Haitian hip-hop artist Vox Sambou offers an inspiring mix of powerful music and social action, pointing to the great possibilities of blending the arts with community activism. A key hip-hop figure in Montreal, Vox is a member of the celebrated ensemble Nomadic Massive and assisted in launching the Solid’Ayiti initiative after the devastating earthquake hit Haiti last winter.
Solid’Ayiti supports Lycée Jean-Baptiste Cinéas, a public school in Limbé, Vox’s hometown on the northern coast. Recently Vox returned to Haiti for the first time since the earthquake and rabble.ca contributor Stefan Christoff had the opportunity to speak with him about the current situation there, the role of hip-hop culture in movements for social change in the country, and the Haiti’s “invisible” crisis of HIV/AIDS.
Stefan Christoff: Vox, you just returned from your first trip to Haiti after the massive earthquake that struck last winter. Just over six months later, could you describe your impressions from the grassroots.
Vox Sambou: I was very excited to go back home, to see my people, but also there was a fear inside me before returning after the earthquake, about actually seeing Haiti after the earthquake; it was very difficult to see all the families and friends who lost loved ones.
After arriving in Port-au-Prince, the immigration desk became crowded quickly with Haitians from the diaspora, my flight from Montreal stopped in Miami, another city with a major Haitian community. Everything was hectic and disorganized at the airport, waiting under the heat for hours to pass through immigration and get luggage.
After taking a small plane from Port-au-Prince to Cap-Haïtien, the director of Lycée, Jean-Baptiste Cinéas from my town Limbé, came to pick me up. It is only 27 kilometres from Cap-Haïtien to Limbé but it took more than more than an hour because of the post-earthquake road conditions.
My heart is always happy in Haiti, and especially the north, but after arriving in Limbé last month you could see the faces of the people were very, very sad … (full interview Text).
(Vox Sambou is a Haitian hip-hop artist with Nomadic Massive. Info can be found here.
Stefan Christoff is a journalist, community organizer and musician in Montreal who regularly contributes to rabble.ca. He can be found on Twitter here).