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Sounds Imported from Haiti: The El-Saieh Brothers and Maestro Joujou from Dja-Rara

By Kevin F. Mason posted Mar 06, 2011 at 01:06 PM

Sounds Imported: Haiti via Miami and Brooklyn
10th District Reporting In:

Interviews with:

Viktor and Tomm El-Saieh ::   
Maestro Joujou from DJARARA ::

Sunday, March 6th @ 6:00 pm
90.5 FM //


MARCH 12, 2011 – APRIL 4, 2011


Tomm El-Saieh Presents  786.447.5092 2014 NW Miami Ct. Miami Fl, 33137

Tomm El-Saieh Presents is pleased to announce the opening of “HISTORICAL PRECEDENCE” the debut solo exhibition of Port-au-Prince born/Miami based artist Viktor El-Saieh. Viktor will present paintings from his series entitled “Historical Precedence”. As Viktor explains “Historical Precedence is a survey of 19thand 20thcentury Haitian political leadership presented in the context of a post-earthquake Haiti moments away from an election which will undoubtedly determine its survival. These are, a series of paintings that explore the need for adequate leadership as it relates to Haiti's role as one of the founding fathers of Post-colonialism and the first of many places to see the “transformation of slaves trembling in hundreds before a single man, into a people able to organize themselves and defeat the most powerful European nations of their day”. To what end? And oneself? Why write these words from the comfort of some air-conditioned airspace only to perpetuate the state of affairs through one's own inaction. While these concerns are valid this can and should only be presented as a basis for reflection, as an opportunity to evaluate the quality of leadership in a leaderless country. Yet, before any evaluation can take place, one must ask oneself the question: “In theory, are Western standards of governance, management, and lifestyle universal in terms of ones natural inclination?” In other words, are they not up to 'standards' because they are incapable, or because those standards are not relevant? Perhaps many of our perspectives are tainted by learned meanings and standards, which realistically can and will only be applied to certain places. Having noted this obvious issue, it seems that one could easily relieve the burden of pity if they assumed that the ways of other people are easily misunderstood. Objectively: corruption, bureaucratic-style complacency and self-preservation run rampant within this system. Yet for some time now this system has been alien, hovering over its constituency like a ghostly shadow appearing casually if ever for brief stints of terror. Born into terror, it can do little more than return to that state which it finds most comforting. Born into a cell and granted freedom at the cost of freedom-One often wonders, who would take when the need is great? In the past domination through a special sort of personal rule was the norm along with the midnight exile amidst webs of Machiavellian intrigue. For some unfortunate reason few have held the moral fiber necessary for effective leadership and for those who were close, death was closer.” Viktor’s work follows in the tradition of Haitian painters like Seymour Bottex, J.E.Gourgue, and Andre Normil, all of whom painted historical subject matter. These paintings are manifest through a nostalgic-nationalism tainted by the realities of inadequate leadership.

Maestro Joujou
DJA-Rara // //

DJA-Rara is a very motivated cultural activist group in the Haitian community. Our mission is to preserve the culture and increase self-awareness to young Haitian Americans living across the waters and to share our music with various cultures. Rara inspires, energizes and uplifts. We’ve seen our music have a positive effect on those involved and it has helped to encourage them to become leaders and role models. Lot Bo Dlo: “The Other Side of the Water” in Haitian Kreyol, signifies the groups commitment to keeping their Haitian culture alive and intact in Diaspora. Djarara Lot Bo Dlo was founded by Pe Yves in 1996. Pe Yves’ passionate vision to recreate a vibrant Rara community in Brooklyn led to the formation and continued growth and success of Djarara. The group performs in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park each Sunday during the summer months, their contagious grooves and unifying vibes continue to draw increasingly larger crowds each year, always culminating with their Jouvay performance on the eve of the annual West Indian Labor Day Parade on Eastern Parkway. Djarara is a cultural unification point within the community; a place where young and old can congregate, reconnect to their roots and celebrate their Haitian pride with joyous song and dance. Djarara has performed at festivals around the country, as well as at such venues as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, and they are the subject of a documentary film entitled “The Other Side of the Water” by Jeremy Robins and Magalie Damas. We continue to grow – each year our crowds have grown in excess of 4,000 participants. We decided that we want to do more and established DJA Christmas, 6 years ago. DJA (Dance Joy our Ancestors) celebrates Christmas and our ancestral background. We teach the youth to embrace their heritage proudly. DJA-Rara has set up its own not-for-profit organization to promote traditional Haitian culture. We have participated in many cultural events for Brooklyn Arts Council in June ‘07, Columbia University in February ‘07, SUNY Binghamton in October ‘06, Amherst College in September ‘06, and was chosen by Carnegie Hall committee to represent New York for the Global Encounters Caribbean Crossings education series.

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