Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hip Deep Series Reflects on Haiti's Past as Wyclef Jean Announces Presidential Candidacy

"Haiti became the first black-ruled republic in the Americas in 1804, and music has mirrored, and at times shaped, the twists and turns of Haiti's politics and culture ever since." Our Hip Deep series sheds light on Haiti's political history in relation to its music and its times. Never has the topic been so appropriate, as hip-hop star Wyclef Jean announced that he will run for office in Haiti's November 28 election. 

Although the Haitian constitution requires a president to have lived in the country for five consecutive years before running, Wyclef remains determined in his campaign to bring about change in a country that is desperate for a transformative leader. His eligibility will certainly continue to be challenged by his opponents in the coming campaign. However, with an estimated 500,000 Hatian-born Americans in the U.S., Wyclef has the opportunity to bridge the gap between Haiti and its ever-expanding diaspora. There are reasons to take him seriously, and not just because he has the funds to do some repairing, but because he's running for president in a country where half the population is under the age of 25. Through his music, Wyclef has the lure to motivate young voters despite alleged claims of embezzlement earlier this year.

We here at Afropop are not ones to predict what will happen in this fascinating moment in history, but we can call upon our show, "Music and the Story of Haiti," to enlighten us on the past, and perhaps draw us closer to understanding the significance and consequence of what's to come.


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