Archive for March, 2009|Monthly archive page

Wyclef Jean , The Ambassador, The Legendary Musician, The Chosen One

In Haitians on March 30, 2009 at 4:26 am

By Francesca Guerrier

“He’s bigger then Obama to me, I’d take a bullet for Clef”. Wow! That’s some real deep brotherly love, Hearing Buggah D Govanah talking about Wyclef Jean reminds me of the old Sicilian loyalty. You Definitely do not find too many soldiers so dedicated to their homies nowadays, but sometimes you do.

We arrive at the studio, Wyclef exchange a few words with Buggah in Creole, and then greets me! I sense he’s non- pretence attitude. You don’t know what thoughts goes inside the mind of a musician of his size , but I feel, I can see through him! Now he does remind me of the simplicity yet power of a figure like President Obama, I think while I observe him sipping on his Turkish coffee.

Dj Khaled arrives while Wyclef is seated on the bench of the kitchen eating the dinner Buggah picked up on the way to studio. I begin taking some pictures and check my camera and the lights, all of a sudden I think how comfortable I‘ve been feeling since the time I arrived at We The Best Studio! There are several artist in here, but not divas, simply cool talents!!

Mecca aka Grimo arrives too, and I feel even more comfortable now, since I last interviewed him for the Newspaper I felt a deep amount of realness within him too.
The Runners are working on the track and Clef holds his guitar while sings on his upcoming new Hit (GUARANTEED)!!

The song talks about a teenager girl who’s act older then her age due to the issues of low self-esteem she has because of her broken family ..all she would of needed is a simple compliment from an adult to emphasize her beauty and notice her. This song is in the making, yet is already so damn powerful, I have to go outside the room every now and then to fight back my tears of emotions.
I tell Buggah, I have to go home soon and can’t stay too long, the truth is, I don’t want to break down in front of these people I just met!! How embarrassing would that be!! There’s something about Clef though, the only song of his I can think of that didn’t get so much and many emotions out of me is Party to Damascus he made with Missy Elliott!!

I see Dj Khaled closing his eyes and commenting on the beauty of this song several times, I lean closer to Mecca and tell him the song is giving me the chills, he too nods in silence. The Super star, walk is in and out to record his addlibs and he exchange a few words in Creole with his Haitian brothers, Khaled comments of the fact he should learn Creole because of how often Clef speaks in his native language, that’s realness right there, it’s obvious he never forgot where he comes from and he doesn’t do it only in front of the cameras.

Four hours after he started working on his song , Wycleff takes a 2 minutes break, to wear the Free Haiti Now T-shirt and take some pictures with some of his zoes!

Not only he’s a music legend, producer and filmmaker but he’s The Ambassador of Haiti. I met him a few weeks back at a rally the Haitian Community organized demanding to Stop Deportations Back to Haiti, he sent a message of Hope and Encouragement to our Haitian Youth suggesting to get politically involved . So many hats to wear for one man, but he does wear them and do it well.

His concern is the security of Haiti Buggah explains to me in the car, and that people has food in their belly. The sanitation of the island and the rights of Haitians in the United States.

Wycleff Jean gave a voice to Haiti, to Jamaica, to New Jersey, to Brooklyn, Miami, African Americans To the whole United States, to teenagers, to refugees, to Deportees, to love and to those who lost, to ghettos and to people, to all different people that comes from every walk of life, you don’t need to be Haitian to feel his music, you have to be a Human Being with a heart to feel and a mind to overstand his lyrics.

This upcoming song will give you the chills like no other song!

Bon chans Wyclef sou nouveau mizik e plus suces e tout fanmi ou



In Haitians on March 20, 2009 at 5:58 pm

by Francesca Guerrier

Image copyrighted Francesca Guerrier/OPEM

Image copyrighted Francesca Guerrier/OPEM

Mecca aka Grimo is a young upcoming Haitian-American hip-hop artist and actor who is well-known for his political engagement. He often shows up at demonstrations demanding rights for Haitian refugees.

