A musical tribute to Fr. Jean-Juste by Rosemond Jolissaint

Father Gerry Jean-Juste, the father of Haiti, and Rosemond Jolissaint, Haiti's favorite son, met twice, becoming fast friends. Here they are together in Port au Prince. Rosemond, following musically in the footsteps of Father Gerry, decries injustice in his songs - calling, for example, for compassion, opportunity and dignity for street children - inspiring Haiti to fight on for true liberation. - Photo: Sasha KramerThis musical tribute to the towering hero of Haiti, Father Gerard Jean-Juste – or Pe Jan Jis in Kreyol – who joined the ancestors May 27, 2009, is sung by Rosemond Jolissaint, the Haitian sensation who won Haiti’s version of American Idol in 2007, when he was only 16, the youngest competitor. The lyrics are written by Bell Angelot, a former deputy under President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the director of the school where Rosemond is a student.

Sasha Kramer, a dear friend of the Bay View, who, having earned her Ph.D. from Stanford, now works in Haiti with the project she envisioned and co-founded, Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL), said when she sent this song: “Rosemond met Father Gerry twice, once at his church in Port-au-Prince and once in Miami at Veye Yo.  Rose and Father Gerry immediately bonded and when Bell heard that Rose wanted to write a song for Gerry’s funeral, he gave him the lyrics which Rose modified and put to music.” The lyrics follow, each line first in Kreyol, then in English. And following the lyrics is a video of Rosemond serenading Father Gerry at his church, St. Claire, when they met in Port-au-Prince.

Pe Jan Jis (Father Jean-Juste)

Pe Jan Jis ale, l ale, l ale
Father Jean-Juste is gone, he’s gone, he’s gone
Men li pa mouri
But he will never die
Pe Jan Jis ale, l ale, l ale
Father Jean-Juste is gone, he’s gone, he’s gone
Ko li pral pouri
Only his body will become earth

Rosemond Jolissaint, right, shows the painting commemorating his victory at Digicel, Haiti's equivalent of American Idol, with the painter of the portrait. Tens of thousands of Haitians were so moved by his songs that they spent their meager savings on the phone cards required to cast their votes for Rosemond.Pe Jan Jis te papa tout ti moun san fanmi
Father Jean-Juste was the father of all fatherless children
Se te mouche tout fanm malere ki san mari
He was the husband to all poor women who have lost their husbands
Pawol pwofet la se tankou grenn lapli
The words of the prophet are like raindrops
K’ap tombe sou fleur pou fe lespwa grandi
That fall on the flowers so that hope can grow

Pe Jan Jis ale, l ale, l ale
Father Jean Juste is gone, he’s gone, he’s gone

Gade ti moun k ap kriye
See the children who are crying
Gade gran moun k ap rele
Look at the elderly calling out
Gade prizonye k ap jeni
See the prisoners who are struggling
Gade maladi k ap soufri
Look at the sick who are suffering
Pou Pè Jan Ji ski kite lavi
For the loss of Father Jean-Juste who has left this life

Pe Jan Jis ale, l ale, l ale
Father Jean-Juste is gone, he’s gone, he’s gone

Annou priye pou n pa kriye
Let’s pray so we don’t cry
Annou kenbe pou n pa tombe
Let’s hold on so we do not fall
Ann mache jis soley la kouche
Let’s walk on towards the setting sun
Men le nou pa repose
Even if we cannot rest
Yon lot soley gen pou l leve
Another sun will rise

Pe Jan Jis ale, l ale, l ale
Father Jean-Juste is gone, he’s gone, he’s gone

San lawouze jistis lavi pa ka fleri
Without the water of justice life cannot flourish
Se yon grenn mayi kap fe zepi
It is like a seed that will grow into corn
Pe Jan Jis te konn di se pou sa l mouri
It was for this that Father Jean-Juste died
Pwofet la pran lamor pou li ba nou lavi
The prophet gave his life so that we could live

Pe Jan Jis ale, l ale, l ale
Father Jean-Juste is gone, he’s gone, he’s gone

Rosemond Jolissaint sings to Fr. Jean-Juste

Heartfelt thanks from the Bay View to Sasha Kramer for sending both the audio and video files to us from Haiti. Here is another, an acoustic recording of Rosemond’s tribute to Father Gerry illustrated with pictures he chose that Haitians and freedom lovers everywhere will forever hold in their hearts. The photos are courtesy of Margaret Trost, Wadner Pierre and Sasha Kramer.