U.S. Aid Is Disastrous to Haiti’s Economy!

U.S. Aid Is Disastrous to Haiti’s Economy!

Six years ago, Dr. Dambisa Moyo, an internationally-known Nigerian economist , published a brilliant and well-researched book entitled, “Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa” (2010). Her main thesis was this : International Aid has worsened the human condition in Africa and correspondingly decreased the economic progress in Africa.

While we encourage temporary Aid relief Efforts in time of emergency, people in Africa and Haiti cannot be sustained on permanent economic dependency. If the Euro-American NGOs take the financial aid, which they amassed from different sources, back to their respective countries and do not invest in the respective countries they claim they’re assisting, the ensuing result of their work will inevitably lead to “failure” and the “destruction” of Haiti’s economy, for example. The profit is theirs, and not ours.

In this respect, Euro-American-based NGOs have become economic-booster agents, that is their work contributes enormously to the economic inflation of their countries of origin. American-based NGOs have failed Haiti in this respect.  While many NGOs (i.e. Red Cross, U.S. AID, etc.)  have helped many people in Haiti and transformed their living conditions, the general conclusion is that U.S. aid is disastrous to Haiti’s economy and not contributing substantially to social and economic justice and human flourishing projects in the Caribbean nation!

Take a look at this video to get a better understanding of my argument:

 

The State of Protestantism in Haiti

The State of Protestantism in Haiti

The Haitian government is celebrating 200 years of the presence of Protestant Christianity in Haiti since its arrival in 1816, under the administration of President Alexandre Petion. However, Protestant’s activities in the Caribbean nation can be traced to colonial times and the slavery era in Saint-Domingue. Because Catholic missionaries, who have been appointed by the French monarchy, were chiefly responsible to catechize the enslaved population, the Protestant mission was quickly declined n the first one hundred years, if not less, of the slavery epoch. Also, the Catholic church was the official religion of the state and held tremendous power and influence over the religious and secular education of the Haitian people. Interestingly, Protestantism is the fastest growing religion in contemporary Haitian society; it is estimated 30 to 40% of the Haitian population is actively committed to the Protestant faith, a clear indication of the progressive decline of Haitian Catholicism and Haitian Vodou.

For more about this event, refer to the article listed below:

Les protestants célèbrent leurs 200 ans de présence dans le pays

Vodou Books Discounted Order Forms/Flyers

Hello, Friends:  Attached are the discounted flyers and order forms for both books:  Vodou in Haitian Memory: The Idea and Representation of Vodou in Haitian Imagination (Lexington Books, May 2016) by Celucien L. Joseph and Nixon Cleophat,  and Vodou in the Haitian Experience: A Black Atlantic Perspective (Lexington Books, May 2016) by Celucien L. Joseph and Nixon Cleophat.

With this flyer and order form , you can purchase both texts at a substantial discounted price. Click on the individual link below to download the form. It is in the PDF format.

Please circulate widely!

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Joseph & Cleophat Vodou in the Haitian Experience International Flyer2

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Joseph & Cleophat Vodou in Haitian Memory International Flyer1

Brief Reflections on the Crisis of the Haitian public intellectual…

Brief Reflections on the Crisis of the Haitian public intellectual…

 The crisis of the Haitian intellectual is that he separates his academic interest from a life of service and activism toward the common good of the Haitian society and the Haitian people. He establishes a great distance and tall fence between himself and the Haitian masses he claims that he is trying to reach and redeem.  The Haitian intellectual has no knowledge about the lived-experiences and lived-worlds of the Haitian masses nor does he have any interest to know or learn from the masses. He is not interested in forging a constructive politics of relationality with those who live in the margins of the Haitian society.

The Haitian intellectual isolates himself from the Haitian masses. He is not a servant to the Haitian people or the masses.  The Haitian intellectual does not perform self-criticism in order to reevaluate his own conduct or action, thinking or ideas about the nature of things and his public role in the Haitian society as a social critic and a servant to the Haitian people.  For him, leadership means an opportunity for one to get rich and be elevated to a position of power and influence—by any means necessary…including the exploitation and dehumanization of the Haitian people.  He is devoid of any sense of servant leadership.

