WASHINGTON – American rap star and third-party U.S. presidential candidate Kanye West visited Haiti on Friday. The surprise visit of the US presidential candidate and rapper of renown was first announced by Haitian President Jovenel Moise on Twitter and then relayed by Voice of America.
“I’m with famous American rapper Kanye West who just arrived in the country to visit Labadee and l’Ile de la Tortue. I wish him a great visit,” Moise tweeted in French.
The post, which included four photos, show both the president and West wearing face masks in some photos and not in others.
This is the rap star’s second jaunt to the Caribbean in a week. The Miami Herald reported that West made a visit last week to Jamaica, where he was accused of breaking COVID-19 protocols after photos surfaced of him without a face mask with reggae music star Buju Banton.
The purpose of West’s visit to the Caribbean nation was initially unclear, but Moise’s tweet provided some hints that he had invited the presidential candidate, rapper, and clothing designer, who has recently been designated a billionaire, to show the African American community the advantages of investing in Haiti, to promote a universal culture, and that Haiti is Africa in the heart of the Americas.
La visite de Kanye West est une occasion pour moi d’inviter la communauté afro-américaine à s’impliquer davantage dans des investissements divers en Haïti.Notre pays est l’endroit idéal pour faire la promotion de la culture universelle. Haiti est l’Afrique au coeur de l’Amérique. pic.twitter.com/HSNTGuNd0A
— Président Jovenel Moïse (@moisejovenel) September 26, 2020
According to local media, the rap star, 43, landed Friday morning at the Cape Haitien international airport and was met there by the president. Official Haitian greeters, fans, airport workers and members of the press crowded into the small airport’s diplomatic lounge to catch a glimpse of West, who was wearing a lilac hoodie, dark pants and his signature sneakers. President Moise accompanied him on a visit to two picturesque islands.
Labadee island, located off the coast of Cape Haitien in Haiti’s north, is a resort predominantly frequented by foreign tourists. The island is leased by Royal Caribbean cruise lines and features turquoise waters, sandy beaches and an assortment of water rides.
Ile de la Tortue is also a popular tourist destination off Haiti’s northwestern coast.
Cape Haitien, where West landed, is Haiti’s second-largest city. It is home to the renowned historical site, Citadelle Laferriere, a 19th century fortress that was instrumental in the slave revolution to gain independence from France in 1804.
West announced his candidacy for U.S. president on July 4, 2020, and is officially on the ballot for the November election in 11 states. It is not known at this point whether the visit to Haiti has any implications for foreign policy in a future West administration, or indeed what was the purpose of West’s visit at all.
According to West’s Twitter feed, he was there to honor the Haitian revolution that freed people of African descent from slavery.
Haiti is where our people started the first revolution that freed us from slavery pic.twitter.com/NDM2uxoPZ4
— ye (@kanyewest) September 26, 2020
According to the Miami Herald Moïse told a crowd on La Tortue island that he was the one who brought West to Haiti to help him fulfill his promise of providing 24-7 electricity to all of Haiti.
Moïse said he intended to fix heavy equipment that was brought to the island six years ago by former Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, who had promised to bring roads, jobs and electricity to La Tortue after a series of Miami Herald articles about how “Haiti’s island without hope” was fueling desperate voyages at sea.
“Providing electricity in all of Haiti is what you sent me to do,” said Moïse, who 86 days ago made a still unfulfilled promise that three turbine ships would arrive from Turkey to help him electrify all of Haiti. “I am going to bring electricity to La Tortue; I am going to bring it to Port-de-Paix…I don’t have anywhere I am not going to bring it.”
Then referring to West as “a huge friend,” and promising to transform the lives of the people by developing an airport and tourism on the island, Moïse said: “When I bring people like this to visit the island, I am telling you, you cannot live in an area that is beautiful like this…and you’re living in precarity; you’re living badly. It’s not possible.”
Along with West, Moïse said the group of visitors included a developer of Uber and representatives of the rockets manufacturing company SpaceX and the electric vehicle company Tesla.
However it seems that the trip was not all work and no play for the ‘School’s Out’ rap star as he also took some time out to dance with the locals.
What appears to have been a goodwill trip may be helpful in shoring up the Haitian-American vote.
Meanwhile the rapper, who had recently stated that he would not publish any new music until his existing recording contract has expired has shared a snippet of a new song, titled “Believe What I Say”, which samples Lauryn Hill’s classic 1998 hit “Doo Wop (That Thing)”.
West posted the 38-second clip of the track to his Twitter, along with a video of a boat on its way to a Haitian island.
BELIEVE WHAT I SAY (snippet) pic.twitter.com/U7Y2KQJ5UC
— ye (@kanyewest) September 26, 2020
He raps on the song: “You ask him to feel protected/ And still feel protected/ Just one time for the record.
“Just one time for the record/ Don’t agree with the message/ Don’t agree with the methods.”