I went to a dinner party last night at the house of some Haitian friends. It was a wonderful (if chaotic) time. Over the past few years, I’ve become acquainted with many Haitians and Haitian culture, and I am usually blown away by how kind, how wise, and how filled with enthusiasm for life, for friendships and family they are, even in the face of recurring tragedy. Visiting their country was an experience I’ll never forget.
Haitian Creole is a rich, expressive language, and Haitians are fond of expressing their collective wisdom in pithy proverbs. I’m always on the lookout to catch a new proverb, which invariably make me smile and chuckle with glee.
Some of my favorites are:
“That which doesn’t kill you makes you fat.”
“A little dog is very brave in front of his master’s house.”
“What happens to the turkey can happen to the rooster, too.”
“A leaky house can fool the sun, but it can’t fool the rain.”
“If it is God who sends you, he’ll pay your expenses.”
Last night, on the way home from spending the evening with our Haitian friends, I was suddenly struck by the thought that not long ago, our friends would have been taught in school and in Church that they did not deserve the same happiness and success that we did.
And, although those circumstances are almost incomprehensible to me now, today, on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, I am reminded of another Haitian proverb: “Sonje lapli ki leve mayi ou.”
Remember the rain that made your corn grow.