Former president of Haiti challenges Claflin students ​

Feb 08, 2017
PANTHER haiti president brandi
The former president of Haiti speaks Feb. 2 at Claflin. (Panther photo by Brandi Threatt)


Michel Martelly, former president of Haiti, spoke to Claflin University students on Feb. 2 about the importance of education.

During a visit to Orangeburg, Martelly told students they are in the right place, doing the right thing.

“I came to America to attend college, but I never graduated.” Martelly said. “I went back home and began a music career in Haiti.”

Though Martelly considered himself a “big deal” in his country, he said the only thing he is missing in his life is that piece of paper.

“I remember seeing kids carrying buckets of water and it bothered me that they weren’t in school.” Martelly said. “After the earthquake in 2010, I decided that I can make a change. In 2011, I was the new president of Haiti.”

“It’s easy to destroy but it takes time to rebuild.” Martelly said. “Rebuilding Haiti doesn’t mean the buildings; it also means rebuilding its people.”

Martelly said education was his main objective as president, and he once again stressed to the student body: “You are in the right place, doing the right thing.”

“There is nothing without education.” Martelly said.

He asked students, “How many Obamas (are) in here, how many lawyers, how many Jay Zs and Beyonces are here?”

Martelly encouraged students to fight and to beat the odds by being creative and focused.

“No one could tell you how far you can go,” Martelly said.

Michel encouraged students to motivate themselves and try to achieve the very best from anything they are doing.

“There is no second best.” Martelly said.

He said U.S. students are fortunate to have what they have because there are kids in Haiti carrying buckets of water. “For being fortunate, you need to keep passing the torch.”

Martelly also gave a brief history on Haiti and also spoke on how the world doesn’t acknowledge Haiti as it should.

“The good things about Haiti have been kept quiet.”

When asked whether or not he was ever afraid to run for president, Martelly confidently answered “no.”

“Challenges? Yes. You do not get a vision for something and then become afraid of it,” Martelly said. “Being afraid, NEVER. No such thing.”


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