Friday, 26 April 2013

Rockatone at ribber bottom

“Rockatone at ribber bottom no know sun hot” is a Jamaican proverb stressing that the ones who find themselves in a privileged position cannot be aware of the distress of the ones in less fortunate circumstances. It comes to my mind today, as I sit by the swimming pool at Hotel Villa Creole in Pétionville, an affluent suburb of Port-au-Prince. I am here only for a two-day sojourn (otherwise I’m staying in a much less pretentious hotel in Delmas) and I seem to be the only guest who is not here in the context of a humanitarian project. Around me quite a number of NGOs’ workers savor delicious juices and discuss the fate of the country. Health, housing, education  and relief from poverty are among their major concerns. Needless to say, the vast majority of international helpers are white, while the totality of the hotel’s personnel attending upon them are black Haitians. Haiti provides, probably more than any other country, fertile ground for the civilizing impetus of modern missionaries and saviors of various kind. Quite obviously the country’s wretchedness makes the fortunes of a lucky few. But, even if not wanting to question the good will of NGOs’ workers (though good will is, in my view, mostly harmful in this kind of context), I nevertheless wonder how this bunch of ‘rocks at the bottom of the river’ can possibly appreciate the sufferings of the poor they are pretending to help.

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