Thursday, January 14, 2010

To Be An Ayiti

I am born an Ayiti.

My land was once a flourishing kingdom before the white people came. A Spaniard named Christopher Columbus met my ancestors, the Tainos in the spirit of peace. We thought they were mere explorers from a distant land. We welcomed them to our homes and let them rest before sending off to their journey.

But we were deceived.

They built towns to set a lasting foothold. Their people came in large droves, in ships bristling with armaments never before seen. They began encroaching on our lands. They brought pestilence and disease and war and religion. Our civilization was destroyed in a matter of years. Our way of life replaced by their habits and customs. Our treasures carried away to decorate palaces we never knew. And finally our children were taught and converted to their beliefs so they will never know the proud people we were.

Empires rise and fall and like throwaway properties fit for a barter, we were traded for peace between two warring lords. The new masters have arrived and our enslavement soared to new heights of brutality. We were treated like animals in the name of expediency. As a conquered people, we can do nothing but obey. Change came when a bloody revolution shook the old order of things. With the dauphin meeting his fate under the guillotine, we took their revolutions to our lands and set ourselves free.

At a price of our own blood.

We were known as the only nation to win a slave rebellion against our masters. Our fire licked the spirits of the vanquished peoples and they too, have won their freedom. We were seen as the first among the liberators and we earned the world's admiration because of what we did. But the world never knew our darkest secret. While they fought wars to emancipate themselves from slavery, we were culling our own downfall by putting our chieftains to the places our masters once held.

Redemption came too late. We have already inherited the souls of our conquerors and this time, it was us who pillaged our own tribe.

A hundred years is not enough to undo the errors of the past. We never learned the lessons history was trying to teach us. We exchanged one master with another only to plunge us into deeper depths of despair. There was Papa Doc* who rained down misery using his undead soldiers. His reign of terror for a quarter of a century led most of our brighter minds to flee and live in lands we once freed. Our soldiers wrought change with their own hands and we have seen so many bloodshed and so many dissapointing upheavals that we have almost lost faith in ourselves.

Now the world sees us as the most miserable people who have ever lived. The once mighty kingdom we had, now crumbles under intense regret from all the mistakes we did. We are despised by our wealthier neighbor,** the people we once tried to conquer and bring under our heels. With our lands ravaged by years of relentless exploitation, our people dying of hunger*** and our safekeeping entrusted to far-flung nations some of us never knew****, we have become too broken to even dream of tomorrow.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Dazed survivors wandered past dead bodies in rubble-strewn streets Wednesday, crying for loved ones, and rescuers searched collapsed buildings as officials feared the death toll from Haiti's devastating earthquake could reach into the tens of thousands.

The first cargo planes with food, water, medical supplies, shelter and sniffer dogs headed to the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation a day after the magnitude-7 quake flattened much of the capital of 2 million people.

Tuesday's earthquake brought down buildings great and small — from shacks in shantytowns to President Rene Preval's gleaming white National Palace, where a dome tilted ominously above the manicured grounds.

Hospitals, schools and the main prison collapsed. The capital's Roman Catholic archbishop was killed when his office and the main cathedral fell. The head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission was missing in the ruins of the organization's multistory headquarters.

Yahoo! News
Tens of Thousands Feared Dead After Haitian Quake

January 10, 2010

Remember us and remember our history, for our fate might have been very well yours.

* Francois Duvalier (1957-1974) President of Haiti. Declared himself Ruler for Life. His regime was marked by autocracy, corruption and state sponsored terrorism through his private army known as Tonton Macoutes. It has been estimated that he was directly responsible for 30,000 deaths and the exile of all intellectual Haitian to other countries.

** Dominican Republic. Shares a land border with Haiti. Second largest economy in the Carribean. Suffers greatly from Haitian illegal immigration.

*** Haiti consumes a large variety of different non-traditional foods in an attempt to quench hunger pains. Mud cakes are traditionally fashioned and consumed, but items such as clay and chalk can also be eaten. Due to recent increases in food prices and growing starvation in Haiti, this habit has been extended and received much media attention.

**** United Nations Stabilization Mission In Haiti (MINUSTAH) comprises a 7000 strength force led by Brazil and backed up by Argentina, Chile, Jordan, Morocco, Nepal, Peru, Philippines, Spain, Sri Lanka and Uruguay

May they find peace in this most difficult of times.
Photos from Time.Com


engel said...

My prayers are for the people of Haiti. This was one great tragedy.


Andrei Alba said...

philippines is up next.

anteros' dominion said...

THANK YOU for writing this kuya

im about to write my own aiyiti post, kaso may isang blogger ng (&^%$%^$##%#)!!! na hinahamon yatang ilabas ko ang inner devil ko


im with you in wishing for peace in that part of the world

red the mod said...

The parallelism is disturbing. Pax somnis. Peace is but a dream.

loudcloud said...

another worthy read.

thank you.

Herbs D. said...

kuya, ahihihi. i mean, daddy. La lang.

may their souls rest in peace with the earth that holds 'em. i wonder what's next

thecurioscat said...

grabe talaga naging resulta ng lindol :(


when catastrophe strikes the world come together to help the one in need. but do we always need a catastrophe to remind us that despite our color, religion and sexual orientation 'we are family' (as the song goes) and that we should always look after one another's welfare?

Aris said...

napapa-"diyos ko po!" na lang ako kapag napapanood ko sa tv ang nangyari. kalunos-lunos!

mel beckham said...

@Andrei: don't be like that. scary ka.

citybuoy said...

i hope they recover from that quickly.

and yeah andrei, that's not a very nice thing to say.