The conundrum of the Haitian public intellectual—both in Haiti and the Diaspora—is also his failure to mentor young Haitian scholars and thinkers. The Haitian intellectual sees the rising young Haitian scholars or thinkers in the academia and public sphere as a threat to his own hegemony, academic success, and sphere of influence; the emerging Haitian thinker is not seen as a collaborative partner or someone who can be mentored toward the common good of the nation of Haiti and the welfare of the Haitian people.

The Haitian public intellectual is devoid of any sense of public responsibility and patriotic zeal and love. Contemporary Haitian society is in deep social, economic, political, and cultural trouble because of the profound crisis and ignorance of the Haitian intellectual to serve and lead sacrificially and responsibly.  He is a selfish individual who cares only about his individual success and his rise to the top of the ladder. He is an individual with no goals or objectives when it pertains to the development of Haiti; however, he criticizes those with a plan for Haiti’s development. He has no sympathy toward the Haitian masses but criticizes those who are trying to love the people and perform acts of kindness and compassion toward them.

The Haitian public intellectual is an individual with dazzling rhetoric, but his words are meaningless and lack of substance because they do not contribute meaningfully to the improvement of the Haitian condition in Haiti or in the Haitian Diaspora. The Haitian intellectual is a man of word only and not of action. He criticizes the Empire in the public sphere; in the private sphere, he is an ally and servant of the Empire and contributes substantially to the suffering and social death of the Haitian masses. He calls himself a humanist, but he made no humanitarian deeds to justify his delusional thinking. He writes prolifically about human solidarity and collective mobilization, but his life and actions contradict his own thinking or ideas.

The Haitian intellectual is not loving, serving, and aiding his own people. In the twenty-first century, Haiti has produced few engaged, responsible, and organic public intellectuals.The Haitian intellectual has failed Haiti and the Haitian people.

 

Vodou and Other Religions: Religion, Religious Affiliation, and Haitian National Identity

Vodou and Other Religions:
Religion, Religious Affiliation, and Haitian National Identity
by Celucien L. Joseph, PhD
 

In this brief post, I would like to communicate a few ideas about three important issues that are intertwined and closely related to each other: religion, religious affiliation, and the construction of self and collective national identity based on certain religious tradition or system. The emphasis of this brief reflection will be on Haitian Vodou and Haitian (national) identity. Here are my 13 propositions:

1. Religious experience could be both personal and collective.

2. Religious piety is not spirituality.

3. Religious affiliation is a choice–at least in most Western societies and nation-states. (I understand it may not be a personal choice in certain countries where religious freedom is limited or not prized!) It is also observed that some countries in the Middle East, for example, have adopted a state religion such as Islam.

4. While a person may be born into a particular religious tradition or system–such as Haitian Vodou, Christianity, Judaism, Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, etc.–genuine religious affiliation, however, should be a personal choice of the individual.

As we say in Kreyol, “Yo pa achte Lwa” (“One cannot buy a Lwa/Spirit) (Nonetheless, I do understand that Vodou is also a family religion, and the religious heritage can be passed on from one generation to the next. However, that in itself does not qualify a family member to automatically become a Vodouizan, a Hougan or Mambo. Allow me to share a personal example: my grandmother from my mother’s side was a mambo (Vodou priestess), and my grandfather from my mother’s side served many lwa, even married to several of them (Spiritual marriage in Vodou). Nonetheless, my mother never practiced Vodou nor has she inherited the tradition or passed it on to her children. My father’s parents (my grandparents) were not Vodou practitioners). From this vantage point, religious affiliation is certainly not an entitlement.

5. Hence, to be born into a Haitian family does not automatically make one a Vodouizan or Vodouist.

6. Haiti is a country. Haitian is a national identity. Vodouizan is a religious affiliation. These three things are not the same and certainly not synonymous or interchangeable.

7. Haitians, both in Haiti and the Haitian Diaspora, have embraced various and competing religious affiliations. Haitians are Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Catholic practitioners, Protestants, Agnostics, Atheists, Secular humanists, Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, etc. As a result, Haitians are free to embrace any religious worldview or system.

8. Vodou is one among other religions practiced by Haitians both in Haiti and the Diaspora. Our ancestral faith is not monolithic; it is rather pluralistic. (In fact, Vodou itself is not a homogeneous religion.) Our African ancestors who were brought by force to the island of Saint Domingue brought with them various traditions, practices, customs, and competing religious practices and worldviews including Christianity, African Traditional religions, Islam, etc. While living on the island, they also adopted the religions of the Native Americans, and incorporated them into the religion of Vodou; they have also integrated Christian rituals and theology, and Masonic humanist morality and rituals into Vodou. While a large number of the enslaved population practiced what is now labelled as Haitian Vodou, not all of them were Vodou practitioners.

