This comedy skit is intended to shed a light on Haitian culture by portraying a mock Haitian naturalization test similar to the tests Haitian immigrants take here in the States to become a citizen. Unlike the American test, which questions are academic in nature, this test has only cultural questions. This is a good example of some experiences all Haitians share in common.
Questions & Answers Explained
Q1. Sak Passe?
Answer: Nou Boule!
“Sa k Passe” literally translates to “what’s happening”. This is the typical, not formal, greeting in Haitian Kreyol. It is similar to “what’s up?” in English.
You typically respond with “nou boule”(NAP BOULE) which literally translates to “I am burning” or “we are burning”. This is slang for I am doing well.
This may seem strange but take it as if someone were to ask you “What’s up!” and you respond with “I’m on fire!” or “I’m HOT right now”. Typically being on fire is bad but in some ways to say you, or someone, is on fire can be a good thing. For example, if you are playing a sport or in a competition and you are playing well, like in basketball if you make several shots in a row or are on a winning streak, some might say “you are on FIRE right now!” or “They are HOT!”
“Nou Boule” works in the same way. You are simply saying “Everything is going GREAT right now for me [or us].” or “I am on a roll!” or “We are on fire!” or “So hot we are burning up!”
Q2. “If you try to blow my mind”?
Answer: I don’t care!
“I Don’t Care” by Sweet Micky is a staple in the Haitian community. This song is probably the most well know Kompa song and the most successful Kompa song of all time. This song was so popular that it made Sweet Micky one of the most well know Haitians around the world.
To put this in a context where you can understand this song is to Haitian culture what “YMCA” by the Village People is to American culture or what Mariah Careys – “all I want for Christmas is you” is to holiday music.
In the chorus of the song, Sweet Micky asks a question “if you try to blow my mind” and the main chorus responds with “I don’t care”.
Sweet Micky is so popular in the Haitian community he was elected president of Haiti in 2011 and the Song below, “I Don’t Care”, is probably the thing he is most known for.
Q3. Who’s the king of Haiti?
Answer: King Posse
King Posse is a Haitian musician that was very popular in the Haitian community through the late ’90s to the early 2000s. He is regarded as the “King” of Haiti in the same way that Elvis is the “King” of rock and roll or Micheal Jackson is regarded as the “king of pop”.
When he says “lambooooo!” and I reply “wooohOOO!” there is a section of the song where the singer screams “Lambooooo!” and the crowd responds with “wooOOoo” and the beat drops. This is a well know Haitian song and played at just about every Haitian party.
Q4. What do you season your meat with?
Answer: Epis. (a Haitian marinade)
Epis is a seasoning marinade that is made with a variety of spices and seasoning. This is typically used to season any kind of meat with.
Q5. TIM TIM!
This is a children’s game. It is similar to “think fast”. When someone says “TIM TIM!” at you, you are supposed to respond as quickly as possible “Bwachech!” There are consequences for not being quick on your feet in this game.
He follows up with 2 very common Haitian riddles.
Riddle1: dur bagai qui pa reconte (Name two things that meet but never join)
Answer: bou Bounda (two butt cheeks).
“Two mountains” is another popular answer to this riddle.
Riddle2: sak abiye san sòti – (What gets dressed up but never goes out or goes anywhere?)
Answer: Kabon (a bed)
You dress your bed up every day, get it looking nice, but your bed goes nowhere.
Q6. Finish the Lyrics!
lyric: Grenn zaboka sevi zoye anba lacha, a swe a m pap domi. (?)
Answer: “yes, yes manman”
This is in reference to a very popular Wyclef Jean song called “Thug Angel”. This is a very popular song in Haitian culture.
The second Lyric he begins to sing is “Choco Choco,” and I respond with “LA LA”.
This is in reference to a very popular Haitian song “Chokola” by Allan Cave. This is a love song where the chorus goes “Choco Choco – LA LA – map manje chokola”.
“Map manje chokola ” translates to “I am going to eat Chocolate” or “I am eating Chocolate”. This more specifically means “I am…” or “like to…” sleep with a black woman.
Q7. What are the 3 Ls in a Haitian household?
- lekòl (School)
- Legliz (Church)
- la kay (The House)
Haitian culture dictates that a well-raised child does not hang out in the “streets” or outside. That is where trouble makers live or hang out. Haitian parents are known to be against things like sleepovers or slumber parties as well.
Q8. What are the careers accepted in a Haitian household?!?
This is a joke on how Haitian parents tend to not see the value in other careers. The reason is they believe if you study anything else you run the risk of financially struggling as an adult.
The interview follows up with the question: “And if all else fails, what is the plan B that they will accept?”
Haitian parents are known for being very religious.
Some other acceptable careers are nursing (which is in the same area as a doctor), Information Technology, or computer science, which falls under the umbrella of an engineer, or you can be a paralegal or something similar.
The scenario he is describing is a situation where he is playing soccer and he steals the ball. Then he says “map kouri!” (I’m running), “Fast!…” He then says “I pass Christiano Renaldo ZIP! Then I pass Lionel Messi!” and he continues to describe other players he runs pass with the ball. All this to say that he is running with the ball extremely fast. Then he hits his foot and falls.
The question he asks is “when I go home what do I put on my foot?
Answer: Lwil maskriti!
Question: If I have a fever?!? what do I put on my body?
Answer: Lwil maskriti!
Question: I have a cold! what do I put on my body?
Answer: Lwil maskriti!
“Lwil maskriti” is Haitian Castor Oil. Some Haitians see castor oil as an all-purpose healing oil. It is good to put in your hair or on your body to cure you. So by asking the question in this way we are poking fun at how Haitians may use this remedy for any kind of illness.
None of these questions are intended to be taken seriously. Each Haitian home is different and depending on what part of Haiti your family originates from, or generation your parents grew up in, will come with its own quirks. None the less these are probably some of the most common cultural practices you will encounter in the Haitian community.
Chelo-Chelo, The person conducting the interview, is probably one of the most popular Haitian comedians. He has spent years portraying life for Haitian American immigrants. His stories and skits reflect the life of this demographic in places like South Florida, New York City, Boston, Montreal Canada and Haiti.
Jacob Boys Production is a video production group that did all the filming, directing and editing.