A Haitian Procession in Crown Heights

Bann Konte is a procession of traditional music, games, and folktales popular in the Haitian culture. These parades are commonly seen during Lent and carnival celebrations and include groups of people marching through the streets singing, dancing, and playing drums.

On Nov. 1, Haiti Cultural Exchange, in collaboration with the group Akoustik Prod., brought this tradition to the streets of Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

Although it was the first country in the Caribbean to gain its independence in 1804, Haiti has seen its share of troubles, especially within its government. February 2016 marks the 30th anniversary of the end of the Duvalier dictatorship, a period that for many Haitians was marked by violence and corruption. The country has since endured a number of changes of government, including coups, and currently awaits preliminary results from an initial round of elections in advance of the presidential runoff scheduled for Dec. 27.

Despite issues with its government and continuing efforts to rebuild from a devastating earthquake in 2010 that left hundreds of thousands of Haitians dead, Regine Roumain, co-founder and executive director of Haiti Cultural Exchange, says it’s important to celebrate Haitian culture.

“Haiti Cultural Exchange was founded to develop and present Haitian culture,” says Roumain. “We have a large Haitian diaspora here in New York and we feel that it’s very important to highlight the richness, the diversity of our history, our education and our culture.”

Right now, the programming from Haiti Cultural Exchange follows a revolutionary theme and events next spring will showcase themes of liberation. “It’s to highlight our quest for autonomy, for liberty and for freedom for our people,” says Roumain.

Melissa Rose Cooper had a chance to check out the Bann Konte celebration.

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