Emmanuel Charlemagne “Manno” died on 10th December in Miami Beach at the age of 69. Mr. Charlemagne is a revolutionary protest singer and a renowned folk-hero of Haiti’s impoverished masses. He was credited with helping create a popular resistance against the decades-long Duvalier absolutism and also the military juntas who came later.
Armed with acoustic Takamine guitar, deep melodious voice and firebrand lyrics, Mr. Charlemagne raised sung in local Creole or French which helped him advance into popularity to become mayor of Port-au-Prince capital. He represented a population of 2.5 million people who comprise of about a quarter of Haiti’s total population. Through singing, Mr. Charlemagne became the newscaster, journalist, keeper of memory because Haiti was too poor and people could not read.
Mr. Charlemagne believed he was an anti-imperialist singer because his music criticizes the colonialists, white man influence and wealthy educated mulatto (mixed race) who ruled the country for a very long time. Charlemagne has been jailed on several occasion, targeted by assassins and also forced into exile twice for human rights activism and democratic views. He first gained national attention after singing about violence and corruption of the Duvalier regime. The family ruled through fear while stealing public property thus they became super-wealthy as most of their citizens starved and go naked on the streets.