He is also a rapper and part of the Spoken Word generation. His poetry has a revolutionary edge.

Born to Haitian parents in Brooklyn, NY and raised for some of his youth in Queens, in 1985 he moved with them to Miami, where he still lives. He is the founder of Fepouli, described on his website as a “non-profit non-political movement” fighting disease and poverty.

Mecca is signed with Sak Pase Records, Hex Battalion and is managed by OPEM. He played a leading role in the Haitian film “Kidnappings” (2005). He has a degree in Acoustical Engineering. The Haitian flag’s coat of arms is tattooed on his shoulder.

Our correspondent Francesca Guerrier interviewed him last week in Miami about his views on politics, history, art, education, and the current campaign to win Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for undocumented Haitians in the US.

HAITI LIBERTÉ: How did you come by the name Mecca aka Grimo?

MECCA AKA GRIMO: I felt that my government name was not doing justice to my level of consciousness, to where I was. Mecca came naturally. Mecca means a holy place, not necessarily the religious place Mecca [in Saudi Arabia], but more a symbolic place within. The divinity you search for is within you. I often had information and many people turned to me for answers. Because I had often done my research, I usually knew what was going on. Someone called me Mecca for that reason. It was just a remark, but I thought it fitted my being. I do not believe in any particular religion. I believe in that supreme being that creates all positive things, but I think religion is man-made in order to divide and control us.

HL: You promote literacy through poetry. How did that come about?

MECCA: I learned so much. There was so much knowledge I was blessed to have. I wanted to share that knowledge, that’s the only way it comes back. I like to communicate and the way I communicate best is through my talents, with my voice. I believe Spoken Word is rap; one is poetry to the beat and the other is freely spoken. I started reciting Spoken Word for myself, and then I started realizing that poetry was connected to creative writing, reading, absorbing information, and staying current with news from around the world.

I started to analyze the music, our market, and the statistics, and I noticed that so much of our youth was dropping out of school and dying. But Hip Hop was originally used as a tool to educate. So I said to myself, I can’t limit myself just to the message of culture. The kids need to understand what I’m saying. We need to make them literate, so that if I write a poetry book, they’ll be able to read it. They have to be able to get my message. And not necessarily just what I write in the lines, but I need them to understand the message that I’m saying between the lines. So I said there’s a mission and a message that is stronger than just going to the clubs and playing for money. Our youth needs to be elevated, spiritually and intellectually. So I go to schools and talk to the kids about the importance of being literate. Through the process of lyrics and poetry, kids become more perceptive. The teachers and the principals agree with this method because they have tried every tool, but they cannot get through. They are not using modern techniques to teach. Music and art make children more receptive, even to social studies and math. This has been proven.

So I want to use art to teach as well as for entertainment.

HL: You are very militant and active.

MECCA: You have to commit yourself to the cause if that’s what you’re talking about. You have to walk the walk, if you’re going to talk the talk. I don’t think that I’m militant. I’m just committed to what I speak about. I speak about Haiti and its contribution to the world, and when I go into the schools or am interviewed, it’s something people have to hear about.

HL: You are a big supporter of President Obama. You even wrote a song called “As Long as We Can.” Do you think President Obama will help Haitians in the U.S. with the deportation issue, and grant TPS? Do you think he will help Haiti in a way that doesn’t simply aim at advancing U.S. interests?

MECCA: That is truly a tough question. President Obama is a human being inside the system, just like every other president was. I definitely am for change. The way he ran his campaign, I was impressed with his commitment, with his message to the people. Now that he’s in office, we’ll have to see what will he do to deliver on his promises. But he still has my support because he’s committed to doing what he believes in.

As far as helping Haiti is concerned: there’s really an underlying agenda to not let Haiti be the icon that it can be, to not have the title that it should have. I mean, Haiti got its title a long time ago, but the reason why Haiti is still the way it is today is because there’s another agenda stopping Haiti from flourishing. Even though Obama is our president and he may have great intentions for Haiti, I don’t think a President has that much power to really make that decision and say: “OK, we’re going to free Haiti, or we are going to Haiti and restructure some things.” But I do think he wants to show that he wants to help in some way, and I think he will try to do some things. But I don’t know how much he can do because of the greater underlying agenda that keeps Haiti the way it is.

