Monday, August 27, 2012

Alexandre Petion

During the later years of the 18th century and the early years of the 19th, many brave men battle for the independence of the Republic of Haiti. Among, them was Alexandre Petion, a young man of great vision. Petion is known as the founder of the republic of Haiti, but with his help, many Latin American countries were also liberated. In the twelve years that he ruled, Alexandre Petion endured many hardships, but created the foundation for the country. Petion was born in Port-au-Prince in 1770 to a French father and a Black mother. He was known at that time as a mulatto. At the age of 18, he was sent to study and became a soldier in France at the Military Academie de Paris. Along with Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Petion organized the mulattos with the African slave in order to fight the French army for the independence of Haiti. After an ambush and the death of Dessalines, Petion was elected President of the Republic of Haiti on March 09, 1806. During his reign as president, he was responsible for the design of the official flag of the Haiti. He designed the coat of arms within the white square. Less than a decade later after its independence, Haiti, began to help its neighbors in South America to gain liberty as well. Simon Bolivar, the Liberator, came to Haiti to seek help for his struggle to liberate his country Venezuela from Spain. Petion gave Bolivar: money, weapons, ammunitions and even Haitian volunteer soldiers to help him fight for freedom. The only thing Petion asked in return was abolition of slavery in all the territories that he may later help liberate. Simon Bolivar with the help of Haiti proclaimed Venezuela's independence in 1812 and truly liberated: Colombia in 1819, Venezuela in 1821, Ecuador and Peru in 1822. The first Black independent nation in the world was created by many different people. Among them, one of the greatest and most influential, was Alexandre Petion. He ruled during the infancy of the young nation and serve until his death, on March 29, 1818.

Louis Harold Joseph: Quietly Made His Mark

If you don't look carefully, you may miss him. He usually stands in a corner, or moves unnoticeably among the crowd. You may have talked to him while he stood there with his arms behind his back, slightly bent to better hear you. He quietly opened the doors to the Haitian Embassy to welcome Haitians and others. With the help of many of those who work at the Embassy, he created a friendly and efficient environment that most Haitians are happy to deal with. The popular "Cultural Fridays" programs at the Embassy, usually have more people in attendance than the lecture room can accommodate. Mr. Louis Harold Joseph, Minister Counselor, Chargé d'Affaires, a.i., has been in charged at the Anbasad D Ayiti, the Embassy of Haiti, since 1997, but will soon leave for the Commonwealth of the Bahamas as Ambassador representing the Republic of Haiti. Although in charge for the past five years, Mr. Joseph has worked at the Embassy since 1982. He will leave his mark on the Washington, DC, Haitian community, for he opened the doors and made every Haitian feel welcome at the Embassy. Mr. Joseph is the father of four children: two young ladies, Marsha and Angeline, a boy, Louis Harold Jr. and a girl, little Dahlia, the fruit of his union with his second wife, Yanique. He works an average of 10 hour days at the Embassy, and then, "go home to write emails, make phone calls, and attend events." He grew up in Cap-Haitien, where his parents were teachers, which explains his strong belief in education. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Haiti in 1978 and a Master's degree in International Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University, in 1989. He speaks fluent French, Kreyol, English, and even "a moderate" Spanish. He is a civil servant/career diplomat. He has served the public through the government for more than 25 years. His career began in 1977, when his study group encouraged him to apply for a government job at the Ministry of Trade and Industry. He became the head of the Industrial and Trade Information Division from 1980 to 1982. After joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1982, he was posted to Washington, DC, as Second Secretary, and in 1989, was promoted as Minister-Counselor in charge of Trade. "From 1989 to 1997, he monitored US trade policy toward Haiti and the Western Hemisphere and represented the Haitian Government at bilateral and international trade meetings." He also served as Deputy of Mission at the Embassy. Since 1997, he has served as "Minister Counselor, chargé d'Affaires a.i." Louis Harold Joseph, with the help of the Embassy staff, implemented many changes to improve the relationship between the Embassy and Haitian community. Several programs were created and some services simplified in order to better serve those looking for assistance from the Embassy. Out of the new programs, "Cultural Fridays" became one of the most popular. On Friday evenings, Haitian scholars were brought in to share their knowledge of Haitian culture. The lecture room usually overflows with many people, including some Americans who are interested in the topics and in learning more about Haiti. Recently, Mr. Gerard Alexis, curator of Art in Haiti, lectured about traditional and modern Haitian painting. According to Mr. Joseph, "this program was necessary, because of the Haitians who wanted to reconnect with their culture. Also, the Haitians born here in the US needed a place where they could hear and comment about their culture. And, many Haitian experts were pleased to be asked by a Haitian organization to speak to Haitians about Haiti and Haitian culture." "Usually one expert will recommend and recruit several others." The Haitian Embassy have also recommended artists, such as Emeline Michel and Amos Coulanges, to the Inter-American Development Bank for cultural shows. Quietly and efficiently, Louis Harold Joseph has left his mark on the Anbasad D Ayiti, the Haitian Embassy. He listened carefully to the needs of the people, and then, he responded. To coincide with the growth of the community in the past twenty years, the Haitian Embassy have kept in pace with the demands. "Cultural Fridays" fulfills a need in not only the Haitian community, but the general American public, which is beginning to take notice of the half a million or more Haitians in the United States. Nou di mèsi a Mesye Aròl Jozèf, we wish to thank Mr. Joseph for his contribution to the our community, and we know he will continue to be a civil servant wherever he goes. ©, G. Mathurin, 05.2002

Claes Gabriel: Konpa On Canvas

Vibrant colors, clean lines, abstract imagery, vodou reverences, the elements of some great Haitian artists. The creativity of Haitian has baffled and intrigued the rest of the world for centuries. That tradition continues with a great emerging artist named Claes Gabriel. Claes is pretty much like his paintings, linear, bright, and clean. He greets every one with a effortless smile, like Magic Johnson throwing a pass. "I'm Claes, what's your name?" Claes Gabriel is the son of famous Haitian artist Jacques Gabriel. His mother, Claire Yanick, understandably proud of her son, is also quick to show that great family smile. Jacques Gabriel was born in Port-au-Prince in 1934 and achieved much success before his death. By his recent exhibition in Baltimore, Maryland, his son is ready to continue the legacy. Just 23 years old and only 2 years out of Maryland Institute College of Art, Claes already show tremendous talent. He has already developed a style at such a young age. Many good artists spend their entire lives trying to create a unique style of expression.In his paintings, Claes "plays with elements of Vodou," a strong part of Haitian culture. Claes has been in the United States since 1989, but he has returned often to his homeland, "mwen retounen anpil." One of his trips to the ³basin de la Gonave" in Haiti inspired the element of water that is present in many of his paintings. He also "plays with la sirenne (the mermaid)" on some of his pieces. He also deals with racism and intolerance through symbolism. Claes does not characterize his art as "Black Art." He paints what he feels. His images are not only of Black folks, and Caribbean life, but are also of Asians, Jews, etc. "Prayers to the Devil," one of his strongest pieces, creates a surreal world of fantastic forms. "My work is a collection of symbols accumulated from my travels and childhood in Haiti. My father has always inspired me with his sense of color, line, and composition. My symbols together are snap shots of simple stories about people, love, and God." -- Claes Gabriel.