Leogane, Haiti a city 1/2 hour around from the Capital Port-au-Prince is home to the Haitian nation’s Rara festivities
This interesting street celebration kicks off immediately after Carnaval ends on Ash Wednesday. The most active days are Saturday and Sunday until Easter Sunday but it is common to see small street bands during the week under the burning sun of the tropical island. It comprised of a small musical crew playing lyrics in Haitian kreyol with homemade instruments made of metal like the maracas, güiras , wooden vuvuzela (instrument seen in South Africa during the 2010 World Cup)and the very famous Haitian drum..followed by others just enjoying as they dance, sing and drink clairin( similar to vodka but made from sugar cane). Coincidently, in the hay days of Haiti, among other things, Leogane was known as the country’s top producer of sugar and sugar cane associated products like molasse.
In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for two weeks, a similar celebration occurs after ash Wednesday as the street bands known as blocos continue to occupy the streets in some areas and around the famous area of Lapa in the evenings notably on Fridays and Saturdays. The sharp difference is that RaRa lasts longer – it is a 40days event from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday with a somewhat unpredictable schedule.
Everyone will have a definition of what and the whys of RaRa but everyone agrees it is a celebration of life, and music for Haitians and cariocas.
Watch a sample performance via the attached youtube video.