CNN announced this morning that Haitian-born philanthropist, Wyclef Jean, would officially announce his bid for the November 28th Haitian presidential race on Larry King tonight. That event would undoubtedly underline the singer’s global reach since he would become the first Haitian presidential candidate to make such an announcement abroad. More significantly however, it would perhaps show the disadvantage of the competition, including his own uncle and ambassador to the U.S., Raymond Joseph. In addition, Jean told the press that he would also resign from Yele Haiti, his charity organization to focus on his campaign.
‘Not a Joke’
"It's not something that was taken lightly, it's not a joke, it's something very, very serious," younger brother --Samuel Jean-- told the Associated Press in a phone interview. According to many Haitians, this stage would demonstrate the hip-hop artist’s grasp of public relations and media matters. Should that be the case however, what should we say to those who think that he is tending the wrong media since the Haitian media would play an indispensable role covering his national campaign? Still, his brother maintained, “It is different for us, but we a proud of him and we are going to support him in any way we can.”
‘Not like the others’
Inarguably, his loyal and empathic commitment to the neglected majority coupled with the inherent distrust of Haitians in their corrupted political system would put a populous wind at his back going into November. A commonsensical scenario that would also make him an overwhelming favorite as the people of Haiti has desperately been waiting for its Moses to lead it to its promise land. Among the enthused are Dominique Lapierre, a sales person in Port-au-Prince and 28-year-old Michelle Volma.
“He is not like the others, he has an authentic heart,” Lapierre said. “Wyclef has done so much for this country,” she continued, “especially for the youth. Lapierre then declared, “I believe that he can really change this country.” Similarly, Volma feels “Haiti needs something new. I’ll vote for him,” reported the Associated Press. She found his age and outsider status very attractive. In fact, many of Jean’s supporters share her views. They cling to his genuine motivation and hang their hats on the fact that his vast wealth makes him less likely to do this for personal gain, the perpetual cycle of local politicians.
On the other hand, growing murmurs escaping the debris inhabiting the land would pose an important question: could the hip-hop icon take ravaged Haiti on the road to recovery and finally put it on the map?
‘Not a politician’
“I don’t really think he knows the country, he’s like an American,” argued 27-year-old Anise Ulysse to the Christian Science Monitor. Ulysse said she would not vote for anyone in the up coming elections because “It’s difficult for Haitians to have any faith in the election, we are so used to politicians taking advantage of us,” she argued, “The people living on the streets have other things to think about” she later added. Marie Lacrete, 26, also echoed these very sentiments highlighting Jean’s lack of a college education. “I don’t have a problem with Wyclef, but he’s not the right person to be president,” Lacrete Said. “He’s a musician, not a politician,” she added. She also pointed out the singer’s wealth, popularity, and the people lack of understanding on the issues would help him galvanize votes.
The 3-time Grammy Award winner will have to do much to appease his critics and the fact that he has chosen a primetime international stage to roll out his campaign made the stakes even higher. “He can’t even manage an enterprise properly,” decried Lacrete, referring to TV station Telemax, which –she said-- has been on the decline since its acquisition by the singer. “How is he going to manage Haiti?” The presidency is no small task especially after the recent catastrophe. Hence, what Jean says tonight could potentially make or break his dreams.