Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Carrefour, what it meant to me

I spent most of my teenage years in Wanney, Carrefour, in essence I am considered a Carrefourois (From Carrefour) since 1968 and I am proud of it.  Unfortunately, I have seen Carrefour changed from a green land to an over populated archaic construction with no urbanization plan. I have seen friends come and go and that community going downward with an increasing sense of insecurity.

There was something very touching about this life shifting experience, it was for the first time I was moving in with my biological mother.  This reunion was significant as it gave me a chance to share a bit of my mother’s life, Alourdes as well as my sister’s life Kettely.  While I had the chance to live a normal life in a middle class family, I found my life near and with my mother to be as ordinary and magnificent as it could be.  My adoptive parents immigrated to the US and I was left at my teen’s years with the hope that one day, like any other Haitians kids dream, to be in the US as well.  

I attended Lycée Alexandre Pétion (1970) from a Catholic School “Sacred Heart”.  I had to make a lot of adjustment one could envision.  I made a commitment with myself to make the best of my school years there.  My Principal, Director Oxcyl, while he was fear by many, for the next few years would be for me a mentor that I will esteem for the rest of my life.  Through a classmate suggestion, We created an “Honor Corps” a paramilitary unit along with the existing school marching band teaching civic duties, discipline, self respect and honor. The Honor Corps was soon recognized nationally and was often requested by the president then Duvalier to parade on the presidential palatial lawn. This corps was highly respected by all even by the military and the police.  Very soon this idea was picked up by Lycée Toussaint Louverture, Lycée Firmin and College Frère Adrien.  When Duvalier instituted the Military Academy, the first recruits came from both Lycée Pétion and Lycée Louverture. While it was fearful for many, it was an opportunity for a few to take advantage and become part of the political/military system.  It was a sudden acquiesce to a social/military thrill, it was a chance to join the military elite and fame.  My mother however apprehensive of this system was frenzied about the possible outcome of my involvement, categorically stopped me from joining the military.  The second opportunity was a direct invitation and visit by the ministry of defense of a few selected one for a military scholarship to study in the US with a commitment to serve in Haiti.  Once again, my mother terrified more so by a black official government car and its passengers parked in front of our modest covered tree home than by this idea for her son to join the military.  Speechless but calmed and collected I recall, she consented to send me to this official invite at the National Palace.  As excited as I was, I was soon to realize that my mother was not sharing my enthusiasm. She quickly conceived my egress on the pretext of medical reasons and soon began to look into a way for me out of the country while some other parents were doing the same.   

In 1971, when Duvalier passed away, the Honor Corps played a historical role in his funeral.  The hearse was lead by Lycée Pétion and I was one of the first to witness a sudden violent whirlwind just before entering the cemetery gate that through a frenzy amongst the mourners and spectators, shoving and running from the invisible and the mental interpretation of what they thought it could have been.  This was given numeral explanations colored with lots of mysticism and superstition.  

It was also in Carrefour I was reunited with Nadia, the sister of an old classmate Jocelyn from Sacred Heart, whom four years later in 1975 would become my wife.  It was a simple yet lavish court yard wedding where family and friends reunited as this young couple was embarked in a new life in an unsure State.  During that same year, the prospect presented itself; my wife and I immigrated to the US with no intention to ever return, leaving political and economic fears behind and looking at new opportunities.  

Carrefour however remained truly my home community where my heart is and has always been and which was later transcended to other parts of the country as I became conscientious of the life condition of my compatriots in 1994 some 19 years later.  It was in Carrefour for some unexplained reasons I held my first political meeting.   This is also in Carrefour I took the engagement to move forward in the political affairs of my country knowing clearly the snare and danger I might have to face.

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