“Medicine Music” by Dowoti Désir

“Every soci­ety has their med­i­cine men and women whose bag of juju is music. The uni­ver­sal­ity of music in part defines our human­ity. ‘Mizik Pou Dwa Moun’ (Music for Human Rights) cov­ers the gamut of alter­na­tive sounds pro­duced in the global North. The com­pi­la­tion of songs and instru­men­tals on this two CD set was designed to repair the spir­its of the liv­ing and re-member the 300,000 dead as a result of the great­est sin­gle calamity nature has bestowed on human­ity in mod­ern times, the first epic dis­as­ter of the 21st Cen­tury: the 7.6 rec­tor scale earth­quake that dev­as­tated Cen­tral Haiti. Yet in some truly twisted bit of faith, like some “Junk­yard Jewel hid­den in trash” – the shunned dis­card of 19th cen­tury impe­ri­al­ism, the would-be poster child of this era’s Neo-liberal garbage heap, read­ing the cue cards of an inept Hait­ian Pres­i­dent Rene Preval and the lat­est “White King of La Gonave,” gate­keeper, for­mer U.S. Pres­i­dent William Jef­fer­son Clin­ton, we Haitians in our Home­land and Dias­pora are “doing what we got to do to get what we need to get…” and we are con­tin­u­ing the Hait­ian Rev­o­lu­tion, Sec­tion 1, Part III.

Music always the balm of our souls and its fire, from the Musik Racine, (roots music) that per­son­i­fies the sec­ond phase of Hait­ian Rev­o­lu­tion, the Dechoukaj, min­is­tered under the twice dis­rupted admin­is­tra­tions of Pres­i­dent Jean Bertrand Aris­tide to the sacred devo­tional music that lead us to slay the drag­ons of enslave­ment and inhu­man­ity between 1764 and 1803, Hait­ian devo­tional music, the sacred rhythms of Vodou, (the dance to the ances­tors,) always car­ried our mes­sage of lib­er­a­tion.
This CD reminds us of those many paths tra­versed from joy to lamen­ta­tion, pop­u­lar bal­lads to jazz enable us to remem­ber… espe­cially those who loved us, those we lost, those we were forcibly sep­a­rated from, those we refuse to forget.

And for the unseen spir­its among us, the envisib; mysté; zanj lis­ten­ing to these tunes, now “singing songs never sung” who will not allow us to be for­got­ten, you who shaped the Hait­ian imag­i­na­tion and the imag­i­na­tion of the world, be you daugh­ters of Kon­goland, regents of Dahomey or a the prog­eny of the palest flow­ers among us, keep­ing singing those songs into our heads. Nou mem mem mem, you my peo­ple: defect­ing royal, elite gen­try or proud peas­ant; slum-dweller; name­less, face­less cacao-skinned, coconut leaf child – how­ever you got us here in the Amer­i­cas, whis­per those songs of Afrik Ginen, Moth­er­land of all human­ity to us.

You, the heal­ing voices inside our heads crossed the Mid­dle Pas­sage come pour­ing your hearts inside us. You who spat blood in the cry­ing seas, flung from ships boughs or cap­tive step­ping on sad soil whose pulse is unknown between your toes. We honor you with these songs. And you wedged in the rub­ble, pray­ing with the saints, the lwas, orisa, God and the damned, wait­ing to be res­cued… And finally you who responded dig­ging in your pock­ets, your food pantries, clos­ets, hearts, your souls to help us in need, lets us all sing the songs we know and those songs we had never song before with love, grace, com­pas­sion and Burnt Sugar. Ayibobo!”

Dowoti Désir
Manbo Asogwe
Ogun Task­force for Haïti
March TwentyTen