Filmmaker and photographer of Haitian descent Francesca Andre expresses her love of Cap-Haïtien, Haiti, in a beautiful photo essay for AFROPUNK. The full title of the article is “Haiti’s Enduring Spirit Comes Alive in This Photo Essay.” Here are excerpts:
The first time I encountered Okap, I fell in love. I fell in love with the spirit, the pride and even the accent. I’ll admit I am deep in the honeymoon phase, but everything about Okap illuminates my soul. The purpose of my trip was to participate in Thriving OKAP, an initiative created by Maritza Boudoir and Wanda Tima that brings together entrepreneurs across the Haitian Diaspora to explore how to revive Okap’s local economy. The panels, which covered topics from female empowerment to tourism, were invigorating and exemplified the dedication and love that Capois have for their city.
On my last day in Okap, my friend took me on a mini-tour. My intention was to be present, to absorb the spirit of the town, and to not hide behind my camera. The moment I saw the Sans-Souci Palace, I was overcome with a sense of pride, gratitude, and grace. It felt like I was the prodigal child returning home, but instead of a feast, it was a private, intimate conversation with ancestors. As I stood outside of this fortress, I was almost compelled to kiss the ground. Perhaps I would have if the soil hadn’t become damp and muddy from the drizzle throughout the day.
[. . .] Here in this seldom-known World Heritage site, I expressed gratitude to the elders, who left behind the legacy of freedom. [. . .] The Capois are very dignified people, yet approachable. I am eternally grateful for the magical moments that I spent with the people of Okap, and these few portraits are just the beginning of the love story with my second home.
Francesca Andre is the co-founder of Optik 21 and an award-winning filmmaker whose photography work has circulated in publications such as the New York Post, New York Daily News, News Day, Connecticut Post, Daily Mail and Ellements Magazine to name a few. Her latest film Charcoal, tackles internalized colorism and has been screened at many US and International film festivals [. . .].