Rara Band in Thomonde, Haiti

  • Posted on: 21 March 2008
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

Sitting in Project Medishare's office in Thomonde, located in the Plateau Centrale, I overhear the sounds of pounding drums and overpowering song. During the days leading up from Carnival to Easter it is not unusual to come across a Rara band in the rural roads of Haiti. Especially in time for the final week of Easter, Thomonde has Rara bands parading down the streets with drums, maracas, guiros, and cylindrical metal trumpets. The bands construct unique instruments such as trumpets made from cans imprinted with "USAID Vitamin A Fortified Oil" to produce an amazing variety of rhythms and melody that attests to Haitians' creativity and inventiveness.


Rara bands typically sing songs in Haitian Creole to celebrate Haiti's African ancestry and the use of voodoo. Although Rara can be used for political purposes in order to praise political candidates, they mostly address difficult issues such as poverty and political persecution. In Thomonde, the Rara band stopped in front of Medishare's office in elaborate clothing and grouped together as women circled around the eight musicians. Sometimes a spirit of a zombi will possess a woman or man and they dance in such a skillful manner that cannot really be conscious. The sound of crowds of women and men singing together, the vibrant clothing, the musical instruments, and the mass of locals dancing create an atmosphere that can not help but make the spectator want to join in. Haitian culture is full of life and strength- one that gives me hope.

~ Samira

* Photos provided by Cristina Catlett

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