Chan Desperans: The Journey To Justice
By: Valencia Clement
“Chan Desperans” means “Song of hope” in Haitian Creole. Throughout my life, I’d always see “Chant D’esperance,” a French/Haitian-Creole hymnal in Haitian churches in the United States and Haiti. As I began reflecting on spirituality and womanist theology, I began asking questions of colonization, imperialism and linguistic sovereignty as it relates to Haitian Christian theology. I wondered why some pastors in my church only spoke French even though, my grandmother, a devout Christian couldn’t speak or understand French. She couldn’t read or write but she spoke Haitian-Creole to me and that’s how I learned my mother’s tongue. Haitian-creole is a linguistic gift yet for most of Haitian history, the language of the elite was French. In thinking about the accessibility of spiritual texts to Haitians in the diaspora, I began researching when the first Bible was published in the language of the people and I found that “Bib La” was published in 1985. This means, for centuries, Haitians had to rely on French speakers and second hand translations to practice a faith so prominent that Catholicism is the national religion of Haiti. This book reclaims the title “Chan Desperans” during a time where this country needs hope. 2020 has been a year of uncertainty; with a global pandemic, several environmental crises, family separations, civil uprising and a contested upcoming presidential election, this is the time for hope. Chan Desperans is a collection of poetry split into six sections: (1) Trauma and Pain, (2) Pandemic Disaster, (3) Pandemic Prayers, (4) Love Lockdown, (5) (Re)humanization and (6) Hope, Futurity & Utopia. This book is a reminder of the power of creativity, spirituality and hope for creating a better future. This text reminds readers of the importance of having a radical imagination and hope when journeying to utopia. Join me today on the journey to justice.