Masks of the Plague
A plantain leaf, some plastic, and a piece of nylon string, and the Haitian market woman, top, trying to ward off COVID-19, has managed to duplicate part of the 17th-Century costume designed to protect medical men from the plague.
About ten years ago I was in Marseille, writing a travel piece. I love the city, with its great revolutionary history and its twin seaside fortresses intended by the king—with their cannons trained inward on the city—not to keep Marseille safe from invasion by sea but...
Baby Doc and Friend
Who is Baby Doc’s friend? The man on the right in this picture looks very familiar to me. Clearly he outlasted Duvalier in Port-au-Prince because I would not recall the face of someone who fled along with Jean-Claude. It’s not Baby Doc’s most trusting face. Who can identify the smiling mystery man?
Miracle Tree, Coming to a Whole Foods Near You
For decades, people in the development and reconstruction world have told me about the moringa, a fast-growing tree from Africa (originally) that they hail as a cure-all for subsistence economies, and I mean cure-all. This tree, they say, could -- once properly...
A Kreyol speaker in the Palace of Franse
History sometimes gets turned on its head, as it did last week when Dany Laferrière was inducted into the Académie Française. Laferrière was elected to this odd but august institution in December, 2013, so the induction was not a surprise, but still: amazing. You can be sure that not a French person living in Haiti in the early days of the slave colony, or in the centuries after, imagined that a true son of Haiti would ever be elected and inducted into Richelieu’s exclusive bastion of elite, supereducated, well spoken (no: perfectly spoken) Francophones.