501(c)3 Non-Profit | Empowering Haitian Families

What to Expect When You Are Expecting in Haiti

Today’s blog is a window into what it’s like for young Haitians to think about preparing for parenthood as seen through one of my favorite Creole songs, Wanito’s “Gade Yon Rev” (Look at A Dream) or “Wanito M Vle Parenn” (Wanito, I want to be a godparent).  Watch the video.  I’ve copied the english translation from Wanito’s website below the video for you to follow along with the story.  I’ll let it speak for itself other than to point out that these are fairly normative expectations for a Haitian pregnancy:  The girl will usually be kicked out of her parents’ house, both expecting parents may face some kind of corporal punishment from their family, and joblessness and lack of food are immanent burdens.  Also, as a side note, it is normal for a guy Wanito’s age to be in the 11th grade, because you only go to school in the years that you can scrape together funding.  Despite all the difficulties, children are usually seen as a blessing (everybody wants the honor of being a godparent), but most especially if the resources of support are there.  When moms and dads give their kids up to relatives, neighbors, or orphanages, it is not out of contempt.  Haitians cherish their babies despite the challenges of raising them in poverty.

Check it out:

No, no, no, no, yeah, no, no
Hey there lady, how much is that crib
I’m gonna be a dad any day now
The news sent my blood pressure to the hilt
It’s not like I have a job
Ooh, this whole thing is hard
I’m about to take the 11th grade national high school final exam
All the dreams I had are down the drain
Pretty soon I’m gonna have a girl with a big belly
Have to really give thought to a lot of things
Don’t know what I’ll tell my mama
She’ll think I’m some bad boy
Who spends all his time with girls
She won’t be afraid to knock out all my teeth, kick me out of the house even
Don’t even need to waste my time

Chorus
All my friends are here
I see all of ‘em
They’re all candidates (2x)
Wanito, I wanna be godfather
Please, please, please make me godfather
Wanito, I wanna be the godmother
Please, please, please let me be the godmother

2
Went to Auntie Locita’s house
She lives at Delmas 33
Soon as I told her she had a fit
She said: if you got a girl pregnant, it must be ‘cause you’re some type of rich baller
Hurried up and crossed the street
Felt so down
Cars were honking left and right, but I was oblivious
Thinking so much about my baby
Her mom kicked her out of the house
I took her to the country side
To see if we could get ourselves a better life
When I got there they gave me a machete
A four-sided bed
A little bedroom with no window
The girl started to cry
As she saw me hoeing the farm land
The sun was hot, stinging me all over
Ants biting me
No friends to help out
That’s when she went into labor
I howled, both of my hands went to my head
That’s when I woke up
So I was just fast asleep
Ooh oh, ooh oh

3
That was some dream, homies
That was some nightmare, homies
When  I woke up
I felt relieved homies, homies, homies, homies
That was some bad dream, homies
So I was really asleep, homies
Thank God I woke up, homies, homies, homies

Thank God none of that really happened
I’m not ready to have a kid, you hear
When I have the resources I won’t be afraid to have a child, you hear
Won’t feel like my world is tumbling down on me
On the contrary, I’ll throw a party
I’ll invite all my friends
I know some of them will call me on the down low
Asking me, “When is the christening
The baby is going to be my godchild.”

Chorus
Wanito, I wanna be godfather
Please, please, please make me godfather
Wanito, I wanna be the godmother
Please, please, please let me be the godmother
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The Apparent Project exists to bring stability for the Haitian parents and children who find themselves living in the reality of Wanito’s dream.  Unfortunately, when that dream is true, the stresses on the parental relationship and the complex combination of a sense of fatalism, shame, and tolerance for male neglect lead to many broken relationships and stories of struggling single parents.  The Apparent Project is offering a way for parents to step out of precarious subsistence living and dependency situations into an opportunity to flourish, be creative, and to contribute beyond the bounds of their families to their neighbors and communities, even taking in other children in need.  That’s not just a dream, but a reality being lived out now and a story worth singing about!

