The version of the song presented here differs from the one sung by Erol Josue, but the overall meaning is the same in both versions.
This song captures the Transatlantic Voyage and the Revolution that ensued in Haiti. The song defines the singer as originating from Ginen, the name of the West Coast of Africa during the 17th and 18th century. The song is filled with cultural pride and this is why the singer refers to him/herself as the Root. The singer completely identifies with the Ancestors who are a source of strength. This makes the singer feel as unshakable as a Great Rock.
Whereas most Americans have forgotten the term Ginen for the west coast of Africa, in Haiti the term is well remembered. Alex Hailey reminded American audiences of the term in the movie “Roots”. In that movie, when Kunta Kinte first landed in the US, he was referred to as a Guineaman. To numerous Haitians, cultural pride is the act of recalling the past to honor and to feel supported by one’s origins. One way of expressing cultural pride in Haiti, is to describe oneself as “Nèg Rasin Kore” meaning we are people anchored by our roots - our heritage.
This song presents one’s roots as a rock, a solid foundation keeping one upright. The song compares a rock basking in a stream of cool water to one exposed to unrelenting sunlight. The life of a rock in water is viewed as more desirable and more descriptive of our fore-parents’ lives in Ginen. The rock exposed to constant sunlight is viewed as representing the tortured life of Africans and their descendants in Haiti during the French era of enslavement. That sentiment is echoed in the proverb: wòch lan dlo pa konn mizè wòch lan solèy. The song contrasts life in Ginen to that in Haiti during the era of enslavement by stating mwen soti anba dlo pou m ale lan dezè, meaning I emerged from water to enter a desert.
The capturing of people in Africa and the suffering in Haiti is presented as a test of the singer’s resolve. When the colonists thought that the singer was firmly under their control, it was then that he/she escaped. The singer could not be kept subjugated. His/ her escape is presented as turning into smoke which is something that cannot be grasped and cannot be chained.
The song attributes the moral character and the unshakable resolve of the singer to be free to his/her obligation to his/her roots: “Se mwen menm rasin o”. Those roots are the people of Ginen. We are upright, when we are true to them, Fran Ginen. We are morally debased when we are without respect for our ancestry, San Ginen. Keeping true to the moral value of our Ancestors is called Sèvis Ginen. Empowered by this faith, the singer says the day will come when they will know the merit of his/ her beliefs. On that day, the Earth will tremble, meaning on the day of the Revolution, the colonists will have to face the substance of the singer’s worth. They will then know the singer as one of valor and they will know his/her valiant name.
This song reflects our faith in our heritage and our knowledge of our worth. We know that we broke the chains of slavery and this gives us confidence that we will break the ropes of poverty. Nou kase chenn esklavaj, ki dira kòd mizè. Se nou menm Gwo Wòch.