Episode 71: Artist explains Haiti beyond superficial coverage of political violence and earthquakes

Haitian American artist, Sophis, says one can’t understand Haiti without going back to 1804, the year of independence.

Haitian American musical artist, Sophis, gives us some straight-talk insights into the historical context mainstream media often avoid when talking about his country of birth.

Haiti is a country with a rich history. It was the first Black nation to liberate itself from European rule, way back in 1804, when a slave revolt defeated Napoleon’s mighty French army and declared independence. That’s right — 80 years before the 1884 Berlin Conference, when European empires sat down and agreed to divide the African continent amongst themselves, Haiti had fought and defeated one of he greatest of them to become independent.

Since then, however, the country has gone through multiple challenges in leadership and governance, including violent dictatorships, and occupation by the United States. Most recently, on July 7, President Jovenel Moise was assassinated. And on, August 14, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck the country, leaving more than 2,200 people dead, and thousands more injured. Sophis explains how everything happening today in Haiti can be traced back to that 1804 victory against the French.

Sophis is a musical performer, and artist, whose music is a blend of pop, and dance, with a strong influence by his Afro-Caribbean roots. He began performing professionally in 2005 with his San Francisco Bay Area-based band, Kalbass Kreyol.