Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 25th 2015 Contents A26
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Friday, September 25, 2015
"I don t believe in democracy,"
declares Prakazrel Samuel Michel at
the Hyatt press conference the morn-
ing after Sweet Micky for President,
the documentary feature he pro-
duced, was screened at the launch
of this year s T&T Film Festival.
Possibly noting the sudden gasps
of the politically correct Pras, (as most
of us know him from his days as
founder member of the Haitian-
American superstar hip hop trio The
Fugees) warms to his theme.
"Some countries are not ready for
democracy...like Haiti, given its history
of occupation and dictatorship." Pras
is nothing if not outspoken, but there s
an element of humour in his in-your-
face style: "In a democracy you have
to listen to everyone, even the idiot."
Since the Fugees went their separate
ways, double Grammy winner Pras
has reinvented himself variously as
solo artiste, film actor, celebrity phi-
lanthropist, campaign fundraiser for
Barack Obama and now as film pro-
Sweet Micky for President chron-
icles the campaign on behalf of pop-
ular singer Sweet Micky aka Michel
Martelly, for the Haitian presidency
back in 2011, which Pras played an
instrumental role in.
Admitting that Martelly s presidency
has not necessarily achieved its orig-
inal goals, he validates the documen-
tary for "putting a microscope on
Haiti and creating a dialogue" and "a
human story" based on instilling hope
and inspiration for change in a younger
generation of Haitians, who now com-
prise 65 per cent of the population.
"The politicians took the people for
granted; they ignored the populace,"
remarks Pras, acknowledging that
Martelly gave hope to youth even if
he s been unable to shift Haitian pol-
itics beyond the impasse it lurched
into so soon after independence.
A follow-up documentary on
Martelly s presidency is not on his list
of things to do, although he was
preparing to leave the next day, to
organise an event for Hilary Clinton s
presidential campaign, followed by
another event for Obama.
Born in New York to a father from
Cap Haitien and a mother from Port-
au-Prince, Pras spent six months back
in a Haiti as an 18-month old toddler,
with his grandparents and then only
returned as a mega star in 1997.
"I m a diasporan," he comments
not without a trace of pain, "and
there s animosity between islanders
That distance, physical, cultural and
emotional, between those who stayed
and those who were exiled or fled has
been well documented by writers like
Edwige Danticat, Myriam Chancy and
Dany Laferriere but Pras himself is
evidence that you can take someone
out of Haiti, but never remove Hayiti
cheri from their heart.
As if to prove this he ignores his
hip hop achievements saying he s
"now into films." With his jumpy
energy and perfectionism he eschews
directing---"I don t have the patience,
the overall vision...I don t ever want
to do anything I can t be great at!"
Instead he s concentrating on acting
and production and his next film proj-
ect will bring to the screen a little
known Haitian hero of the Second
World War, who seems as flamboyant
and chameleonesque as Pras himself.
Jean Marcel "Johnny" Nicholas was
born to a well-off family in Port-au-
Prince in 1918 during the American
occupation. Obsessed with the Amer-
ican lifestyle he began passing himself
off as Johnny Nicholas, even before
his dilettante lifestyle and scrapes with
the authorities at home led to relo-
cation in Paris.
There he assumed the identity of
an American fulltime, living the life
of a playboy gambler until the Nazis
arrived in Paris in 1940.
By this time he was also passing
himself off as a gynaecologist, with
a fake medical degree on his office
wall. Joining the Resistance, he some-
how managed to keep in the Nazis
good graces until a disgruntled lover
betrayed him to the Gestapo in 1943.
The self-taught linguist who spoke
seven languages, including perfect
German, was shipped off to the noto-
rious Camp Dora a slave-labour camp
in Mittelwerk, Germany where he was
registered as a doctor and a captured
American fighter pilot.
In Camp Dora slave prisoners were
forced to excavate underground con-
structing the launch chamber for the
V2 rockets which Hitler was hoping
would break England s fighting spirit.
Johnny Nicholas, in his capacity as
"camp doctor," saved or prolonged
the lives of some 2,000 Dora inmates,
although the tuberculosis he contract-
ed there would terminate his own in
Pras return to T&T (he says he s
been here ten times already) was
shortlived because of pressing engage-
But in a parting flash of humour
he said he couldn t stay long any-
way---for two good reasons.
It didn t take much guesswork to
surmise both these reasons, neither
of which had anything to do with men
and everything to do with Trini
OF A FUGEE
Pras Michel, centre, is interviewed by Simon Lee as Sweet Micky for President director Ben Patterson, left,
looks on. PHOTO COURTESY TTFF
Sweet Micky for President
chronicles the campaign on
behalf of popular singer
Sweet Micky aka Michel
Martelly, for the Haitian
presidency back in 2011,
which Pras played an
instrumental role in.
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