The news came with great sadness. Mimi Barthelemy, the tireless ambassador of Haitian culture, has suddenly passed on. According to her longtime friend Gérald Bloncourt, she may have suffered a heart attack. She was 72. Mimi gained fame in the 1980s and subsequently the surname of Madame Ambassador for her prolific works—across genres—in a constant quest to create her true identify. Her active participation in the Comité Pour Juger Jean Claude Duvalier in Paris (Committee to put in Trial Haitian dictator Jean Claude Duvalier) in 1999 left no doubt in the minds of those who were still reluctant as to where she stood on the side of history.
Mimi was born in Port-au-Prince in 1939 but had a quite multicultural upbringing. This was due to the fact she had lived in many places around the world, including Honduras, Sri Lanka, Algeria and France where she attained higher education.
Mimi was found in Honduras in 1979, where she spent a year working with Indian Garifuna to produce a show designed to reclaim their forgotten history after their deportation in the 18th century Caribbean.
Mimi received a doctoral degree in Theatre Studies after returning from Honduras. She was a great story teller, vacillating between French and Creole, the languages that crafted her idiomatic, folkloric and artistic talents.
Mimi was a frequent invitee to many France television media, including France 2 and Radio France International. Mimi’s career has earned her several prestigious awards, including the clinching of Knight of the National Order of Merit in 2001 and the Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters.
CSMS Magazine is not sure of the date set for her funeral arrangements, but unconfirmed reports told us that there is a wake for tonight and tomorrow.
Mimi has joined a long list of unforgettable Haitian women like Martha Jean-Claude, Toto Bissainthe, to name a few. Sister, you will certainly be missed.