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Friday, January 13, 2006

The Agronomist

I don't think I've been as moved by a documentary since I saw Coconut Revolution - the story of the people of the island of Bougainville and their fight against the multi-national mining company.
Last night's film, really put a lot of things about what’s currently going on in Haiti into perspective.
A lot of the story of the Haitian people is shrouded in a lot of confusion, distortion.
Demme manages a gritty but touching portrait of Jean Dominique, trained as an agronomist, he buys a radio station and sets about revolutionizing the media landscape in the era of Papa Doc and his Ton Ton Macoute thugs.
Rudder is right, we have a lot to apologise to Haiti for. For turning our backs on them in the past and paying only lip service to the continuing madness, the continuing US interference.
Another thing that struck me about the film is the notion of the journalist as activist. We really don't have a sense of that at all.
The film was excellent because it gave us a rare view of what really goes on inside Haiti. And that is the unfortunate thing.
What of those of us outside in the region? You never hear about the Trinidad Guardian or the Jamaica Gleaner sending reporters to cover the Haitian story. As a result we get third hand news through overseas sources, CNN, BBC, all of whom have their own agendas and also don’t really have an understanding of
Which is not to say that people from outside cannot be a part of whatever the solution will be to the crisis in Haiti. But surely we also have something to add to the discourse and more than just talk we regional journalists, activists, interested people, need to start taking some kind of action.


Blogger Nicholas said...

"the notion of the journalist as activist"--you're right, that's a phenomenon we've rarely seen here in T'dad, & certainly there's never been a Trinidadian journalist who's had the kind of political impact Jean Dominique had in Haiti. As we saw in the film, when JD retured to Haiti in 1994, sixty thousand people turned up to welcome him at the airport. On Thursday night after the film, I kept asking people: which Trinidadian journalist could inspire that kind of enthusiasm? Keith Smith?

1:29 PM  
Blogger Georgia said...

. . . and I commented that we shouldn't feel that badly about it. Is there a Jean Dominique equivalent today in the US? UK?

Not to minimise what is going on here in T&T nor Dominique's own efforts or intentions, but in a different kind of Haiti Dominique might have been had the luxury of devoting his time to working in the field he was educated in and been a good - or great - agronomist. (Though I doubt it - he's too much of a performer.)

Here - as in the US - we're faced with a government that is incompetent and corrupt but not repressive in the traditionally recognised ways, and people are either so inured to negative information or sheepish in our devotion to political parties. . . alas. Let me stop depressing myself.

4:05 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Georgia: we're also relatively comfortable economically, and there isn't that sense of real physical deprivation and desperation to shock us out of our complacency and apathy (but give us time, give us time...).

And yes, Jean Dominique was quite a performer, wasn't he? As was his sister. A family with a flair for the dramatic. Family dinners must have been quite theatrical occasions.

Nicholas: Which journalist? None today, but perhaps, in the past, Patrick Chokolingo? :-)

6:08 PM  

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