2016 has been a very eventful year in Haiti and around the world. As the clock ticks over to 2017 we can only wonder what’s in store for the year ahead. Here’s a list of things to keep on your Haiti radar from sectors as diverse as Creole language, to politics, to culture, and more. (What else should go on this incomplete list? Leave a comment and let us know!)
PUBLIC OPINION OF PRESIDENT-ELECT JOVENEL MOISE
As Jovenel Moise begins his five-year term in Haiti’s highest office, it remains to be seen if his presidency will be viewed as legitimate. Currently, political rivals of Moise’s (and former president Michel Martelly’s) Tet Kale party are challenging the November election results that brought Moise to power. Additionally, priest turned president turned exile Jean-Bertrand Aristide reemerged suddenly into Haitian politics in 2016. Aristide still maintains strong public support in many parts of the country. What impact he plans to have in the country is still unknown.
THE FIRST EVER UPDATE TO THE FIRST EVER HAITI TRAVEL GUIDEBOOK
A few years back, the first EVER travel guidebook devoted exclusively to Haiti was published by Bradt Guides. The book provided detailed recommendations of historical sites, restaurants, festivals, and tons more to experience all across the country. It was an immediate best seller. Author Paul Clammer has been hard at work for many months putting together a newly updated edition of the Bradt Haiti Guide. The new edition is scheduled for a January 2017 release. Whether you live in Haiti, visit often, or just want to visit one day, this will be an essential resource. You can pre-order your copy right now.
THE UNITED NATIONS’ ROLE IN ERADICATING (AND ACKNOWLEDGING) THE CHOLERA EPIDEMIC IT BROUGHT TO HAITI
Earlier this month U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon issued a historic and unprecedented apology for the United Nation’s role in introducing cholera to Haiti in 2010 (where no cholera cases had ever been recorded up to that point). After six years of denying responsibility he said, “On behalf of the United Nations, I want to say very clearly: We apologize to the Haitian people. We are profoundly sorry for our role.” He then went on to give details about the U.N.’s plan to devote significant money and resources to ridding Haiti of cholera. Ban Ki-Moon’s 10-year term as Secretary-General ends in 2016. We will have to wait and see if his successor makes good on his promises…
EXCITING ADVANCEMENTS IN THE EFFORT TO MAKE HAITIAN CREOLE THE PRIMARY LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION IN HAITI
The overwhelming majority of childhood education in Haiti is conducted in French (a language that less than 10% of Haitians speak fluently). This makes learning extremely difficult for Haitians students. (Imagine learning your 2nd grade math IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE!) Dr. Michel DeGraff of MIT has made it his mission to establish Haitian Creole as the primary language of instruction in his home country. His tireless work is starting to gain traction both in policy circles as well as in public consciousness where, until now, Creole has been regarded as an inferior language. If Haiti’s first educational kids show in Creole is any indication, 2017 could be a very exciting year for Haitian students at every level.
US-HAITI RELATIONS IN THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION
A few factors are lining up to strain US-Haiti relations as Donald Trump begins his presidency. Trump campaigned heavily on an anti-immigration platform. His constituents will expect him to make good on his promises to crack down on immigration into the US just as Haiti’s TPS (Temporary Protected Status) expires, thereby restarting deportations of Haitians who fled after the 2010 earthquake and the more recent Hurricane Matthew. Additionally, thousands of Haitians who have left Brazil’s stagnant economy have begun to arrive by land at the US-Mexico border. This confluence of events will likely stress relations among Washington, Port-au-Prince, and the Haitian diaspora in America.
MICHAEL BRUN’S NEXT BIG SINGLE
Haitian DJ and musician Michael Brun is one of the most exciting new artists to emerge in recent years. His first viral hit “Wherever I Go” put him on the map of Haitian music lovers everywhere. Esquire magazine recently wondered if Brun “might be the biggest thing to come out of Haiti in the 21st century.” The rumor mill has been turning about Brun’s next EDM/konpa/rara-inspired recordings. Could 2017 be the year that Haiti’s next international act catches his big break?
For all these things, only time will tell.
Bon ane 2017, tout moun! Let’s continue to build towards Haiti’s bright future in the year ahead!