Culture

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Preserve Haitian History

  • Posted on: 3 December 2009
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

It’d be hard these days to find patrimonial or natural riches in countries with vibrant histories that haven’t been exploited to the brink of destruction by over tourism, reviewed on Trip Advisor, or listed in Lonely Planet.  At most tourism sights,  capturing the past to a point so vivid you feel like you’re actually there in history uninterrupted by expensive entrance fees, trinket vendors, t-shirt shops, fat foreigners, and a cacophony of cameras shuttering, is difficult.  So if ever there was a positive side to the chronic economic, insecurity and political turmoil of Haiti, then this may be it. 

Edwidge Danticat Wins MacArthur Genius Award

  • Posted on: 22 September 2009
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

Below is an article by Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald concerning the MacArthur Foundation Genius Award recently given to Haitian born author Edwidge Danitcat.  The prize, in an of itself a great honor, comes with $500,000.  Her books include "Breath, Eyes, Memory", "Krik? Krak!", "The Farming of Bones", "Behind the Mountain", "The Dew Breaker", "Brother, I am Dying" and others. On the foundation website, you can read about her background and see a video clip where she discusses her work.  Hopefully, a new generation of writers, in Haiti and its Diaspora, will be inspired by Edwidge's success and share their stories with the world. 

Conde Naste: A Love Song for Haiti

  • Posted on: 19 August 2009
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

Although one would not know it from most mass media coverage of Haiti, it is a beautiful, little country.  For that reason, I was happy to read Amy Wilentz's excellent article in Conde Naste.  She describes her own love affair with Haiti and then lists where a person can stay and play.  As I read it, I thought of all the things I miss about Haiti - the sandy beaches, drinking rum punch, listening to racine music, going to vodoun ceremonies, napping on straw mats, talking on porches, as well as the countryside camraderie and never-ending jokes and pranks.  For some, it is time to visit Haiti for the first time.  For many of us, it is time to go back.           

Cine Institute Releases Spring 2009 Student Videos

  • Posted on: 11 July 2009
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

Many interesting films have been made about Haiti - but comparatively few of them have been made by Haitians.  Someday, this may change.  Jacmel's Cine Institute, the only film school in Haiti, is teaching students how to make documentaries, films, and even commercials.  Donations help to keep the tuition free.  These initial efforts may be short, but they could represent the first steps in the careers of a new generation of Haitian film-makers.  Below are links to and summaries of the 2009 Spring Semester films.

Carnival Port-au-Prince 2009

  • Posted on: 25 February 2009
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

‘Apre dans tanbou a lou’---Amid some of Haiti’s chronic concerns, upcoming senatorial elections, unstable gas prices, and food insecurity, tens of thousands of Haitians still managed to put all their troubles aside and revel in 3 days of carnival festivities which culminated yesterday during Mardi Gras under an unusual downpour of rain.

Experiencing Haitian Art

  • Posted on: 10 January 2009
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

Art is the medium through which some first come to know Haiti, and for others, to know Haiti better.  Haitian art is too expansive to be confined to shops and galleries – it is found on public transport, on the walls, in churches and Vodoun peristyles alike.  Art is Haiti's only inexhaustible resource.  When others use the tired phrase "Haiti - the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere", let us counter that Haiti is the culturally richest country in the Western Hemisphere instead.

Fet Gede

  • Posted on: 1 November 2008
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

Today is the day of the dead. The day meant to honor those who have come and gone before us. Haitians respect that tradition. They also add to it or adapt it. They pay tribute to Baron Samdi, the father of the crossroads, the crossroads from which Haitians come from physically, Gine/West Africa and spiritually. As of late due to the recent hurricanes Haiti has many dead to honor, approximately 800.

The Power of (Haitian) Cinema : FFFJ Continues to Expand

  • Posted on: 16 August 2008
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

We've written about the Jacmel Film Festival and the efforts of the Foundation Festival Film Jacmel (FFFJ) to train a new generation of Haitian film-makers.  Through the medium of film, FFFJ continues to tap the creativity and energy of Haitian culture to engage youth, build partnerships with other countries, and lay the groundwork for producing local content for use nationally and abroad.  It would be impossible to understand Haiti without knowing its music, art, and dance - perhaps someday we'll say the same about Haitian cinema.  

Bourik in Sodo

  • Posted on: 20 July 2008
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

Goats, chickens, cows, and bulls, are very much the sacrificial animals (not Bourik BOS) of Haiti and voodooists. Like turkeys in the United States near Thanksgiving these animals in Haiti get the shakes sometime near July 16th, when Festival Saut d’Eau takes place. Sodo, in Kreyòl, is the site of one of Haiti’s largest religious pilgrimages. Lore has it that the Virgin Mary appeared here long before the death of many the sacrificial fauna.

A Tale of Two (Haitian) Cities: Cap Haitian and Jacmel

  • Posted on: 12 April 2008
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

If you want to read about social unrest in Port au Prince, take a look at this collection of articles on Reliefweb.   However, if you need a break from reading about Port au Prince the way I need a break from writing about it, here we are.  Haiti is, thankfully, bigger than Port au Prince.  Haiti's two secondary cities are Cap Haitian, the city of history, and Jacmel, the city of arts and culture.   Though these cities have been neglected under generations of dicatators, each has much to offer and each will play an important part as Haiti rebuilds. 

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