Sunday, May 15, 2011
Ex-Patriot Haitians-It is time to Go Back!
This Blog is written in honor of the Haitian Flag day on May 18. This year marks the 207th year of independence. I am proud of the Haitian slaves who revolted and won independence. I just realized that Haiti slaves won their freedom 60 years before Abraham Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation, 60 years! No wonder so many nations feared and shunned Haiti, they were afraid their slaves might also revolt. Revolted slaves are never good for business, right? Ok I’m going off a tangent; I’ll continue that blog some other time.
Last night I had an opportunity to speak briefly at a Haitian Flag day gala and I could not help but to make the connection between Nehemiah from the Bible and our modern day situation. Nehemiah was an ex-patriot in exile in Babylon; many say he was probably born while in exile. The Jews were in captivity for about 70 years; I’ve always wondered what does one do for 70 years in a foreign land? Do you wait to be rescued? Do you fight back? Or do you live according to the rules of your oppressors and live life to the best of your abilities? Nehemiah chose to live life to the fullest; so much so that he worked his way up to a position of influence in government. When Nehemiah heard of the condition of his people upon their return from exile back to Jerusalem, a great grief came over him and he felt the call, the urgency to go back home and serve his people and that’s exactly what he did.
Haitians living abroad could be the modern day example of Nehemiah. Though we are not in exile, we are living in a foreign land. My family has been living in the US for over 35 years. At that time they felt that the only way to provide their 4 daughters with a better future was to leave Haiti and sacrifice everything and be a part of this foreign land. During these 35 years, their now 6 children have received a quality education, and are all working in meaningful ways to contribute to the world and provide for their family’s well being. My family’s story is not unique; there are millions like myself living abroad with that same purpose and that same success rate. Many are doctors, lawyers, judges, politicians, business men and women, teachers, professors, pastors and the list goes on and on. And my question for these successful ex-patriots is: are you just about successful enough? Have you achieved the dreams your parents sacrificed so much for you to attain? Like Nehemiah, are we ready to go back and help rebuild our beloved country Haiti?
My challenge is not for the foreign community because they are already in Haiti investing their time and money. When I went back to Haiti after the earthquake, I was shocked by what I saw, I noticed people from all different countries. I met a woman from Brazil. I saw a group from Japan. People from India, Europe, even groups from the Middle East were there. I was even more stunned to hear the Muslim call to prayer at noon as I came off the plane because Haiti has always had a strong catholic and voodoo influence for hundreds of years.
My challenge is to the ex-patriots living abroad. It is time for you to go back; our people are in desperate need of your presence. I understand how difficult it is to go back, heck; it took me 22 years before going back. There was always something going on, something competing for my time. College, getting married, having children, lack of funds (plane tickets are expensive), and if you have a two-week vacation all year, do you really want to spend it taking care of the poor? I get it, I understand, I really do. But listen you ex-patriot doctors, lawyers, judges, politicians, business men and women, teachers, professors, pastors and more, you must never forget “home”. You must never forget the land of your ancestors. You must never forget the slaves who fought for your freedom. The pride and dignity that you have that has made you successful come from those same slaves who were appalled by the living condition of their people. The reason you are able to hold your head up and not look at yourself as an inferior is because of your rich history. The reason you are able to walk proudly into a room is because you are from a unique ancestry, the first black republic; the first successful slave insurgence to win. Because of our ancestors’ example of revolting, many others followed. You are the fruit of their labor. We are the reasons they fought such a bloody battle. It is time to go back and continue the fight for freedom of our people. It is time to go back; to enjoy this beautiful land once called the pearl of the Antilles; to invest in the people; to create jobs; to give dignity back to those that gave you dignity.
In honor of our 207th year of independence, let us join the Nehemiah movement and go back to our homeland Haiti. In the 1920s, Marcus Garvey was a strong proponent to the going back to Africa movement. In the spirit of Marcus Garvey and many others who believe in ex-patriots and their value to their homeland, join me and let’s go back!
PS. This is not written as a criticism to my ex-pat brothers and sisters, I hope we can all link arms to the fight of our people. I believe if you know better, you do better.