9. To embrace another religion other than Vodou should not be construed as the devalorization of the Haitian culture—since religions and cultures are human inventions and part of the process and theory we call social constructionism. In a true democratic state, the individual is granted the right of religious freedom and preference.

*The ideology in contemporary Haitian scholarship is that to be Haitian is to be a Vodouizan. Many Haitianist scholars have “essentialized Vodou” as the religion of all Haitians, just like certain individuals have “essentialized” race and culture. This tendency among scholars, both in the Anglophone and Francophone worlds, does not do justice to the reality and the lived-experiences of the Haitian people–both in Haiti and the Haitian Diaspora. I would suggest that Vodou, Christianity, and Islam had played a pivotal role in the Haitian Revolution since Vodou itself is a syncretized faith which integrates Christian moral theology and ritual into its own brand of practice. Secondly, Francois Makandal, Dutty Boukman, and other important maroon leaders, and revolutionary leaders embraced Islam; they were also Vodouizan. Thirdly, the founding fathers Toussaint Louverture and Alexandre Petion were devout Roman Catholic by confession. In 1816, President Petion had invited Protestant Christianity in Haiti–what is now called today “Evangelical Christianity—only 12 yrs after the founding of the new nation of Haiti ( I do understand there is a great divide between Evangelical Christianity of the 19th century and that of the 21st century, as to their political affiliation and theological confessions). Fourthly, a large number of the enslaved Africans practiced Vodou as a religion; on the other hand, the enslaved Congolese who were brought to Saint-Domingue at the end of the 18th century were equally Catholic Christians as Catholicism became the state religion of Congo in early 15th century– even before Christopher Columbus visited the Americas. A large number of the enslaved Senegalese who were brought to the island were Muslims–an important point Jean Price-Mars affirms in Chapter 3 (L’Afrique, ses races et sa civilisation”) in “Ainsi parla l’Oncle.”

In summary, in Haiti’s contemporary society, there are three major religious practices: Vodou, Protestant/Evangelical Christianity, Vodou, Roman Catholicism. (Islam is growing rapidly in Protestant Christianity is practiced by 45% of the Haitian population. It is probably more in 2016–giving the wide spread of Evangelical Christianity in post-earthquake Haitian society.). While Vodou is among the most practiced religions by Haitians in Haiti, Haiti doe not have “one single religious tradition.” Our ancestral faith is also Vodou, Christianity, and Islam.

10. To be a Haitian Muslim or Christian does not make one an inferior Haitian Patriot.

11. In the same line of thought, the Vodouizan is not a superior Haitian than the Haitian atheist or agnostic.

12. Freedom of religion means the opportunity one has to choose or reject a certain faith among others. Religious freedom means a person who is affiliated with a certain religious tradition is free to share his or faith with another individual of a different religious persuasion or to someone who has no religious affiliation.

13. Since religion like culture is a social construction or human invention, no religion or culture has the monopoly.

Hope for Today Education Fund

Hope for Today Education Fund

Click here to support this project via Gofundme

https://www.gofundme.com/vujgzc58

 

In our September trip to Corail, Port-Margot (before school opens), we distributed school supplies to underprivileged families and students. We were able to pass out 122 backpacks and a school kit containing notebooks, color crayons, pencils, pens, rulers, erasers, etc. Unfortunately, because of our limited resources, we were unable to serve and reach out to all the 450 students at the local school, and other children and families in need in the community.

Marchons Unis!

It brings great joy when other people recognize your work and contributions to society, hoping that they’re potentially transforming people’s lives and enhancing human relations. I just found out today that the Haitian magazine named Marchons Unis has published an article about me and the work of Hope for Today Outreach  in Haiti.  They even have me on the front cover of the magazine for the October-December 2015 issue.  I’m humble by this great act of public recognition.  Let’s continue to serve, give, love, and collaborate together to alleviate human suffering and poverty in Haiti and contribute to sustaining and long-lasting development.  Marchons Unis!

 

Marchons Unis