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Burning Spear News

Fresh La Vwadezil’s ‘Mande Yo Pou Mwen’ justly criticizes oppressive powers for Haiti’s mass displacement

Jun 5, 2021
Elikya Ngoma, Haiti Editor


In his music video for "Mande Yo Pou Mwen," Haiti's singer-songwriter Donald Joseph, also known as "Fresh La Vwadezil," walks through the streets of the Dominican Republic after moving from Ayiti (Haiti).

 

HAITI—On March 17, 2021, singer-songwriter Fresh La—whose birth name is Donald Joseph and who is the lead singer of his band called “Vwadezil”—released a moving new single, titled “Mande Yo Pou Mwen.” 

“Mande Yo Pou Mwen” is a lyric-and-melody-driven song that vocalizes the pain of Africans from Ayiti (Haiti) who are forced to leave our country due to the unbearable conditions of our people there.

Fresh La is known as “the King of Raboday,” a title given to him in 2014 by the town hall of Delmas, a commune in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, for achieving 10 consecutive years of hit songs at the time. Others would also award him and Vwadezil (whose name is a made-up compound word that means “voice of the island(s)”) for their positive representation of our culture.

‘Raboday’ is the name of two genres in Ayiti. The first is one of the hundreds of traditional folklore rhythms that continue to be the ‘heartbeat’ of music and other cultural expressions in Ayiti, including the Vodou ceremonies they accompany.

It is a rhythm that rallies people together so that a Sanba, the lead singer of a konbit (cooperative common labor collective), can pass a message to the others.

The second one is a sub-genre of “‘rasin”’ (roots) music that combines folklore rhythms with various other styles of music, such as rock music, where performers observe and highlight the harshness in Haiti’s society, while making a plea for change.

The rhythms of the second raboday are often mixed with electronic dance music (EDM) and while the performers also observe and highlight harsh realities of Haiti’s society, they present them in a provocative and often vulgar manner, full of sexual innuendos.

Vwadezil’s raboday style is the perfect mix of the two types, musically and lyrically. 

He maintains the traditional raboday folklore rhythm, while adding electronic synthesizers to his instrumentals.

He is most known and celebrated for his lyricism, where he often uses tongue-in-cheek metaphors and innuendos to highlight Haiti’s political contradictions and criticize the “leaders.”

Vwadezil speaks as the voice of Haiti’s “diaspora” in “‘Mande Yo Pou Mwen’’

There are approximately two million “Haitians” living outside of Haiti due to our families leaving the country for the Dominican Republic, which is on the same island of Ayiti, the U.S., various other Caribbean islands, Chile, Brazil, Canada and France, among other locations.

Fresh La, who lives in the U.S., sings “Mande Yo Pou Mwen” from the viewpoint of these two million dispersed Africans from Ayiti.

The song opens up with the chorus (lyrics translated from Kreyòl [Haitian Creole]) that says:

Ayiti,

If you don’t see me, ask the wicked for me (appropriately placing blame on the oppressors) 

Kiskeya or Bohio, (other traditional names for Ayiti, given by its indigenous Taino people)

If you don’t see me, ask the malevolent for me

They’re doing their things, they cite your name

I am your child,

If you don’t see me,

Ask the wicked for me

The first verse is Fresh La expressing the boycott he says he faces in the “Haitian Music Industry” due to the kinds of lyrics he produces. This verse also serves as a metaphor for what Fresh La describes as “the government boycotting the people” (from life and livelihood):

They assemble and plot against me…

Ask the media,

Ask the leaders,

Ask the “State-man” (State-employed personnel)

What they do with me,

The second verse of the song is where Fresh La really lays out the kinds of contradictions Africans face in Ayiti that forces us to leave our country:

I didn’t have “diaspora” madness (ask them for me)

I never have “diaspora” madness, mama (ask them for me)

They sit on my stuffed/upholstered chair, they get up (I don’t see [them]!)

They sit on my education, they get up (I don’t see [it]!)

They sit on my security, they get up (I don’t see [it]!)

They sit on my country’s money, they get up (I don’t see [it)!)

I’m searching for life for my family! (Ask them for me!)

Come help me sing, if you search and don’t see me (ask them for me)

The music video, shot in the Dominican Republic, features a scene of a coach bus filled with “Haitian” construction workers, doctors, businessmen and everyday people who are singing the lyrics as they are moving from Haiti.

Fresh La makes it clear that Africans from Ayiti are not leaving our Ayiti of our own volition. 

It is the so-called leaders and government officials in Haiti, the neocolonial puppets who represent white colonialist power in black face, who create the conditions that force us out.

“Mande Yo Pou Mwen” depicts the reality of the entire African Nation

As African Internationalists, we must take this question beyond just the reality of our African people in Ayiti and realize this song speaks to the reality of African people around the world, even in other so-called African “countries” that Africans from Ayiti are displaced to.

African people being forcibly displaced from our so-called “countries” whether on the Continent or in the Caribbean is not a new phenomenon. It is a process that has been happening for over 600 years, ever since the first African was kidnapped from our national homeland (Africa)!

Chairman Omali Yeshitela of the African Socialist International (ASI), the combination of African People’s Socialist Party organizations around the world, and his theory of African Internationalism teaches us that African people have been forcibly dispersed from our Africa, through the process of colonial slavery, for the purpose of creating life for colonialists at the expense of our own lives.

This is the same process taking place today with Africans from Haiti and around the world.

Point #1 of the APSP’s 14-Point Platform, titled “What We Want – What We Believe” states, that :

“1. We want peace, dignity and the right to build a prosperous life through our own labor and in our own interests.”

Africans in Haiti and abroad must come to the conclusion that we have to fight for self-determination, which is the ability to feed, clothe and house ourselves and that the only way we will ever achieve self-determination is through the International African Revolution.

We must organize to build the African Socialist International around the world, including building the African People’s Socialist Party in Ayiti, to consolidate the African Nation and further our struggle for national liberation.

Viv Ayiti (Long Live Ayiti!)

Long Live the African Socialist International!

Freedom in our Lifetime!

Uhuru!

Join the APSP at APSPUhuru.org

 

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