mardi, novembre 11, 2008

Haïti, Pays Hanté (Haunted Haïti)

Haïti, Caribbean island, 8m inhabitants. Known for being crippled with civil wars and poverty or for the Haitian Voodoo. Lately, the island made the headlines after the hurricanes that devastated the area, in August or September.

What is so fascinating and also so sad with this Caribbean island is the fact that Haïti was actually the second country of the Americas (geographically speaking) that obtained its independence after the United States. It happened in 1804 and look where the country is now... Yesterday's enlightment has aborted. The way I read history makes me think that the island successively generated, somehow, two leaders and then, nothing. The first one was Toussaint Louverture who led the slave riot against Napoleon. The second was Jean-Jacques Dessalines who took up the leadership of the Haitian people after Toussaint Louverture's death. Dessalines defeated Napoleon and eventually gave independence to the Haïtian people. It seems that ever since, nobody has born and stood up to bring this spark of leadership the country needed to give Haïti the opportunity to come back to life. As if the spring that created enlightened leaders had dried up after the Dessalines' assassination by his own peers.

I recall the election of the priest Jean-Baptiste Aristide at the head of Haïti in 1990. I was still very young at that time but was marked by the hope that the election of this single men, a priest above all, brought to the Haïtian people. Or at least it is what I saw with my childish eyes. Aristide did not succeed in instilling this something that Haïti needed (either by personal greed or other external circumstances) and the country fell again in its doomed decay, after Coups and civil riots.

In every reputed Western Business school (Note that I actually make a generality our of my experience of the French Business school which mimics the anglo-saxon world), being a leader, thinking as a leader, or at least acting as a leader, is presented as the panacea. This is what we are taught on the business side. But how do you truely become a leader? Same question for what I will call an "enlightened leader" in the positive assertion. For business, politics and social life alike, the question remains the same. The will of one person is not enough. Succeeding in being elected/chosen by others does not make the trick either, it is just a first (and of course significant) step. The challenge is not merely staying in place but effectively and continually bringing this so-much needed new life - not only hope- into the system, the society.

If one finds how to turn a so-and-so into a true leader. Well, let me know.

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