What Haitian Rap Tells Us About the Upcoming Elections

Jose Hiriart, a videographer and HaitiHub student, helped film and edit this video for the group New Squad during a 2015 trip to Port au Prince, Haiti. This music video not only serves to bring you the voice and perspective of a group of politically engaged young men during a time of political unease in Haiti, but also showcases Haiti’s cultural propensity for manifestation through music and art. Music has always been a sister to politics in Haiti, and music as a way of commenting on current events, spreading ideas, expressing frustration and promoting political ideologies is nothing new, but rather is rooted in Haiti’s strong oral tradition.

New Squad’s video “Nou pap vote” (We won’t vote) is a carefully laid out manifesto by and for a group that no longer sees, or perhaps never saw, the “system” as one that watches out for their needs.  A friend (see below!) describes the song like this:

“[It’s] a continuation of the same theme of distrust in the government and the system. They are fed up with being pawns of the political class, who talk a good talk during election, but keeps the status quo (the oppression of the mass) in place. Their vote is not for sale. The people should come first. “

 

Lyrics can be found at the bottom of this post. 


 

The Presidential election in Haiti is scheduled for October 25, 2015 – and I don’t think that anyone has a really strong basis for making an accurate prediction of what is going to happen.

We can hope for peace, for safety for the voters, and for a smooth and fair transition of power to a justly and democratically elected successor, but history would tell us that these are indeed things to hope for, and not to necessarily expect.

Most in Haiti want change, and many are simply fed up.

0:00 – 0:08

“Nou bouke fè vote san reflechi
Nou bouke foure tèt nou nan twou
Check it
Se system nan pou nou chanje”

[We’re tired of voting without thinking about it
We’re tired of burying our heads in a hole
Check it
It’s up to us to change the system]

The manifestasyon have been increasingly present in the streets of Port au Prince and beyond for a while now, and the wiry frames of burnt tires can be seen scattered across roadways, flattened out by the traffic that daily bumps over top of them. Locals talk about which areas to avoid on any given day as the radyo dyòl helps map out the planned protests across the city. The general feeling of unrest can – to some extent – be felt by all.

0:45 – 0:50

“Eta Ayiti ye a pa gen moun ki pa enkyete
system politik la ap fe peyi’n mache bwete”

[With the state Haiti’s in, there’s no one who’s not worried
The political system is forcing our country to limp along]

But even more disheartening for many Haitians is the depressing feeling of déjà vu each time a newly elected official manages to take power. For too many in Haiti, big promises from political candidates during the campaign season seem to be forgotten once they’re in office.

0:20-0:28

“Yo pa ni a goch, ni a dwat, pye yo dwat e goch
lè yo pran pouvwa, yo pa gade pep, yo gade poch”

[They’re not left or right, but their feet go right and left
when they take power they don’t look at the people they watch their pockets]

As for the international community, foreign involvement tends to increase suspicion about who’s really controlling the outcome of the elections… and the one thing that a majority of people can seem to agree on is that the system no longer serves the interest of pèp la, the Haitian people.

0:38-0:45

“Pou ki chak fwa nou oganize eleksyon
fo’n fe konpromi ak blan pou yo ban nou seleksyon”

[Why is it that every time we organize an election
we have to make deals with the blan for them to give us our options?]

It’s hard to say what October 25th will bring for Haiti; most people hope for change, but really, very few expect it.

What do you think?

Written by Erin Nguyen on September 10, 2015

Yon GWO MÈSI to our friends Jimmy and Daniel, without your help we never would have managed to get all of these lyrics down on paper. We’re so grateful for your time and help, and hope that our paths will cross again soon.

“Nou Pap Vote” – New Squad – Lyrics

[Verse 1]

Nou bouke fè vote san reflechi
Nou bouke foure tèt nou nan twou
Check it
Se system nan pou nou chanje

New Squad
Haiti, m pral demokrasi
S’on system k’oprofi o’demokrasi
Politik bo isit two sal,
gen twop kras,
gen twop fo democrat,
gen twop lidè, twop pati

Yo pa ni a goch, ni a dwat, pye yo dwat e goch
lè yo pran pouvwa, yo pa gade pèp, yo gade pòch
yo nan tout korupsyon
yo nan tout voksal
w ap vinn manden pou’n vote
Si non w pap fe vote sa

yo tout vle parèt
yo pran’n pou mazèt
gen de nèg si’n te gen memwa k’pa tap menm azèk
pou ki chak fwa nou oganize eleksyon
fo’n fè konpromi ak blan pou yo ban nou seleksyon

[Chorus]

Eta Ayiti ye a pa gen moun ki pa enkyete
sistèm politik la ap fe peyi’n mache bwete
ekonomi’n fonde
agrikilti’n kraze
korupsyon nan leta
se system nan nou dwe chanje

nou pap vote w si w se tyoul emperyalis yo
nou pap vote si ou pa gen pwoje pou mass yo
nou pap vote w si w konn ou pap vin demantle system nan
nou pap vote

[Chorus – English Translation]

With the state Haiti’s in, everybody’s worried
the political system is causing the country to limp along
our economy’s sunk
our agriculture is crushed
there’s corruption in the state
It’s the system that we have to change

We won’t vote for you if you’re a tool of the imperialists
We won’t vote for your if you don’t have a plan for the masses
We won’t vote for you know you’re not going to come dismantle the system
We won’t vote

[Verse 2]

Komplo emperyalis pa ka di n’al’ chibli nan bwa
a ko èl rann cho li paret ak figi’l an bwa
li pa bay rezilta
pèp la voye chibli nan bwa
pa ka gen eleksyon kredib anba okipasyon
eleksyon ak okipasyon, se tankou lèt ak sitron
depi peyi a okipe, kwè’m vot la okipe
okipe pap ka bay rezilta
m bezwen eleksyon enkliziv
m bezwen eleksyon enkliziv pandan m ka di viv sosyalis
aba kapitalis
vot li risk
lajan pa dwe gen vale pase moun
paske se moun ki fè lajan
e byen m di moun anvan lajan
Kom si w di m ou gen faktori
Sak fè yon egi gen vale se dwèt moun nan faktori
si ou bezwen m kore w
se tout pwen sa yo pou w touche
salè tibekuloz, se sa moun yo ap touche
moun nan finn bourike
li pa gen yon bon kaban pou’l kouche
et kò’l fe’l mal
li travay tankou bèt
patron fe’l mal

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