Nearly eight months after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake flattened Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, Haitian-American hip-hop star Wyclef Jean has reportedly decided to run for president of the island nation.
While he grew up Brooklyn and New Jersey since immigrating to the United States with his family at the age of 9, Wyclef apparently still feels ready to become leader of the impoverished Caribbean country.
He is expected to make his bid official this week.
“Given the awful situation in Haiti right now,” he told Time magazine, “most people don’t care if the president speaks fluent Creole.”
The former Fugees star said he’s going to announce his candidacy for the Nov. 28 election a few days shy of the Aug. 7 deadline. Jean said he had always planned to run for president, and this year’s devastating natural disaster only accelerated his plans.
“If not for the earthquake, I probably would have waited another 10 years before doing this,” Jean told Time. “The quake drove home to me that Haiti can’t wait another 10 years for us to bring it into the 21st century.”
Some like Phillip Brutus, a Haitian American candidate from Miami running for a seat in the U.S. Congress, question whether Jean will be able to withstand the island nation’s existing political machines.
“I think Wyclef’s candidacy is going to surprise a lot of people,” he said. “But I fear that if you parachute him into the Haitian presidency, the culture of corruption and cronyism there may well eat him alive.”
With half of Haiti’s population under the age of 25, Jean could have a good chance of winning. His popular image and music could serve to galvanize the country’s youth. Win or lose, it’s a win-win situation for Haiti because the star’s celebrity status will bring media attention back to the ravaged country.
“I want to be part of a different kind of celebrity,” he told Time, “one that thinks not just about charity but about policy.”
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