Humanity For Haiti!
The Mickerline Haitian Dance Company
Makeda Dancing Yambalu!
Binding Up The Wounds Of A Fractured Nation
And Restoring Their Soul Through the Rituals Of Song, Dance and Prayer
This Elegant Hostess
Exemplifies The Strength and Beauty Of Haitian Women
The whole world mourns the tragedy of Haiti, a nation reduced to rubble by the forces of nature. This cataclysmic event of biblical proportions wreaked what seems like unbearable havoc and pain on the Haitian people without warning, an unbelievable tragedy which seems like a cosmic injustice for nation who has borne a lion’s share of the worlds suffering through out its history. Once known as Saint Domingue, the richest colony in the 18th century after the independence of the English colonies to the north, and home of the world’s most vicious slave society. With a power paradigm of white French planters over captive West African slaves, the nation of Haiti was born in a bloody revolution as the Africans rose to slaughter their captors and drive three European armies into the sea!
The Haitian Revolution was one of the three great bourgeois revolutions in the 18th century that expanded human freedom by establishing the first Republics in the modern world. As the brilliant Trinidadian political philosopher and revolutionary theoretician C.L.R. James convincingly points out in his classic history of the Haitian Revolution, “Black Jacobins,” the Haitian revolution was a logical extension of this revolutionary process. However this was the same conclusion the Afro-American female scholar Dr. Anna Julia Cooper had arrived at earlier when she completed her PhD dissertation on the subject of The French Revolution and the abolition of slavery at the Sorbonne in Paris during the 1924 academic term.
This subject held a special interest for Dr. Cooper because she had been born a slave in North Carolina in 1858, six years before the abolition of slavery in the “Land Of the Free” and she suffered under racial apartheid laws and customs all of her life – except when she went to France…or Haiti. There can be no doubt that the Haitian Revolution was part of the great bourgeois revolution that rejected the age old theology of “The Divine Right Of Kings” And this places them at the forefront of those who fought to expand the fundamental conception of human liberty.
Dr. Anna Julia Cooper
A Pioneer American Scholar On Haiti
The story of Haiti is in many ways a representative anecdote for the black experience in the modern world – a constant struggle against racist white power for personal freedom, economic justice, and the right to happiness and dignity that, according to the canonical founding documents of both the US and French Republics – Declaration Of Independence and Declaration Of The Rights Of Man – is an inalienable right due all human beings. No where in the world did the slogans “Liberty! Equality! Fraternity!” mean more that they meant to the African slaves of Haiti. Just as there were none in the British Empire who treasured the creed “We hold these truths to be self-evident That all men are created equal” more than African slaves and their descendents.
The commonality of our struggles against Europeans – whether in Europe or their descendents in the Diaspora – has forged a bond of fraternity between African Americans and Haitians that although tested by ethnic rivalries in big cities like New York and Miami, the best minds among Afro-Americans and Haitians have kept the bond of brotherhood firm. This bond was clearly in evidence at the Benefit concert, as many African American political and religious turned out to show their solidarity with our Haitian brothers and sisters.
The long standing interests in Haitian culture and dance forms among African American dancers, choreographers and scholars – as exemplified by the works of Catherine Dunham and Zora Neal Hurston is continued by Ms. Makeda Voletta Benjamin, a serious student of the art of Haitian dance and drumming, who performed with the Haitian Dance Company. Makeda intends to follow in the path of katherine Dunham and pursue a Ph.D in Medical Anthropology, using her scientific background to investigate the role of music and dance in the healing arts of pre-industrial traditional socirties. She was right at home with the Haitian dancers, because Makeda was raised as a Pan-Africanist, where her father constantly told her that the fate of African Peoples was indivisible and we shared deep cultural roots.
The Great Katherine Dunham!
She Brought Traditional Haitian Dance To The Theater
Flash Of The Spirit!!
A Libation To The Ancestors
Communing With The Loas
Moving In The Spirit Of Haiti!
Diasporan Memories Of Mother Africa
Finding Joy Amidst Tragedy
Black Magic Dance!
The Children Joined Them On Stage!
The Hope Of Haiti!
Suffer The Little Children
For They Shall Inherit The Earth!
It Was An Uplifting Experience!
The Brass Sounded!
And The Community Leaders Came Forth
The Rev. Doctor Edward Davis and Haitian M.d. Fritz Amie
Tho We Commemorated A Tragedy
It Was Not Without Laughter!
And The Band Played On!!
* This performance can be seen on You Tube: Theviewfromsugarhill – Makeda Dances for Haiti
Harlem, New york
January 31, 2110