HL: As a second generation Haitian, how do you feel that immigrants from countries in better shape then Haiti have been granted TPS, while we are still struggling for simple immigration rights?

MECCA: I definitely feel the injustice, the inequality. Why hasn’t Haiti been helped, been rescued by the Caribbean coalition? This is where we come back to the hidden agenda, which I understand. And that’s where my job comes in: to educate people not to get depressed about it. I don’t like it. I don’t agree with this agenda, but I can’t get depressed about it. I have to continue to fight by educating the masses. I thank Haiti Liberté for giving me the chance to deliver my message. France still has an agenda, along with the British, to prevent Haiti from flourishing. When I went to Haiti, I was amazed at its beauty and saw the potential Haiti has. But when one sees images from Haiti here in the States, you only see the shoeless children in the slums, but they don’t show the places that look like paradise.

HL: Haiti is not less beautiful than Jamaica, for example. Trench-town is not less dangerous then Cite Soleil. Yet Haiti has no tourism. And in any other “ghetto” around the world, they don’t bring in the United Nation to “fight crime.”

MECCA: Once again, we are going back to the hidden agenda. When slavery was at its peak, 400,000 slaves rebelled and defeated two European armies… That is embarrassing for the former colonizers. So Haiti is still being held accountable for its history, and this is why we see Haiti suffering under embargos, without trees, and so forth. This was planned.

Francesca Guerrier summarized the rest of the interview: “We spoke on the record for almost an hour. We spoke quite a bit about Haitian hip-hop artist Wyclef Jean and his work and role in Haiti. Mecca also expressed his love and passion for Haiti, his sadness about the foreign military occupation of the country and the possibility of Haiti becoming a US protectorate. He reiterated his desire to continue spreading the knowledge about Haiti’s history and bravery as the first nation to break the chains of slavery.”

All articles copyrighted Haiti Liberte. REPRINTS ENCOURAGED.
Please credit Haiti Liberte.


In RALLY/PROTEST on March 10, 2009 at 12:20 am

Wyclef Jean and Buggah D. Govanah delivering a message to the youth and President Obama with Rally organizer Marleine Bastien

By Francesca Guerrier

Over 500 demonstrators gathered in front of the remote immigrant detention jail known as the Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach, Florida on Saturday, Feb. 28 to demand that the Obama administration stop the threatened deportation of some 30,000 Haitians back to their strife and storm battered country.

The protest was called by Haitian Women of Miami (FANM), Haitian Citizen United Taskforce (HCUT), the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center (FIAC), the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), and the union Unite for Dignity. Officials of Miami Dade County, where most Haitians in South Florida live, assisted by providing buses for protestors coming from Miami, 30 miles south.

The rally was boisterous but peaceful and well-organized. The crowd demanded TPS (Temporary Protected Status) for Haitians, which was previously denied by the Bush administration. TPS has been granted in recent years to nine countries plagued by war or natural disasters: El Salvador, Honduras, Liberia, Montserrat, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Somalia, and Sudan. It allows refugees from those countries to live and work legally in the US. The designation is effective for a minimum of six months and a maximum of 18 months.

After four storms in August and September 2008 brought widespread death and destruction to Haiti, the U.S. government suspended Haitian deportations for three months. But expulsions resumed after Dec. 5, sending dozens of Haitians back to their homeland since then. Between January and December 2008, 1024 Haitians were repatriated, said Barbara Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement or ICE.

In February, U.S. immigration officials announced that 30,299 Haitians were subject to immediate deportation back to Haiti.

Jonel Lemy, a Haitian-American lawyer with the Haitian Lawyers Association, told the Sun Sentinel that he has seen an increase in deportation cases in the last six months, even taking the three month reprieve into account.

“Arrests are up,” Lemy said. “People are being arrested as they drop their kids off at school or on their way to work.”

