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For Haiti Re-Arising: 'In Port-au-Prince They're Picking Up' with Kidd Jordan and Carl LeBlanc

Updated: Jan 28, 2023

'In Port-au-Prince They're Picking Up'

as performed with Kidd Jordan and Carl LeBlanc

in New Orleans' Louisiana Music Factory, Nov. 5, 2016.

Listen on Bandcamp.

Watch on OurTube (start at 0:15 to synch with Bandcamp sound)

(A personal thing. A call to a people I love. My wife is Haitian. Some of the greatest people I know are Haitian. "They look like an anointed people," Christian Scott aTundé Adjuah said to Sarah Elizabeth Charles and me in 2017. I agree.

Let's go, Haiti. Come together, A'y'iti. Show the greatness that's your heritage, every day in which your people do more than survive.

See your first Constitution below, the Constitution of 1805 that followed from your winning over 12 years the only successful Revolution by shackled slaves in history. See that document's noble ideals and common sense--its prizing of equality and justice and Agriculture and the inviolability of everyone's home. ' ... equality under the law is incontestably acknowledged ... The house of every citizen is an inviolable asylum ... Good faith and integrity in commercial relations shall be religiously maintained ...' Such is your heritage, Ayiti/Hayti/Haiti. See too the photo of Haiti's womens' soccer team in 2019 for just one example of earnestness, excellence, vitality, and promise.

Haiti women's international soccer team, 2019.

The "gangs" of Port-au-Prince talk now of a "revolution". We can see why they've acted with violence, with blockades, kidnappings and arson, these past three years, in long-pent response to their communities being ignored and starved. We remember the young men swarming to wash windshields with paper-towels and gain a very little living, for years, along the road to and from Toussaint Louverture International Airport.

They've suffered coups, earthquakes, assassinations. Their

'manifestations' have never been answered with opportunities for ownership. They've been denied education for literacy. They've struggled for years to fulfill the ideals that inform

the deeds and documents of their revolutionary past. They and

their fathers may have been among the 'gangs' whom Maryse and I saw 'picking up' the post-earthquake remains of rocks and concrete, every day, in Port-au-Prince, January 2014.

"Respect!" "Honor!" Unite and take control and make another real revolution, a spiritual revolution, young and old of Ayiti/Hayti/Haiti!

2014 in Pétionville.

In Port-au-Prince they're picking up.

They’re picking up

Before the dawn,

Throughout the midday, burning heat,

And under the moon again.

They’re picking up

Along Toussaint L’ouverture,

Pétion, John Brown, and Dessalines.

Rock by rock,

Block by block--

Konbit! Konbit!

Their backs are straight,

Their voices calm,

As if they have had

To always bear baskets of rocks on their heads

And share precious water.

Four years ago

The earth quaked.

Buildings, bricks—overhead—underfoot—walls—


Into dust.

Everything was turned upside-down.

Roofs became bathrooms, became basements.

In 35 seconds

Neighborhoods disappeared

As if they were struck by a bolt

From Ogun or

Some weird, millennial Harp.

Whole neighborhoods—

Dozens, hundreds, thousands—

Tens and hundreds of thousands gone.

35 seconds turned into a day,

A day like so long

A cloudy, cloudy, cloudy night.

Now, the tap-tap vans and buses

Wind up and down, Their sides displaying molten colors

Of unforgotten forests, Blood of Jesus and so much else that sustains.

Motorcycle-taxi drivers straddle their mounts On earthen lots. Vendors pile papaya, mango, oranges,

Every morning. And still we see the gangs

Passing their rocks from hand to hand,

Block to block--Konbit!—Konbit—Konbit!—

As if each day they have

Drawn from the night’s

Drums, the nights’ drums that penetrate long past midnight,

Some sustenance

From obeisance

At spirits’ shrines.

Yes, their backs are straight.

Their voices calm,

As if they have always had to share

Precious water. Such is the life

Of a people Who have never been defeated.

'In Port-au-Prince They're Picking Up' came to me in February 2014, one month after attending the Port-au-Prince International Jazz Festival with Maryse Philippe Déjean. Kidd and Carl and I performed it as part of my two-hour show with other great musicians (Kirk Joseph, Roger Lewis, Mario Abney, John of France) in New Orleans' Louisiana Music Factory, November 5, 2016.

2015, northern Port-au-Prince, along the road to Arcahaie.

Excerpts from Hayti's Constitution of 1805. C. L. R. James' The Black Jacobins relates how slaves succeeded in their uprising and sources of their revolutionary ideals.

For more that's inspiring from Haiti, please visit the Lèkol Toupatou (School Everywhere in Haitian Kréyol) project that's now home-page for Lèkol Toupatou is the brainchild and life's dream of Madame Marie-Marthe Balin Franck Paul, Principal of College Canapé-Vert and an educator since she was 17, 69 years ago.

Lèkol Toupatou Team of VOLUNTEERS has already recorded MORE THAN 150 video-hours of Days of Lessons for first-year students to become literate ... in Kréyol, French, English and Spanish ... through their mobile devices ... across Haiti and elsewhere. All happening through great Parters such as JAMBAR, the new and fantastically "delicious and nutritious" (David Amram) organic energy-bar.

I've written often about Haiti since going there for the astonishing Port-au-Prince International Jazz Festival with Maryse in January 2014, two days after we were married. So many great people! More on the ground there than can fairly enumerated.

This piece represents some, leading with Madame Marie-Jo Poux of the Foyer Espoir Pour les Enfants (FEPE) orphanage. Its title for me tells one thing fundamental for everyone working-class in Haiti: Haitians Must Be Very Strong.

Here are two more stills from Maryse's video of the November 5, 2016 performance with Kidd and Carl at New Orleans' Louisiana Music Factory. They show, I think, how Carl and Kidd connected then. The inestimably valuable LMF has a video up that presents three other pieces from the two hours that I enjoyed with great musicians (Kirk, Roger

Mario, John from France there, that day.

Haiti 2023 women's soccer team plays next month to qualify for the World Cup after it defeated Mexico last July.

Cheers and the very best! Please let me know how parts come across!


URLS apart from wikipedia

Hayti's Constitution of 1805

C. L. R. James' The Black Jacobins

Lèkol Toupatou

Haitian Master Sculptors

Haitians Must Be Very Strong


Port-au-Prince International Jazz Festival

KIdd Jordan

Splendid website largely made and maintained by Rachel Jordan

Five links to videos of performances with Kidd

More than 30 links to audio, print and video

Carl LeBlanc

Haiti women's soccer


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