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Long distance relationship: Haiti's bid to join the African Union

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Haiti’s bid to join the African Union (AU) this month may evoke a little head scratching and confused double takes. After all, it is the first country outside of Africa to ask for permission to join the increasingly active coalition of African nations.

Yet anyone who has been to Haiti, or even compiled a hasty historical timeline of the Western hemisphere, can scratch out a tenable storyline that explains Haiti’s unusual, but not unfathomable bid to join the African conglomerate. A blend of history, culture, and economic realities answer why Haiti is joining with nations that are more than 5,000 miles away.

Haiti links its history to Africa

Haiti is famous throughout the Africa Diaspora – the loosely, but close knit spectrum of nations with significant populations of slave descendents – for its revolt against slaveholders. Haiti became the first free black republic in 1804, when a group of slaves overtook the French to earn the nation’s freedom. That act alone made the small island nation special to Africans all over the world, but there are other ties as well.  These include language, food, music and art.

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