THE VIDEO IS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE STORY
By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
THE cancellation of the Haitian Bahamian talk show The Kreyol Connection has delivered a critical blow to efforts at “bridging the gap” between the two cultures, according to its host Louby Georges.
Mr Georges, and his co-host Leyvon Miller, reflected on the show’s nearly two-year run and underscored the importance of media representation for the Haitian migrant community and Bahamians of Haitian descent during an interview with The Tribune.
“We’ve had Kreyol programming in this country for 14 years consecutively,” Mr Georges said, “so speaking Kreyol is nothing new on our airwaves. But the idea of bringing the two communities together and having a programme where we speak both languages, that is new and we were the only ones doing it, and nobody else is doing it now. So there is a void.”
Mr Georges said: “Before The Kreyol Konnection, where were you hearing the stories of the passionate Bahamians of Haitian descent who are doctors, lawyers, police officers, who have come on the show and said ‘hey I am a police officer, and I am a Bahamian of Haitian descent. I serve my country proudly and I just wanted to present myself so that the hopeless, the ones who seem to be hopeless amongst us, like the little kid growing up in the shanty town right now to Haitian parents’.
“He probably feels hopeless but if he knows or see that there are successful professionals who grew up in a shanty town also but made it out then that gives him motivation and inspiration. Where else are you going to find that?”
The show was dropped from the Guardian Talk Radio line-up last month amid an investigation by the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) into comments made on the show by lawyer Fred Smith.
Mr Smith has maintained that none of the comments made on the show were inflammatory; however, Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell said the government had asked URCA to investigate and that the Office of the Attorney General was also advising the government on the matter. The comments in question have not been specified, and the recording of the show is no longer available on Guardian Talk Radio’s website.
“I got a call from the General Manager,” Mr Georges said. “I went to his office, he said bad news, effective immediately, sorry the Kreyol Konnection has been cancelled, and that’s all he said to me.
“No warning, there was no verbal or written warning or notices nothing. If I was too loud, tell me to pipe down a bit, if we were going to hard at the government and you wanted us to ease up then warn us.”
Mr Georges said: “If it was strictly a business move in that regards I respect it, the only thing that I don’t like is that there was no warning, notice or proper explanation. I respect the company and I thank them for the opportunity to have hosted the show for that long. We made history.”
Mr Georges said that when he requested an explanation a few days later, he was told that the show lacked diversity and had presented a one-sided view on immigration matters.
“If they say that the show was too myopic, I have to differ with that,” Mr Miller said.
“We’ve discussed anything from Bahamians’ opinion on Carnival; I actually had Cedric Munnings in, a seasoned entertainer who has represented The Bahamas since the 50s.
“I’ve had Wendy Lewis talking about a fusion of the koompa and zook music with rake ‘n scrape and folk music and if there is a possibility of those two collaborations coming together to make something great, which is where reggae came from - a mix of different genres.”
Mr Miller said: “There were also stories of people like Natanya Pierre, who has a scholarship to go away, who was allowed to go the US on some sort of pre-clearance letter given to her by the Bahamas government for her to go and compete internationally and bring home a bronze for The Bahamas.
“Yet when she receives her scholarship from the university there is an issue of whether she is going to be able to leave the Bahamas and if she leaves what exactly is she going to be leaving as, what is her status going to be? So its hampered her education.”
In his intervention on the Immigration (Amendment) Bill 2015 last week, Mr Mitchell pointed out that people that would benefit from the new legislation are hurt by the opposition and political agenda of its critics. He referenced a post Mr Georges wrote on social media that was translated from Kreyol into English.
Mr Mitchell said: “Louby Georges’ post on social media, wrote in Kreyol: ‘To Haitian children do not vote PLP and start a revolution’.”
Last week, Mr Mitchell said he had no comment on the show’s cancellation. He explained that it was unclear what sort of revolution Mr Georges’ intended and that the reference in his speech was only meant to illustrate political agenda.
Mr Georges remarked that Mr Mitchell declined numerous invitations to speak on the show, and to speak directly to listeners to clear up widespread confusion over the new policy. He suggested that inadequate outreach led the Haitian community to seek international assistance.
“I was shaking this man’s hand,” Mr Georges said, “and he looked me in my eye and told me he is not coming on the show. He told me that it is a very emotive time and there was too much talk going around and, frankly, he had spoken enough.”
“The immigration problem 40 years ago has created what I dub the new Bahamas or the new Bahamian,” Mr Miller added. “As a country as young as The Bahamas, I think we want to be creating new culture as we move forward. What we cannot do is decide that we’re going to take a scalpel and cut this 40 years out as if it never existed and believe that we’re going to be able to succeed like that. We have to find a way to make that a part of us.”
• This story originally stated that the Kreyol Connection was broadcast on ZSR 103.5; however, its hosts appeared as guests on another talk show.