Rapping our History From Dessalines to Martelly

STORY BY: DARRYL DIEUDONNÉ • MAY 17TH, 2014

Tomorrow, we celebrate the Haitian flag's 211th anniversary. We have a lot to be proud of. And a lot to think about.

Many songs fit the occasion. Would we feature a nostalgic ode like Jacques Sauveur Jean's Ayiti Cheri and MikaBen's Ayiti Se? Or poignant reality checks like BelO's Detripay?

Kumbaya moment or the societal critique?

Then we heard Rap Prezidans. Just a few seconds in, we knew it was the song WikiMizik would highlight this year.

In under four minutes, Doc Filah raps about over two centuries of post-independence history, from Dessalines to Martelly. The bars sink in and you wonder if the popular adage about history repeating itself wasn't invented in Haiti.

In Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter From Haiti, Amy Wilentz compares the country's political history to a soap opera that keeps ending on an cliffhanger.

"The story repeats and repeats and repeats and you're absolutely addicted."

But do we even know the real story? "Yo di Istwa d'Ayiti a tòdye," BIC sings in the chorus.

Is our history truly flawed? Will we ever break the cycle?

Of course we will. Just ask Napoleon.

Forging a better future starts with delving deeper into the past. A cursory glance isn't enough. That's why we meticulously explained this song's lyrics.

Though Rap Prezidans is a warning to our leaders--know your history or become history--its message applies to every Haitian.

Let's keep that in mind as we drape ourselves in red and blue.

Click here to read the lyrics and click the highlighted lines for additional historical context and insight.


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