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Bonus: Corrigan’s Haitian Mizik review

The Haitian music catalogue has a really peculiar variety.  Here is my best attempt to describe it, with some links so you can hear it for yourself:

“Kompa Mizik”
A lilting, breezy, Caribbean style of smooth, hip-swaying R&B that you might hear at a tiki bar on the beach as your last pina colada deceives you (lumbering, overweight, balding, white guy tourist) into confidence that you too can keep half-time rhythm with your isolated hips gyrating in the ambulatory pattern of a slow-mo P90X happy jack.  Haiti’s president, Michel Martelly, was formerly a Kompa singer known for occasionally performing in drag.  Some popular groups include Alan Cave’, Djakout, Kreyol La, and Nu Look.

“Mizik Racine” 
Somewhat similar to some popular african folk music, Racine is a blend of  reggae, roots-rock, funk, and folk grooves, often with voudou themes.  If NPR World Cafe, Sly and the Family Stone, Mufassa, Baron Samedi, dreadlocked female armpit hair, and second hand bong smoke convened for a drum circle at Bonaroo, this is the jam they’d come up with.  Some popular groups include RAM, Boukman Eksperyans, and Azor.

“RaRa”
Voudou parade music that resembles what I always imagined the “Wild Rumpus” to sound like in Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.  It’s generally an a-tonal honking, rhythmic trance of grinding and shuffling metallic percussion and single-note blasts from un-valved horns made out of pipes and tubes.  Despite this description, it doesn’t sound much like 5th grade band class.  It’s quite a bit more danceable.

Adore” or “Chante Evanjelik
Haiti’s Christian worship music ranges from old French Catholic Hymns to groove-laden, passionate, African-flavored chants of call and response to sleepy Creole reinventions of CCM hits, only made cheesier, if that were possible.  For some reason all of the recordings of this genre seems to share in common a disregard of volume dynamics as if a prankster behind the studio technician was mouthing, “M pa ka tande w!” and pointing to their ears.  All of this music, in my opinion sounds way better in person and acapella, in which case its raw humanness and honest cry to Bon Dye can make your spirit soar.  The recorded versions tend to make my ears sore.  A good exception is the bluesy Lochard Remy.

“Rap”
Because the poorest country in the western hemisphere really needed some role models of wasteful wealth, female objectification, insecure machismo posing, and some way to make American gang violence appealing for everybody.  Creole Rap (let’s just call it C-Rap) if anything, is primarily the art of second-rate imitation of things not worth imitating… and I’m saying that as a fan of genuinely artful hip hop.  If I didn’t see so many young men whose only aspiration was to be the next fanm-exploiting and boz-toking version of Barikad Crew, I wouldn’t state it so strongly, but Americans, we have exported some seriously messed up interpretations of black male identity to a place where the masculine sense of self was already hurting, yo.  The answer, if you ask me, is not NO rap music, but GOOD rap music without the shallow trappings of (often false) excess, gang affiliation, and heartless sexual exploit.  Rockfam’s more recent productions, while still celebratory of the facade of riches and womanizing are at least uniquely Haitian and well-produced while  Izolan’s partnership with J-Perry and Shabba shows some truly genuine signs of hope and and an original Haitian sound.  I’m hoping he’ll leave the gang-banger charade to 50 cent.

“Whatever the heck this is”:
I don’t know where this style of music fits, but I just refer to it as “That crazy sped-up kompa stuff that sounds like a mash-up of circus music, de-tuned surf rock, video game techno, biergarten polka,  and the methamphetemine-peyote-milkshake-induced introspection of a chihuahua with ADD watching a laser show.”

Some truly excellent Haitian music with good production value can be found in recent albums by Wanito, J Perry, Belo, Harmonik, and in a host of artists who paved the way before them. Wyclef Jean (formerly of the Fugees)  continues to be the most internationally famous and beloved Haitian musician despite the exposure of his disaster capitalism fraud.   Who are your favorite Haitian artists?

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