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First letter from Quisqueya

To my granddaughter...

From Quisqueya, land of my ancestors, I write to you, dear meek soul full of hope…

If I sought to come here, it was to find my ancestors, the far gone, the forgotten, the buried. Those who had lost their voice but who still had so much to tell me. I knew they were there and that I was going to meet them because they had themselves drawn the path of my coming strewn with recalls, winks and embraces indicating their presence to me, indicating their neat plot.

Quisqueya… What have you become? What will you become? Will your chant, cry, laughter and complaint perpetually strike up this ambiguous extasy and simultaneously, this grueling pain living inside of me ? ? Living inside of us… Quisqueya, once sacred land of peace… At a time of unceasing debates and divisions, of a lost identity sought in the middle of blows, love stories and a “putrid” corruption which makes indignant our names, themselves borrowed, themselves adopted… by oblivious forces and choices of misfortune and illusion. Quisqueya, my darling, what do you seek to tell us today?

I choose to look at your wound today so I can choose Life, a return to Life… Life always awaits our return… Always. Tell us Quisqueya, shout us, affirm us, denounce us, argue with us, depict us, go on about, present us your plea or at best, judge us and make our trial? Tell us about all these bloodsheds, rapes, blasphemies and lies, these fatal endoctrinations, these blind and hypocrite repentances, these miserly pilgrimages, this modern Roman empire we had once wanted to build up on you.

Is it It whome today, rancorous of its own offenses, of its own iniquities, seeks now to strangle us? “ Please open your mouth Quisqueya and let me see if there is still some shiny gold I can drag out of you?”

Aaah… Deep in my heart, I would like to be worthy enough to heal you. You must tell us Quisqueya, America’s cradle of capitalism and drunkards flesh eaters, tell us Quisqueya where we missed? Only you can explain it all to us.

“Divide and conquer”, is it what you’re telling me? Is it where you wish to summarize today’s lesson ? “You will raise the differences and will use them as a source of conflict; woman against man, child against adult, black against white.” And what have we learned from our differences? What have we “really” learned from one another? From ourselves? One thing we’ve have learned well is certainly how to reject who we are, how the demonize you, Quisqueya. Conscience check is essential here…

Yes, examination of conscience… But to help me, you say: “Listen to the voice of those who were there before you, those who sleep underground and who never left. Those who know me and like me. Those who fly like the invincible eagle and watches its prey patiently. Those ones will say to you where you missed because even if they are last, they were once first.

By Sara Rénélik, songwriter and singer

Sara is a singer-songwriter, choreographer and dancer of haitian origin who has been very active in her community both in her native land, Canada, as well as in the haitian diaspora (Haïti, Dominican Republic ). She has represented her community internationally and is now based in the Dominican Republic where she contributes to a better representation of her cultural roots as well as reconnecting to her ancestral legacy. Much hidden truths have been revealed to her during her journey and right now, in the middle of the ethno-political crisis that is dividing both ethnic groups, haitian and dominicans, due to the recent decision of the Constitutional Court depriving Dominican-haitian descendants of their legal status, it is more than crucial to her to look deeper into some of the complex conjonctures that this island is facing.

Image: "Dock at Parque Los Haitises" by Genosonic // Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

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