On 28 November, Haiti will choose a new president. There is at least a possibility that they will elect a man who hasn’t lived there full-time since he was a child, and whose greatest claim on the popular consciousness is having mumbled in the background of a cover of an old Roberta Flack hit.

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On 28 November, the perpetually beleaguered and misruled Caribbean nation of Haiti will choose a new president. There is at least a possibility that they will elect a man who hasn’t lived there full-time since he was a child, and whose greatest claim on the popular consciousness is having mumbled in the background of a cover of an old Roberta Flack hit.

This is an admittedly crass and unfair reduction of the life and works Wyclef Jean, the Haiti-born, US-based former Fugee turned vastly successful producer, songwriter and record label boss, who declared his candidacy yesterday: Jean, still only 37, has been a dedicated advocate for his homeland, as frontman of the Yele Haiti charitable foundation, and as a roving ambassador for Haiti, a position to which he was appointed in 2007 by incumbent president Rene Preval. That terse introduction does, however, reflect the widespread cynicism and unease that exists about artists, even politically engaged ones, becoming politicians.

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