Posted Dec. 13, 2007 – You probably won’t be able to detect a Haitian accent when speaking to Czar Entertainment head Jimmy “Henchmen” Rosemond. But his roots and connection to his parent’s native land still run deep.
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“I came up in an era where there was a lot of Haitian pride,” Rosemond said in an interview with BET.com, adding that he visited the Caribbean island nation frequently when he was younger and is able to speak and understand the Creole tongue.
“I want to try to bring that back,” he continued. Nowadays, some young people are ashamed to admit they come from Haiti.
This is one of the reasons why he, along with music super stars Wyclef Jean (also from Haiti) and Akon (from Senegal, West Africa) teamed up to produce this year’s Yele Fest, a free concert that’s set to take place in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince on Saturday.
“I have always been involved in the uplifting of my people, and Haitians and Africans are one,” Akon said in a statement.
Wyclef started the charitable foundation Yele Haiti (where Rosemond serves as an active board member) in 2005 to assist in developing the nation, which is the poorest in the Western Hemisphere. Among the organization’s many projects are training teachers, developing and distributing scholarships, rebuilding schools and feeding the hungry.
And this year, with Wyclef’s new appointment as Haiti’s music ambassador, there are hopes to reach more of the world.
Go to the next page to read why Rosemond thinks Wyclef is the man.
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“Wyclef gets to speak at the United Nations with French-speaking nations, so he might be that guy who politicians reach out to,” Rosemond said.
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Wyclef also hopes his sway, musically and politically, will have a positive effect on this year’s celebration.
“I will use all of my influence and power to fulfill my role as ambassador to Haiti,” he said in a statement. “Along with [Rosemond and Akon] we hope that our goodwill efforts will touch the world and inspire charitable giving.”
The concert’s main goal is to bring the nation’s positive aspects to the forefront.
“We wanted to bring the light back to Haiti,” Rosemond said. “And musicians are, pretty much, the prophets of our time.”
He remembers a time when tourism was big in Haiti, the first Caribbean nation to gain its independence. Now, he says, attracting tourists to one of the poorest nations in the world is difficult. He hopes, though, to change people’s ideas and stereotypes with the event.
“We want people to enjoy the richness of this nation again,” he added.
In addition to the concert, Wyclef and Rosemond will travel throughout Haiti —from schools to a child prison in Port-au-Prince – focusing attention on the nation’s abject poverty, and weak education, medical care, nutrition and housing.
This is an all-inclusive effort, Rosemond said. “We want to change the future of Haiti.”
The artists will also travel to Akon’s native Senegal in 2008 to perform in a major benefit.
Want to learn more about Wyclef's Yele Haiti Foundation? Click here to go to their site.