Haitian-born musician Wyclef Jean has acknowledged officially that he'll run for president of Haiti, and he's leaving Yele Haiti, the NGO he created in 2005.
Jean confirmed his presidential aspirations, speaking Haitian Creole on Radio Tropics this morning, saying, "For the 250,000 people who died in the earthquake, that's the reason we ought to see a change in the system." He still has to file paperwork by Saturday and prove to a nine-member board in Haiti that he's a native Haitian, has lived there consecutively for five years, and owns land there.
As for his departure from the charity, he said in a news release this morning:
For the past five years, Yele has been a huge part of life for me, my wife, Claudinette, and the rest of our family, and I am proud of what we've been able to accomplish for the country and people we love. I have learned many important lessons from my experience with Yele, most notably the incredible power of individuals united by a sense of purpose and community. And while my role with Yele may be changing, I am not stepping down in my commitment to Haiti. On the contrary, regardless of what path I take next, one thing is certain — my focus on helping Haiti turn a new corner will only grow stronger.
Derek Q. Johnson, the man who spearheaded the revitalization of the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York, will assume the role of CEO of Yele.
Let's hope he cleans it up.
Wyclef was found to have funneled money from the charity — which was founded with funds from people other than the singer — to Wyclef's alleged mistress and other personal interests, and its massive administrative costs often undercut its mission in Haiti — or at least its perception.
Then again, at its core, Yele — and seemingly the former Fugees member himself — were deeply involved and passionate about helping Haiti, especially after the earthquakes that devastated the country six months ago (for example, read Timberland CEO Jeff Swartz's firsthand account of working with Wyclef here). Is this an attempt by Wyclef to admit his mistakes with the charity and wipe the slate clean? It would have to be. If he can't handle an NGO, how could he handle a GO — namely the entire government of Haiti. More on that soon, stay tuned.