By Llana Samuel, Staff Writer
It was a jam-packed return for the Haitian-American Historical Society (HAHS) on Oct. 11 on the Savannah Riverfront. Among the festivities were spoken word performances, a ribbon cutting ceremony and a host of special guests – a must see for the Armstrong community which has strong Latin American ties.
The HAHS have been visiting Savannah since 2007 where they unveiled a monument, Les Chasseurs Volontaires de St. Domingues, in Franklin Square and hosted galas in the city. This year was the first of many annual Haitian Festivals to come to the town and organizers are hoping to attract a large turnout.
Comedian Sejoe, one of the event organizers, collaborated with other artists to bring the Haitian Festival to Savannah.
“We want more young people to turn out,” Sejoe said. For a college town, there weren’t many young people at the festival. The comedian said that they mainly used social media to promote the event. In fact, most of the promotion came from the passer-bys who heard the soulful music and saw a small crowd forming.
“We came for the Greek Festival, but this is where the fun is,” said a local couple who were dancing to reggae music from one of the bands performing. There were other performances by poets and singers alike with a crowd growing as the sun set on the river.
With so many diverse cultures in Savannah, it’s refreshing to see a group get together to bring more cultural awareness to the local area.
“We want to educate people about the beauty, color and soul of Haiti,” Alexandra Barbot, the president of the HAHS said. Barbot added “people needed something cultural.”
In the past, they were at the Hyatt hosting galas usually looking out at people. “But now we’re right here with the people,” Barbot said.
Latin Americans weren’t the only audience. People from all ages, backgrounds and races stopped to admire the artwork, listen to the talented individuals and enjoy learning about Haiti’s history, not on the worldly level, but a more personal and local level. The event lets the city know that even though the history books may neglect to mention it, part of Haiti’s history is deeply rooted in Georgia.