Written by Jennifer Shu-Ping Chen
Haitian communities around the world celebrate National Flag Day on May 18th of every year, which is a day for Haitians to celebrate the original creation of the flag. The original design is believed to have been created by Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who led the Haitian revolution.
Just as the singer, Ms. Jocelyne Dorisme, wishes to convey in her song “Drapo Sa”(which translates to ‘this flag’ in English), the flag is a symbol of hope for her. “Although the current situation seems despairing, as long as the Haitian flag still flies high,” she said “there will always be a silver lining.”
The flag of Haiti consists of two different colored horizontal bands, and a white panel bearing the national coat of arms at the center. The top band is bright blue in color, while the bottom band is red. The coat of arms of Haiti is made up of two yellowish-gold-colored cannons faced in opposite directions on top of a green hill. A drum with two axes is located between the cannons and six flags are located behind the cannons, with 3 on each side. Running down the center of this image is the Royal Palm which represents the ‘POTO MITAN’, [the central column] that figuratively the weight of the nation’s freedom. A white banner sits at the bottom of the hill with the Latin phrase: L’UNION FAIT LA FORCE, meaning “Strength in Unity.” Just above the ribbon with the motto are two pieces of chain with a broken link symbolizing the broken chain of slavery. As a former French colony, the blue and red colors are modeled after the French Tricolore. 1,2
Oral histories suggest that the revolutionary figure ripped apart the French flag, removing and discarding its white center band. Dessalines gave the remaining blue and red pieces to his goddaughter, Catherine Flon, so that she could sew them together. Maintaining this story and two of the three colors of the French flag symbolizes the history of Haiti and its ability to achieve independence. Some accounts suggest that the blue and red colors are meant to represent the ethnicities living in Haiti. Blue represented Haiti’s African residents while the red represented those of mixed European and African descent. Additionally, the coat of arms is said to represent independence and freedom, which are symbolized by the palm tree at its center and the weapons on the hill.1,3
Please join us on July 29th, at A Gala of Angels event to hear live, Ms. Dorisme who will proudly perform this song live as we celebrate your generosity in supporting our vision and work. You can purchase your ticket at Eventbrite.
- World Atlas. (2021). Flags, Symbols, & Currencies Of Haiti. Retrieved April 29, 2023 from https://www.worldatlas.com/flags/haiti
- The Haitian Times. (2012). The Meaning of the Haitian Flag. Retrieved April 29, 2023 from https://haitiantimes.com/2012/05/05/the-meaning-of-the-haitian-flag/
- Restavek Freedom. (2020). The History of The Haitian Flag. Retrieved April 29, 2023 from https://restavekfreedom.org/2019/04/04/the-history-of-the-haitian-flag/