Friday, August 23, 2013

Spotlight on Jérémie: History, memories and reminiscences

By Herve Gilbert
We are on the eve of St-Louis, the celebration of the Saint patron of Jérémie , the annual rendez-vous for traditional Jérémiens living in Haiti and abroad. St. Louis has been the most celebrated day of the year. It is also the commemoration of love, filled with vacationers and a good excuse to splurge, like excessively drink etc ...

Urban, men, women and children, villagers, tourists and foreign visitors from the capital, takes a part in this festivity and celebrates it with great fervor. I reminisce about the traditional dance parties at Versailles Night Club and Stella Night Club, where wearing a suit was required. Some men who did not have a suit, would even have to look for a jacket to wear sometimes "beneath the mattress" . On the evening of St. Louis Day, all the men should be "bwòdè Chelbè" (well dressed). Today, this is no longer the same tradition. You can take part in this celebration wearing casual clothing and sandals...things have changed a lot ... 

Procession of St Louis - Click to enlarge the picture
St. Louis is a Christian holiday marked by the great mass on August 25, preceded or followed by a procession in the afternoon. On that day, the interior of the cathedral of the city is decorated in all its splendor. St. Louis is also a political party marked by a Te Deum, a military and a student parade through the city. Its also a celebration of the God "Agwe" ​​in which sailors and fishermen from the sea organize the water festival.

The festivity of St. Louis usually starts on Aug. 15, at Numéro Deux , the day of the Assumption, and continues for 10 days during which the city experiences different activities compared to the other months of the year. We want to recognize the pilgrims, the tourists from all over the world who travel on this occasion to reunite with family and friends scattered throughout the world. Their participation in St-Louis must bring some positive contributions to this city that we say is still cherished .. To be honest, this is exactly what the city of Jérémie needs.

Monsignor Michel Decoste, Diocesan Bishop of Jeremie
Now, lets take a journey through time to revisit the history of Jérémie during which you will learn some of its history and revive some memories and reminiscences with a nostalgic Jérémien.
This year brings the 257th anniversary of the founding of Jérémie, the City of Poets (1756 - 2013). Jérémie is located at the extreme tip of the southern peninsula. It is the capital of the department of Grand Anse. At the end of the 20th century the area of ​​the city and its surroundings was 455 km2. The department of Grand Anse had about 95,144 inhabitants.
Where did the name Jérémie which was attributed to the metropolis of Grand Anse come from? Until 1756, Jérémie was called "Old Village of Grand Anse" (Vieux Bourg), a small town located in Testas. In 1754, following a hurricane that ravaged the (Vieux Bourg), Old Bourg and the English pirates who raided the town two years later, the residents decided to rebuild the town and transport it elsewhere. A little further from Testas, there was an old French fisherman named Jérémie, who was already settled in the area and the people of (Vieux Bourg) Old Town decided to join him. Thus, the Old Village of Grand Anse was relocated and renamed in the name of Jérémie. Due to its geographical location in relation to (Windward Passage) Jérémie is one of the main targets of inclement weather.

Many hurricanes and cyclones have swept and devastated the region causing a lot of damages, for example:
 1-The hurricane of September 28, 1873.
 2-The one of September 12, 1875
 3-The hurricane of 1935 that swept the first bridge of Grand'Anse
 4-The Hurricane Hazel who brushed it severely on October 11, 1954
 5-The cyclone of 1958 known as Ella
 6-The Hurricane Flora, which tore the roof of the Hospital Saint Antoine
 7- Cléo that struck in October 1964
 8- In Hurricane Cleo there was 192 victims
 9- On August 5th 1980, Hurricane Allen

10- The second to last hurricane to hit Jérémie was Gordon in1994.
11- October 4, 2016:  Hurricane Matthew swept the Great South in a day. Damage, loss of life, property and property are enormous. Hurricane Matthew took almost all the sheet metal roofing houses out. The Grande-Anse area was virtually cut off from the rest of the world. Until now, a comprehensive review of losses has not yet been presented. The department has gone backwards more than 50 years back.


The "Estimé Bridge" was inaugurated in 1950
The "Estimé Bridge"( left)was inaugurated in 1950, following the destruction in 1935 of the first bridge over the Grand Anse. Jérémiens under the age of 50 have never heard of the destruction and have never seen a picture. Also, they have never heard of the flood of 1935 which killed at sea, several hundreds of people. The old iron bridge was built during the reign of Hyppolite.

As an open parentheses, without a shadow of a doubt, Jérémie has also produced men and women of great value and who have distinguished themselves at all view points: political, literary, artistic or religious.

Closer to home, we note that the former president of Haiti François Denis Légitime  was a Legitimate jérémien born in Testas. Furthermore, among the many members of congress and senators who have represented Jérémie we cannot ignore Me Garoute Augustus, Marc Antoine and especially Herman Jérome who played a large role in the revolution of 1946 and who has always been distinguished by his bright and energetic interventions in the Parliament.

A partial view of the Dumas square in Jérémie
To close the parenthesis, let us note that in the current government of Haiti, six jérémiens occupies ministerial portfolios, without to mention ministers Serge Fourcand, Verrier, Bernard Bontemps who originated from Jeremie and who also served as ministers in recent governments. However, we must not forget the poto-mitan named Max Dorismond; an outstanding writer who dedicated his pen to the welfare of his native city. He has never ceased to challenge these congeners to sit for a constructive dialogue to get Jérémie out of its torpor.
Mgr.Guy Sansaricq
We must note with great pleasure that the first bishop of the Haitian American Catholic Church and the first black to reach such a position in the Diocese of Brooklyn is a native of Jérémie. His name is Bishop Guy Sansaricq.

