By Sokari Ekine | With thanks to BlackLooks
Friday, April 26, 2013.
only thing many of us know about Haiti is that in many instances, were
it not for Haiti, Guyana would be the worst place in the Caribbean. And
that Haiti is supposed to be a pretty depressing place with Voudou.
Others might know about the Haitian revolution and so on, but it does
not mean much to those of us who are not really interested in revolting.
Jacobs was born and raised in Guyana and went to live and work in Haiti
and this book of 17 pieces of writing, shows insights into Haiti that
might still leave us not having any different views of Haiti.
is probably the first book ever written by a Guyanese about their own
travels in the Caribbean and the African diaspora. And it is refreshing
that Mark Jacobs seeks to put this Guyanese visitor gaze on Haitian
life. So often people have come to Guyana and written about their time
here, that it is a relief to see this reversed gaze (One day we might
get bestsellers about Guyaneses who return to India and to United
Kingdom and USA and write those nice kind of patronising travelogues).
first story is ‘Black woman and Child’. Mark writes about a Black woman
in Haiti and a Black woman in Guyana beating and threatening to beat a
child. In ‘Madame’, the take is about love Guyanese-style with, Haitian
overtones. The other vignettes (I cannot find a better word) are short
incisive reflections, moments in time about the experiences in Haiti;
about police who beat people and police who give people a lift on the
road; about magic and about reality. Some of the stories are funny, but
the laughter is a kind of alternative reaction to anger. Creole and
Kweyol are used to tell the stories and there is no insistence on
correct English or French or Creole.
last story, with its irony though: is a bit of history about God; the
loving and suffering Christ who died on the cross - as many of the
slaves were probably thought they had to suffer too and accept their lot
since heaven was waiting. The litany “The God of the Slaver is not the
God of the Enslaved” is repeated in the end of this book and I remember
the Easter Sunday 7am service with the Pastor talking about how the
youth rebelling - and remembering the middle finger protests - and then
in the same sermon, Pastor trying to remind the congregation that the
people laid down their robes and so on in protest at the Romans for
Jesus to come in riding on his donkey.
But in Haiti and in Guyana, saviours come in air conditioned SUVs with dark tinted windows.
Sokari Ekine is a human rights activist, writer and award-winning blogger. She blogs at http://Blacklooks.org