A public transportation driver on the Delmas to Portail Léogâne route in Port-au-Prince attempts to prevent rubble from accumulating around the bumper of his minibus on Tuesday, June 4, 2024. Photo by Juhakenson Blaise, Go West Now

Imagine a world where the sun never rises. Imagine a planet with no oxygen. Imagine the earth with no oceans or trees. It just seems that with each passing day Haiti is getting closer to form a permanent alliance with misery.

How does a country with such strong leaders as Jean Jacques Dessalines, Toussaint Louverture, Henri Christophe, and many others become synonymous with cowardice, and weakness?

To the eyes of the world, Haiti is a joke. We have had a string of failed leaders after another. Any Haitian who has lived outside of the country knows too well the burden of having to explain their nation to their hosts and how they explain that individual’s success compared to the misery of Haiti.
I remember when I first set foot in America, one of my aunts, who was already living in the United States, mentioned how I didn’t look like a typical Haitian because she expected to see my skeleton without the help of an X-ray.

Our image to the rest of the world has been faded, so I think instead of talking about reprocessing that worn out picture, I would suggest that we take a new one. We are living in a moment in history, where we are our own limit. I am afraid that by sitting idle, waiting for the next money transfer from our relatives in the diaspora, we are in essence throwing away valuable time that could be used to capture a new picture of us.

My generation and each succeeding one have a golden opportunity ahead of us to write our own chapter in history. The founders of the first black republic started the book by being brave in battles against the imperial army of Napoleon Bonaparte; we can continue this epic struggle to leave behind a legacy of self-determination, and a confident people.

We must control our destiny. As a people, we need to make sure that the darkness that has plagued previous generations is not perpetual. We need to seek the light that could brighten our horizon. If we are too scared in our pursuit of illumination, then we would have nothing to complain about when our children are born and raised in obscurity. We ought to reach out for the light, and we shall overcome.

Hoping is believing, no matter how distress or discourage the state of our country might be, we must continue to hope by believing that tomorrow will be better. We are Haitians, we are the first among the blacks, we are a nation of courage, and we are who we are: The sons and daughters of Dessalines.

Poverty should never take away our pride. Misery should never lessen our integrity, and we should leave no room for hopelessness to penetrate the core of our society. Our nation was built with the blood and bones of slaves. We should always feel privileged to be the holders of our forefathers’ sacrifices; hence we must never falter or waver in the face of adversity.

It is human nature to feel vulnerable in moment of despair. In those times, it is easy to liquidate valuable assets just to get by, I am urging you my fellow countrymen to hold firm. The promise of 1804, which was secured after our victory at Vertieres on November 18th, 1803, called for us to be forever free. The chain of bondage was forever broken, if today that chain has a different look and feel, we ought to adapt and prevent it from being placed around our neck.

The very thought of living an entire lifetime in sheer poverty sends goose bumps in my spine. Every year we have a high percentage of the population dying just because they are poor. Those are the voiceless among us. They are the people that many of us ignore to acknowledge as people like us. The only thing wrong that they did is being born in a poor family.

It would be an abnormality for you, if you wake up one day and can’t differentiate the night from the morning. The people of Haiti have long been suffering from this malaise. The darkness that engulfed the vision of our leaders has rendered the maintenance of an equitable society an impossible mission. Each of us needs to light our candle; no matter how dim the light might be at first, when all the candles are joined together it would be bright enough to shine the whole nation.

I am advocating for more patience, more tolerance, and definitely a new source for hope. It may be possible to dry out the river of our belief, but it would be impossible to dry out the ocean of our hope. Hoping is believing. We hope that Haiti, the land of Dessalines, will once again find its purpose and reach its full potential.

Ilio could be reached at [email protected]

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