FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Haitian Creole Month
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Haitian Creole Month
Main event Saturday, Oct. 25th, 2014
PLEASE FORWARD AND CIRCULATE AMONG PRESS AND ALL MEDIA CONTACTS. WE URGE ALL MEDIA OUTLETS TO PUBLICIZE AND COVER THIS IMPORTANT EVENT.
We are pleased to invite you to the
First Annual Celebration of Haitian Creole Month in Massachusetts
2014 Conference Theme: “Haitian Creole And Haiti’s National Development”
WHERE: Cambridge Public Library, Main Branch,
449 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02138
WHEN: Saturday, October 25th, 2014, 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
WHAT: Lectures, discussions, and cultural presentations by Haitian artists, writers, publishers, musicians, and scholars of Haitian culture. Full-length program free and open to the public; Haitian food & refreshments available.
(Please see Organizer Contacts, below, for the most up-to-date program details)
• Haitian Creole linguistic specialists Profs. Marky Jean-Pierre, Louise Evers, Yvon Lamour, Merites Abelard; Moderators: Dr. Sophia Cantave, Prof. Lesly René.
• Boston-area author & editor Tontongi (Eddy Toussaint), presenting the latest books from Trilingual Press, vanguard publisher of texts in Haitian Creole: Tontongi’s new collection of politico-literary essays, Sèl Pou Dezonbifye Bouki and the Haitian Creole translation of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet by Nicole Titus (author of the first Haitian Creole translations of Plato).
• Publisher Roosevelt Desronvilles, presenting books in Haitian Creole from Haiti’s JEBCA Editions.
• Writers Jean-Dany Joachim, Charlot Lucien, Fred Edson Lafortune, Ewald Delva, Patrick Sylvain, Nicole Titus, Doumafis Lafontant, Margela Olivier Galette, presenting their published work in various genres, in Haitian Creole or bilingual editions.
• Haitian-Boston musical legend Gifrants ;
• Haitian visual artists
• Representatives of Haitian Creole cuisine
The Haitian language, Creole or Kreyòl, also known as Haitian Creole or simply Haitian, was first spoken by the Africans enslaved and transplanted to what is today Haiti or Ayiti in the eighteenth century. In the midst, and in defiance, of the dehumanization imposed on them by a horrific colonial system, these men and women were able to forge a unique language in which syntactic structures of their West African linguistic groups survive with lexical elements of Arawak, French, Spanish, English and other languages spoken by colonial and native peoples.
By the time Haiti gained independence from France on January 1st, 1804, Haitian Creole was already a well constituted language spoken by the vast majority of the new nation, including its first head of state, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, whose inaugural address was given in Haitian Creole. History textbooks mention only the address given in French by his lieutenant Boisrond Tonnerre.
The new Haitian ruling classes and power structure would soon adopt French and French Christian culture – as opposed to Creole and the Haitian Vodou culture – as the official language and culture of the country, to the detriment of the Creole language and Vodou culture, reducing the latter to an inferior status of which people felt ashamed.
Since the 1970s, a new and , a more positive appreciation of the Creole language has slowly been taking shape both in Haiti and in the Haitian Diaspora. Writers started to write in it as a legitimate medium, the air waves openly used it, and linguists have paid attention. Ultimately, though not without struggle, Haitian intellectuals in Haiti founded the Haitian Creole National Academy in 2012, voted into law this past year.
However, despite tremendous progress, Haitian Creole‘s struggle for equal respect and acceptance is still an up-hill battle. The language continues to be treated with scorn by the Haitian elite and the State government’s administration and courts, and devalued by the population at large. Many Haitian families continue to officiate important events in their lives (baptisms, first communions, weddings, school graduations, funerals, etc.) in either French or English although the vast majority of the attendants are monocreolophones. Students in the vast majority of the schools are taught in French, and almost all of the textbooks are in French. Although Haitian Creole was ascended to official status in the 1987 Constitution, the fact remains —too often ignored or obscured by Haitians and non-Haitians in country and abroad — that only 10-15% of Haitians speak or write French, while fully 99.9% speak Haitian. Besides contributing to the country’s high illiteracy rate, the devaluing of the native Creole language does great disservice to the historical and cultural contributions of generations of Haitians.
Fortunately, more and more Haitian nationals, intellectuals and non-intellectuals alike, question the wisdom of the existing linguistic dichotomy, calling for true parity, a real bilingualism in the relation between the country’s two official languages.
This first celebration of Haitian Creole Month in Massachusetts is part of a national movement to reverse this historic destitution and return to Haitian Creole the respectability and acceptance it deserves as an important, legitimate, and indispensable element of Haitian national identity, and socio-economic development
This First Annual Celebration of Haitian Creole Month is sponsored by Trilingual Press, Haitian Artists Assembly of Massachusetts, City Light Poetry, Echo Culture, JEBCA Editions, and the Cambridge Public Library.
For more info, contact Jean-Dany Joachim (tel. 617-827-5017), Charlot Lucien (tel. 617-669-0038), or Eddy Toussaint (617-331=2269).