“How do you say jealousy in kreyol?” I asked my teacher. Or rather “Ki jan di jealousy nan kreyol?”
“Jalousie,” he replied, “pi facile, non?” (Very easy, no?)
“Really? like the shantytown?” I asked, somewhat startled. (Tout bon vre? Tankou Jalousie, bidonvil la?)
“Yes,” he smiled. (Wi.)
“So, why was it named jealousy?” (Poukisa li nom jealousy?)
“M pa konnen (I don’t know),” he shrugged, adding that perhaps Jalousie’s beautiful new colours made people jealous of residents’ good fortune.
But that’s today’s story and it certainly wasn’t the case when the shantytown was originally established.
I pondered Jalousie’s extraordinary name as I read a statement from the office of Haiti’s prime minister. His government is to launch a second round of ‘improvements’ in Jalousie. This time round, it will embrace 4,000 houses, the drains and 1.3 km of road leading to the 45,000-strong neighbourhood, which lacks running water, electricity and sewage facilities.
That sounds a great deal more substantial than the first phase of beautification, back in March, when the houses were painted brilliant colours for an eye-popping $1.4 million.
But the bread and circuses doesn’t end there. The government has promised the neighbourhood a football field, complete with locker rooms, ATMs and electric lights.
Other neighbourhoods might feel some “jalousie” of Jalousie, come March, when the new facilities will be unveiled.