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History and Changes in Haitian Culture

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Resiliency in Congo and Haiti

When all else fails, culture is the last thing to stand tall against destruction. The communities in in Kinshasa, DRC and post-earthquake Haiti faced inhumane living conditions perpetuated by drastic and negligent exit of colonial powers, as well as incompetence foreign aid. When natural disasters and violence occur in these former colonies, their impact is viewed separately from the ongoing impact of colonial structures, sometimes in the form of intrusive physical objects like buildings. “[It is important to] understand how those [colonial] histories, despite having been so concertedly effaced, yield new damages and renewed disparities” (Stoler). Due to this negligence, communities are forced to adopt “Article 15” and fend for themselves. By repurposing tangible colonial structures, appealing to the hopeful side of citizens, and appreciating local literature, Congo and Haiti have strived and succeeded in maintaining the integrity of their communities’ social and cultural fabrics.

In Kinshasa between 1960 and 2010, there was an emergence of a hybridized community that had become “re-ruralized” in some ways, in terms of both economic survival and social structures “engendering a new type of agrarian urbanity” (De Boeck 267). In terms of economic survival, the community had begun to use recycled debris (concrete, wooden slabs, etc.) to create shanty houses. The people of Kinshasa reclaimed their identities and ways of life, ironically utilizing literal colonial structures to help them do so. The resilience and organic approaches to life within the community are noteworthy, as they speak to the style development of Kinshasa in the postcolonial era. The city does not develop because of careful planning, engineering and organized occupation, “but rather, as the outcome of randomly produced and occupied living space” (De Boeck 269) which develops as a result of the locals’ creativity that represents the city’s “heterogeneous urban conglomeration through the bodies, movements, practices and discourse of urban dwellers” (De Boeck 271). Another practice that represents this hybridized, creative city is the reconnection of the community with the Congo River after inspiration from Korean communities for locals to develop rice paddies by the river in the 1990s. As Colonial powers occupied the Congolese River for several years, this too can be marked as momentous progress and newfound creativity for the Congolese community, inspired by the longstanding culture of resilience.

In the early to mid-2000s, Kinshasa’s hybridized culture yielded new political office with President Kabila, and a new hope in the community. Despite their colonial and postcolonial history, there was an optimistic spark in the community with images such as The Modern Titanic, to show “Mirror Africa,” with an image of a ship “settling sail toward a new future for Kinshasa [that was] powerfully seductive” (De Boeck 275). Although the idea of a utopia was too unrealistic for the citizens to truly anticipate, this push of hope led believe to embody new outlooks based on their ongoing resilience and strength in the face of hardships. Kabila’s “chantiers” eventually “rekindled the dormant capacity to “believe” and dream against all odds” (De Boeck 276). Although times were, and had continuously been tough, all it took was one political leader to show enough promise, for the people to exclaim, “[It is so beautiful that it makes one dream” (De Boeck 276).

In Haiti, similar phenomena are prevalent in the post-earthquake era. There was a feeling of eternal doom that overtook the country after the earthquake. As Dany Laferriere conveys to readers through his short stories in The World is Moving Around Me: A Memoir of the Haiti Earthquake, the catastrophe and shock were unthinkable. However, Haiti has undergone almost a cultural revolution over the years, so their resiliency branches from the apocalyptic state (Munro) in which they thrive and are comfortable. Therefore, although the earthquake drastically harmed the nation, it has shown the world that Haiti has “developed a culture of disaster… [Not] a disastrous culture” (Munro 518). In this disastrous culture, Haitian resilience is prominent, as natural disasters tend to serve as “agents of cultural formation” (Munro 512). Disasters in Haitian culture are believed to enhance a person’s relationship with nature and the environment and much of it is commemorated through storytelling and literature. Laferriere encapsulates Haitian culture in his post-earthquake accounts, especially by highlighting cultural values and practices.

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History And Changes In Haitian Culture. (2019, July 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 28, 2021, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/history-and-changes-in-haitian-culture/
“History And Changes In Haitian Culture.” GradesFixer, 10 Jul. 2019, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/history-and-changes-in-haitian-culture/
History And Changes In Haitian Culture. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/history-and-changes-in-haitian-culture/> [Accessed 28 Jan. 2021].
History And Changes In Haitian Culture [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Jul 10 [cited 2021 Jan 28]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/history-and-changes-in-haitian-culture/
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