Viv Manno Charlemagne and “Long Live the Haitian Poor”


Here are excerpts from a guest post in L’Union Suite by Celucien L. Joseph on the recently deceased Joseph Emmanuel “Manno” Charlemagne (1948-2017), a political folk singer, musician, and activist.

Haiti has lost one of the most important human rights advocates, freedom fighters, public intellectuals, and anti-dictator and American Empire thinkers in the second half of the twentieth-century. Emmanuel Charlemagne (1948-2017) was a political activist and gifted musician who sang boldly the resilience and hope of the Haitian people in the midst of political tragedy and despair, cultural alienation, and imperial interruptions.

[. . .] Manno also taught me about the long-suffering and courage of the Haitian people; through his lyrics, I became aware of the importance of democracy and justice, and the ethics of individual responsibility and collective mobilization toward human flourishing and the common good in the Haitian society. Consider the following verse from the album “La Fimen” (The Smoke) (1994), in which Manno laments about the state of the Haitian society and failure of the Haitian state after 200 years of independence:

Dwa de lòm se konsa l rele
Lamayòt pou ti moun fronte
Apre 200 zan sa n regle
Nèg vle fè n konnen ke solèy se Bondye
Men dyab la ap vini pa pale
Labib son w bagay ki sakre
Yon patay ki pa byen regle
Blan yo pran tè ya
Yo bann bib la n aksepte tande

[. . .]

Celucien L. Joseph (PhD, University of Texas at Dallas) is an Assistant Professor of English at Indian River State College. His recent book includes Thinking in Public: Faith, Secular Humanism, and Development in Jacques Roumain (Pickwick Publications, 2017); he is the general editor of the forthcoming text, Between Two Worlds: Jean Price-Mars, Haiti, and Africa (Lexington Books, February 2018).

For full review, see

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