Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Paris encore debout

Photo © Chantal Regnault.

Ce soir derrière le Bataclan Paris 11ème. Paris is still standing.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Thoughts on the Paris attacks: Paris, je t'aime

Back when I lived in Château Rouge, in the northeastern corner of Paris in the 18eme arrondissement, one of my favourite things to do on a Saturday morning - a morning much like this one - was to descend from my flat and walk south.

I would walk through the Marché Dejean, where vendors from places like Côte d’Ivoire,  Sénégal, Congo and elsewhere would sell their wares in front of Algerian-owned bars, and, strolling down the Boulevard Barbès or through the Goutte d'Or, I would eventually cross the Boulevard de Rochechouart, under the elevated métro lines. Walking south, past the Gare du Nord and Gare de l'Est which link Paris with so much of the rest of the world either directly or through connections to its airports, I would veer east and, heading towards the Canal Saint-Martin and to the Quai de Jemmapes, arrive at what is possibly my favourite few blocks of the city.

On a mild day anytime of the year, spots like L'Atmosphère, the Hôtel du Nord and Chez Prune would be crowded with people of every background and nationality, eating, drinking, flirting. Couples would be reclining in one another's arms, and some young person would be playing a guitar. Sunlight would filter down through the leaves of the trees around the canal, and the branches would move in a surprisingly delicate ballet from even the faintest breeze. For those moments you sat there, no matter who you were or where you were from, you could feel a measure of peace, and feel embraced by a city whose history was larger than yourself.

For those of you who don't understand or are asking why those who know it and love it are so wrenched by an attack like this on the La Ville Lumière, which occurred only minutes' walk from the place I am describing this is the reason. Despite all its problems, Paris represents so much to love in the world for so many people; liberté, laïcité, sexual liberation, multiculturalism. It represents so much to be aspired to when elsewhere, even within Europe and France itself, there seems to be only darkness. 

Vienne la nuit sonne l'heure 
Les jours s'en vont je demeure

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Jeune Haiti

On this day in 1964, Louis Drouin and Marcel Numa, the last 2 surviving members Jeune Haiti, a group of 13 young Haitian men who had landed on the island from the United States in hopes of freeing it from the tyranny of François Duvalier, were executed at the wall of the Grand Cimetière in Port-au-Prince. Their comrades who had fallen before them in the Grand Anse were Max Armand, Jacques Armand, Gérald Marie Brierre, Miko Chandler, Charles Forbin, Jean Gerdes, Réginald Jourdan, Yvon Laraque, Roland Rigaud, Gusley Villedrouin and Jacques Wadestrandt. Everyone should know their names. I see a lot of talk about bravery and courage these days but that is what you are looking at right here. Today, Haiti remains in tumult and their dream unrealized. But it's still worth fighting for.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Interview on France 24

Here is my interview with France 24 on the attempt by the Republic of Congo's Denis Sassou Nguesso to cling to power in Brazzaville.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Notes from the Last Testament: The Struggle for Haiti

10 years ago this month, my first book, Notes from the Last Testament: The Struggle for Haiti, was published by Seven Stories Press. An account of Haiti from 1994 to 2004 and pivotal sections of its history that preceded that time, it was my attempt to tell everything I knew that had happened there to the letter, letting the chips fall were they may, and to give a voice to so many, from the lanes of Cité Soleil to the mountains of the Plateau Central, who had shown me Haiti and helped me begin to understand what the struggle was all about. A decade later, "Notes" keeps popping up in the most unexpected places and pissing off all the right people. Happy 10th birthday, little book.

Saturday, September 26, 2015


Ayotzinapa, un año después. Dónde están?