Haiti to join the African Union? Why not …
It may have no geographic ties to Africa but the impoverished Caribbean state is, at least politically and culturally speaking, definitely attached
guardian.co.uk, Friday 19 October 2012 07.00 BST
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People dressed as soldiers who fought with Jean-Jacques Dessalines mark the 206th anniversary of his assasination in Port-au-Prince. Dessalines was the first ruler of independent Haiti, the first black republic, a fact not lost on the African Union. Photograph: Dieu Nalio Chery/AP
From an African perspective, going to the Caribbean can be a disarming experience. On many of the islands, the people look distinctively west African, their national dishes are barely changed versions of African food (compare Nevis's "cook-up" to Ghana's "waakye" and I challenge you to spot the difference), and their Creole dialects are often almost direct translations of African languages into English or French.
So it shouldn't be surprising that cultural ties, stretched and distorted by 5,000 miles, slavery and the passage of several hundred years, are still strong enough to produce some kind of political union between Africa and the Caribbean. And sure enough, in January the African Union is poised to admit Haiti as a member, which if it happens, will be the first time any nation with no geographic connection to the continent of Africa will have joined.
More than any other Caribbean nation, Haiti occupies a special place in the affection of many Africans and members of the African diaspora. The country endured decades of still prescient punishment for daring to overthrow its slave masters, becoming the world's first independent black nation in 1804 – the slave rebellion's leader Toussaint L'Ouverture hailed from Benin. Haiti used its independence and membership of the United Nations in the post-war period to back decolonisation during the fraught period of African independence.