"The Fall of Nord Alexis" by Harold Courlander (1908-1996)

An excerpt from Courlander’s The Drum and the Hoe (1960). Courlander was an expert on music and folklore. In his book, he included numerous Haitian songs, one about Nord Alexis and Antoine Simon.

Nord Alexis remained as president until 1909. He was then more than eighty years old, and he planned to turn the government over to General Jean-Gilles, who would carry on the policies of the administration. But Antoine Simon, an assembly delegate from the south, had other plans. He marched on Port-au-Prince with an army of three hundred cacos, who sang:

Tonton oh cher, Antoine pas nen betise oh!
L’apprend l’armée du sud, cher,
L’a fai ou marché zigzag!
Débor débor débor!
Nèg’ Nord mandé fusillé!

Débor débor débor!
Nég’ Nord mandé corigé!

Dear Uncle [Alexis], Antoine is not joking!
He brings the army of the south, my friend,
He will make you go zigzag.
Débor débor débor!
Nord’s men are asking for gunfire!
Débor débor débor!
Nord’s men are asking for a lesson!

After Nord Alexis had vacated the palace and embarked for Jamaica, Antoine Simon became president. Historians often refer to the period that followed as the "Epoch of Ephemeral Presidents." Simon was not in the palace long before a man named Cincinnatus Leconte was successfully stirring up a new caco movement in the north, and people were singing:

Antoine Simon pressé oh pou’ allé!

Ou pas tendé l’armée Leconte Gonaïves?

Antoine Simon, you’d better leave!
Haven’t you heard Leconte’s army is at Gonaïves?