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Haiti Remembered

by Catherine Angst

Today Jacques Pierre releases an artistic memorial video honoring the victims and survivors of the January 12th, 2010 Haitian earthquake. Pierre is the Haitian Creole lecturer at Duke University’s Department of Romance Studies and the co-director of Duke’s Haiti Lab. Pierre was born in Cap-Haitian, Haiti.

Seven years ago, Haiti experienced a devastating earthquake that took 230,000 lives and injured 300,000 people. Many countries from the around the world showed solidarity with Haiti during this catastrophic moment. Haiti has made substantial strides toward recovery since 2010. Pierre wants to keep the memory of the victims alive.

In 2015, Pierre coordinated a special commemorative service for the fifth anniversary of the earthquake at Duke Chapel. “The service was a symbolic way to grieve but, I didn’t want people to forget about the loss experienced by the Haitian people,” said Pierre. Shortly after that commemorative service, Pierre began what would develop into this digital memorial.

Over the past two years, Pierre has collected words of solace from around the world and many universities. People have shared their messages of love and support across this book’s pages.

Pierre says, “My hope is this video becomes a collective memory. I would like everyone to share their wishes and hopes for rebuilding Haiti.” Pierre plans to give the memorial book to Haiti which is in the process of constructing an earthquake memorial site.

Manno Charlemagne performs at Duke

by Catherine Angst

“Òganizasyon mondyal yo pa pou nou yo ye…” Manno Charlemagne voice reverberates through Duke’s Ahmadieh Family Lecture Hall in his native Haitian Creole. Charlemagne’s velvet vocals harmonize with his acoustic guitar as he repeats to the large crowd, “Òganizasyon mondyal yo pa pou nou yo ye…” a message that translates roughly as, “Global organizations are not in our interest”.

As a singer and songwriter, Charlemagne’s politically charged chansons have scored the soundtrack of Haiti’s political protest for over 30 years. Born in the suburbs of Port-au-Prince in 1948, Charlemagne music was influenced by traditional Haitian twoubadou performers and shaped by the “kilti libète” or freedom culture movement of 1970s Haiti. Throughout the 1980s, Charlemagne’s songs stood in opposition to and captured the injustice of the Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier regime.

Jacques Pierre, co-director of Duke’s Haiti Lab, coordinated the Charlemagne concert. In addition to directing the Haiti Lab, Pierre teaches Haitian Creole in Duke’s Romance Studies Department.  “I wanted to bring Manno to campus because my Intermediate Creole students are working with his songs. Also, I wanted to share his performance with the Haitian community in the Triangle area, so they could reconnect with many of his songs from the 1980s and 90s which are still very powerful and moving,” said Pierre.

As an ambassador of Haitian culture on campus, Pierre coordinates several Haitian events throughout the year including the upcoming International Haitian Creole Day on October 28th, and an Haitian film festival which takes place in the spring.  Pierre’s students, Duke faculty, and members of the Haitian diaspora filled the audience on September 23rd to listen to Charlemagne’s sharp lyrics, enjoy the Haitian rhythms, and reflect on the importance that art and music can have in political histories.

 

video by Jennifer Prather

 

The Manno Charlemagne concert was supported by Duke’s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, the department of African and African American Studies, Duke’s Center for International and Global Studies, the Forum for Scholars and Publics, the Franklin Humanities Institute, the Haiti Lab, and the department of Romance Studies.

Testing your Geographical Knowledge

Join Duke University lecturer Jacques Pierre and Haitian Creole students from many universities for a test of your geographical knowledge in this fifth set of riddles/memonèt.

Watch the first set of memonèt here:
https://youtu.be/_MzZq_WTW8Q

Watch the second set of memonèt here:
https://youtu.be/t2KuPgtkV48

Watch the third set of memonèt here:
https://youtu.be/hYIN2STg7qI

Watch the fourth set of memonèt here:
https://youtu.be/e6P55rhbLHA

Memonèt: Teaching Creole on YouTube

This past year Duke University lecture Jacques Pierre and his students collaborated with the John Hope Franklin Center to develop online video teaching tools for Haitian Creole. Pierre’s series of memonèt (Creole for riddles) feature Haitian culture, history, geography, proverbs, and food.

Pierre has been teaching Haitian Creole in Duke University’s Romance Studies Department since 2010. In 2014, Duke expanded its Creole offering through Cisco’s Telepresence virtual classroom. With the help of the virtual classroom, Pierre teaches students both Duke University students and students from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, the University of Virginia, and Vanderbilt University. Now with the creation of his YouTube videos, Pierre is teaching students around the world.

 

photo by Michelle Walz. Creative Commons license