Lending visibility to the rally were hip-hop star Wyclef Jean and his younger sister Melky Jean, who is also a singer. She performed a passionate song in Krey l and said that TPS for Haitians was “only fair.” She founded and helps run the CARMA Foundation which provides shoes and other relief to poor children in Haiti.

Farah Juste, another well-known Haitian singer and activist, took the microphone after Melky to lead the crowd in an improvised song in Krey l: “Prezidan Obama, se TPS nou mande.” (President Obama, we demand TPS).

Lavarice Gaudin, a leader with the long-standing grassroots organization Veye Yo based in Miami’s Little Haiti, addressed the hundreds of demonstrators on behalf of the group’s founder Father Gérard Jean Juste, who couldn’t attend the rally due to poor health. Lavarice telephoned Jean-Juste, who then addressed the crowd by phone, which received him with warmth and enthusiasm.

“What do we want?” Jean-Juste asked. “TPS,” the crowd loudly responded.

“When do we want it?” Jean-Juste continued. “NOW!” the crowd came back.

Other speakers and singers communed with the crowd, expressing solidarity with the Haitians held in the nearby detention center.

Wyclef Jean made a surprise appearance at the rally, which delighted the crowd.. Speaking in English and Krey l, he said he had a message for President Obama, “my President, our President.”

“Haitians are strong in number but not in politics,” he said. “Haiti is the poorest country in the hemisphere. If they deport 30,000 people back to Haiti, we will see 60,000 coming to the USA the following week, only because the country is in bad shape. I left Haiti when I was 9 years old and I believed in the American dream. I think giving justice to Haitians is the American dream. My President Obama, when my parent came here, they didn’t have papers, but they worked hard for 15 years. Like in this situation, if they had been sent back to Haiti, America and the world wouldn’t have had the gift of Wyclef Jean. This is not a Haitian cause. This is a human cause.”

In an interview with Fox TV after his intervention, Wyclef noted that Haitians should receive the same treatment and rights as “my Cubans brothers and sisters.”

“Haitians need to be politically empowered in Florida,” he continued. “Otherwise we will keep on having the same problem.”

“I want to let young people know that if you don’t stand for something, you stand for nothing,” he told Haiti Liberté. “We need to be strong politically, I encourage young Haitians to study… We have to take part in the Haitian struggle otherwise we fool ourselves if we don’t stand up for ourselves.”

FANM’s Marleine Bastiene asked Wyclef why he had felt compelled to attend a rally that was not in his schedule.

“When I found out this [rally] was happening, I decided to come and ask President Obama to stop deportations to Haiti,” he replied. “Even though he’s dealing with the economic crisis we are facing, Haiti is in extreme crisis, he has to act immediately to stop all deportations to Haiti; otherwise they will have huge problems in the island which will have repercussions back in the US ultimately.”

Of the 30, 000 Haitians with deportation orders against them, 600 are in detention centers and 260 are allowed to stay at home and in their communities, although their movements are monitored with ankle bracelet transmitters.

Haitian President René Préval, who has also asked Washington to grant TPS to Haitians in the U.S., has effectively blocked deportations by having his government refuse to grant would-be deportees travel documents.

“President Obama, the time has arrived to right this wrong,” said Marleine Bastien to the crowd.

The world capitalist crisis and soaring jobless rate in the US put great pressure on Obama to deport undocumented workers, as right-wing politicians urge. But Obama has lots of political capital to lose with Haitian-Americans, one of his power bases, if their undocumented compatriots are deported. Conversely, his administration gains lots of easy political capital if it grants TPS, a very short-term measure which does nothing to address the fundamental injustice of U.S. immigration restrictions and their enforcement.

Clearly, many in the crowd had high hopes that their continued mobilization would sway the Obama administration to grant the TPS that the Bush administration denied. “We will continue to protest and take our message to Washington, and we expect President Obama to support us,” lawyer Jonel Lemy said.

All articles copyrighted Haiti Liberte. REPRINTS ENCOURAGED.
Please credit Haiti Liberte.