10 little things you probably didn’t know about Haiti and its people!
1– Haitians don’t speak Haitian, we speak Creole (and some of us speak French)
You might not have had the pleasure to meet or interact with a lot of Haitians, but it is quite common to hear people’s appeal to ignorance evoking this inquiry towards the few Haitians they meet; “oh you’re from Haiti? You must speak Haitian!” No, Haitian is not a language, it’s a nationality.
2- Haitians don’t all drive BMW’s and Toyota’s
Come on, you knew this one was on its way, most Haitians have that one aunt or uncle who swears by the reliability of a Toyota and considers driving a BMW x3 a staple of success – yeah you know the one. While it’s a funny thing to point out, Haitians have various taste in automobiles just like the rest of the world.
3– Sunday home cooked meals are sacred.
Whether they are living at home or alone, whether or not they’re living in Haiti, Haitians know all too well the value of a home cooked meal on a Sunday afternoon. They might not have the opportunity to take advantage of it every Sunday, but getting invited to a family function or a dinner where Auntie Rose is cooking her famous “griot” in the back… Priceless
4- The pride that all Haitians have from being the first black independent nation is still valid today.
It has been over 200 years since Haiti claimed its independence from being a colony of slaves to a free black nation. Haitians will hammer that over anyone’s head, it’s a pride thing. To minimize what it means in the light of what’s happening today around the world, the recessive and backward thinking nature of the agendas being pushed by these hateful individuals is wrong. Indeed being the first black nation means a whole lot and still holds meaning today
5- New Year Shenanigans
New Year is a special day in Haiti, the aforementioned Independence Day is celebrated each year on January 1st, and each year the majority of Haitian households concoct their version of squash soup. (Soup Joumou) Haven’t heard of or tasted it? You need Haitian friends.
6- The Black Sheep
One point of contention for most Haitians is the way they are portrayed in the media. Haiti is not a country of poor people starving, yes there is hunger, but that’s everywhere, the media exaggerates for shock value.
- First of all, Haitians do not eat trees, yes I am still on that (video link) I don’t care if she apologized she shouldn’t have said that.
- Haiti is not as dangerous as they would have you believe. The belief that once you step foot in Haiti you will get kidnapped or killed is nonsense.
- It’s still a gem, with places like Decameron, Labadee, and Indigo, Haiti should be on your short list of places to vacation to.
7- Flag Day.
May 18, is Flag Day in Haiti. Catherine Flon is celebrated for sewing the first Haitian flag in 1803, it went through some changes throughout the years, but it is the same iconic representation of the Haitian Revolution.
On Flag Day, expect colorful parades and all people of Haitian decent posting Haitian flag photos on Facebook.
8- Brazil VS. Argentina
Has there ever been a stronger rivalry for fans in Haiti? Soccer is Haiti’s national sport, and although Haitians support the national team, unfortunately, the latter was never lucky enough to make it far in the World Cup, so what do you do when your own team can’t make the cut? You start supporting another team. The country is deeply divided between support for Brazil and support for Argentina, this rivalry will never go away and we love it!
9- The people Vs. Voodoo
Karl Marx said of religion that it is the opium of the masses when things aren’t going well, people turn to religion, a belief system, a symbol of strength and fortitude that represents hope in times of despair.
Voodoo is no different, because of how it is represented in pop culture, people would have you believe that it only relates to black magic and sorcery when in fact, Voodoo is a product of whoever is using it. The same is true for Catholicism and Protestantism which are also predominant religious views in Haiti. Sprinkle of a few heretics and extremists in the mix and you will turn any religion into a sword.
10 – The setbacks
On January 12th, 2010 a 7.0 magnitude earthquake shattered Haiti which affected 3.5M people. The earthquake was felt in most of the surrounding Caribbean countries. In its wake it left 230,000 dead, the Haitian national palace and government properties destroyed.
The appeals made after the disaster to obtain humanitarian aid were met by the UN and many other countries around the globe, however, the help provided was not enough and most of the reconstruction and restructure claims were false.
As much as 500 million US Dollars were donated to the American Red Cross for earthquake relief but mysteriously disappeared. In the aftermath Haiti was left with:
- A climate of violence
- More death.
As of 2017, there are still remnants of the quake lingering around Haiti’s capital. Local efforts and investments from international businesses are helping Haiti recover and re-establish itself as a tourist destination. But the setbacks were severe and the country is still struggling.
Against all odds and with the world seemingly pushing back, Haiti is re-emerging from the rubble of the past and the bad press of the present.
A new beginning, full of hope.
We can all say Haiti is back in business!