Yes. Haitians were in the nation-building business! This episode covers a little-known chapter in Haitian history. Dr. Regine Jackson offers a fascinating, multi-sited and interdisciplinary study of the United Nations Organization in the Congo (ONUC), a civilian operation established after the Democratic Republic of Congo achieved independence from Belgium.
Through narrative interviews in New York City, Port-au-Prince, Montreal and Paris and analysis of archives in Haiti, Kinshasa, and at UN headquarters in New York and Paris, Dr. Jackson helps us understand better the lived experiences of the Haitian educators, engineers, and doctors in the ONUC during the Congo crisis. Her previous research suggests that many of these Haitian professionals saw postcolonial Africa as a space of possibility (see Jackson 2014).
This episode seeks to answer crucial questions about our best and brightest: about their pre-migration experiences in Haiti under Duvalier, the role of international organizations such as the UN and WHO, relations between Haitians and the Congolese, as well the circumstances of their departure from the Congo under Mobutu Sese Seko.