Maître Jean Bernardin (November 26, 1936/1 July 2022): a good negro
Yes, Me Jean was a “good Negro”, and I learned that from Mesmin Chérenfant, a “rèstavèk” from the Mesmin family home. A little piece of man from Dondon, a sportsman (excellent square player – only the good people of Cape Town know what’s going on – a great swimmer and a young man we can do no more, helpful …
I almost opened my eyes like a shy and curious little boy in Mesmin’s arms. He took me everywhere where children and teenagers ‘feet had fun kicking and kicking balls bought for 2 gourd 50 at Cluny Market … At Jacques Georges’ rocky grounds, Melo or other deserted and abandoned like the one at rue 7 A And later at the arsenal, where I saw 7 guys playing in one camp and 7 in another, but in uniform, and I saw Mesmin screaming from the depths of his lungs to celebrate the victory for these young people dressed all in red, who were called: The Red Devils ..
Devils? It did not sound very good in the ears of a scared little boy, who by the way was preparing to receive Jesus in the host …
So the day Mesmin asked me to come with him to bring food to someone who had been arrested and imprisoned in rue 21, I was ready in an instant, for in my little head, the blue devils, black or red, was it over .. Rue 21. Far from Rue 15 … It was a completely different adventure … Besides, I had been there before with my mother and my aunts, and there were lots of people singing in a big field :
“Men la Misyon rive, se Bondye k ape di
for all my convets
“See twists from the bay fishing
Pou fè plas a la gras ..»
Monsignor Cousineau was there … The Monsignor who had a big beard and who scared the children, Jamier, as he was called …
They also praised a young priest who had preached well and who had a funny name: Caillou, Gaillou … Yes, it was Gaillot. And he was from Port-de-Paix …
People were proud of him. He was black and spoke perfect French.
With Mesmin, the path to Rue 21 was different … He calmly approached a large door, and I saw two tall people in Khaki with weapons, who asked him to open ‘service’ (circular bowls arranged upstairs, and in which white rice, bananas, mashed peas and vegetables are stored separately …). One of the men in khaki with salt and pepper mustache took a good look at the food and finally left with it … The other asked Mesmin to wait until we came back with “The service”. Mesmin complied and sat down on the floor …
And in the meantime I had started running to try to catch the numerous goldsmiths who were on their way to a house in ruins that had been set on fire – today one would say that I was unlucky … My mother said , that the gentlemen in khaki had betrayed a certain couple and the gentlemen in blue – all thieves and murderers – had looted his house …
A very short whistle from the man with the mustache gesturing with his right hand, as if to tell Mesmin to return to “Service”. He crossed the street and asked me to take it from the hands of the lord in khaki. It was a little heavy for me. And I saw Le Dondonnais cry. It was the first time … He cursed too. Even obscenities. Larigot.
‘Chyen yo, kochon yo, kaka yo, vòlò yo tiye Mèt Jean. He broke down in tears. Met Jean, Met Jean, Met Jean sa w fè Mesye yo….?
Arrived at the place Montarcher, Mesmin became uncontrollable. I heard from his mouth that if he had a revolver, he would ipso facto attack the VSN barracks, located a few steps from Place Montarcher, where he sat for ages to pour his bile over these people he hated with all his soul strength. .
In the end, I was entitled to some answers to questions that I asked tirelessly:
Master Jean is the tall gentleman with big eyes who used to write my name in my books on geography, sacred history, Haitian history, science, grammar, catechism, liturgy? Yes
Master Jean is this gentleman who gives me money (1 gourd) every month to go to the cinema? Yes
Master Jean, is it this gentleman who taught you to swim at Rival and Bailly? Yes
Maître Jean, is that the gentleman who lets you cycle to shop? Yes.
Maître Jean, is it this gentleman who takes us to Saint-Victor Park when his team “L’Éclair Sporting Club Joue” plays, and who allows us to enter for free without paying a penny? Yes
But why was he arrested? I do not know
Has he stolen? Nix
Did he kill? None.
But why is he in jail?
Salopri yo, Dan Tchaka yo, Dan bèr jòn yo di
L ap bleg govènman an mal… Koulyè a non sèlman yo arete y, yo touye l. Yo di y Se yon kominis…
What is a Communist?
‘A good negro’, Mesmin Chérenfant replied …
And it started in 1966, when nine years old, the great adventure had begun to seek to understand what a communist is.
Wilfrid Philome Suprena