Frontline World: Belo's Song of Peace
Thanks to Frontline World for sending us a link to a well done piece on Belo, a young Haitian musician with a message of peace and unity. Belo wants the world to judge Haiti by its good qualities as well. We wholeheartedly agree. Haiti is unique and its music and art reflect this. Without music and art, Haiti would not be Haiti.
This is Natasha Del Toro's second piece for Frontline World, and I think it is safe to say it was a difficult one for her. A colleague of hers who was producing a video for Belo was kidnapped in 2005. He and his Haitian counterpart were released unharmed.
Logistics were difficult and nothing went according to planned. But as she puts it " What I started to understand about this trip was that the chaos around me played directly into my story. Haiti operates by its own rules and on its own time...looking past its rough exterior, the country has natural beauty and a nutty charm unlike anywhere else. Since returning from the island, I've developed a strange affection for Haiti, its people, beaches, rhythms and spiritual energy."
This reminds me of something that Peace Corps Volunteers say about Haiti: "Love her and she will love you back but if you hate her, she will kick your ass". Haitians also used to tell us "Haiti has teeth" meaning that once you get bitten, she'll keep a hold of you. Haiti has shaped, for the better, myself and many of my colleagues. We share that affection.
In Haiti, music is everywhere. Kompa, Racine, Twoubadou, Reggae, Rap, Jazz, Classical, Gospel, Rara - it's all there aplenty. Music is the third national language. Its musicians have been powerful advocates for conflict resolution and change domestically and internationally.
According to the piece, the Jakmel music festival did not go very well. But we are really just beginning to scratch the surface of harnessing the power of Haitian music. Music strengthens the spirit, shares a message, and provides a vehicle for learning about where Haiti has been and where it is going.