Catastrophe opens hearts

IN 1882 slaves in an island off the Caribbean staged a successful rebellion that led to the formation of the state of Haiti.

The revolution showed that what had seemed to be an intractable edifice of hopelessness could be defeated with a concerted effort of the many.

Today, 208 years later, Haiti is looking to the world for hope of overcoming what must to them seem a long, dark night that has no end in sight.

It is estimated that up to 50000 people might have perished when a fierce earthquake hit the island on Wednesday.

The interceding 200 years since the slave revolution and today have not been kind to Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere.

It is thus heartening to see how South Africans aid and charity organisations have not wasted time joining the rest of the world to deliver much needed aid to the people of Haiti.

The International Monetary Fund has pledged $100 million to the island nation and thus matching the figure put down by the IMF's sister formation, the World Bank.

While this is no time to be raising petty politics, it is unfortunate that it seems to always want to take the worst of nature to get the best out of humanity.

Given the gaps in the standard of life between the most and the least developed countries in the world, a greater pity than the unfortunate death and destruction in Haiti is that it had to take an earthquake to show that we still have humane instincts within us.