On an episode of the Chappelle Show years back, Wyclef Jean delivered a chord-striking ballad on acoustic guitar in which he sang, “If I was president/I’d get elected on Friday/Assassinated on Saturday/Buried on Sunday.” With Clef on the verge of campaigning for the Haitian presidency, those lyrics seem have a bit more relevance.
Were those lyrics a hypothetical about Haiti? Were they veiled jousts at Haiti’s unstable government, predicting that any man elected to office would gain power only to lose it along with his life in a violent overthrow? Or maybe it was subtle commentary on the nature of politics itself? “I run and my supporters elect me. My enemies get the best of me. I become an afterthought.”
Should Wyclef run for president? Why the hell not? If the United States can elect a Hollywood actor for president (Reagan), then why can’t Haiti elect a musician?
Besides look at it this way. Haiti ain’t getting’ no better anytime soon.
Ever since bad-ass Toussaint L’Overture stormed into Saint-Domingue and freed the slaves, making Haiti basically the first entirely black-led country in the world, the country has been wrought with instability and corruption. Upon L’Overture’s death in 1803, Jacque Dessaline became self-proclaimed emperor in 1804 and then what happened? He was assassinated in coup d’etat started by his two chief advisors.
That’s not all. A toilet paper history of political leaders in Haiti goes as follows:
- Petion and Christophe (the two advisors) became leaders of the North and South Haiti respectively. They started beefing over territorial politics. Petion starts calling himself “President for Life”. He died shortly after.
- Christophe declared himself king. Uh-Oh coup d’etat is unfolding. Shot himself in 1820.
- Jean Pierre Boyer took over. Overthrown in 1843.
- Fast forward to 1911. Before 1915, six presidents were assassinated or driven away.
- Then came the Docs. Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier and Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier. Or the “dics” I should called them. For “dictators” and of course puppets to the United States.
The point is Wyclef has nothing to lose. Except for his life in a coup d’etat, but that’s beside the point. When that 7.0 hit Port-au-Prince, Wyclef did the most of all celebrity Haitians to raise dollars and awareness to the half-a-million or so devastated by the earthquake. He loves his country with a fever.
Pras, ‘Clef’s former bandmate, made it clear he was not supporting Wyclef for presidency. He said to the Associated Press, “Just because he has the prominence doesn’t mean he has the experience. Things as simple his team. I saw him the other day and I didn’t get a sense of what was the real plan for Haiti.”
At this point, nobody truly has the experience to deal with a torn country like Haiti, so we might as well give Wyclef a shot. I think Toussaint L’Overture would rather see a diehard countrymen get the post than a puppet or a corrupt dictator.
It’s hard to take chances when your country has a stable government, but more feasible when a country has been devastated by a janky political infrastructure. At the very worse, ‘Clef will do exactly what Haitians leaders before him have done. Let’s just pray, his prophetic lyrics don’t come true.