Wyclef Jean is one of my favorite artists. I’ve learned so much from watching him. When I was in junior high, I bought my first Fugees CD. And then I became addicted. When you listen to Wyclef—or for that matter, any member of the Fugees—you will learn something. Whether it is about current events, or culture, or language, there is always something there to learn.
When I first heard Wyclef Jean speak Spanish in “Guantanamera”, I became intrigued with the idea of black people speaking Spanish in other countries. In high school, I had the opportunity to do an honors project in my junior year Spanish class. We had full creative control over what we could study and research. Surely, with the unchartered territory of the internet at my fingertips, the first words that I put into the Yahoo search engine (remember when it was the most popular?) was “Blacks in Latin America”. A whole world opened up for me.
I learned about the Garifuna. I saw the words “African Diaspora” for the first time. I saw the faces of the people. I was hooked. It was a quest for knowledge that would guide me for the rest of my life.
Interestingly enough, as you already know, Wyclef is from Haiti—a land where French and Creole are more commonly spoken. It’s interesting that he would influence my studies in Spanish, which would eventually inspire me to study in Brazil and learn Portuguese.
Learning about “Blacks in Latin America” has influenced my study of people of African Descent (the term that I now use to refer to such people, including myself) throughout the world.
Since encountering Wyclef in music back in 1996, I have had an intense desire to travel to Haiti. My Mom said that I would meet Wyclef Jean one day, as she watched me get lost in watching his performance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. And, I did meet him in person.
I still know that one day I will travel to Haiti, and I believe, as I have for some time, that I will meet Wycelf again… and this time, we will work together in Haiti.
Now as Haiti rebuilds and heals, I am even more confident that this is true. I feel a love for Haiti, even though it is a land that I have never known. Some of my favorite Wyclef songs have been the ones that he sang in Creole. Even without knowing what the words mean, I could feel their power and know that they have meant something to the Haitian people. They have meant something to me.
It is an honor for me, in any way possible, to help the people of Haiti. I ask you to help in any way you can.
If you’d like to make a donation to the Yéle Haiti foundation, please follow the hyperlink.
To learn more about what you can do to help with the relief efforts in Haiti, visit the WhiteHouse.gov site.