through their noses. i watch the smiling sun part the clouds and break the unsuspecting dawn,
commanding my Haiti to rouse, to do, to pray.

Donald Molosi © 2011

This post was first published on New Internationalist Blog