We must also mention the role of jérémiennes in the Congregation of the Daughters of Wisdom. To begin with, the parish of Jérémie will celebrate 135 years and the first religious of this congregation of Jérémie was born sister Virginia Chass.

Also, it is with great pride that I mention the youngest Provincial that was responsible for the Congregation of Wisdom in Haiti was a Jérémienne: in this case Sister Anne of Wisdom born Leonid Joseph was the first black nun named Superior General of the Congregation in the world and was a Jérémienne. She resides in Rome. This is Sister Ludovique Marc.
The ferry-boat 'Trois Rivières", the coaster which sails between
Jérémie and Port-au-Prince                                                              
Thanks to its climate, the region of Jérémie produces an abundance of nutritious fruits and a large quantity of food supplies such as bananas, yams, (the tree-real or real-lam) ... etc. Despite the lack of adequate road network, the department of Grand Anse was once the breadbasket of Port-au-Prince. Our food production was distributed in the capital with a deficient cabotage service, often affected by Nordés * who always disabled trade "Madan Sara".
According to some historians, the proposal for the first town was developed by Desnoyelle who was a surveyor. A new plan was later presented in 1760 by the Surveyor Vaudreuil Laporte and the first buildings began in Fontaine Mangot. Boncy the family would be among one of the first families listed in Jérémie. The first streets were the "Rue de la Marine and Commerce Streetz" which became the Grande Rue - The Street Philosopher, now St. Augustine Fund - The Street Philanthropists which today is rue Eugène Margon.


 Partial view of  Jérémie bay -  Click on photo to enlarge.
Another historical remark to note is the 1800s runaway slave who became commander of the Anse d'Hainault and who was the general of the native army during the War of Independence. We want to talk about Jean-Baptiste said Terrier Goman, a son of Grand Anse native of Beaumont. The barracks of Jeremie or the current district police of the city of Jérémie and parade one time "Dumas Place" since its inception in the late 19th century now named Goman. A name change was made between 2002 and 2003 when the local leaders decided to erase the name of Alexandre Dumas the son of General Dumas without a memorial in this rather historic site since the first had been born in Latibolière (a suburb of Jeremie).
Sons and daughters as well as those of the USA, Canada and France who chooses their hometown to live peacefully in their retirement years.

Also, it is with great pride that I mention the youngest Provincial that was responsible for the Congregation of Wisdom in Haiti was a Jérémienne: in this case Sister Anne of Wisdom born Léonide Joseph was the first black nun named Superior General of the Congregation in the world and was a Jérémienne. She resides in Rome. This is Sister Ludovique Marc.

Thanks to its climate, the region of Jérémie produces an abundance of nutritious fruits and a large quantity of food supplies such as bananas, yams, (the tree-real or real-lam) ... etc. Despite the lack of adequate road network, the department of Grand'Anse was once the breadbasket of Port-au-Prince, the Capital of Haïti. Our food production was distributed in the capital with a deficient cabotage service, often affected by Nordés * which also affected the trade of the "Madan Sara".
Aerial view of the town of Jeremie. Click on photo to enlarge
According to some historians, the proposal for the first town was developed by Desnoyelle who was a surveyor. A new plan was later presented in 1760 by the Surveyor Vaudreuil Laporte and the first buildings began in Fontaine Mangot. Boncy the family would be among one of the first families listed in Jeremie. The first streets were drawn: - The Rue de la Marine and Commerce Street which became the Grande Rue - The Street Philosophe, now called Fond  Augustin - The Street Philanthrope which today is rue Eugène Margon.

All visitors arriving for the first time in Jérémie, this inspiring city's picturesque landscape put them in a wonder ... Whether the blue sea of ​​Anse d'Azur with its lapping waves, or the bright red sun  on the horizon announcing the dawn, or the green fields that always exude spring. Everything leads us to daydream and it is understandable why many jérémiens let themselves dive into this kind as to join the board of Lamartine "but nature is inviting you and love you ...

Another historical remark to note is the 1800s runaway slave who became commander of the Anse d'Hainault and who was the general of the native army during the War of Independence. We want to talk about Jean-Baptiste said Terrier Goman, a son of Grand 'Anse native of Beaumont. The barracks of Jérémie or the current district police of the city of Jérémie and parade one time "Dumas Place" since its inception in the late 19th century now named Goman. A name change was made between 2002 and 2003 when the local leaders decided to erase the name of Alexandre Dumas the son of General Dumas without a memorial in this rather historic site since the first had been born in Latibolière (a suburb of Jeremie).

Sons and daughters as well as those of the USA, Canada and France who chooses their hometown to live peacefully in their retirement years.

By : Herve Gilbert herve.gilbert@gmail.com
Herve Gilbert









* Nordé or Nordet: wind blowing over the Bay of Jeremie in the north-east from time to time, causing rough seas, often dangerous for boats cabotage


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To see some pictures about Jérémie, click here --->>  Jérémie in pictures


The great mass of the holy patron of the cathedral of Jeremiah, August 25, 2015




Jérémie - Twoubadou Bands
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