By Joseph Guyler Delva
Since the death of the former president, great intellectual and illustrious professor, Leslie Manigat, politicians of all stripes, scientists, intellectuals, professionals, academics, historians, journalists, merge into a chorus of praise to greet the great man they have known in the person of the deceased.
Joseph Guyler Delva is a Haitian journalist who has worked for numerous international news agencies. In his 27-year career, he has worked as a reporter, anchor, talk show host, writer, editor, chief editor and news director for different media outlets.
However, to hear all the voices that agree to recognize Professor Manigat's distinguished, exceptional, extraordinary skills and values, one can also wonder where all these people were before he died.
There is no need to go into the depth of the well to find, translate and understand the meaning of hypocrisy which is so visible on the faces of many, having gone through and continuing to go though the media or to the bereaved family's residence to tell their love, their deep respect, their admiration for the great intellectual the professor-president was.
But what is hypocrisy? In a nutshell, “it’s a behaviour that does not agree with what someone claims to believe or feel or a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not."
I am sure by rereading that last sentence that does not teach you anything (new), you could, nevertheless, immediately put a name on to those faces that bear the evident mark of hypocrisy.
Where are those who often said that Professor Manigat did nothing for the Haitian youth or that he gave his lectures abroad rather than in Haiti? Where are those rival politicians who called him "panzouiste” (one who accesses power through a coup-like strategy), after he came to power with the blessing of the military leaders who massacred the people's desiderata? Where are the intellectuals and politicians who reproached Manigat his egocentrism, his refusal of alliance and its bombastic arrogance?
In this inevitable journey to eternity undertaken by Professor Manigat, death seems to have taken away his vulnerability and human weaknesses, his innate reprehensibility, or the culpability of his deliberate or unconscious errors.
Today at his death, the professor, whose intellectual knowledge does give rise to any questioning, suddenly becomes admirable, venerable or even "deifiable" for some who, yet, never dared say publicly a word to honour that brain which is valued, celebrated in various international intellectual circles. But once dead, he suddenly became the exemplary intellectual and politician.
Without making any individuality, some that yesterday, in public or in private, never missed one occasion to use sounding words to lambast, to damn or to crush the professor, are now among the most diligent adulators. What hypocrisy! What a lie!
I heard on a radio station, a political leader declaring: "It is a pity that such a man, someone who wanted so well for his country, did not have a chance to finish his presidential term or to be re-elected to put his competence at the service of the Haitian people." But, that very well known personality was challenging Manigat, among other candidates, during the 2006 presidential election, won by Rene Preval.
He could have resolved to support Manigat, if he really believed his candidacy represented an opportunity to seize to rescue the country. As the late professor would have said, "Let's be serious!"
I would never suggest to the professor's critics to resume the evil exercise of bringing back the negativities and the accusations, founded or fabricated, attributed to the former president. However, some would have done better to remain silent, for they run the risk of being ridiculed.
Many are those who express their sincere respect for what the professor has represented and continues to represent. But many others, including some who claim to be intellectuals, do so to follow the trend, to have a podium in the media or in some other settings.
Many young people today misunderstood the personality, the caliber, the competences of the professor as well as his qualities as a researcher and prolific producers of ideas, informed opinions on topics that stir the collective conscience etc. All this by the shared fault of all those intellectuals and others who, after the death of the professor and only after or because of his death, thought to portray that great man they claim to have known so well, for having rubbed shoulders with him for so long.
Some gossips say that some of those intellectuals were very jealous of the professor whose oratorical skills and extent of knowledge tended to intimidate or cause many to feel some kind of complex ...But there is no way to confirm this.
"Manigat, one of the greatest men in the history of Haiti?" Why not! But why should we say it and give him the unanimous recognition only after his death? Multiple sessions of reflection and a string of tribute events were organized to honour the memory of the professor who, paradoxically, seems to be born again. He received a lot of recognitions and distinctions, of course, posthumously.
Why had we not had the courage to honour him during his lifetime?
And his widow -- former Senator and former First Lady, Dr Mirlande Hyppolite Manigat -- is, as well, a rare intellectual and academic brain in the country. But, of course, we will wait until she dies to cover her coffin with the most beautiful flowers of nature and award to her, posthumously as usual, the most glowing distinctions.
Now deceased, Professor Manigat has just begun to exist for many who ignored the scope of the man's intelligence.
That's why I still wonder if one should die to really come into existence in this country where competence and values are often despised and marginalized.
It is the apogee of political and intellectual hypocrisy!
May the soul of the professor rest in peace!