Civic Education: A Must For A Better Haiti

Students at the Istitution Saint-Louis de Gonzague, on June 29, 2010, thousands of displaced earthquake victims are living on the school grounds while students continue to take classes in tents. Here elementary school students studying their vocabulary. Left to right are Elysee Pasquy Anderson, 10; Antoine Marco, 9; and Josiuf Dave, 9. AL DIAZ / THE MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Here elementary school students [at the Institution Saint-Louis de Gonzague] on June 29, 2010 studying their vocabulary. From left to right: Elysee Pasquy Anderson, 10; Antoine Marco, 9; and Josiuf Dave, 9. AL DIAZ / THE MIAMI HERALD STAFF

When I was at Cyr-Guillo [commonly called Ecole des Freres des Gonaives] for my primary, elementary and junior high school education, because the school knew they were preparing young kids to become responsible citizens of tomorrow, the curriculum was shaped to reflect that vision.

After spending 7 years in that institution, upon graduation to move on to high school,  we could proudly look at ourselves and say that we are prepared for life on every front because the foundation upon which the house of life is to be mounted or erected is strongly engineered.

In the curriculum, there was this course called Civic Education -a required core class we had to take for 2 years or so -conceived to teach us students how to love our country unconditionally, respect and love each other as brothers, be good law-abiding citizens by respecting established authority, the law of the land, etc.

I do strongly believe that Ecole des Freres des Gonaives was not the only institution in the country then to have instituted Civic Education in their curriculum; other schools had followed the same Education Department guidelines.

Unfortunately, at my great astonishment, some genius who took over the Education Ministry had removed Civic Education from the curriculum. I know you may be asking the same question everyone with some sense is asking: “why is that?” Well, that’s beyond my pray grade. I am just as dumbfounded as you are.

What a brilliant decision that was! No wonder we have today all this nonsense going on in our society.

Today, these young Haitian kids are growing up with no foundation in civic education. And we are acting so surprised to see the results of our recklessness and irresponsibility -delinquency, child prostitution, the zokiki phenomenon, disrespect for established authority and the law, the list goes on and on and on.

Why acting so surprised? We should have expected these results to emerge some day. That’s what happens when leaders fail their citizens -you have a chaotic and dysfunctional society because the young citizens have grown to become chaotic and dysfunctional citizens.

I heard a while ago that Mr. Varnneur Pierre, the head of our Education Ministry, was bringing back Civic Education in the classroom, I don’t know if he has ever delivered on his promise.  But I pray the Martelly administration could make a difference in the right. The teaching of civic education to our kids is a must. Making the right investment in the education of our kids of today is the only hope we have for a better, secure and sustainable tomorrow.

Carimi’s Invasion Has Irritated Many


After CARIMI, a New York-based Konpa band, has dropped the music video for the song KITA NAGO off THE INVASION, their latest album, the critics on the conservative side of the musical spectrum did not waste any time to gear up and go on the counterattack. Their most vicious and debilitating attack to date is that that CARIMI is not playing Konpa; therefore, they are destroying the music.

I don’t know what these critics’ motives are, but to suggest that the band is destroying the music because they sound different and unique, I think that is taking the criticisms a little bit too far.

Here is the video for the song KITA NAGO that is causing all this traffic, all these chatters and jabbers. They dropped it in prelude to the release of the album, a way to introduce THE INVASION. Whoever produces it did a tremendous job. It is very mainstream -out of the ordinary for a Konpa music video. Check it out for yourself.

I don’t see them destroying our Konpa at all. I only see a music that is mutating the same way it did in the late 80’s and early 90’s with bands such as Papash, Zin, Zèklè, etc.

When these aforementioned bands were making the twist back then, they were being slammed left and right with the same illogical criticisms as the ones CARIMI is facing today. In fact, some prominent Konpa show hosts on the radio would not even play their songs on their shows; they were being penalized simply because they sounded different and wanted to revolutionize the music.

I hope these conservative-minded folks did not expect the Konpa CARIMI is playing to sound like Meridional des Cayes of the 80’s.

Music is like culture in that it cannot be enclosed as it tends to evolve. Otherwise, it will cease to exist.

Our music has to change because our musicians are being exposed to all sorts of influences, which is a very good thing. And that happens with every genre of music -Rap, Jazz, Blues, R&B, Rock & Roll, Reggae, etc…

If you listen to Tropicana, one of the pillars of our Konpa music, you will realize they too have changed for the better. The Tropic of the past decades does not sound the same at all as that of today. Being able to change at the rhythm of time is exactly what has blessed them with such a longevity. And the same goes for Tabou Combo.

The criticisms CARIMI is facing from these conservative-minded folks is just normal. We should have expected them to show such degree of reluctance. But nothing is wrong with the band per se. If anything, they are the ones with the problem. Carimi is playing KONPA DIREK -a different kind, of course.

Some people are afraid of change because they see that as a menace to an established order. They will resist anything that is asking them to move out of their comfort zone. So their issue is purely psychological.

I go by a different philosophy. I see change as a growing process. You have to change in order to grow and exist. Otherwise, you will die. The forces of nature will eat you up.

So CARIMI was forced to change their style of Konpa to stay relevant in the Haitian and international markets. On that, I congratulate them on their latest album. I am proud of them because they represent us in the Northeast with flying stars. They are working tirelessly to make my dream come true -to see New York reclaim or regain its title of “Mecca of Konpa Direk in the Diaspora” like it used to be back then, before Florida snatched it from us. To all you critics, THE INVASION has just begun. If you cannot join in, I suggest you get out of the way so you don’t get crushed. And that is a fair warning, not a threat.