Peyi Nou Ka Chanje by Haitian-American author Monano Pierre-Paul, is a short theatrical play in which the 6 main characters talk about the social, economic and political situation of their country and how they each would approach the changes needed in Haiti.
According to some of the testimonies submitted to Monano, this book is the first Kreyol-written theatrical play that many Haitians have read, and it has raving reviews! It is a very fun book that you will enjoy from start to finish.
Download a free PDF version of the book here.
Monano has distributed the book for free throughout Haiti. He has sent 10,250 copies of it back home. It is now available in over 50 libraries, schools and churches all over the country. Thank you Monano for sharing your talent with the world!
By: Ford Pierre
What is Rara in Haiti?
With Rara, a stigma and appreciation are both present. The Rara is a popular and traditional sophisticated celebration that happens in different cities and regions of Haiti, such as Léogane, Pestel, Gonaïves, Port-au- Prince and Nippes. As a cultural celebration for more than half a century, Rara's artistic expression changes through time and space. This article shines the spotlight on this cultural element now anchored in the life of the Haitian people.
When is Rara in Haiti?
The term "Rara" is a popular and traditional Haitian festival which covers the period of Lent. It opens on Ash Wednesday and closes on the Monday or Tuesday following Easter. These festivities are carried out by band parades, called "bann Rara" (in Haitian Creole), in urban areas (particularly working-class neighborhoods) as well as in rural areas, particularly in the departments of Artibonite and West (especially Léogane), qualified as bastion of this popular practice, although the departments of the South and Grande Anse are not left out.
History, Origins and Practice of Rara in Haiti
This cultural practice draws its roots from and beyond the 15th century, in diverse origins that embrace the different peoples and civilizations that lived on the island of Haiti: Amerindians, Africans, Europeans.
Of colonial origin, as slaves were allowed to sing and dance at the end of the week following the carnival of their masters and the last three days of Holy Week, this object of distraction was a pledge of hope. In its early days, the Rara was called “Chayopye” by slaves, unable to walk properly, due to the chains they wore on their feet. At that time, the feet and the mouths were the sound instruments used to create the atmosphere. Then, over time, traditional instruments (drum, cymbal and other foreign wind instruments such as saxophone, trombone, baritone, and helicon) are incorporated into it.
Haitian Rara Music and Voodoo in the Haitian Culture
There are three aspects of Rara: the playfulness covering the festivities, the social dimension affecting what is called "lava entel nan rara" (denouncing someone, their actions) and the spiritual dimension revealed by the link between rara and voodoo.
Like the majority of Haitian cultural phenomena, it is important to mention the close relationship of Rara to Voodoo. It cannot be conceived, so to speak, apart from this religious aspect. Indeed, many researchers attest that a band of rara is formed following the specific request of a loa, deity of voodoo. To attract protection and chances of all kinds, on the leaders, members and participants of the group, voodoo ceremonies are celebrated at the beginning of the annual cycle of Rara and before each performance or outing.
At the level of its organization, the Rara is hierarchized as follows: after the Master Rara, comes the one who wears the “Fwèt kach”, known under the name of colonel or leader in certain regions, generally assisted by a deputy called major who wears a flag called the banner. Then the rear guard protects the tail, preceded by three queens.
The Haitian Rara has undergone a fairly significant evolution over time, both in terms of traditional instruments and its structure. At the heart of a collective tradition, the Rara is an essential element of Haitian cultural heritage, to be protected and passed on to future generations.
Whether or not you agree with Rara celebration, it is a very important part of Haitian culture which should be preserved to teach future generations about. We highlight photographs from Rara in The Real Haiti Activity Bundle, which also gives a snapshot of the Haitian culture and celebration!
By: Ford Pierre
The Longest Living Known Haitian Author
On this day June 13, 2022, the president of FORF, Odette Roy Fombrun, celebrates her 105th birthday. Indeed, this icon of the Haitian education sector, also known as a writer and historian, occupies her place on the list of the deans in the age of the country. She is a prolific author whose numerous books and textbooks have largely inspired the most productive authors of her time. In short, her life is as long as her career, during which she received numerous awards. Let's discover together some points on the life of this dean emeritus, nicknamed "kok batay" by her collaborators, and who received the title of "Living national treasure".
Odette Roy Fombrun's Life Accomplishments
Odette Roy Fombrun, born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, June 13, 1917, is the seventh of a family of 11 children. She is the daughter of engineer Louis Roy and Henriette Denis. She did her primary and secondary studies successively at Sainte-Rose de Lima and at the École Normale d'Instituteur before graduating from the Nursery Training School in Boston. Nicknamed "kòk batay'' by her collaborators, she has devoted her life to educating young people and finding solutions to the many problems facing her country. She is the author of numerous school books designed to capture young people's interest in history (in French and Creole), geography, social sciences, morals and civics (in French and Creole), and also extracurricular books including children's literature books, detective novels and an essay, Ma vie en trois temps.
As a Haitian Historian, she wrote “The Flag and Arms of the Republic'' and “The Ayiti of the Indians”. She has also produced and published hundreds of newspaper articles reflecting her passion for her country. She was a member of the commission which prepared the preliminary draft Constitution in 1987, a member of the History Society - she wrote in her journal - and a member of the committee of the BPW club of Port-au-Prince, of which she served as president for four years. With her husband, Marcel Fombrun, she spent 27 years in exile, 17 of them in Africa, where she learned and wrote about the lives of children on this continent. She has received a large number of honorary titles, including that of GRAHN, that of "exceptional woman" and that of Honor and Merit to the rank of knight, without forgetting the title which is special to her: "Kòk batay", because given by her fellow workers.
Finally, mother of 5 children, grandmother and great-grandmother of more than 30 grandchildren, she is currently a consultant for Éditions Deschamps and president of a foundation she founded with her children in 2007, the Odette Roy Fombrun Foundation, for education. Also, the honorary titles received and the many honor plaques that adorn the walls of the Foundation that bears her name eloquently testify to her involvement in various social fields and the well-deserved appreciation by her large audience of admirers. In 2009, for all of her achievements throughout her centenary, she was awarded the National Treasure Prize.
Even today, Odette Roy Fombrun prepares booklets for preschoolers while continuing to reflect and offer possible alternatives for a better Haiti.
We have free worksheets perfect for preschoolers and higher to teach kids about The Real Haiti! Download them here.