By Sokari Ekine @blacklooks
Last year I was alerted to the website Turning World @Turning_world by some friends here in Haiti. The site is run by photojournalist Brad Workman who has an ongoing photo documentary project in Haiti. We took issue with the language, his profitmaking approach, and the fact that there is no acknowledgement let alone giving back to those whose lives he invades under the guise of social documentary. I wrote a post on this that asked the question: Photo Journalism or Poverty Porn?
In a similar vein, many of us are now questioning the website content of the Foundation for International Development Assistance – Productive Cooperatives Haiti (FIDA-PCH), a Canadian NGO operating in Haiti which purports to have set up a number of agricultural cooperatives and literacy projects in rural areas. Below are a set of photographs and text defining what they, the colonial missionaries, imagine it means to be Haitian.
There are different ways to tell a story without invading peoples’ lives and assaulting their dignity. The photos chosen by Haiti’s Camp Acra residents on their blog should be a lesson on how Haitians see themselves – see here and here. In the 1805 Constitution written by the first President of the Black Republic, victorious revolutionary Jean-Jacques Dessalines (also called JanJak Desalin), declared that to be Haitian is to be Black (Article 14). In other words, being Haitian and being African are one and the same –inseparable. The Constitutions also states freedom of worship and no religion shall dominate.