Carnival in Haiti has long been a theater for dissent. Boukman Eksperyans’ memorable “Ke’m Pa Sote” (We Are Not Afraid), their Carnival 1990 song, premiered during the depths of the post-Duvalier dictatorship of Prosper Avril, and became a political anthem, standing out as a transcendental moment in modern Haitian music history.
This year, with Haiti at a different crossroads, carnival songs are once again in the news. In a story in the Miami Herald, Jacqueline Charles writes, “In a country where past carnival songs have predicted the fate of governments, carnival lyrics are viewed as the social and political pulse of the country.” Check out Charles’s article, which reports allegations that some of Haiti’s most popular bands have not been invited to perform at this year’s carnival at the behest of former carnival star, now president, Michel Martelly. Given the current states of Haitian politics this kind of censorship (if it’s true) seems likely to exacerbate existing unrest. In an interview on Friday over Haitian radio Scoop FM, President Martelly claimed responsibility for excluding Brothers Posse and other groups from the Cap-Haitien carnaval parade.
RAM, “Men Bwa W”:
Boukman Eksperyan’s “Piout Piout”:
And this one by Brothers Posse (which features an actor playing Martelly in a mock confrontation), “Aloral”: