On Friday, June 26, 2015, Lil Wayne, Chris Brown, Swizz Beatz and a panoply of Haitian artists came together under the label of Big O Production of Olivier Martelly, the oldest son of President Martelly of Haiti, to produce the biggest and most controversial concert in the entertainment history of the nation.
According to The Source, an American entertainment magazine, “over 100,000 people” turned out on Champs de Mars, the country’s largest public square, to witness history being made.
Days before the kickoff of the fest, Haitians from all walks of life came out on the radio, street corners and social media to shed their commentaries in support or against it.
The people were diametrically divided on the tenure of the event. If some believed that the moment was not to celebrate, especially not at a time when the Dominican government was deporting illegally and indiscriminately thousands of our people, Olivier Martelly believed otherwise. He saw in the free concert an opportunity to put Haiti in the international spotlight and on the global tourist map. Speaking to Ticket Magazine, he stated:
I am personally very passionate about everything having to do with my country, Haiti. The artists are aware of everything and hope to attract positive attention to the country […] Haiti is back on the world tourist map for some time. Welcoming these megastars is a huge publicity campaign for us. Check out the commentaries on the internet ever since the word about the concert has been out, everybody is talking about it.
Carel Pedre of Radio One, opined along the same lines as Olivier on his radio show as reported by Le Nouvelliste in an article entitled Un concert qui tombe mal. He just could not see how a free concert could harm anything. For him, all the polemic that surrounded the concert was due to the fact that the people were left with the impression that the government did not seem to care about the deportees, who were arriving on our soil in record numbers from the Dominican Republic.
Two things had caused and fueled the controversy that surrounded the concert:
a. the unexpected sociopolitical conjoncture created by the deportation of thousands of our brothers and sisters from the Dominican Republic;
b. the people behind it are related to the country’s political leadership.
Both Olivier and Carel were right on target –from an entertainment perspective. But too bad they are not politicians. They were looking at the concert, and I would not hold that against them, only from an entertainment perspective. That’s where they got it all misconstrued. Whether they wanted it or not, and it was very unfortunate, the event had more of a political connotation than anything else.
In politics, there is this concept called TIMING, a major factor in thinking through political strategies and actions. We have seen such concept played out all the time in American politics. You have to be able to choose the right timing to make political moves. Otherwise, the political fallouts you would have to deal with could be very dreadful and cataclysmic.
Regardless how one is going to spin the politics of the concert to make it fit all rules of political correctness, it is not going to sit well in the court of public opinion, not when it was hosted by the President’s son at a time when we are dealing with an unprecedented sociopolitical situation with the massive deportation of thousands of our people from the Dominican Republic.
The idea behind the concert is great. I personally support it and think we should host concerts of such magnitude in the country every Spring Break or summer in an attempt to sell the paradisiac nature of our country and attract tourists on our shores to come spend money in the economy. The only issue with it was that the timing was POLITICALLY off. But aside from that, I think Big O Production should not and must not let the politics that surrounds this first experience stop him from putting together other concerts of this envergure in the future.