Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Earth Science News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

Haiti carnival turns dark as it returns after quake

The Hatians celebrate their first carnival after last year's January 12 earthquake passes in front of Presidential Palace in Port-au-Prince, March 6, 2011. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Jacmel, Haiti (AFP) March 6, 2011
Carnival has returned to Haiti, a year after the devastating earthquake, but this time it is darker and more menacing rippling with violent undertones as Haitians seek to exorcise their demons.

Papier-mache artist Jean-Marc Turin created a sculpture dubbed "Haiti Kolera" for this year's carnival in the coastal town of Jacmel.

The striking cardboard figure of a red and blue woman, vomiting down her front representing the cholera epidemic stalking the nation, is a far cry from the happy, fantasy-filled figures which usually make up joyful carnival parades in this beloved Haitian spectacle.

Thirteen-year-old Jameson Joseph created a "Kolera" mask featuring a three-headed demon. He was unsure why he created that particular design, except that he believes firmly, "All evil things have three heads."

Another papier-mache artist Romain Sylvance also drew inspiration from the the current mood of unrest, creating the sculpture "Pe Lebrun", which is of a round tire with two demon heads projecting from either side.

The tire sits atop an oil drum, painted in Haiti's signature blue and red, and highlights the "necklace burnings" which happened in the 1990s, when attackers threw a tire over an enemy's head and set it on fire.

Sylvance said the sculpture is not just about Pe Lebrun, but all the ways he has seen Haitians express themselves through fiery protest in recent months amid political upheaval in this ravaged nation.

Carnival was canceled across Haiti in the wake of the January 12, 2010 earthquake which killed 250,000 people and left 1.3 million homeless.

But it's back this year, with many believing art has the potential to invigorate the tourism industry and restore the human spirit here.

The weeks-long festivities though have stirred debate here, with the cost of putting on a carnival seen by many as unseemly with hundreds of thousands of homeless still squatting in tent cities.

And even though the festivities are driven by a desire to celebrate Haitians' creativity, art and love of music, drinking has come to dominate the party, turning a family festival into a dangerous, chaotic street scene.

Teenager Joseph, who entered his "cholera" mask into Sunday's parade in Jacmel, was by early afternoon roaming the alleyways, playing music and taking long drags off a bottle of cheap rum.

Daytime hours were a riot of colorful papier mache masks and intricate costumes, but by night the streets had become a rowdy no-go area for most, with women and children fleeing to escape the drunken crowds.

-- 'This country has to survive' --


Popular radio D.J. Carel Pedre had advocated against the event this year.

"You can see what happens. It's a bunch of people listening to music and fighting and that's it," he told AFP. "I don't think that's the carnival that Haiti should present to the world after the disaster last year."

Haiti's Minister of Tourism Patrick Delatour, who attended the weekend events, said Jacmel was engaging in "a cultural manifestation".

"Regardless of what happened on Jan. 12," Delatour told AFP, "And by the way, I lost my mom, my dad, and our family home; this country has to survive, out of its love, its arts and its crafts."

The national government, however, opted not to support carnival events in the capital Port-au-Prince, where arts play less of a role, and which kick off this Sunday for three days.

Delatour, who is not attending, said municipal mayors were free to do as they please and so the capital city will launch celebrations with funding from its own budget.

Ordinarily, as in Jacmel, observers with money to spend watch street festivities from the safety of elevated wooden stages.

But Port-au-Prince's carnival will not have stages this year, which is one of the reasons the popular band, Carimi, opted not to participate and for the first time headlined events in Jacmel, but will eschew the capital.

Lead singer, Michael Guirlan, said it was a question of safety and priorities, not propriety, saying organizers in Port-au-Prince had failed to make appropriate arrangements for the massive downtown party.

"I personally don't feel comfortable getting on a float and going through the parade route. There would be no stands. You have the tents on the ground. The people are still living on the streets," he said.

"It's kind of crazy that you're putting all this money into the float and people are still living on the street."

Even outside the capital, security remains a pressing issue.

The city of St. Marc will also celebrate carnival, despite recent security problems on the coastal road after a spate of shootings.

Despite the challenges, Jacmel Mayor Edo Zenny told AFP the city spent $250,000 on carnival this year.

Michaele Craan, a long-time organizer, said the figure was about "eight times too low". She said artists were forced to spread the funds too thin.

Carnival has the potential, she said, to be a huge economic boost to the area. The city welcomed 30,000 to 40,000 people, staying in nearby hotels and at the homes of friends.

But DJ Pedre said the carnivals were a missed opportunity to work more collaboratively with corporate sponsors, such as phone companies Digicel and Voila.

"To me it proves once again we are a poor country with poor leaders with no sense of creativity at all and we can't do things how they should be done," he said.

Share This Article With Planet Earth DiggDigg RedditReddit
YahooMyWebYahooMyWeb GoogleGoogle FacebookFacebook

Related Links
Bringing Order To A World Of Disasters
A world of storm and tempest
When the Earth Quakes

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

No bodies in New Zealand quake cathedral
Christchurch, New Zealand (AFP) March 5, 2011
The dean of earthquake shattered Christchurch said he wept Saturday at the "unbelievable" news there were no bodies in the rubble of the city's cathedral. Since the 6.3 magnitude quake on February 22, it was feared there were as many as 22 bodies buried in the rubble of the 130-year-old cathedral, the centrepiece of New Zealand's second city. But the dean, Peter Beck, said he was advised ... read more

Haiti carnival turns dark as it returns after quake

Bleak future for Christchurch as population flees

Carnival seeks to rid Haiti of its ills

Libya's neighbours await new refugee influx

Gadgets ruining people's sleep: study

Japan's Hitachi to sell HDD unit to Western Digital

Silk protein boosts e-book efficiency: scientists

Skype to introduce ads

A New Model To Measure Organic Carbon In Surface Waters

Singapore to triple desalination capacity by 2013

Bleaching and resilience: can reefs survive?

High manatee, dolphin deaths puzzle US officials

Shrinking Tundra, Advancing Forests: How The Arctic Will Look By Century's End

Soot Packs A Punch On Tibetan Plateau's Climate

Some Antarctic Ice Is Forming From Bottom

Scripps Oceanography Researchers Discover Arctic Blooms Occurring Earlier

Humans Give Prey The Edge In Food Web

A Research Study Reveals The Deterioration In The Mediterranean Farmland Patrimony

Asia rice output threatened by pesticide overuse

Grazing Of Cattle Pastures Can Improve Soil Quality

24 dead in Mozambique flood season

6.6 magnitude quake hits off Solomon Islands: USGS

New System Can Warn of Tsunamis Within Minutes

Flood-hit area of Benin has message for future president

First protests in Guinea since Conde takes power

China lends Angola $15 bn but creates few jobs

Mozambique police deny Swazi arms shipment report

UN suspects Zimbabwe over I. Coast arms embargo

'Overweight' Chinese show lowest death risk: study

California Islands Give Up Evidence Of Early Seafaring

Investigating The Function Of Junk DNA In Human Genes

Study: Brain is a 'self-building toolkit'

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement