As ‘Sweet Micky,’ Haiti’s charismatic president built a reputation as the king of carnival by denouncing governments, mooning politicians and being outrageously anti-establish-ment.
Now, as president of Haiti, some say Michel Martelly is banning other artists from taking part in this year’s carnival celebration for doing the same thing he did as a singer: criticizing the government.
Lead singers behind some of this season’s most controversial carnival tunes — most of them critical of the Martelly government — say they were disinvited from being among the 15 bands to be featured on floats for this year’s carnival.
“As young artists, we learned how to do this from him, watching him denounce government after government,” said Don Kato of the group Brothers Posse, whose alleged ban has lit up social media and become a lead story for Haitian journalists. “It makes no sense that as an artist I can’t sing about the environment I am living in, and you want to sanction me because I’m not singing in favor of you.”
In a country where past carnival songs have predicted the fate of governments, carnival lyrics are viewed as the social and political pulse of the country. In the past 20 years, some have even predicted the fates of governments, which Martelly acknowledged in a radio interview Friday, saying songs have the power to “overthrow a government.” Already, political journalists and opposition lawmakers are employing the song lyrics in their own analysis of Haiti’s current rough political waters.
In the interview on Port-au-Prince’s Scoop FM radio, Martelly said it’s not automatic that an artist would be chosen to perform during carnival. He added that Kato’s song “doesn’t bother me.”